CWS-R Business Plan – Part 1

 

 

 

Child Welfare System Redesign Business Plan

 

Research and Analysis by Jo Calk (jclk123@outlook.com)

 

March 2021

 

Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

 

This document, once transmitted to the Pilot State, becomes public property.

Primary Project Manager/Researcher:

JoFrances (Jo) Calk, MLS
Oregon resident, Librarian, Project Manager, Researcher, Business Systems Analyst

Pilot State CWS Redesign Team Members:

 

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

Table of Contents
1. Executive Summary …………………………………………………………..4
2. Program Mission and Problem Statement ……………………6
2.1. Program Mission Statement …………………………………………6
2.2. Program Problem Statement ………………………………………..6
3. Program Operational Plan ………………………………………………..8
3.1. Current Child Welfare System Analysis ………………………..8
3.2. Proposed Redesigned Child and Family Services System ……………………………………………….34
3.3. Best Practices Identification …………………………………………54
3.4. Outreach and Coalition Building …………………………………57
4. Management and Organization Team …………………………..59
5. Finances ……………………………………………………………………………….61
6. Evaluation and Assessment Metrics ……………………………….63
7. Replication to All States …………………………………………………….64
8. Appendix A: Recommendations ………………………………………65

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

1. Executive Summary

 

“A call to a child abuse hotline is as much a request for help as a call to 911.”1

 

Redefine the Child Welfare System

  • Redefine “soft” definitions of “child abuse and neglect” to criminal offenses, such as assault/battery, rape/incest, sexual assault/battery, criminal neglect, aggravated assault and battery, etc., which are under the purview of Law Enforcement and the Criminal Courts. 
  • Redefine “CPS” as “Family Outreach Services” – without law enforcement, foster care, and adoption functions – move Family Outreach Services to the Family Services section of the state Department of Human Services, to help low socioeconomic and underrepresented families with children receive services.
  • Law Enforcement takes the lead in all investigations involving a child crime victim, including accepting responsibility for the safe removal of a child crime victim from the home and
    transport by ambulance to the nearest child-trauma-informed Hospital.
  • Hospitals provide comprehensive child-trauma-informed physical and mental health care for child crime victims, as well as taking on responsibility for the safety of the child crime victim while under their care and in Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care Homes.
  • Replace “foster home” and “foster care home” with “Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care Home” and redefine as temporary comprehensive child-trauma-informed physical and mental health recovery care for the child victim of violence or criminal neglect, with oversight by the Hospital.
  • Change the state structure from a “Child Welfare System” to a comprehensive “Child and Family Services System.”

 

Federal Funding Disbursement Changes

The “Child and Family Services System” agencies which receive regular grant funding are:

  • Law Enforcement’s Child Victims Unit (or equivalent percentage of officers in jurisdictions less than 100,000 residents)
  • 1/2 FTE in the state’s data analysis section dedicated to data-driven analysis of “child assault and criminal neglect” reports plus recommendations for preventive action.
  • 1/2 FTE in the state’s media section dedicated to developing statewide media campaigns, as a proactive approach to implementing preventive action to stop child assault and criminal neglect based on the data analysis.

Note: Family Outreach Services (FOS – formerly CPS) adheres to, and receives funding from, the Family First Prevention Services Act and applies to families who have child crime victims where the perpetrators are the child’s parents or caregivers; other Family Services funding is from a different federal agency and applies to all families with low socioeconomic status, regardless of the presence of child assault or criminal neglect.

 

¹ Dan Scott, retired sergeant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office and a leader in the effort to improve cross reporting between child protective services (CPS) and law enforcement.

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

Disbursements to Child Crime Victim’s Federal Account

The following funding applies to child crictims of assault/battery, rape/incest, criminal neglect, etc. whom Law Enforcement removed from the home, transported via ambulance to a Hospital for evaluation and treatment, and then, as appropriate, transferred via medical transport to a Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care Home for rehabilitation and recovery.

  • All federal grant funding for a child victim of assault/battery, rape/incest, criminal neglect, etc. is applied to the child crime victim’s federal account, not the state’s account.
  • Hospitals, ambulance services, and Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care Homes are reimbursed from the child crime victim’s federal account for the child crime victim’s care, plus the care and treatment of other child crime victims, adult crime victims, and unattended children reported under the same Law Enforcement Case Number.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African proverb

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

2. Program Mission and Problem Statement

2.1. Program Mission Statement

Mission: To redesign the current Child Welfare System to be:

  1. child-centered, family-supportive, and equitable to all children and families throughout the United States;
  2. free from corruption and further child endangerment; and
  3. proactive through a data-driven approach toward the prevention of child assault/battery, rape/incest, and criminal neglect.

 

2.2. Program Problem Statement

“Child abuse is a profound social problem that is first and foremost a criminal one.” – Randy Burton, Esq.

The redefinition of child abuse and neglect terms as crimes (assault/battery, rape/incest, sexual assault/battery, criminal neglect, etc.) is the foundational change that allows the total redesign of the Child Welfare System from the potentially corrupt silo of one single, absolute authority (CPS) over all children’s rights, welfare, and lives – to the Law Enforcement, Criminal Court, Hospital, and Family Services alliance that has been established for crimes outside the home.

One agency should NOT have unilateral authority over children’s rights, welfare, and lives. With child abuse considered less than a crime and the Family First mandate that CPS “keep the family together,” CPS has become a silo where they are often police, child protective custodian, social worker, family counselor, Family Court and Juvenile Court “expert,” and sole arbitrator over the life (or death) of a child within the family. In many states, CPS has become answerable and accountable to no one.

When child abuse is properly designated as crimes, Law Enforcement and Criminal Courts have the appropriate jurisdiction over alleged perpetrators, child crime victims, domestic violence crime victims, and children without a parent or caretaker at home. This leaves CPS (renamed Family Outreach Services (FOS)) to address the welfare and support of families with children where there are no crime victims and families planning to be reunited with their children after hospital care. The child-trauma-informed Hospitals have jurisdiction over the medical and mental healthcare of the child crime victim, leaving CPS (FOS) out of all contact with the child crime victim until, and if, there is reunification of the recovering child crime victim back into the family – this time with CASA and Criminal Court oversight to ensure the safe reentry of the recovering child crime victim back into the home.

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

To put the “welfare of the child” back into the Child and Family Services System, we must first understand that violence toward and criminal neglect of a child doesn’t “go away” like bruises or broken bones. Child trauma of all types rewires the child crime victim’s brain, self-view, and worldview. Focus on the child. Do not just remove the child crime victim from a violent situation, but ensure the child crime victim receives Hospital-supervised physical and mental health therapy and other services before the violence and trauma exert physical changes in the child crime victim’s brain and sense of self.

 

Major Drivers: Why Change the Child Welfare System?

