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News Items (45)

To help raise awareness about Child Abuse in our communities, The Blue Ribbon Project regularly shares articles and news stories related to Child Abuse and Foster Care. All articles shared in this section are from other news sources and do not necessarily reflect the views and thoughts of members of The Blue Ribbon Project.

MOREHEAD CITY — Carteret County Department of Social Services Director Clint Lewis said this month his agency continues to struggle with a high turnover rate, with much of that in the child welfare division.

“In child protective services, at one point this past year we had a 69 percent turnover. That hurts tremendously,” Mr. Lewis said during the County Consolidated Human Services meeting Monday, held via Zoom.

For the entire agency, which includes multiple sub-departments, the turnover rate in the last six months has averaged 29%, he added.

SYLVA, N.C. (WLOS) — An incident caught during a virtual learning class has lead to charges against a Jackson County man. Michael Huffman now faces child abuse charges. News 13 spoke with a district attorney who says there are important lessons for everyone from this incident.

SYLVA, N.C. (WLOS) — An incident caught during a virtual learning class has lead to charges against a Jackson County man. Michael Huffman now faces child abuse charges. News 13 spoke with a district attorney who says there are important lessons for everyone from this incident.

Pope ends a secrecy rule for Catholic sexual abuse cases, but for victims many barriers to justice remain

Pope Francis recently removed a secrecy rule to increase transparency for sexual abuse cases. 

Pope Francis recently removed one of the barriers facing sex abuse victims looking for justice – the “Rule of Pontifical Secrecy.”

The rule is an obligation under the church’s laws to keep sensitive information regarding the Catholic Church’s governance strictly confidential. This rule allowed church officials to withhold information in sexual abuse cases, even where there was an alleged cover-up or a failure to report allegations. The clergy could claim secrecy even from victims or legal authorities.

 

Movie star and comedian Tiffany Haddish, left, is a former foster child who now advocates on behalf of foster children. FilmMagic/FilmMagic for CASA of Los Angeles/via Getty Images Lenette Azzi-Lessing, Boston University

 

The stress and isolation caused by job losses, school closings and limited social interactions, along with the sharp economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, have made life harder for everyone – especially people who already faced economic hardship. But the roughly 435,000 U.S. children in foster care have been hit especially hard.

As young adults age out of foster care they need support and guidance to make successful lives.

For millions of high school seniors, summer represents the eager conclusion of an important chapter of their lives. It’s an optimistic apprehension to the conception of their coming-of-age story: graduating high school, embracing independence and looking to the future.

In some ways, the scene Sunday afternoon in Verona looked like a child’s birthday party.

 

A picnic table wrapped in pink plastic was crowded with family and members of the community, surrounded by coolers of water and soda. There were decorations of butterfly wings and pop hits playing on a speaker somewhere. Toddlers ran around a playground next to the pavilion. Balloons tied to a park bench, bounced in the wind.

 

But while everything was cloaked in hot pink, the posters and T-shirts were ominous. Family members were wearing T-shirts bearing the phrase “Justice for Bella” and a photograph of the toddler, wearing a bright pink dress and her hair in pigtails.

At a home in Punta Gorda, deputies found a young girl covered in bug bites and a rash while wearing a diaper overflowing with urine.

The filthy home reeked of feces, moldy food and cigarette butts. Facing the girl’s booster seat was a table covered in white powder from drugs, according to records from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies stumbled upon the situation June 13 because they were searching for the girl’s mother, who had a warrant for her arrest. Both parents were arrested for child neglect, along with other charges.

If deputies hadn’t been sent to the house in search of the mother, the child might still be in a house where the adults were allegedly using meth.

Experts say that many neglect or abuse cases are going undiscovered right now.

With schools, childcare facilities and camps closed due to COVID-19, reports of child abuse in Charlotte County have plummeted. In April, the number of reports of child abuse to the Department of Children and Families in Charlotte County was at the lowest it’s been in about nine years.

But that doesn’t mean fewer children are being abused.

When Florida schools shut down in mid-March, kids stopped seeing their teachers — who are trained to look for and report signs of child abuse.

“Quite a few reports come from professionals at schools mostly because they’re trained in what to look for, and kids spend a lot of time at school,” said Nathan Scott, child welfare policy coordinator with the Family Safety Alliance. “During COVID-19, they haven’t been at school, so that’s been a contributing factor (in the decline in reports).”

People who are required by law to report child abuse include professionals such as educators, health professionals and social workers — anyone who has contact with the child as part of his or her job.

The vast majority of reports come from these mandated reporters — especially teachers, who produced 21% of the 4.3 million referrals made in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Read More in The Sun Port Charlotte

3 ways the foster care system can emerge stronger after the coronavirus pandemicThere has been a significant drop in reports of child abuse and neglect during the coronavirus pandemic. Many fear that as we emerge, the child welfare system will be flooded as the impacts of family stress become public again. In preparation, state foster care departments must improve their operations to better serve foster parents and assist social workers with complex cases.

