Is Foster Care “In the Best Interest of the Child”? Not on your Life!

medically-kidnapped-children[1]

The philosophy of “best interest of the child” sounds so very wonderful. It must keep children safe and help them to be successful for the remainder of their lives. Taking them from horrible parents, away from the abuse/neglect and placing them with foster parents in wonderful foster homes is the true solution to one of society’s worst corruptions.

Arizona Revised Statute A.R.S.25-403. Legal decision-making; best interests of child

  1. In a contested legal decision-making or parenting time case, the court shall make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the “best interests of the child.”

So, let us look at the National Foster Care Outcomes achieved from this wonderful intervention strategy to save children and put them on the road to a life of success. It must be exciting since we have federal funding that helps support this special cause, our future.

National Foster Care Outcomes

  • On September 30, 2012 there were approximately 397,122 children were in the foster care system. (1)
  • In the General Population of people that are 25 years of age or older, there are 31% that have a Bachelor’s degree (2)
  •  In the former foster children population that are age 25 and older, there are 3% that have a Bachelor’s degree (3)
  •  In the former foster children* population incarcerated since age 17: Males: 64% percent, Females: 32.5% percent. (4)
  • In the former foster children* population there are 24% percent who experience homelessness after aging out of the system. (5)
  • In the former foster children* population there are 61% percent who are unemployed one year after aging out. (6)
  • In the former foster children* population there are 53.5% who are unemployed five years after aging out. (7)

Question: Is it in the “best interest of children” from foster care to have 3 out of 100 with a Bachelor’s degree? Or 61 out of 100 unemployed? Or 24 out of 100 homeless? Or 64 out of 100 males incarcerated? Or 32.5 out of 100 females incarcerated?

Those outcomes do not seem to be in the best interest of these former foster care children.

America is:

  • 26th of 29 among developed nations based on measures of child welfare. (8)
  • 25th of 27 among developed nations based on the rate of child deaths from abuse and neglect. (9)

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration of Children & Families, Administration on Children, Youth & Families, Children’s Bureau identified:

(10) “Children Entering Foster Care during FY 2013,” was N = 254,904.

  • White children N = 114,666                                          45%
  • Black/African-American children N = 54,835               22%
  • Hispanic children N = 53,786                                        21%
  • American-Indian children N = 5,456                             2%

A national study of child protective services by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that “minority children, and in particular African American children, are more likely to be in foster care placement than receive in-home services, even when they have the same problems and characteristics as white children”. (12)

Child Trends Data Bank, Foster Care December 2014 pg. 5 (11)

  • Non-Hispanic white children, who made up about 52 percent of American children under age 18, accounted for 42 percent of foster children in 2013.
  • Black children, who made up around 14 percent of all children, accounted for 24 percent of foster children in that year.
  • Hispanics (who can be of any race), who were 24 percent of U.S. children, accounted for 22 percent of foster children in 2013. [6]

See more at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=foster-care#sthash.IzaMNls5.dpuf

Dorothy Roberts, a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Law, shares:

  • “If you came with no preconceptions about the purpose of the child welfare system, you would have to conclude that it is an institution designed to monitor, regulate, and punish poor families of color.” (12)
  • Black children make up more than two-fifths of the foster care population, though they represent less than one-fifth of the nation’s children.” (12)
  • Black children in New York were 10 times as likely as white children to be in state protective custody.” (12)
  • “According to federal statistics, Black children in the child welfare system are placed in foster care at twice the rate for white children.” (12)
  • “And once removed from their homes, black children remain in foster care longer, are moved more often, receive fewer services, and are less likely to be either returned home or adopted than any other children.” (12)

Well, surely the outcomes for Arizona’s Foster Care children will be significantly better than the national statistics. Remember we actually have a law, A.R.S. 25-403, that assures taxpayers that Arizona’s outcomes will demonstrate the spirit of “best interest of the child,” right?

Arizona Foster Care Outcomes

According to Children’s Action Alliance, as of January 9th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety records share:

  • 53% growth in the number of children in Foster Care from June 2008 to October 14, 2014. (13)
  • June 2008 there were 9,148 children in Foster Care and in October 2014 there were 17,184 children in Foster Care. (13)
  • In June of 2009 there were 5,509 families receiving In-Home Services and in November of 2014 there were 8,712 families receiving In-Home Services. (13)

Question: Is it in the best interest of the children in Arizona to have a 53% increase in the number in foster care? Or is that in the state’s financial best interest?

Question: Is in the best interest of children to have a 53% increase in the number of children in foster care and only a 27% increase in the In-Home Services provided to families?

It would not be unreasonable for an outsider to wonder if the state philosophy to reduce families getting In-Home Services had something to do with increasing the number of children in foster care. Would that be in the “best interest of children”?