  • Why do children assaulted or criminally neglected out of the home receive law enforcement intervention and arrests of the alleged perpetrators, while children assaulted or criminally neglected at home are often left at home with their assailant and the case closed, or removed to an all-too-often violent or neglectful foster care system, often with no penalties for the alleged perpetrators?
  • Why are assaulted and criminally neglected children not provided immediate and appropriate medical and mental health care and treatment for their trauma and injuries?
  • Why do domestic violence victims and children need to leave their home, further victimizing them with homelessness? Why isn’t the alleged perpetrator arrested for aggravated assault and battery? Why don’t the nonoffending parent and children remain in the home and the convicted perpetrator give up all rights to the home?
  • “Neglect” is the number one reason documented by CPS for removing a child from the family  However, many families reported for “neglect” actually need support services such as food, housing, job training, etc. If there are no child crime victims, do not remove the child solely due to the families’ race or socioeconomic status.
  • Why is there no “prevention” of further child assault and criminal neglect? From Randy Burton, Esq., Founder of Justice for Children in Texas: “opinion is that it is virtually impossible to prevent the first act of abuse. But, once the abuse has occurred and been reported to the authorities, there is no excuse for failing to intervene on behalf of the child.”
  • Why is an assaulted and battered child crime victim often retained in the violent home solely in the interest of “keeping the family together”?
  • Why create a “family support” system like CPS that actually terrifies innocent families, which prevents them from seeking family support services such as TANF, food stamps, etc., for fear of having their children taken away?

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

3. Program Operational Plan

History of Child Abuse²

“The history of child abuse has two “rights” at its core of violence against the smallest in society:

  • the right to own property, and
  • the right to own children”

“Child abuse has existed and flourished in all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, in all its forms. Throughout history, children were considered property. Parents had the unrestricted authority to do to a child whatever was deemed necessary. Usually, the father made all the disciplinary decisions.”

In spite of being a taboo, sexual assault/battery within the family has always existed.³

“One child advocate making strides in providing answers is the United Nations through their Convention on the Rights of the Child. … Of the 197 countries to sign on, the United States is the only country that has not yet ratified this convention.”⁴ [bolding added for emphasis]

It is now time to recognize children as human beings and child abuse and neglect as crimes.

 

3.1. Current Child Welfare System Analysis

If a proper investigation is not conducted by CPS for reported child abuse or neglect, then all the other agencies with statutory interest (e.g., law enforcement, courts, etc.) can’t rehabilitate that case. For example: Evidence has not been collected properly; CPS interviews the child in front of the perpetrator so the child will say nothing. Hospitals can detect historic bruising and fractures on a child crime victim, but the hospitals need to be consulted during the initial investigation of the case and CPS often doesn’t do that.⁵

Currently, CPS has legitimate interest in protective custody of the child, when a child cannot safely remain in the home, via an emergency protective order. Although states vary in their procedures, for many states, within 24 hours, CPS lawyers file a family lawsuit. If the family has previous connections with Family Court (e.g., divorce, or a protective order), then the Family Court has continued jurisdiction over the family. If there are no proceeding cases for the family, then the case is filed in

 

² Copyright ©Darlene Barriere 2005 – 2017, History of Child Abuse, https://www.child-abuse-
effects.com/history.html, accessed 8/4/2020
³ Mead, M. (1963). Totem and taboo reconsidered with respect. Menninger Clinic Bulletin, 27,
185-199.
⁴ Barriere, Ibid.
⁵ Randy Burton, Esq., 21 December 2020

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

Juvenile Court with a CPS docket. This process is fraught with abuses and lack of communication. Criminal Court does not confer with Family Court nor Juvenile Court; they don’t contact each other nor share information. Thus, if a father, as an alleged perpetrator of a crime against a child, is arrested by law enforcement and put through the Criminal Court; the father could have his bond revoked if he gets near the child to which he allegedly committed the crime. However, that same father in the Family Court might be allowed to visit the child or even retain custody of the child, unknowingly contradicting the directive of the Criminal Court. Under the Criminal Courts, if Law Enforcement does not protect the child, then there is no criminal case. Law Enforcement focuses on protecting the crime victim and seeing that the alleged perpetrator gets what’s coming to them.⁶

However, Civil Court (Family and Juvenile Court) priorities are to keep the family together. That is  also CPS’s primary goal, under federal mandates such as the Family First Prevention Services Act. For CPS, if there is a previous divorce or protective order, etc., the “case” goes directly to the Family Court for determination of the continuing custody of the child, curtailing parental rights, etc. But Family Court has the highest burden of evidence to prove the case by a “preponderance of evidence,” which means more than 50%. It is a harder case to prove than just “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Often, Family Court actually allows the alleged perpetrator to get the child back.⁷

CPS Caseworkers, as part of Social Services, are often assigned too many responsibilities, many of which they are not fully trained to fulfil (e.g., law enforcement functions, including initial investigation of a reported child assault or criminal neglect and taking protective custody of the child crime victim). Redefining “child abuse and neglect” as crimes shifts those responsibilities to the proper criminal authority: Law Enforcement. CPS’s function is reduced as secondary to Law Enforcement. CPS, redefined and reclassified as Family Outreach Support (FOS), should only have responsibility to provide support services to the family of a child crime victim and primary responsibility for providing family support services to low socioeconomic and underrepresented families with children who are not crime victims.

 

Domestic Violence

In most states, domestic violence is currently a crime under the jurisdiction of Law Enforcement (LE). In many states, laws demand that LE must arrest the alleged perpetrator of domestic violence in all cases. The alleged perpetrator receives a “no-contact clause” on their bond, which revokes their bond if the alleged perpetrator contacts the domestic violence crime victim wherever they have been relocated out of the home.

Why do the adult crime victim (nonoffending spouse) and children have to leave their home, becoming homeless through no fault of their own? Why isn’t the perpetrator, being found guilty in a Criminal Court, be forced to surrender the home to the nonoffending spouse and children? This is similar to a driver found guilty of a DUI being forced to surrender their car.

 

⁶ Randy Burton, Esq., 21 December 2020
⁷ Ibid.
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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

Selecting the Pilot State

This Business Plan proposes a methodology of conducting a Pilot Project of the entire U.S. Child Welfare System Redesign Program with one state. From this Pilot, best practices can be discovered and applied, modifications can be made, and metrics can be measured before and after the Pilot. Documentation of the Pilot will be detailed and inclusive, to provide a Best Practices Model for other states to modify and implement upon the successful completion of the State Pilot.

NOTE: more than one state could be considered as the Pilot State(s) proof-of-concept.

There are two theories about the selection of a Pilot State(s):

  1.  Select a progressive state that is already employing many of the procedures and concepts in this Redesign to ensure a successful proof-of-concept, which can then be adapted and implemented in other states; OR
  2. Select the “worst” state Child Welfare System, to prove that the concepts of the Redesign work on the most broken system, and thus can be easily modified and applied in all other states.

For example, some states have federal lawsuits concerning their Child Welfare Systems. By choosing such a state as a pilot proof-of-concept, the federal lawsuit is addressed at the same time. The Children’s Bureau and other affected federal agencies can evaluate the effectiveness of the Redesigned model as a template for other state adoption and implementation, perhaps with federal grant support.

