How Could You? Hall of Shame Case Review-Missing Foster Child Hasanni Campbell

How Could You? Hall of Shame Case Review-Missing Foster Child Hasanni CampbellThis will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.

From Fremont, California, an article about a current missing child has brought up the missing child case of disabled foster child Hasanni Campbell, who was five when he disappeared in 2009. His foster mother was his aunt.

“On Aug. 10, 2009, 5-year-old Hasanni Campbell, who lived in Fremont, vanished. His foster father, Louis Ross, told police he parked in a Rockridge neighborhood, taking his daughter into a shoe store while leaving Hasanni, who wore leg braces due to cerebral palsy, inside the car. When he returned, Hasanni was gone.

 

Eighteen days later, Oakland police arrested the boy’s foster parents on suspicion of murder before releasing them days later due to lack of evidence. The pair have since left the state, and Oakland police believe Hasanni is dead.”


As search for missing Oakland girl intensifies, father held on child endangerment case

[Mercury News.com 7/12/13 Matthias Gafni, Kristin J. Bender and Natalie Neysa Alund]

 

There is a public Facebook page where news is shared on his case. See it here.

This blog discusses angry text messages from the foster father in the days leading up to Hassani’s disappearance:”Soulclap to San Francisco Chronicle for updating us on angry text messages from Louis Ross — the foster father of missing 5-year old Hasanni Campbell.
The foster father of a missing 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy sent an angry text message threatening to leave the child alone at a BART platform just 10 days before Hasanni Campbell vanished, according to court documents released today.

In addition, Louis Ross “voiced some misgivings” about caring for a disabled child when he talked to officers investigating the child’s Aug. 10 disappearance, according to a statement that Oakland police submitted to justify obtaining a search warrant of Ross’ Fremont home.

According to the police account, Ross sent an expletive-laden text message July 31 to Jennifer Campbell, his fiancee and the aunt and foster mother of Hasanni.

This is f- over, I will watch her but he will be out on the BART and its your responsibility to hey (sic) him so f – you,” Ross texted at 9:50 a.m., police said. The references appear to be to Hasanni and his 1-year-old sister.

Ross reported Aug. 10 that the boy had vanished from outside a shoe store on College Avenue in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood where Campbell was working. Ross said he had briefly left the boy outside when he went around to the front of the store.

Police have searched the neighborhood, Ross’ home, a Hayward scrap yard that he visited earlier in the day and local parks, but have not found the boy.

A neighbor in Fremont told police that Hasanni had not been seen for about two weeks before Ross reported him missing.

Oakland police Officer Ross Tisdell wrote in the court papers that the relationship between Ross, 38, and Campbell, 33, “appeared to have some instances of domestic violence.”

Police said they had heard reports of a “sword being brandished by Ross at Campbell,” but did not elaborate.

A “sword or cutting instrument” were among the items that police sought in a search of his 2002 BMW and the home on Roxie Terrace in Fremont where Ross lives with Campbell and the two children.

Nothing was seized from the home, but Ross voluntarily gave his cell phone to police, court records show.

In addition to the text message, police described an instance in which Ross apparently left the two children alone in the home “while he went to the bank to conduct a transaction.”

He had also voiced some misgivings about caring for a developmentally disabled child during the interview,” Tisdell wrote.

Ross, reached by phone today, downplayed any domestic disputes with Campbell.

He said he had sent the text message in frustration at a time when he planned to break up with Campbell.

It was me venting about a situation in our past that had come back up,” he said. “I was ending the relationship at that point.”

He said he had not left Hasanni alone at BART. He said he had wanted Campbell to pick up the children, but that she had been unable to do so. The dispute quickly cooled, Ross said.

As for the sword, Ross said he had told police about it and that officers had later returned and picked it up. He said he kept it under a mattress.

It wasn’t a big deal,” he said.

Ross has said he is cooperating with officials “100 percent” and that he told the truth when he took a polygraph examination last week.

John Burris, an attorney who has consulted with the couple, emphasized today that Ross has always cooperated with the investigation.

