Archive for May 2010
By Joshua Allen
Dear Birth Parent,
Hey I know it wasn’t your fault for having your kids taken away. That damn social worker bitch what’s her name – she’s the real criminal. What’s a little tweaking anyways? You’re a good parent, the kids love you don’t they? They always say it when you ask.
And that judge! Who the fuck is that SOB to tell you that you need to be drug tested? The hell with those dirty tests! It’s the God damn system that destroyed your family. That judge is paid a big hunk of change to rip families apart. They all make money from messing with you.
And that mother-of-all-fights the two of you had that night. God was that a bitch of a fight or what! You were both messed up good remember? But you gave as good as you got.
But the kids weren’t touched, so what’s the big deal? God Damn neighbors ratting to the cops, I bet you know which one too. Always so nosy, asking about the kids. Who the hell was she to offer to take care of them? Why can’t people just mind their own fucking business! Lots of people do worse and they still have their kids, so why you?
They should go after the real criminals. You know the freaks that do those unspeakable things to their kids? You’ve never did anything like that. Neither did babydoll;… well he said he didn’t. Pricks, it was all lies. The middle girl was always trouble. Why did they make her lie?
What did those county assholes say? The allegation was substantiated? Unsubstantiated? Who the hell knows?
He should be getting out of the joint soon anyways. And yeah they said he’s got to stay away but they can’t really be there all the time. Man do you miss babydoll…
You love your kids, why can’t they see that? Okay so you shouldn’t have missed those visits. Especially the youngest ones birthday. Anyways she’s just 3 so she doesn’t really care about such things. But yeah, you shouldn’t have told her you’d be there, but you’ll make it up, you always do.
But why is the older one so angry?
Damn foster parent! Who the hell is she to say you can’t talk to your kids when you call any time, day or night. She’s poisoning them against you! That’s why they’re so angry. They’d probably be back with you by now if that lady hadn’t been speaking smack about you to that bitch CSW. And don’t get started again about that excuse for a human being.
Okay, it probably wasn’t too smart to yell at her those times, especially when you need your kids back. I mean you admit it, that wasn’t too smart.
But can’t they see how much the kids love you? How they cry when it’s time for you to leave the one hour weekly visit at McDonald’s?
What’s the foster parent so mad about anyways, so you missed a few visits when you were supposed to be there – the kids ate real good didn’t they? They love McDonald’s. You took them there almost every day when you had money before losing that job for tweaking during the lunch break.
Man that shit is gnarly, and yeah it was uncool to use before the baby was born. But you know better now. Next time you’re pregnant you’ll do it right. You’ll have the kids back too.
They need their mommy. Especially the baby. She’s got all sorts of problems but you’ll take her to the best doctors. You still got the Medi-Cal card, you never lost it. Doesn’t that prove something?
Anyways all that’s behind you. You’re barely using these days, not for a couple of days anyways. And you are taking your parenting classes. Haven’t missed a single one and you have the papers to prove it.
The judge said you’d get the kids back soon if you could just string together a few clean tests and your grandmother gets a bigger place. That’s what your mom did when you were a kid and you and your brothers came back home after a few months.
And when your babies come home it will be different this time. You and babydoll will do it right. No more partying. No more tweaking. And you’ll be a happy family this time.
Community Care Licensing has announced to various foster agencies they will now be cross referencing contract social workers who work for 2 or more locations to ensure that foster care social workers will have a total of cases that does not exceed 15 foster children at any one time.
This is a relatively simple thing to do, easily done with a pencil and ledger. And while the intent is to insure that a contract social worker gives their full attention to a limited caseload there remains a significant flaw with this concept.
A contract social worker may still have many other jobs with county agencies. Therefore while a worker is limited to having 15 abused and neglected children on their caseload, other county funded jobs they may have will continue to undermine the intent of this enforcement of previous policy which was ignored for over a decade.
And why exactly was this ignored for so long? Perhaps because foster agency management as well as DCFS at all levels have a vested interest in allowing the current non-enforcement to continue as is.
The contract system is a significantly cheaper way for foster care agencies to provide case management services to foster children, allowing revenues to be diverted to higher and higher management salaries, especially the salaries of the CEO’s (as well as their assistant CEO spouses, bookkeeping family members and cousin Vinnie who is the I.T. specialist who maintains all the floppy drives).