The following charts and tables are from the current Oregon Department of Human Services data, because that data was most accessible by the author. When a Pilot State has been selected, all data will be derived from that state’s Department of Human Services documentation.

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

Child Crime Victim Reports Excluded from Resolution

Mandatory reporters are required to submit a report whenever they suspect any form of child violence or criminal neglect. There are punishments if a mandatory reporter fails to report what they see. However, of all the calls to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline (ORCAH) reporting a crime against a child, fewer than 10% are ever acted upon with some resolution for the reported child crime victim.

The following chart shows the various stages in the CPS process where reports are “dismissed.” The chart contains data from the annual Oregon Child Welfare Data Books for the years 2012 through 2019; incomplete data was available for 2009-2011.

Reports Excluded During CPS Assessment
Reports Excluded During CPS Assessment

 

Screening Reports of Abuse Documented

The dark green line at the top of the chart represents the total number of “screening reports of abuse documented.” This means that, of all the calls to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline (ORCAH) in 2019, about 55% of those calls never have a report created for them in the Oregon Child Abuse database (OR-Kids).

Thus, the dark green line shows only the average 45% of all calls to ORCAH that have a child abuse report created in OR-Kids. This shows a general trend of a slowly increasing number of reports every year. Note: The 55% statistic was only documented in the 2019 Child Abuse Data Book, so it is not known whether that percentage holds true for the years 2012-2018. It is also not
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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

known why those 55% of the calls were not reported. Perhaps the calls were asking for directions, for information, etc. – but not reporting a suspected child crime victim. Perhaps 5 people called about the same incident of a potential child crime victim – information from all 5 calls were included in one OR-Kids record, which appears as if 4 calls were not recorded.

 

Reports Not Assigned, Not Investigated

The light gold line in the middle of the chart represents the reports that were created by the Screeners but were “Screened-Out” – closed at Screening and never sent to CPS to be investigated.

The flat trend for this line indicates that about 40,000 reports are “Screened Out” every year.

What is curious about this 40,000-report threshold is that a normal curve for a series of “Yes/No” (screen-in/screen-out) choices would show variance because some years there are significantly more reports that need to be “Screened-In,” and in other years there are significantly fewer reports that need to be “Screened-In.” However, the line shows no significant deviation from the average of 40,000 reports “Screened-Out.”

This appears to be a pattern of behavior or intent, not a random occurrence. Thus, the “Screening-Out” process documentation and training deserve considerable investigation, due to the consistent results from the data.

 

Assigned, No Completed Assessments

The pale orange line at the bottom of the chart represents reports that were assigned to a CPS Caseworker, but that Caseworker did not complete the assessment of those reports during that year. The result is that no assessment was completed, so no action was taken to assist the potential child crime victim.

When viewed alone, this line shows deviations among the years, probably due to workload or particular issues with reports that prevented their assessments from being completed.

However, when viewed with the light green line representing “completed, but not founded for abuse” (see details below), the two lines are mirror images of each other. This is too exacting to be random occurrence.

Comparing the pale orange and light green lines appears to indicate a pattern of behavior to ensure the same result every year by modifying the “not founded” line (which is reached later in the sequence of the CPS process) to arrive at the same count. This will be clarified when the last line is reviewed below.

 

Completed, Not Founded for Abuse

The light green line in the lower portion of the chart represents reports for which the CPS Caseworker completed the assessment but determined that the report was “not founded” for abuse (crime). This is the final stage on this chart where reports are dropped off and no action taken on behalf of the potential child crime victim. The line itself represents significant variation between each year, as expected.

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

However, as mentioned above, when the light green line is compared with the pale orange line below it, the two lines are mirror images of each other for every year.

Comparing the pale orange and light green lines appears to indicate a pattern of behavior to ensure the same result every year by modifying the “not founded” line (which is reached later in the sequence of the CPS process) to arrive at the same count.

 

Total Reports Excluded

The dark gold line near the top of the chart represents the total number of reports excluded during the entire CPS process.

The dark gold line exactly parallels the dark green line representing the total number of reports (not the total number of calls).

This indicates a pattern of behavior that ensures that fewer than 10% of the total number of reports received during a year result in any action to help the potential child crime victim. Every bend in the dark green line is exactly matched by a similar bend in the dark gold line.

Thus, regardless of where along the CPS process the reports are excluded, the reports for which some action is taken will always be fewer than 10% of the total number of reports that began the CPS process.

This is not random; this is patterned behavior. The reasons for this patterned behavior need to be investigated. For example, if CPS Caseworkers cannot handle 10% or more of the incoming reports, then action must be taken by CPS Management to ensure that reports of all potential child crime victims are assessed by CPS. For example, perhaps additional Caseworkers need to be added to ensure more potential child crime victims are helped.

 

Recommendation:

Action Step 3.1.1: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit of all calls to the Child Abuse Hotline in 2019, with analysis of

  • the metrics of each call (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, type of child abuse reported, type of reporter (e.g., mandatory: school, medical, law enforcement, etc., non-mandatory: self, parent, neighbor, etc.)) – conduct statistical analysis of the calls
  • if data about all calls to ORCAH are available, identify specific calls where the call was NOT entered into the OR-Kids database – conduct statistical analysis of patterns of calls excluded from the OR-Kids database vs. calls included as reports in the OR-Kids database
  • if the call was entered into the OR-Kids database, which becomes a report – conduct statistical analysis of the metrics of the calls selected to become a report to detect patterns; compare patterns with the Policy Rules for entering call data into OR-Kids

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

  • if the report was screened-out at Screening – conduct statistical analysis of the metrics of the reports selected to be screened-out to detect patterns; compare patterns with the Policy Rules for screening-out reports
  • if the report was assigned but “no completed assessment” – conduct statistical analysis of patterns to determine why the assessment was not completed
  • if the report was completed and “not founded for abuse” – conduct statistical analysis of patterns to determine why the CPS Caseworker decided there was no foundation for abuse (crime) for these records
  • if the report was completed and “founded for abuse” – conduct statistical analysis of patterns to determine why the CPS Caseworker decided these records had sufficient foundation to be declared abuse (crime)
  • Compile a report of all statistical findings, with analysis of patterns of behavior against written policy documentation to determine whether bias of any kind was introduced at any stage of the CPS process.
  • Provide recommendations for improvements in CPS processes and procedures to eliminate bias and provide for more inclusive CPS assessment of reports and more action taken to assist the children and families.
  • Ensure that CPS policy documents, training materials, etc. are revised to meet the recommendations – all of which were data-driven based on statistical analysis of a year’s worth of data.
  • Document the process, statistical analysis, comparison metrics, and recommendations for distribution to the Children’s Bureau and other states to assist with their own analyses.

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

 

Oregon Child Abuse 2019 Flow Chart

Oregon Child Abuse 2019 Flow Chart
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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

Oregon Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Statistics – 2019


⮚ There were an estimated 198,780 calls to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline (ORCAH) in 2019.