He’s very responsive,” Burris said.

The case has been puzzling to authorities in part because bloodhounds could not detect Hasanni’s scent outside the Rockridge shoe store where Ross says he left the boy.

In the search warrant affidavit, police said it was a mystery that Hasanni could disappear from “a crowded business district with no witnesses.”

There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the boy’s whereabouts. Officer Jeff Thomason, an Oakland police spokesman, said the department still considers the case a missing person investigation. However, a homicide investigator has been put in charge of the case. ”

Hasanni Campbell’s foster dad remains chief suspect[ABC 7 8/11/10 by Terry McSweeney and Alan Wang] says “one year ago 5-year-old Hasanni Campbell was first reported missing. Oakland police say the prime suspect is still the child’s foster father, 39-year-old Louis Ross.

“The case is still classified as a missing person’s case, but based on the investigation, I feel that Hasanni Campbell met foul play at the hands of Louis Ross and he remains the primary suspect,” said Oakland Police Lt. Gus Galindo.

For Oakland homicide investigators this case is not a who done it, it’s a how do we prove it without the body of little Hasanni. A year to the day after the child was reported missing by his foster father at a shoe store on College Avenue in Oakland, and after the distribution of more than 10,000 fliers with Hasanni’s picture and heavy media coverage, there is no trace of the boy.

“Somebody out there does have that information and we need them to come forward,” said Galindo.

It was last Aug. 10 that Ross told police he left his foster child in the car while he ran in to see the boy’s aunt and foster mom, Jennifer Campbell, and the boy vanished. The story started changing. No one had seen the boy since a Walmart security camera caught Ross and Campbell together on Aug. 6. Ross failed an FBI polygraph. E-mails were discovered where Ross told the boy’s foster mother he wanted to abandon the cerebral palsy victim at a BART station.

Ross and Campbell were arrested for murder, then released for lack of evidence.

A news conference and a vigil were held Tuesday to keep this case in the public eye. Members of Citizens for the Lost Society met with representatives of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Since Hasanni’s disappearance, there has been a change of heart among several people who stood by the boy’s foster parents, including his aunt Trinity Schwabacher.

“I believe my nephew was murdered… by Louis,” said Schwabacher.

Sherri-Lyn Miller of Citizens for the Lost Society said she understood why the foster parents stopped talking to police, but can’t understand their actions afterward.

“We were there to support them and help them in any way we could, and for them to leave town like this child didn’t matter is pretty hard to swallow,” said Miller.

The couple had a child together and moved to Arizona where they broke up. Ross is now in Maryland, but Campbell is still in Arizona — a single mother looking for a job.

“As of two weeks ago, I went out of state with FBI and conducted an interview of Jennifer Campbell regarding the investigation,” said Oakland Police Lt. Gus Galindo.

On Tuesday evening, the district attorney told family and friends of Hasanni the $75,000 reward for information leading to an arrest could be offered to Campbell, who police believe has crucial information.

And while a group of supporters still remain committed to finding Hasanni, Ross and Campbell have stopped talking to them and since being released from jail, they have made no effort to help find the boy themselves.”

The Charley Project gives a great summary of the case here :”Details of Disappearance

Hasanni was reportedly last seen in the Rockridge district of Oakland, California at 4:15 p.m. on August 10, 2009. His foster father, Louis Ross, said he left the child outside his vehicle, a 2002 BMW, in the back parking lot of /Shuz/, a shoe store in the 6000 block of College Avenue. Ross was dropping off Hasanni and his one-year-old sister, Aaliyah, to be with his fiancee, Jennifer Campbell. Jennifer is the children’s aunt and foster mother, and she managed the Shuz store. Photos of Ross and Jennifer are posted below this case summary. Ross took Aaliyah and went ahead to unlock the store door. When he returned to the vehicle, Hasanni was gone. An extensive search of the neighborhood turned up no sign of him. Owing to his cerebral palsy, he couldn’t have gone very far on his own.