First, all states should offer foster parent training online.A number of states including Illinois and Tennessee were moving in this direction. But online training makes even more sense in light of COVID-19 and the adaptations many families already have made to group learning.

Currently, many states have inflexible training schedules for the foster parent classes that happen only on certain evenings and at certain locations. Coordinating schedules of working parents for their own families is challenging, but getting a dozen or more family units in the same place for 20 to 30 hours of training with commuting considerations and other family and work commitments is nearly impossible.

 

 Read the full story in USA Today

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For Father's Day, The Advocate teamed up with Extraordinary Families, a Los Angeles-based foster and adoption agency, to highlight LGBTQ+ dads showing the world that love is what defines a family.

A child enters foster care every two minutes in the United States, and currently there are over 400,000 children in care, according to Extraordinary Families. In Los Angeles County alone, there are approximately 20,000 children and youth in foster care at any given time, making it one of the largest foster care systems in the country. Older children, sibling sets, those with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are often in care longer and less likely to be adopted. Complicating things, the Trump administration just this month pushed the Supreme Court to greenlight religious-based discrimination that would allow agencies to turn away prospective LGBTQ+ parents.

Thanks to the help and partnership of quality resource families, Extraordinary Families, which works with many LGBTQ+ parents and kiddos, is helping to find safe and nurturing families for all children in foster care. Scroll down and read some of their success stories.

Since 1994, Extraordinary Families has been a leader in foster care, adoption, and child welfare policy reform. A leading nonprofit foster family, adoption, and advocacy agency based in Los Angeles, it is dedicated to improving the daily lives and long-term outcomes of children and youth in foster care by recruiting, training, and supporting high quality foster and adoptive (resource) parents for children removed from their families due to abuse or neglect. The organization welcomes a diverse population of individuals and families to serve as resource parents regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, marital or domestic partner status, political affiliation, or ancestry. Resource families are viewed as members of a team providing individualized care so each child can reach her/his/their fullest potential.

 

READ MORE IN THE ADVOCATE

This year's Gerber baby has been chosen!

safe imageGerber’s 10th Annual Photo Search winner is Magnolia Earl, who will represent the brand as this year’s spokesbaby.

Magnolia, from Ross, California, was chosen among 327,000 contestants who submitted their photos, videos and stories through Gerber’s contest website.

Magnolia and her family were rewarded a $25,000 cash prize, $1,000 in Gerber Childrenswear, $1,000 from Walmart and phones with a year of free unlimited service from Verizon.

“At a time when we are yearning for connection and unity, Magnolia and her family remind us of the many things that bring us together: our desire to love and be loved, our need to find belonging, and our recognition that family goes way beyond biology," said Bill Partyka, president and CEO of Gerber.

Read The Full Story at USA Today

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw overcame a lot of adversity to settle into his role as an integral defensive player with the 49ers last season.greenlaw

Greenlaw faced tremendous odds off the field, as his youth primarily was spent in foster care. There were plenty of rough times on the field during his four-year career at Arkansas, too.

The team went 6-18 in Greenlaw’s final two seasons of college. In the first season without Greenlaw, the Razorbacks went 2-10 for the second consecutive year in 2019.

Arkansas prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week had to answer questions about the team’s lack of success.

"I think the last two seasons we had going 4-20 reflected on a lot of our character,” Arkansas linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris said. “It showed that we stuck through hard situations and we had to overcome a lot of adversity that we had to overcome.

“We had to step up as leaders as a team. We had to keep leading the way. I feel like we showed that a lot the past two seasons, and these coaches know that. We just keep doing what we're doing and executing our plans to go out there Saturday and show that we can play at this next level."

Greenlaw faced many of the same questions a year ago, and NFL.com rated him as a seventh-round pick or priority free agent before the draft. The 49ers selected Greenlaw in the fifth round with the No. 148 overall draft pick.

Greenlaw started 11 games for the 49ers. He took over at weakside linebacker when Kwon Alexander missed the second half of the season due to a torn pectoral. Greenlaw made the defensive play of the season when he stopped Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister just shy of the goal line in the closing seconds to preserve the 49ers’ crucial Week 17 victory.

"He's definitely (an inspiration) when you watch him you want to have that type of rookie year,” Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim said.

Greenlaw remained in the starting lineup for the 49ers three postseason games, including Super Bowl LIV, when Alexander returned to the active roster. He is a key component of the 49ers' future. Harris and Agim said they have leaned on Greenlaw during the draft process to gain insight from a friend who went through it just one year ago.

Said Agim, “He says to be yourself. ‘Wherever you go, just try to focus on making the team and taking it one day at a time, honestly.’"

 

READ THE FULL STORY AT NBC SPORTS

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