⮚ 55% of the calls to ORCAH did not result in a report created in the OR-Kids database – 109,329 calls not reported in OR-Kids database.

⮚ Of the 45% (89,451) of the Hotline calls that did have a report created, 48% of the reports were “closed at screening” (screened-out) – 42,864 reports screened-out at Screening.

⮚ Of the 46,587 screened-in reports, 10.2% of the screened-in reports did not have their assessments completed – 4,733 assessments were not completed within the year.

⮚ Of the 41,854 assessed reports that were completed, 78.4% of the assessed reports were concluded to be “unfounded for abuse.” – 32,806 assessed reports were “unfounded for abuse.”

⮚ Thus, out of an estimated 198,780 calls to the Child Abuse Hotline, 9,048 reports (4.6%) were concluded to be “founded for abuse” which identifies the child in that report as a “victim” of child abuse or neglect (child crime victim).

 

2019 Victims Resolution Chart
2019 Victims Resolution Chart

From the 9,048 reports, 13,674 victims of child abuse or neglect were identified.
▪ Of the 13,674 victims, 9,216 (67.4%) of the victims remained at home, with no safety plan, and the case was closed.
▪ Of the 13,674 victims, 1,641 (12%) of the victims remained at home with a safety plan.
▪ Of the 13,674 victims, 2,817 (20.6%) of the victims were removed from their home.

In addition, of the 13,674 victims of child abuse or neglect, 5,757 (42.1%) were younger than 5 years old. 80% or more of child fatalities were to children aged less than 5 years old.

This means that, even if ALL 1,641 children remaining at home with a safety plan PLUS ALL 2,817 children removed from their home were younger than 5 years old, there would still be 1,299 children (9.5% of all victims) younger than 5 years old, who have been identified as a victim of child abuse or neglect, have been left at home, with no safety plan, and the case closed.

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

 

The reality is more probable that some of the victims left at home with a safety plan and some victims removed from their home were 5 years old or older. The worst-case scenario is that all 5,757 (42.1%) children younger than 5 years old were left at home, without a safety plan, and the case closed.

Thus, the probability that:

• a child younger than 5 years old,
• identified as a victim of child abuse and/or neglect,
• has been left at home,
• without a safety plan, and
• with the case closed,
• ranges between 9.5% of all victims to 42.1% of all victims – or
• between 1,299 and 5,757 child victims of child abuse or neglect How many more child crime victims needing help have been ignored?

 

Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect Report (NIS-4) on United States CPS Investigations

Children who do not receive a CPS investigation represent an enigma to the study, in that it is not possible to say whether sentinels who recognized their maltreatment did not report it to CPS or whether they did report it, but CPS screened their reports out without an investigation. These alternatives have quite different implications for policy. The NIS–4 included several supplementary studies to help understand the countable children who do not receive CPS investigation.”⁸ [bolding added for emphasis]

“The CPS Screening Policies Study (SPS) obtained detailed information about CPS screening criteria to determine what role they might play in screening out countable children from CPS investigations. … This exercise indicated that CPS probably would have investigated nearly three-fourths (72%) of the uninvestigated children who experienced Harm Standard maltreatment and two-thirds (66%) of the uninvestigated children with Endangerment Standard maltreatment.”⁹ [bolding added for emphasis]

“Another NIS–4 supplementary study, the CPS Structures and Practices Mail Survey (SPM), collected information about various agency characteristics, examining whether these related to CPS investigation rates.

Investigation rates were significantly lower when a state or regional hotline screened incoming referrals for children with Harm Standard physical abuse (48% versus 65%) or emotional neglect (25% versus 37%). [bolding added for emphasis]

 

⁸ Sedlak, A.J. and Basena, M. (2014). Online Access to the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect. Rockville, MD: Westat. Available: http://www.nis4.org
⁹ Ibid.


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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

When CPS had no assistance [i.e., acted alone] in investigating certain categories of maltreatment, investigation rates were lower:

o if the agency had sole responsibility for investigating non-severe physical neglect, then the rate of CPS investigation was significantly lower for children with Harm Standard physical neglect (26% versus 43%); and
o sole responsibility for investigating abandonment correlated with lower investigation rates for Endangerment Standard physical neglect (37% versus 50%). [bolding added for emphasis]

• When CPS could provide a response other than an investigation (commonly termed an “alternative response”), then investigation rates were lower across a range of maltreatment categories under both definitional standards. [bolding added for emphasis]

• Agencies with alternative responses investigated only 23% of the children with Harm Standard maltreatment and 29% of those with Endangerment Standard maltreatment, whereas agencies without any alternative response offering investigated 38% and 52% of these groups, respectively.”¹⁰ [bolding added for emphasis]

The data from the NIS-4 Study has strongly indicated the need to revise the policy regarding screening-out of reports coming from calls to CWS.


Alternative Response Option Results in Lower CPS Investigation Rates

“Increasingly, States are using a differential response system, also known as alternative response, multiple response, and dual tracking. Differential responses arose primarily from the recognition that families referred to the child welfare system often face numerous issues, including substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, or economic and food insecurity, and that in certain circumstances an investigation, which might be adversarial, may not be helpful in meeting the family’s needs. They allow Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies to be more flexible in how they respond to child maltreatment reports and engage families more effectively in using services that address their specific needs. … If a case is screened in and deemed to have no significant safety and risk concerns, the agency may choose to conduct a differential response in lieu of an investigation.”¹¹ [bolding added for emphasis]

 

¹⁰ Sedlak, A.J. and Basena, M. (2014). Online Access to the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect. Rockville, MD: Westat. Available: http://www.nis4.org
¹¹ Understanding the Child Welfare System, https://training.cfsrportal.acf.hhs.gov/section-2-understanding-child-welfare-system/3011#:~:text=%20Differential%20responses%20are%3A%20%201%20Assessment%20focused%3A%C2%A0The,uses%20a%20strengths-based%2C%20family%20engagement%20approach.%20More%20, accessed 7/11/2020


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With the definition of “alternative response” provided above, it appears that there were many decisions made by CPS [national average] that an assessment-focused and family-centered approach was warranted when, deduced solely from the report, the maltreatment is not considered serious. This appears to be a judgment call on behalf of CPS based on report data without a formal investigation. Differential Response provides too many loopholes that would allow a child to remain in an abusive home with their assailant in the 6 common characteristics listed below.

Although differences exist among and within States, differential response practices do have some common characteristics. The Child Welfare Information Gateway identifies six of them. Differential responses are:¹² [bolding added for emphasis]

1. Assessment focused: The primary focus tends to be on assessing families’ strengths and needs. Substantiation of an alleged incident is not the priority.

2. Family-centered: A differential response uses a strengths-based, family engagement approach.

ANY time “substantiation of an alleged incident is not the priority,” CPS has lost its focus on the child. Keeping the family together “at all costs” does not work. The “costs” of keeping the family together are all too often borne by the child crime victim who was not even visited by CPS because the report looks as if the family has enough “strengths” and few “needs” and can be excluded from investigation and assessment.