Hasanni had been living with his foster parents since December 2008, as his biological mother has health problems and substance abuse problems. Hasanni’s foster parents were reportedly taking legal steps to adopt him when he disappeared. The state division of Children and Family Services had no problems with the couple as foster parents, and noted they conscientiously looked after Hasanni’s medical needs. He was a student at James Leitch Elementary School in 2009.

After the child was reported missing, police impounded Ross’s BMW, took Aaliyah into protective custody and served search warrants on his foster parents’ home in the 5900 block of Roxie Terrace in Fremont, California. Ross took a polygraph test, which he failed; Jennifer refused take a test, saying she was pregnant and was worried the test would affect the fetus. Authorities stated there were incidents of domestic violence in the couple’s relationship, and Ross had misgivings about raising a disabled child. According to court documents, Ross also once left Hasanni and his sister alone at home while he went to the bank. On July 31, ten days before Hasanni disappeared, Ross sent an angry text message to Jennifer threatening to abandon the child on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) platform. He later stated he had simply been angry at Jennifer and had no intention of leaving Hasanni anywhere.

Police expressed skepticism of Ross’s account of Hasanni’s disappearance. The child supposedly vanished in the middle of a busy business district crowded with people, but nobody saw anything unusual, and tracker dogs could not find Hasanni’s scent at the site where he was supposedly last seen. The family’s neighbors stated they hadn’t seen Hasanni since about two weeks before his disappearance was reported. In the investigation, police determined the last time Hasanni was seen by anyone other than his foster parents was on August 6, at a Wal-Mart store in Fremont.

On August 28, eighteen days after Hasanni’s disappearance, his foster parents were arrested on suspicion of murder. Authorities intended to charge Ross with murder and Jennifer as an accessory. However, Jennifer was released on August 31 and Ross on September 1 after prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to file charges against them. Both of them maintain their innocence, but they remain the prime suspects in Hasanni’s disappearance. In November 2008, after Jennifer gave birth to a
daughter, she and Ross ended their relationship and moved out of their Fremont home.

Authorities are no longer actively searching for Hasanni, stating they don’t know where to look. Although Ross and Jennifer maintain he was abducted from Oakland, police continue to believe he was murdered by his foster parents. His case remains unsolved.”

 

A version of this column originally appeared in www.reformtalk.net.

Lawmakers, regulators behind the curve, foster care surge shows

Lawmakers, regulators behind the curve, foster care surge showsMajor reforms are critical to resolving the current crisis and preventing future ones.

Nobody wants a youngster to be separated from his or her biological parents. But nobody can say for certain why this is happening more and more often to Maine's children.

Marie Beaulieu of Jay helps her son Shavar, 8, wash his hands. She and her family adopted him after taking him in as a foster child. Lawmakers have backed spending cuts that affect support services for foster care adoptive parents like the Beaulieus, while regulators have failed to track long-term trends in foster care.

In September 2011, the number of Maine kids in state custody started to rise, reversing a 10-year decline. As of last month, just over 1,800 children were in state care. By June 30 (the end of the fiscal year), this figure could reach 1,900 -- 35 percent higher than projected, says state Office of Child and Family Services director Therese Cahill-Low.

Obviously, this is a complicated problem with many facets. A report in the Maine Sunday Telegram has explored the varying extent to which Department of Health and Human Services mismanagement, cuts in other social services and drug abuse by young parents have contributed to the rise in foster care placements.

It's clear that the actions of state lawmakers and state regulators could have done more to prevent the increase in the number of children in state care. These two groups need to make major reforms and work together to figure how best to channel the state's resources toward keeping families intact.

THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL SERVICES CUTS

Lawmakers have backed reductions in spending that affected programs that help keep children with their biological families or find them a safe, permanent home with other families.

Examples of services hit hard by the cuts are kinship care, which places a child with a relative rather than a foster home; "wraparound" counseling and education for families of at-risk children, and support for foster care adoptive parents, to prevent disruptions that send kids back into the foster care system, says state Rep. Dick Farnsworth, Health and Human Services Committee co-chairman.

