Thursday, May 8, 2014

NCALP Weekly News Summary

May 8, 2014
The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy
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Ohio's Families and Children Rule Review Site: Your Opinion Counts!

Family and children stakeholders, from child and adult protection professionals to others who care about how Ohio’s programs for families and children are administered, have valuable insights and suggestions to offer. A new site has been created to provide an easy, online opportunity for stakeholders to weigh in on the Ohio Administrative Rules that govern Ohio’s programs for families and children.

Visitors to can suggest rules that may benefit from review, select rules they’d like to comment on, view others’ comments, and agree, disagree or respond to comments. The website also has information about the rule-making process and links to additional resources.
Make your voice heard!
Child Welfare Illinois: “New DCFS Chief Hopes to Restore Stability:
By: Christy Gutowski

Restoring stability to Illinois’ troubled child-welfare agency as it faces the possibility of budget cuts are among the challenges the agency’s new director said she will face in coming months. Bobbie Gregg is the fourth director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in six months. Gregg, whose vision for the department is to protect children and preserve families, stated that her desire to improve opportunities for Illinois’ older state wards drew her to DCFS. Though the number of children in state care has declined, the proportion who leave the system at age 18 without an adoptive family has increased, data shows. In Illinois, foster youths have the option to remain in care until age 21. Studies show many negative outcomes for those too old for the child welfare system, but unprepared to live independently. Gregg said she wants to help improve their chances at securing housing, employment and higher education.

The Chicago Tribune, May 5, 2014

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Child Custody Massachusetts: Plan is Offered to Solve Medical Custody Dispute
By: Steve LeBlanc

Massachusetts officials announced a plan Monday to return a teenager in a custody dispute involving different diagnoses by two hospitals to her home state of Connecticut to be closer to her family, but her family objected to the plan, calling it a "slap in the face." The plan calls for 15-year-old Justina Pelletier to be transferred to a facility in Thompson, Connecticut, as the first step in a process that could eventually return her to the custody of her parents, said Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz. The plan also calls on the family to meet certain conditions, including visiting with Justina at the Connecticut facility, participating in family therapy and meeting with Massachusetts child welfare officials to review her progress. However, the Pelletier family said Monday they don’t want Justina sent to a behavioral unit and want a guarantee she’ll be returned home by her birthday. Justina has mitochondrial disease and the cases hinge in part on dueling diagnoses of Justina’s condition. Justina will remain under the custody of the state of Massachusetts after being transferred to the Connecticut facility. A juvenile Court judge will have the final say on whether Justina should be returned to her family in West Hartford Connecticut.

Boston Tribune, May 5, 2014

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Child Welfare California: “LAUSD Admits it Destroyed Documents Regarding Child Sex Abuse:
By: John Cadiz Kiemack

The Los Angeles Unified School District destroyed documents that may have held key evidence in child abuse cases within the district. A spokesman admits the documents no longer exist. The documents involving the Miramonte child abuse scandal were destroyed sometime in 2008. Attorneys for the victims of the Miramonte case have based much of their attention on claims LAUSD had known about prior sexual abuse claims against Mark Berndt. This revelation, first reported by NBC4 last week now has attorneys calling foul on the district for destroying what they believe was key evidence to their case.

"This is devastating," said victims' attorney Brian Claypool, who is calling on the United States Department of Justice to begin a federal criminal investigation into LAUSD. "It's been our goal from day one to prove a pattern and practice of LAUSD harboring child predators. Their intentional destruction of crucial child abuse reports from 15 years demonstrates a patent cover up." LAUSD tells KPCC "we felt we didn't have a right to have them," regarding the destroyed documents, claiming all the documents were destroyed in 2008 when District lawyers believed a section of the California Penal Code meant they "shouldn't have had them in the first place."

Southern California, May 1, 2014

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Foster Parents/Adoption Nebraska: “Lawsuit Challenging Nebraska Ban on Gay Foster Parents Can Proceed”
By: Jessica Mason Pieklo

A Nebraska state trial court has ruled a lawsuit can proceed challenging a state agency policy banning gay and lesbian individuals and couples from serving as foster parents or adopting children.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU Nebraska, and the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, challenges a policy developed in 1995 that prohibits the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services from placing foster children with “persons who identify themselves as homosexuals” or persons who are “unrelated, unmarried adults residing together.” The ban on gay foster parenting extends further, though, and prohibits these individuals from adopting children out of the foster care system as well. That’s because in Nebraska, individuals must first be licensed as foster parents before they can adopt children from state custody. The ACLU brought the challenge on behalf of Greg and Stillman Stewart and two other couples who would like to serve as foster or adoptive parents in the state. According to the ACLU, Nebraska is one of three states to still have some kind of ban on adoptions or foster parenting by gay and lesbian individuals; Utah and Mississippi have similar parenting restrictions, many of which an attorney for the ACLU noted are the result of backlash from advancing civil rights within the gay community. “Many of these policies like Nebraska’s came up during the 1990s with the marriage debate in Hawaii. Florida had something similar too,” said Cooper. In 2010, the ACLU successfully defeated that ban.

RH Reality Check, May 2, 2014

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The preceding are summaries of adoption/child welfare law news articles prepared by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy. These summaries are provided for your information only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center. We strive to print news that reflects the diversity of our readership and a variety of viewpoints and approaches to child welfare issues. While we may not agree with a position taken, we believe in the critical importance to our constituents of impartial reporting.

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