3. Individualized: Cases are handled differently depending on families’ unique needs and situations.

Without strict guidelines or standards on when a CPS Caseworker could use Differential Response or conduct an investigation and assessment, the CPS Caseworker is left to their own definition of the “families’ unique needs and situations” solely from the reports and can avoid the investigation and assessment entirely.

4. Community oriented: Families on the assessment track are referred to services that fit their needs and issues. This requires availability and coordination of appropriate and timely community services and presumes a shared responsibility for child protection.

This statement, as worded, provides a convenient excuse for CPS Caseworkers to choose the Differential Response because there has been no “coordination of appropriate and timely community services,” and CPS has ensured that there is no “shared responsibility for child protection,” therefore the family cannot be on the assessment track.

 

¹² Understanding the Child Welfare System, https://training.cfsrportal.acf.hhs.gov/section-2-understanding-child-welfare- system/3011#:~:text=%20Differential%20responses%20are%3A%20%201%20Assessment%20focused%3A%C2%A0The,uses%20a%20strengths-based%2C%20family%20engagement%20approach.%20More%20, accessed 7/11/2020


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5. Selective: A differential response is not employed when the most serious types of maltreatment are alleged, particularly those that are likely to require court intervention, such as sexual abuse or severe harm to a child.

It can be argued that a CPS Caseworker cannot determine whether a case will likely require court intervention based totally on the Hotline report. In most cases, investigation and assessment determine the severity of the child’s injuries, necessitating CPS to take emergency action to remove the child crime victim for the safety of the child and involving the court at a subsequent time. Thus, this common characteristic carries no weight in deterring CPS from choosing Differential Response instead of investigation and assessment.

6. Flexible: The response track can be changed based on ongoing risk and safety considerations. If a family refuses assessment or services, the agency may conduct an investigation or close the case.”¹³

This is possibly the greatest loophole of all the common characteristics. It is highly unlikely that, if the CPS Caseworker is not allowed access into the home, the Caseworker will try to continue conducting an investigation. For example, if the alleged assailant is barring access, how is a Caseworker expected to conduct an investigation? An audit is needed on the number of cases in which a CPS Caseworker contacted Law Enforcement for help with an assailant blocking access to the family. Thus, the case is determined to be “not founded for abuse” and the case is closed – closing the door on any child crime victims inside the home. This could help explain why 78.4% of the assessed reports were concluded to be “unfounded for abuse.”

 

Some Likely Scenarios:

CPS Caseworkers are trying to take on a law enforcement role without much training in police procedures or self-defense. Will a CPS Caseworker really attempt to remove a child crime victim if there were a violent adult assailant in the home? Probably not. Or would the CPS Caseworker instead choose reports involving a low-income family without resources to fight back and where an assessment of “neglect” can be claimed? The statistics show “neglect alone” is the number one reason for removal of a child from the home.

If the CPS Caseworker interviews the child with the assailant present, the child will be too afraid to tell the truth, for fear of retribution by the assailant after CPS leaves. CPS concludes the case is “not founded for abuse” and the case is closed. The statistics demonstrate an overwhelming proportion of assessments (78.4%) as “not founded for abuse.”

Fewer than 10% of all reports are assessed by CPS. If a CPS Caseworker has twice the recommended caseload (e.g., 30 cases instead of 15 maximum), the Caseworker may pick the easier cases – such as People of Color, families in poverty, or homeless, for which an unharmed child can be considered “neglected” – and call the remainder of the reports “not founded for abuse” or apply Differential Response and the cases closed.

 

¹³ Understanding the Child Welfare System, https://training.cfsrportal.acf.hhs.gov/section-2-understanding-child-welfare-
system/3011#:~:text=%20Differential%20responses%20are%3A%20%201%20Assessment%20focused%3A%C2%A0The,uses%20a%20strengths-based%2C%20family%20engagement%20approach.%20More%20, accessed 7/11/2020


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This scenario is supported by the Oregon 2019 DHS Audit for Child Welfare System Modifications: “DHS has made progress toward updating its workload model. The agency is also taking some steps to streamline workloads to try to reduce the need for more staff, including: … 

• Implementing abbreviated child abuse case assessments, designed for cases when an initial investigation clearly found no abuse, and assigning central office staff to help field offices reduce their backlog of overdue assessments.”¹⁴ [bolding added for emphasis]


Recommendations:

Action Step 3.1.2: Starting immediately, do NOT “screen out” ANY reports during Screening.

ALL reports of child abuse or neglect are to be assessed by CPS until the Redesigned Child Welfare System is implemented.


Action Step 3.1.3: Starting immediately, do NOT apply Differential Response for ANY report of child abuse or neglect.

The misuse of the following leaves children alone with their assailant if the assailant refuses to let the CPS Caseworker in:

• “Flexible: The response track can be changed based on ongoing risk and safety considerations. If a family refuses assessment or services, the agency may conduct an investigation or close the case.”¹⁵ [bolding added for emphasis]

Starting immediately, the following is used to determine IF Differential Response can be used for a case:

• “Selective: A differential response is not employed when the most serious types of maltreatment are alleged, particularly those that are likely to require court intervention, such as sexual abuse or severe harm to a child.”

Although the above is listed as a common element, it appears to be often ignored. CPS Caseworkers instead use the first element as their guiding principle, ignoring the rest:

• “Assessment focused: The primary focus tends to be on assessing families’ strengths and needs. Substantiation of an alleged incident is not the priority.” [bolding added for emphasis]

 

14 Department of Human Services Recommendation Follow-up Report: DHS Has Made Important Improvements, but Extensive Work Remains to Ensure Child Safety, June 2019, Report 2019-24, Oregon Secretary of State
¹⁵ Understanding the Child Welfare System, https://training.cfsrportal.acf.hhs.gov/section-2-understanding-child-welfare-system/3011#:~:text=%20Differential%20responses%20are%3A%20%201%20Assessment%20focused%3A%C2%A0The,uses%20a%20strengths-based%2C%20family%20engagement%20approach.%20More%20, accessed 7/11/2020


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Differential response is NOT an alternative to investigation and assessment of the child in the home for every instance of a child abuse report. Note: Oregon started using Differential Response in May 2014 and discontinued use of Differential Response by legislative action in April 2017.


Action Step 3.1.4: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit of all 2019 reports in OR- Kids, with analysis of

• the cases with Law Enforcement involvement at any stage – conduct statistical analysis of patterns and frequency
• the cases without Law Enforcement involvement at any stage –conduct statistical analysis of patterns and frequency
• the cases with Law Enforcement called in by CPS during a CPS investigation or assessment – conduct statistical analysis of patterns and frequency
• the cases without Law Enforcement called in by CPS during a CPS investigation or assessment – conduct statistical analysis of patterns and frequency
• the cases where CPS used Differential Response alternative instead of investigation and assessment – conduct statistical analysis of patterns and frequency – should be “0” in Oregon for 2019
• compare patterns with written procedures and recommend changes
• Compile a report of all statistical findings, with analysis of patterns of behavior against written policy documentation to determine whether Law Enforcement was not called when it would have been appropriate.
• Provide recommendations for improvements in CPS processes and procedures to increase inclusion of Law Enforcement as appropriate.
• Ensure that CPS policy documents, training materials, etc. are revised to meet the recommendations – all of which were data-driven based on statistical analysis of a year’s worth of data.
• Document the process, statistical analysis, comparison metrics, and recommendations for distribution to the Children’s Bureau and other states to assist with their own analysis.