Although state social services in Maine have weathered high-profile spending cuts since Paul LePage was elected governor, they didn't begin with him, and it would be wrong and unfair to place the responsibility for the foster-care situation solely on his administration.

Farnsworth says reductions in services that affect the foster care system date to the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, in a process that Farnsworth, a Portland Democrat, calls "death by a thousand paper cuts."

SINGLING OUT DRUG ABUSE

Drug abuse also plays a conspicuous role in discussions of the reason for increased foster-care placements. The current headline-grabber is the surge in popularity of the synthetic hallucinogen known as bath salts.

Indeed, "verbal reports" by DHHS caseworkers about the link between a rise in the incidence of child neglect and a rise in the use of bath salts swayed lawmakers in January into covering a $4.2 million shortfall in the supplemental state foster care and adoption budget.

"You hear that and it rips your heart out," said another Health and Human Services Committee member, Rep. Richard Malaby, R-Hancock. Lawmakers, however, need to be guided by their heads as much as their hearts when deciding how best to direct scarce financial resources.

While we don't expect lawmakers to suppress their natural human emotions, we do expect them to rely on facts, not anecdotes. In this situation, legislators didn't require the DHHS to further explain the $4.2 million gap.

SUBSTANTIVE DATA MISSING

In fact, the DHHS had little substantive data to back up its assertion that the rise in foster placements can be attributed to an increase in drug abuse by birth parents. The agency cited a survey based on caseworkers' reports over the past two years.

The chart doesn't allow comparison to previous years; it excludes broader social risk factors, such as whether the parent has a job, and it doesn't show links among risk factors, such as cases of neglect resulting from alcohol or drug abuse.

And when the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram itself tried to identify trends that might explain the recent rise in foster-care placements, the newspaper was hindered by the DHHS' multiple computer systems and limited data-collection practices.

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE

We're heartened by the fact that Farnsworth promises that the biennial Office of Child and Family Services budget will receive more scrutiny than the supplemental spending proposal, and we hope that this proves to be the rule and not the exception for future budget-writing processes.

Legislators must demand objective and conclusive data from all state agencies before making budget decisions. They also need to provide these agencies with the funds to collect and interpret this data.

The Office of Child and Family Services, for its part, has to step up and use the information that it collects to analyze trends with an eye toward long-term budget planning.

Of course, valid conclusions about program effectiveness must take into account socioeconomic and other differences between the people being served one year and those served the next. However, it's hard to imagine how the Office of Child and Family Services, the Legislature or the people of Maine can find out which programs are working for the greatest number of people without following the programs' progress over time.

Ultimately, state policymakers, child welfare professionals and Maine families all want Maine's children to grow up in secure, safe surroundings. There undoubtedly will be debates over the best way to accomplish this goal.

We also can be sure, however, that if lawmakers and regulators aren't held accountable, we will not reach this goal, and the people who will be hurt most are the children who are hurting already.

A version of this column originally appeared in www.lukesarmy.com.

Our View: Lawmakers, regulators behind the curve, foster care surge shows

Marie Beaulieu of Jay helps her son Shavar, 8, wash his hands. She and her family adopted him after taking him in as a foster child. Lawmakers have backed spending cuts that affect support services for foster care adoptive parents like the Beaulieus, while regulators have failed to track long-term trends in foster care. 2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

Marie Beaulieu of Jay helps her son Shavar, 8, wash his hands. She and her family adopted him after taking him in as a foster child. Lawmakers have backed spending cuts that affect support services for foster care adoptive parents like the Beaulieus, while regulators have failed to track long-term trends in foster care.
2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

No one wants a child to be separated from his or her biological parents. However no one can state for certain why this is taking place more and more commonly to Maine's children.

In September 2011, the variety of Maine kids in state custody began to rise, reversing a 10-year decline. As of last month, just over 1,800 children were in state care. By June 30 (the end of the fiscal year), this figure could reach 1,900-- 35 percent higher than projected, says state Office of Child and Family Services supervisor Therese Cahill-Low.