If one examines those agencies which make the highest use of contract workers (as opposed to full-time salaried social workers) you will likely find the highest paid CEO’s and family members in the entire foster care agency system.
We know of no other way a contract social worker can survive on a living wage without having other employment. Since caseloads remain variable, income from such activity is limited to monies well below the typical salary of a kindergarten teacher. And recall the teacher has health and other benefits which the contract worker is completely lacking.
So apparently the county expects contract workers to have other jobs, just not with case managing foster children beyond a total of 15. We’re not sure therefore how this does any good and while we clearly do not advocate a social worker being allowed to burden themselves professionally to the point where they are no longer effective at their job, it would be foolish to think this new preoccupation with caseload will do anything to improve the lives of foster children.
But then that’s not the intent. The intent here is to demonstrate that the ineffective and unnecessary bureaucracy called Community Care Licensing is finally doing something to prove their worth in regulating foster agencies, guarding taxpayer finances and, oh yeah, ensuring the proper care and nurturing of abused and neglected children caught up in the system.
CCL’s position to this seems to be “Don’t worry, we looked into it, nothing to see here.” I wish this was true.
Did disgraced CEO Craig Woods contact you? Did you help United Care Foster Agency get off of Administrative hold before the death of Viola Vanclief?
If you made any calls or contacts on United Cares behalf, did you research first the kind of people you were helping? Did you contact county auditors, quality assurance or Anthony McDaniel’s who knew very well what was going on with this agency?
Oh, and about the remaining $200,000 that is still owed to us the taxpayer, who will pay?
Remember, United Care reached a settlement reported to be around $200,000 or over with the previous accountant in a best practices lawsuit.
However, instead of returning the money to the county, it was instead used for bonuses, the largest of which went to disgraced CEO Craig Woods. A lot of the employees interviewed had no idea why they were getting such a large bonus, larger than anything they had ever seen. Now we know it was most likely because that was the only way Woods could give a bonus to himself!
So do Woods and the Board of Directors have to make good on this still owed money? Or do they just get to slink away, as Chicky Baby says… “No harm no foul.”
By the way, what about that? Will anyone actually serve time? I know if I shoplifted a pair of shorts I would, but hey, what’s a quarter million amongst friends.
Silence speaks volumes, but well, I’m just asking. Because um, I would like to know.
So please oh please Supervisor Mark Ridlely Thomas. Tell us you were too busy planning your almost million dollar office renovations and 25 grand ads in Who’s Who in Crenshaw to have helped United Care in it’s hour of financial desperation. Desperation that caused them to overlook all sorts of things… Say it ain’t so.
PS: Oh, and I got a question for you, and it may have nothin to do with nothin…so I’m gonna ask it hypothetically.
If a guy – lets say a guy who has a contract to provide services for abused and neglected children – anyways, lets say this guy has a perfectly legal business that sells for example, sex toys, or porn, or similar stuff imported from Brazil…well what I mean is, would this guy still be allowed to have a contract to run a foster agency?
How does that all work? Because people keep asking me that.
LA Foster Care: An Inconvenient Allegation:
The Business of Child Abuse.
By Joshua Allen
On May 16 Garrett Therolf of the Los Angeles Times reported that tips made to the DCFS child abuse hotline involving over 3,700 children are taking the county more than 60 days to resolve, well over the currently extended deadline that is mandated by the state to conclude if child abuse did or did not occur.
I’ll put a link to the article here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-child-abuse-20100516,0,213758.story and I would like to comment a bit. Since I don’t want to risk taking anything out of context it’s probably a good idea to read the whole article.
A couple things stand out, and my first thoughts stem from these quotes:
“But the work proved to be too much for the county’s 596 emergency response unit workers — up only 80 from a year ago. They are charged with investigating about 160,000 tips that arrive each year through the child abuse hotline. Since July, about 7.5% of the cases opened based on those tips remained unresolved after 60 days or more.”
“The study found that evidence was often insufficient to fairly judge the situation or had been improperly gathered. Children were interviewed alone in only 66% of cases. And social workers on average spoke with fewer than two so-called collateral contacts — neighbors, friends, school officials and healthcare providers who know the children best.”