Even one child crime victim left in an abusive home after a report is called in, is too great a cost.

 

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Reasons a Child is Removed from the Home

The following chart has been created from data in the annual Oregon Child Welfare Data Books for the years 2009 through 2019.

Reasons Child Removed from Home Chart
Reasons Child Removed from Home Chart

 

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

 

Data for the years 2009-2011 demonstrate a normal fluctuation in reasons children are taken from their home following a CPS assessment. Although the actual numbers and percentages vary over the years as expected, there are 5 main reasons for removal in 2009-2011: Child Physical Abuse, Child Neglect Abuse, Parent Drug Abuse, Parent Alcohol Abuse, and Child Behavior, with Inability to Cope and Inadequate Housing not far behind.

 

Dramatic Change in 2012

There is a sudden and dramatic change to the data in 2012. From 2012 to the latest annual report in 2019, there are only 2 main reasons for removal of a child from their home: Child Neglect Abuse and Parent Drug Abuse. The highest main reason for removal in 2009-2011, Child Physical Abuse, has dropped significantly from the data. Child Physical Abuse now hovers been fifth and sixth as the reason for removal. Child Neglect Abuse moved from fourth to a significantly higher first reason.

 

Why the Change in 2012?

One way to view the data is that a major shift in counting and tracking reasons for removing a child was introduced within CPS in early 2012. That change in counting resulted in a pattern that has been repeated every year since 2012. It is not because Child Physical Abuse, Parent Alcohol Abuse, Child Behavior, Ability to Cope, and Inadequate Housing suddenly disappeared from the majority of the families simultaneously in 2012 and continuously after that. It is more likely that those conditions still exist in families assessed by CPS, but CPS Caseworkers are focused on two main conditions – or lump many other conditions under two main conditions – Child Neglect Abuse and Parent Drug Abuse.

 

Major 2011-2012 Automated System Change

The introduction of the SACWIS automated system during 2011 appears to be the major impactor affecting the data in 2012 and beyond. This theory is supported by statements in the Oregon Child Welfare Data Books for the years 2011 and 2012:


“[The] new Oregon SACWIS (State Automated Child Welfare Information System). There are changes in the content of this section due to data conversion issues and changes in reference values. This may impact the inclusion of, or comparability to, data reported in prior years.” [bolding added for emphasis]

“All types of abuse decreased with the exception of neglect. The increase in neglect is due in part to several types of maltreatment for mental Injury being redefined as part of Oregon’s data conversion, to now be included under neglect. [bolding added for emphasis]


Recommendations:

Action Step 3.1.5: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit of ALL 2019 CPS cases involving removal of a child from the family due to “neglect abuse”:

• determine if any other reasons for removal of the child are included in the case:

o if “physical abuse” and/or “sexual abuse” is also a reason for removal of the child,  exclude the case from the audit


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o otherwise, regardless of any other reason for removal of the child, include the case in the audit

• determine, from the metrics of each call (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, type of child abuse reported, type of reporter (e.g., mandatory: school, medical, law enforcement, etc., non-mandatory: self, parent, neighbor, etc.)) and from the case report, if racial or socioeconomic bias is involved in the decision to remove the child due to “neglect” – particularly if “inadequate housing” is also a reason to remove the child – create a list of “suspect” reports of “neglect” instead of supporting the family to help the child
• perform a statistical analysis of all “suspect” reports of “neglect” to determine patterns
• compare patterns with written Procedures for assigning “neglect” as a reason to remove a child from the home and document findings
• Compile a report of all statistical findings, with analysis of patterns of behavior against written policy documentation to determine whether bias of any kind was introduced at any stage of the CPS process.
• Provide recommendations for improvements in CPS processes and procedures to eliminate bias and provide for more inclusive CPS assessment of reports and more action taken to assist the children and families.
• Ensure that CPS policy documents, training materials, etc. are revised to meet the recommendations – all of which were data-driven based on statistical analysis of a year’s worth of data.
• Document the process, statistical analysis, comparison metrics, and recommendations for distribution to the Children’s Bureau and other states to assist with their own analysis.


Action Step 3.1.6: Correct Previous Bad Decisions

After analysis and audit of prior determinations of “neglect” resulting in the removal of the child from the home and placement in foster care by cross-checking with the child’s family’s race and socioeconomic status (see Action Step 3.1.5), use the findings as tools to:

(1) remedy existing cases of children improperly placed in foster care (e.g., if the child was initially unharmed and placed in foster care and the family is racially and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged, ask the child (age appropriate) and the family about possible reunification with the family and provide appropriate federally reimbursed physical and mental health services for the child’s trauma from the removal and the foster care placement);
(2) distinguish between “neglect” and socioeconomic family pressures such as poverty, homelessness, lack of employment, lack of food, etc. Provide support services to the family, which then can provide more support to the child
(3) be used as examples of bad practice to be avoided, starting NOW and carrying forward into all current and future documentation, training, and procedures.

 

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Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

 

Action Step 3.1.7: Immediately implement the new rule regarding the removal of children from the family by CPS until the Redesigned Child Welfare System is implemented: A child may be removed from the family home only if one or more of the following exists:

• If the child is severely injured, sexually assaulted, or criminally neglected

• If the child is of sufficient age to decide AND asks to be removed from the home

• If there are no adult parents/caretakers remaining in the home, following Law Enforcement action (e.g., arrest of both parents or the only parent as the alleged assailant in the criminal violence or neglect of the child)

 

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Child Fatalities


From an Oregon Dept. of Human Services Critical Incident Review Team website:

“In recent years, many child fatalities investigated by DHS have been related to issues of neglect and parental substance use. Current efforts are underway to establish consistent and up-to-date education and support for caseworkers when assessing and offering services to families where substance use is identified as a concern. Since 2017, youth suicide, chronic neglect, and safe sleep have been identified as systemic issues impacting the safety and well-being of children in Oregon who come into contact with Child Protective Services.¹⁶ [bolding added for emphasis]

The data from the annual Data Books provide the evidence of whether the “identification” of suicide, chronic neglect, and safe sleep in 2017 have impacted the statistics of child abuse and neglect. However, the following Critical Incident Review Team report states that at least one of the systemic issues, “safe sleep education,” had not yet started as of May 2020:

“The CIRT recommends the Department continue with the implementation of a safe sleep education plan for child welfare staff. This plan includes providing education and coaching to all child welfare staff who come into direct contact with families. Education will include guidance for caseworkers around engaging in thorough safe sleep conversations and providing safe sleep education as appropriate to families any time there is a child under the age of one in the home. This mandatory training is scheduled to begin in May 2020.¹⁷ [bolding added for emphasis]

In addition, provide “Safe Sleep” pamphlets and instruction to parents of every newborn child.