Certainly, this is a complicated problem with many features. A report in the Maine Sunday Telegram has actually explored the varying level to which Department of Health and Human Services mismanagement, cuts in other social services and drug abuse by young parents have added to the rise in foster care positionings.

It's clear that the actions of state legislators and state regulatory authorities might have done more to prevent the boost in the number of children in state care. These 2 teams need to make significant reforms and interact to figure how best to channel the state's resources towards keeping families intact.

THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL SERVICES CUTS

Lawmakers have actually backed decreases in spending that affected programs that assist keep children with their biological households or discover them a safe, long-term home with various other families.

Instances of services struck hard by the cuts are kinship care, which places a child with a relative as opposed to a foster home; "wraparound" therapy and education and learning for families of at-risk children, and support for foster care adoptive moms and dads, to prevent disruptions that send out children back into the foster care system, says state Rep. Dick Farnsworth, Health and Human Services Committee co-chairman.

Although state social services in Maine have weathered high-profile spending cuts since Paul LePage was elected governor, they didn't begin with him, and it would be unreasonable and wrong to put the obligation for the foster-care circumstance only on his administration.

Farnsworth says decreases in services that affect the foster care system date to the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, in a procedure that Farnsworth, a Portland Democrat, calls "death by a thousand paper cuts.".

SINGLING OUT DRUG ABUSE.

Substance abuse additionally plays a visible role in conversations of the reason for increased foster-care placements. The current headline-grabber is the rise in popularity of the artificial hallucinogen known as bath salts.

"spoken reports" by DHHS caseworkers about the link between an increase in the incidence of child neglect and a rise in the use of bath salts swayed legislators in January into covering a $4.2 million deficiency in the additional state foster care and adoption budget.

"You hear that and it tears your heart out," said another Health and Human Services Committee member, Rep. Richard Malaby, R-Hancock. Lawmakers, however, need to be directed by their heads as much as their hearts when choosing how finest to direct rare monetary resources.

While we don't expect lawmakers to suppress their natural human emotions, we do anticipate them to rely on realities, not anecdotes. In this circumstance, lawmakers didn't need the DHHS to more clarify the $4.2 million space.

SUBSTANTIVE DATA MISSING.

In fact, the DHHS had little substantive data to store its assertion that the rise in foster positionings can be attributed to an increase in drug abuse by birth parents. The company cited a survey based upon caseworkers' reports over the past two years.

The graph does not permit contrast to previous years; it omits wider social danger factors, such as whether the parent has a job, and it does not reveal links among risk elements, such as cases of neglect resulting from alcohol or substance abuse.

And when the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram itself attempted to determine trends that may describe the recent increase in foster-care positionings, the newspaper was hindered by the DHHS' numerous computer system systems and limited data-collection practices.

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE.

We're heartened by the fact that Farnsworth guarantees that the biennial Office of Child and Family Services spending plan will receive more scrutiny than the additional spending proposal, and we hope that this proves to be the rule and not the exception for future budget-writing procedures.

Legislators need to require definitive and objective data from all state agencies prior to making spending plan decisions. They also need to offer these companies with the funds to interpret this information and gather.

The Office of Child and Family Services, for its part, has to step up and use the info that it gathers to evaluate trends with an eye toward lasting budget planning.

Naturally, legitimate conclusions about program effectiveness need to take into account socioeconomic and various other differences in between the people being served one year and those served the following. It's difficult to envision how the Office of Child and Family Services, the Legislature or the people of Maine can find out which programs are working for the greatest number of individuals without following the programs' progress over time.

Eventually, state policymakers, child welfare professionals and Maine households all desire Maine's children to grow up in protected, safe environments. There certainly will be debates over the best method to complete this goal.

We likewise can be sure, nonetheless, that if regulatory authorities and lawmakers aren't held accountable, we will not reach this goal, and the people who will be harmed a lot of are the children who are harming currently.

269 Children Abused in Michigan Foster Care in First Half of 2012

269 Children Abused in Michigan Foster Care in First Half of 2012

100 of those children were in kinship care.

This is considered an improvement over what the system was in 2006.