As one excuse for the dismal record of timely resolution, the county is quick to beleaguer the lack of funding resources to hire more investigators despite having a budget little changed from when the amount of abused children placed into foster care was more than double it is now. (Inflation isn’t that bad!)
I can also understand why Trish Ploehn may be uncomfortable in discussing the huge attrition rate of County Social Workers (CSW’s) that occurs every year. I’ve heard stats of up to 50% but don’t know the actual numbers. Regardless this has to be a factor in their inability to properly staff these emergency departments.
My other observation is this. Many of the abused children and collateral contacts are not being interviewed by investigators – either alone or at all – because the investigators simply don’t speak the language of the child or contact, and those who do are stretched as thin as the departments excuse as to why these factors exist in the first place.
Frequently investigators will need to coordinate a translator to accompany them, and this is not always easy. What this leads to is a lot of ad hoc translation which can’t be good when you are asking the neighbor if she ever heard loud shouts or screaming coming from that orange home down the street.
In the article, a county spokesman, Nishith Bhatt, seems to note approvingly that the department is now filing “far fewer unsubstantiated cases.” But misses out on the irony (oh I love irony!) that if true, means that hundreds, perhaps thousands of allegations of abuse and neglect that were found to be unsubstantiated (in the past) were in fact, very real instances of child abuse.
So I’m glad that the county is now evaluating the evidence better, but our joy is tempered when considering the abused children who slipped through the cracks, and who were probably abused further over time, by adults who initially got away with it.
But don’t worry, all we need to do is hire 113 more emergency workers and all will be well.
How to Succeed in the Business of Child Abuse Without Really Trying.
LA Foster Care: The Business of Child Abuse.
By Joshua Allen.
Since the very first article and post, the author has attempted to explain how corruption, and ethical lapses, as well as governmental apathy, has led to the creation of a class of business amateurs who made their fortunes by exploiting weak, and non-existent regulations in California legal codes – and who therefore exploited weak abused and neglected children for financial gain.
The laws in question concern the creation, and running, since the mid 80’s of Foster Care Agencies designed to care for foster children. Please note, many of these agencies do a good job of caring for foster children as intended.
Regular readers will recall the intent of these agencies was to act as a sort of safety valve, when county government cannot find safe and appropriate foster homes through their own efforts. Indeed, the agencies were originally created to assist government with the care of ‘D’ rated children who suffer from difficult mental health issues, and require significant care and monitoring.
A key to understanding a lot of this stuff is that every nonprofit has to file tax returns with the state, and through GuideStar.com, you can find out things like who the Executive Director or so-call CEO, is and how much they pay themselves.
And “pay themselves” they do!
In the coming months we shall happily publish some of this information to make it a bit more readily available to those who have an interest in such things. (And even those who don’t which include the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, who seem to wish the whole problem would just disappear).
These executive positions are needless positions, and siphon off foster care monies. Money meant for abused and neglected children. Money that for certain individuals turns abused children in gold.
One executive who prefers to remain anonymous perhaps says it best;
“When the regulations call for administrators to have certain education levels with particular experience, and certain duties to perform, and then someone with no qualifying experience gets himself appointed as the Executive Director or CEO, (with a salary higher than the administrator), and personally benefits from little deals he makes with the friends he has put on the Board, and then proceeds to tell the qualified people how the agency should be run, and brings the agency to its knees through mismanagement—well, there’s something wrong.” (Especially when you don’t like long sentences).
Unfortunately, this is exactly what afflicted such disgraced and now defunct agencies (and there are others), such as United Care, El Camino, International Foster Family Agency and Refugio Para Niño’s.
The latter two agencies were indeed run by people who had some social worker experience, but little administrative experience. And as linked to and detailed in previous posts, their greed led to stupendously idiotic salaries, waste of tax payer money, and corruption, that reached the level of millions of dollars.
That nobody was ever held accountable beyond the loss of a job, and a return of a fraction of monies, is a further disgrace. And it speaks volumes about the priorities of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
And, in the case of United Care and El Camino Family Services, neither United Care’s disgraced CEO Craig Woods, nor the disgraced Executive Director from El Camino Family Services, Gutierrez, had more than high school degrees when they became the ultimate head of non-profit foster care organizations, with multi-million dollar budgets.