 

Common perception is that the main purpose of the Child Welfare System is to protect children from being abused or neglected. CPS Caseworkers spend long hours trying to identify children who have been abused or threatened with violence or neglect. Thus, it is particularly disturbing when a child dies at the hands of their family or others, even with the safeguards, in-home safety plans, parent training and education, and other services provided to maintain the family while providing safety for the child(ren).

 

Fatality Assessments

Detailed assessments are conducted following the death of a child, when the cause is homicide – murder. It is disturbing to discover that the deceased child had an earlier report of alleged child abuse that was not able to be fully assessed – most often due to the report being “screened-out” at Screening or considered “unfounded for abuse” or any of various other reasons. However, perhaps even more disturbing is to discover that a child who has received a complete CPS assessment and was remaining at home with an in-home safety plan, was among the dead.

 

¹⁶ Oregon Department of Human Services / Children / Critical Incident Review Team, https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/CHILDREN/CIRT/Pages/Prevention.aspx
¹⁷ “Critical Incident Review Team Final Report, May 13, 2020,” Oregon Dept. of Human Services, PDF


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Status of Child Fatalities

The following chart has been created from data in the annual Oregon Child Welfare Data Books for the years 2009 through 2019.

Status of Child Fatalities Chart
Status of Child Fatalities Chart

 

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Fatalities After Reunited with Family

The above chart illustrates the variety of situations or statuses in which the child was within the Child Welfare System when they were killed. One of the situations is “Fatalities After Reunited with Family” which is represented by the gold bar at the top of each set of bars per year in the chart. In the interest of maintaining the family, the focus of CPS has been to reduce the number of children taken from the home and placed in foster care, and to return a child who has been in foster care to their home when it appears that the child will be safe at home.

While a child is in foster care, CPS is expected to provide the family with programs and services to ensure that the abusive and/or neglectful behavior is not repeated when the child returns to the home. Although over 50% of children leaving foster care return to their families with no issues, there are some cases where all the training, education, programs, and services allegedly provided to the family were not sufficient and the child is killed by one or more members of their family.

There is no data consistently reported on how many children returning to their family following foster care are re-abused or neglected again; we only have data where the abuse and/or neglect has reached the stage of murder. However, an Oregon Child Welfare Progress report states (in their terminology):

 

Recurrence of maltreatment

“Maltreatment includes the different types of physical or emotional ill treatment that can result in actual or potential harm to a child. Each type of maltreatment experienced by a victim in a founded child abuse referral counts as an incident of child abuse or neglect. Victims may have suffered more than one type of maltreatment or may have been involved in more than one founded referral. Re-abuse rates are defined federally to reflect the recurrence of maltreatment. This chart reflects the percentage of children, during October 2018 through October 2019, who were victims of another substantiated or indicated maltreatment allegation within 12 months of their initial report. The federal target is 9.1%. [bolding added for emphasis]

 

Re-abuse Rates Chart
Re-abuse Rates Chart 18


Oregon exceeds the federal target of re-abuse every year – some years significantly higher than the federal target – apparently without consequences. In addition, how can a 9.1% recurrence of crimes and/or criminal neglect of a child be considered an acceptable target?

 

¹⁸ Child Welfare Progress Report, November 2019, Oregon Department of Human Resources, available at http://www.oregon.gov/dhs


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Fatalities in Families Receiving Preservation Services in the Preceding 5 Years

The next status, “Fatalities in Families Receiving Preservation Services in the Preceding 5 Years,” is represented by the brown bar (the second bar in the set of bars for each year).
Unfortunately, this situation is all too common an occurrence among the child death statistics. Between 2009 and 2019, 36 children have been killed by a family member during or following the family receiving programs and services to preserve the family and ensure the safety of the child. And, most troubling of all, is that the highest occurrence of these child deaths have been within the last 5 years.

 

Fatalities with Child Abuse/Neglect Referral within One Year

The third status, “Fatalities with Child Abuse/Neglect Referral within One Year,” is represented by the reddish-brown bar (the third bar in the set of bars for each year). Fortunately, this status or situation has only occurred once in the 2009-2019 period. In 2014, 4 children in this status were killed.

 

Fatalities in DHS Custody

The fourth status, “Fatalities in DHS Custody,” is represented by the dark blue bar (the fourth bar in the set of bars for each year). There were 3 children’s deaths, 1 in 2011 and 2 in 2015, while the child was in DHS custody for the years 2009 through 2019.

 

Fatalities with an Open Assessment

The fifth status, “Fatalities with an Open Assessment,” is represented by the light blue bar (the fifth bar in the set of bars for each year). This is another status or situation in which too many children are killed, although in this case the deaths are more random. The fact that last year had the highest number of deaths in this status, after 1 year of 3 deaths and 2 years of no deaths, is great cause for concern. Although the numbers appear random, there is a slight pattern: a couple of years of 0 or 1 deaths, then an increase one year, followed by a spike in the next year, after which is another period of no or few deaths.

Although it is difficult to presume a cause for this significant fluctuation, one possible reason could be the frequency of visitations during the assessment process. For example, when there is a spike in children’s deaths in one year, DHS staff are told to increase their frequency of visitations, which continues for a couple of years. Then overloaded staff start reducing the visitation frequency a little one year, with a slight increase in children’s deaths. However, workloads increase, and visitations decrease the next year, leading to the spike in child murders, which calls for an intensive focus on frequent visitations again.

 

Fatalities with an Open Child Welfare Case

The sixth status, “Fatalities with an Open Child Welfare Case,” is represented by the yellow bar (the sixth bar in the set of bars for each year). This is another status with relatively low child deaths. There have been a total of 7 child deaths while there was an open child welfare case for them over the period 2009-2019.

 

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Total Fatalities from Child Abuse

Moving to the bottom bar in each set of bars for each year, the bright blue bar represents the “Total Fatalities from Child Abuse” for that year. The data we have reviewed thus far have been within the 6 statuses of conditions in which the murdered child was receiving or had been receiving attention from DHS, trying to reduce or eliminate the child abuse or neglect the child was suffering. Note that these statistics are ONLY for child deaths that have been officially recorded as “homicides.”

However, the larger numbers, the “hidden abuse” is illustrated only by a number not captured in the annual Child Welfare System Data Books: the number of children killed each year, for which DHS had no assessment.

DHS needs to become aware of the children who have died while waiting for help or rescue.

These statistics should be used as training materials to modify procedures, training, and practices that screen-out about 40,000 reports every year or do not create a report from a child abuse call or are considered “unfounded” because they were unable to talk with the family (or whatever reason).

 

Fatalities Age 5 or Younger

Returning to the chart, there are two of the most disturbing bars left to review. The reddish-orange bar just above the long bright blue bar represents “Fatalities Age 5 or Younger.”