“The New York-based Children’s Rights and the Michigan Department of Human Services met in court for a periodic check of reforms mandated by a lawsuit filed in 2006 on behalf of the thousands of children in the state’s foster care system. A 2008 consent decree that called for a complete overhaul of the system was amended in 2011, and Wednesday’s hearing was a reflection of the first complete reporting period under the new agreement, January through June 2012.

“This system has made major strides from the system we brought suit against in 2006,” said Sara Bartosz, the lead attorney for Children’s Rights. “But safety still needs to be looked at.”

Data discussed at the hearing found 269 children were abused while in foster care settings during the six-month period, and of those, more than 100 were in the care of family members. The proper licensing of family members who take on children for relatives was also discussed, as more than 1,500 children were in homes of family members who weren’t properly licensed by the state. Bartosz said family is often the best place for children whose parents are being investigated, but that not every family member is the best choice as a parent. Licensure ensures proper visitation and safety checks, she said. Within the system as a whole, she said, children are not getting enough visits from state welfare workers, and timely investigations of abuse are still lagging behind.

“It’s hard to get ahead of yourself when you see a child for every day of the week being a victim of child abuse while in foster care,” she said. “Clearly, we can’t be satisfied with that.”

But DHS Director Maura Corrigan was praised by both Children’s Rights and Judge Nancy Edmunds for taking on a system that was in complete disarray at the time of the first consent agreement. Since then, Corrigan said, the state has launched a centralized hotline for child welfare issues, redistributed caseloads and hired hundreds of social workers to fill gaps. She said they are inching up in dealing with child safety issues.

A large-scale push to recruit foster parents through faith-based and other communities lead to 1,316 new licensed foster parents during the six-month period. She said the state has broken records in getting children adopted.

And, the department has also undertaken a massive reorganization and is on track to implement a better computer system that will allow case workers to track and record the progress and movement of children within the system.

“I think this is a remarkable feat for the state,” said Corrigan, who wants the state to be out from under the suit in 2014, but noted that other states under similar decrees have had trouble doing so.

Judge Edmunds agreed with the findings on both sides.

“It’s really remarkable how much progress has been made. This program was in terrible shape when the suit was filed,” she said. “It would be foolish to not recognize areas that still need a lot of work. I don’t think there’s any real debate that child safety was the number one objective of the litigation in the first place.””

State making improvements, but too many children still abused, says group

 

A version of this column originally appeared in reformtalk.net.

A version of this column originally appeared in feedproxy.google.com.

Using Facebook to connect foster care children with relatives

8dafbe61cbfe830c42c7f32f795cdd6a0800fe60[1]Facebook has actually opened a brand-new world of experiments for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The state is making use of the social networking site as a device in finding the family members of children in foster care.

Information 5's Dara Newson reveals us how it's had an impact on lives.

"When it's your very own relatives the possibilities that you say I'm sorry can't do this any longer seem to decrease," stated Debi Schriner.

Foster kids are frequently relocated from one unfamiliar house to an additional.

"Often times if they have to go into stranger care they get moved into a different neighborhood," Schriner discussed.

Schriner is the resource designer with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Her purpose is to reconnect wards of the state with their households.

"Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Second Cousins, whatever it takes," Schriner said.

Schriner began working with Facebook, determining families in images.

"Sometimes it's a case manager really getting a hold of me and saying, she states she has an Aunt Sara, however I do not have much info," Schriner included.

Since establishing this site on Facebook, family members of about 80 families have actually been searched.

"Sometimes I'm sending messages to Dads that the case supervisor does not have an address for and stating, hello please phone call this case manager. In some cases I'm doing a whole search between our stories and exactly what I could find on Facebook and connecting the dots of okay this is Aunt Martha or this is Uncle Bill," Schriner stated.

Presently there are 5,539 wards of the state and almost 3,800 are coping with non-relatives.

"If we can get relatives, at least it's a familiar face and people that already understand them and know their demands," Schriner included.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services states there is a terrific demand for foster parents about to absorb teens.

A version of this column originally appeared in feedproxy.google.com.