Like the others, they paid themselves salaries greatly out of proportion to similar positions from those individuals who work for ethically run charities. But then it’s not about running a charity for the greatest good, the purpose of these non-profits was wealth creation and prestige in their perspective communities. Oh, and any guess as to who is now in the foster care consulting business?
I can make a snarky comment here about just who is running the hen-house, but I’m at a loss when one considers the damage done by this money not reaching and not helping in any way abused children. So for now at least here I will leave aside the sarcasm.
There’s another issue here that I alluded to in previous posts and articles, and this must be part of anything written about unqualified people assuming positions over administrators who are qualified by education, experience, and character, with the latter being of special import, when working with a population of abused children.
There remains a huge hole in the foster care regulations that allows (i.e., the regulations don’t disallow it so it can be done), anyone to be an Executive Director and be the boss of more qualified administrators.
This loop-hole ultimately resulted in a lot of mismanagement and fraud, and the transfer of significant real estate into private hands.
However it is important to stress, that many Executive Directors do go on to do a good job. And make a real contribution towards the care and wellbeing of foster children.
Unfortunately, that is not the major theme of this piece, which is about the others who are referenced above. To go back to our former anonymous executive who says it best;
“When they started up “their” agencies as nonprofits with their own seed money (start-up costs are a non-allowable expense and therefore non-reimbursable by the state), it gave the non-profit founders the justification that it was really their business. “
So easy to forget, but it is not ‘their business.’ It is ours, the taxpayers. And this is what they ignore to their profit, and is where the problem lies. Remember, this is a nonprofit business, the purpose of which is to help abused children in any way possible. The purpose is not wealth creation, or the transfer of real estate into private hands.
All this returns us to the make-up of Boards of Directors. It is important to note right away, “Board minutes of nonprofits are open to public inspection, and must be handed over for reading within 48 hours when anyone places the request.” I doubt this occurs often but is something to consider.
At least half of the board members of Foster Agencies must be made up of individuals, who are considered by the state, and county, to be disinterested parties.
The other half of course are free to work for the agencies, set and vote on their own salaries, and I suppose, write up their own employee evaluations.
Okay, at this point I am now officially ending my moratorium on sarcasm. I have a daughter aged 12 and I know for a fact that she wishes she could do the same with her own report card.
But let’s get back to the ‘disinterested parties,’ as defined by regulation as individuals who don’t work for the agency. At agencies, “disinterested parties,” means family, friends, cohorts and cronies. Or to be clearer, Aunt Lupe, Cousin Bernie, Norm, from down the street, and that hood you went to school with. And these groups are guarding the hen-house.
Foster Care can be a horribly lonely place. Please picture this. These children are abused and neglected in their homes. They are removed; usually late at night, with all their possessions put in a garbage bag, and then sent to the home of a loving stranger, if they are reasonably lucky.
Social workers do their best to arrange proper medical care, therapy, proper education, and contact when appropriate with birth families.
And then because of the reprobates siphoning off money meant for our weakest and most deserving of aid, these damaged angels are to some degree denied the help of tutors, mentors, trips to museums, dance, karate or guitar lessons, a week or two at summer camp and fees for little league.
Good foster parents, and honestly there are a lot of them, do what they can but this money means they could do more. And they are the first people who would tell you this.
All this so Mr/Mrs Important Business Person can live in their million dollar home in West Covina, or Palm Springs, hobnob with minor and not so minor politicians, and go on talk radio aimed at their particular community, and present themselves as a tireless champion of the rights of abused and neglected children, while seeking donations.
Some of us would prefer to make our money the old fashioned way, where words like integrity, morality and ethics still have meaning.
And some of us want to write about it.
LA Foster Care: Licensing to Kill
The Business of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
Sources now report that Community Care Licensing (CCL) has been conducting extensive, hours long, interviews of previous United Care administrators, supervisors and other personnel, some of whom hadn’t worked for United Care several months or longer before the death by hammer of Viola Vanclief.
What is unusual is these interviews are happening many months after the fact, something which for CCL is very rare, even when a child is dead. That they would interview an employee who hadn’t worked at the agency for more than a half-year is unheard of.