What is most disturbing about this set of data is the “trivial” treatment it receives in EVERY Child Welfare System Data Book from 2009 through 2019. In every book there is a statement that accompanies the latest horrific statistic: For example, from the 2019 Data Book: “There were 17 victims (73.9 percent) that were age 5 and younger, demonstrating the vulnerability of this age group.

EVERY Data Book since 2009 carries that same message. Yes, 5-year-old children and younger are “vulnerable” – don’t just say that while the statistics keep climbing year by year. DO SOMETHING to protect those children aged 0-5 about whom there is a child abuse report.

It is recommended that EVERY child abuse report involving a child 0-5 be automatically screened-in for assessment – no questions about whether there is sufficient data, just screen-in all child abuse reports for the demographic DHS already knows is “demonstrating the vulnerability of this age group.” Develop special procedures for assessing families in which there is a child 0-5 years old – even if the child is NOT the child for whom the child abuse report was created. Provide mandatory parenting training and education classes for the parents, increase the frequency of visitations to weekly, ensure the child 0-5 years old is seen, photographed, and examined at every visitation. Protect the vulnerable – reduce the number of child deaths in this category.

 

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How bad are the statistics? Here are the numbers from every year from 2009 through 2019 about the children aged 0-5 who were murdered that year and the percentage of all child deaths those 0-5-year-olds represent:

• 2019=17 of 23 deaths (80.8%)
• 2018=21 of 26 deaths (80.8%)
• 2017=17 of 30 deaths (64.4%)
• 2016=13 of 19 deaths (68.4%)
• 2015=20 of 27 deaths (74.1%)
• 2014=11 of 13 deaths (84.6%)

• 2013=7 of 10 deaths (70%)
• 2012=12 of 17 deaths (70.6%)
• 2011=10 of 19 deaths (52.6%)
• 2010=17 of 22 deaths (77.3%)
• 2009=11 of 13 deaths (84.6%)

Who can look at those statistics and not be moved to DO SOMETHING to stop the murder of those “vulnerable” children? Look at the chart and compare the red-orange bar with the bright blue bar; the red-orange bar represents children 0-5 years old who were murdered before their life truly started. The difference between the end of the red-orange bar and the end of the bright blue bar represents the murders of children ages 6 through 18+.

 

Fatalities Age Younger than 1

As if the previous bar weren’t enough to instill serious modifications to the handling of child abuse reports for children 0-5 years old, the final bar we are reviewing, the gray bar representing “Fatalities Age Younger than 1” should expedite the process because there isn’t much time between birth and one-year-old when a significant number of infant murders occur. The numbers:

• 2019=12 of 23 deaths (52.5%)
• 2018=14 of 26 deaths (53.8%)
• 2017=10 of 30 deaths (33.3%)
• 2016=6 of 19 deaths (31.6%)
• 2015=14 of 27 deaths (51.9%)
• 2014=5 of 13 deaths (38.5%)

• 2013=5 of 10 deaths (50%)
• 2012=5 of 17 deaths (29.4%)
• 2011=0 of 19 deaths (0%)
• 2010=8 of 22 deaths (36.4%)
• 2009=8 of 13 deaths (61.5%)

 

Uncaptured Data

Currently, two major causes of child fatalities are NOT being counted: child suicides and “accidental” child deaths. Both categories of child fatalities must be included in every assessment of a child’s death.

A young child does not consider suicide unless the child sees no hope in the life they are suffering. Child murderers will cover-up their actions by claiming it was an “accidental” death. Investigate further into previous cases or reports, including reports screened-out, for any indication of prior abuse. For example, if the child “fell down the stairs,” check the home to determine if it actually has stairs.


Recommendations:

 

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Action Step 3.1.8: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit of ALL 2019 cases involving children reunited with their family following foster care, who are re-abused or neglected again as identified by a subsequent report of child abuse or neglect.

 

Action Step 3.1.9: Ensure that CWS home visitations are conducted immediately following the reunification of the child back into the family following foster care and weekly thereafter, for at least a year, until assured that the child is truly “safe at home.”

 

Action Step 3.1.10: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit and comprehensive study of the 36 children who died while under CPS family programs and services

or shortly following the family programs and services. Determine, for each of the 36 families involved (presuming one child per family), what characteristics of those families are similar and can be used to identify potential other families in a similar state BEFORE another child is killed. 5 sequential years of data did not result in any effective changes to the family programs and services. Carefully analyze every year’s statistics, discern patterns and trends, and take action to stop the pattern of abuse or neglect leading to these deaths, through media campaigns and other methods.

 

Action Step 3.1.11: Make weekly visitations become the standard for families with an open assessment – even when the data shows no child deaths from that status.

No deaths may indicate the frequent visitations are working.

 

Action Step 3.1.12: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit to identify 2019 “Child Fatalities with No DHS Action” – by comparing child deaths in 2019 with the presence (or absence) of a record for the child in OR-Kids, including the cause for the “No Action”:

  • “No child abuse report in OR-Kids” – if no record is found for the deceased child in OR- Kids
  • “Child abuse report call received but no record in OR-Kids” – if a list of all calls received through the Child Abuse Hotline can be found for 2019, determine if the deceased child is among the 55% of the calls that were not added to OR-Kids
  • “Child abuse report call received but screened-out” – if a record is found for the deceased child in OR-Kids and the record is marked as “screened-out” at Screening
  • “Child abuse report screened-in, but CPS assessment not completed” – if the record in OR-Kids is marked as “assessment not completed”
  • “Child abuse report assessed, but determined ‘unfounded’ by CPS” – if the record in OR-Kids is marked as “unfounded”
  • Require inclusion of the above information in all Child Welfare System Data Books, starting with 2021.

 

Action Step 3.1.13: Immediate, short-term implementation: EVERY child abuse report involving a child 0-5 is to be automatically screened-in for assessment as high priority –

no questions about whether there is sufficient data, just screen-in all child abuse reports for the demographic DHS already knows is “demonstrating the vulnerability of this age group.” Develop special procedures for assessing families in which there is a child 0-5 years old – even if the child is NOT the child for whom the child abuse report was created. Provide mandatory parenting training and education classes for the parents, increase the frequency of visitations to weekly, ensure the child 0-5 years old is seen, photographed, and examined at every visitation. Protect the vulnerable – reduce the number of child deaths in this category.

 

Last Updated: 21 March 2021                                               Page 33

 


Child Welfare System Redesign State Pilot Business Plan

 

Action Step 3.1.14: Investigate all child suicides and “accidental” child deaths with the other causes of fatalities during Critical Incident Review Team analysis. Both categories of child fatalities must be included in every assessment of a child’s death.

 

Action Step 3.1.15: Request an Oregon Secretary of State audit to compare 2019 “Child Fatalities” for all types of deaths, particularly child suicides and accidental deaths, against the OR-Kids database to determine whether there is a report and if CPS was involved at any point.

 

Last Updated: 21 March 2021                                                 Page 34

 

 

 

 

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