What CCL usually does is talk perfunctorily to those involved in any allegations the first week or so that it is reported, wait several more months, and then write their report that gets duly filed and uselessly buried long after the fact.
No doubt those with an axe to grind -whether legitimate or because they are a disgruntled employee- will relish the opportunity to lambaste Craig Woods and Tamara Komashko to their hearts content. And CCL will hang on every word as if they were Homeland Security. They do have something to prove at after all.
One has little confidence in the ability of CCL to properly interview the dog catcher let alone those who may have something to hide or who obfuscate their own tawdry role in the death of Viola Vanclief. (No offence to Dog Catchers who are a lot better at their job than these guys are at weeding out folks who take advantage of abused children). Speaking with CCL for 2 hours is like spending your birthday at the DMV.
These people aren’t police after all, and we haven’t found anyone in awe of their ability to ferret out truth or to do so in a timely manner. CCL is notorious for allowing investigations to fester beyond any measure of competence. And exactly who audits them?
Foster parents who are victims of false and ridiculous allegations have waited months if not years for a seal of approval. Erring on the side of the children is one of the biggest lies incompetent child care bureaucrats use when excusing themselves from acting in a professional manner.
A private responsible firm would be able to do their job in one tenth the time, do it cheaper, and would not be subject to public union foolishness if somebody doesn’t do their job properly. A further belief is that murderous foster parents like Barker (allegedly) would be separated out quickly as well as other foster parents who shouldn’t be allowed near their own children let alone those who are abused and neglected.
CCL is in hyper derriere-covering mode since they originally allowed the foster parent to be certified despite being the proud owner of a substantiated allegation of child abuse towards her own child, and a conviction for theft in 2002.
What exactly was CCL thinking when this report came across their desk? Let me guess, (”5:00, time to go home. I’ll just throw it in this box.”)
No these retired-in-place champions of abused children are not the FBI. Undoubtedly the individual who messed up and made their own small contribution towards Viola’s death will be written up with a note placed on their permanent record. Well, actually we’re not so sure.
CCL should be abolished and their audits assigned to private sector investigators who have an economic incentive to be competent, and are subject to a bit more than a one day suspension if they fail in their job. Frankly, any private sector firm or individual would have been fired and possibly prosecuted had they allowed some of this stuff to continue.
Remember, these are the same people who in the past called Foster Care Agencies and told them in advance which files they planned to look over the next week when they strolled on by for their audits. (You see it saves time if the files are already out and waiting).
Not that Woods and Komashko don’t have much to answer for as clever readers can ascertain. The belief of course (and currently unproven we must admit), is that that Ms. Komashko (and in extension Craig Woods) was warned several times in advance that Viola’s foster home was unacceptable, that foster parent Barker was nuts (to use a clinical term) and that Barker not only lied about living with a convicted felon, but that both Kamoshko and Woods knew about this and hoped a self-serving signed and written promise would be enough if the convicted felon ever acted out or harmed Viola. The latter stretches credibility to a breaking point.
Komashko is reported to have brought foster parent Barker over to United Care from her previous employment at a now defunct foster agency called Hollygrove and apparently, Barker was never properly vetted or examined before she was certified by her new agency United Care.
Remember, United Care was hurting from the administrative hold and dying on the vine when the warnings from the foster care social worker first passed before their glazed eyes. Actually, Barker was assigned other FCSW’s before the last one, and one wonders what they have to say.
The point is, and must be asked, how much did they feel they needed the bed space and the money that it provided?
What was reported to this site (Joshuaallenonline.com) is this; and although the numbers aren’t exact they are close. There is something like 5,700 abused and neglected children under the care of Agencies with Los Angeles County and something like 768 allegations within this group that are yet to be fully investigated or adjudicated. The county and state has now in its wisdom decided to take a close look at these allegations.
No doubt many-many of these allegations are bogus IE: stuff from angry child abusing birth parents or more understandably, devastated children who just want to go home, and some of the allegations are true.
Why though, does it take 6 months or longer to find out? What other word besides ‘outrageous’ can we use here? Unprofessional? Bureaucratic? And why did it take the death of a toddler to jump kick this belated diligence?
I can think of a few reasons.