According to Children’s Action Alliance, as of January 13th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety records share:

  • 2,144 children in foster care did not receive required monthly visit from DCS in September, 2014 (14)
  • 1,213 Parents with a case plan to reunify with their children did not receive required monthly visit from DCS in September, 2014 (14)
  • 448 foster homes did not receive required quarterly visit from their licensing agency between April 2014 and September 2014. (14)

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” to not have received the required monthly visit from the Department of Child Safety? Is it in the “best interest of the child” to not have received the required monthly visit to Parents in the reunification process?

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” to not have the quarterly visit from the agency that licenses the foster home to check on accountability outcomes in that foster home

  • African American children represent 4.8% of population yet 13.9% are in out-of-home care. (15)
  • Children with an adoption case plan spend on average 25.1 months in out-of-home care. (15)
  • 23.9% children in foster care have been in out-of-home care for 13 to 24 months. (Arizona Department of Economic Security, “Child Welfare Reporting Requirements Semi-Annual Report for the Period of Apr. 1, 2014 through Sep. 30, 2014”; 2010 U.S. Census Data) (15)
  • Average number of placements was 2.3, and the range for the number of placements was 1 to 43. (15)

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” that is African-American to be represented three times more in foster care than in the general population?

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” for children to spend over two years in out-of-home care?

Conclusions:

Maybe I do not understand the true meaning of what is in the “best interest of children.”

For the life of me I cannot fathom or understand how taking children from their natural parents and natural families for the rest of their childhood is in their best interest.

Taking their identity, their heritage, their beliefs, their religion, and even their name and social security numbers away in the name of “best interest of the child” does not seem reasonably to be in their best interest.

Why?

Why does the Arizona Department of Child Safety ignore “Kinship Care”?

The Child Welfare League of America has successfully focused on this solution for more than 30 years that I am aware of and yet Arizona ignores one of the most positive, healthy, and successful methods for keeping children safe.

“Every day hundreds of thousands of grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, and non-related extended family members step in to keep children safe and nurtured when their parents cannot. CWLA defines kinship care as the full-time protecting and nurturing of children by grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, older siblings, non-related extended family members, and anyone to whom children and parents ascribe a family relationship, or who ‘go for kin’. Within this definition there are two populations of kinship families: (a) informal, where children live with grandparents or other relatives and are not in child protective service custody; and (b) formal, where children are placed in the care of a relative or non-related extended family member under the auspices of a public child welfare agency. Whether informally arranged among family members or formally supported by the child welfare system, it is essential to affirm and support the considerable contributions of kinship caregivers.” (16)

 References:

  1. xix. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport20.pdf (estimates as of Nov. 2013).
  2. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics: 2012 (table 8), available at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_008.asp?referrer=report (2012)
  3. Foster Care by the Numbers, Casey Family Programs, Sept. 2011, available at http://www.casey.org/media/MediaKit_FosterCareByTheNumbers.pdf
  4. xxiv. Courtney, M., Dworsky, A., Brown, A., Cary, C., Love, K., Vorhies, V. (2011). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 26. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
  5. World Bank, World Development Indicators Database, Total GDP 2011, at 1, http://databank.worldbank.org/data/views/reports/tableview.aspx (2012).
  6. Calculated by finding average of unemployed former foster youth males (60%) and females (62%) at age 19. See Hook, J. L. & Courtney, M. E. (2010). Employment of Former Foster Youth as Young Adults: Evidence from the Midwest Study. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
  7. Calculated by finding average of unemployed former foster youth males (54%) and females (53%) at age 24. See Hook, J. L. & Courtney, M. E., Employment of Former Foster Youth as Young Adults: Evidence from the Midwest Study. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (2010).
  8. Calculated from rankings in overall well-being. See UNICEF, “Child well-being in rich countries: A league table of inequality in child well-being,” Innocenti Report Card 11, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, available at http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_eng.pdf (2011).
  9. UNICEF, “A league table of child maltreatment deaths in rich nations,” Innocenti Report Card 5, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, available at http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/repcard5e.pdf (2003).
  10. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration of Children & Families, Administration on Children, Youth & Families, Children’s Bureau identified; “Children Entering Foster Care during FY 2013”
  11. Child Trends Data Bank, Foster Care December 2014 pg. 5 http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=foster-care#sthash.IzaMNls5.dpuf
  12. Race and Class in the Child Welfare System by Dorothy Roberts; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/caseworker/roberts.html
  13. Children’s Action Alliance, January 9th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety Records http://azchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Receiving-Required-Visits-for-Children-in-Foster-Care.pdf
  14. Children’s Action Alliance, January 9th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety Records
  15. http://azchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Receiving-Required-Visits-for-Children-in-Foster-Care.pdf
  16. CASA of Arizona (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children http://www.azcourts.gov/casa/ChildWelfare/ChildWelfareStats.aspx Arizona Department of Economic Security, “Child Welfare Reporting Requirements Semi-Annual Report for the Period of Apr. 1, 2014 through Sep. 30, 2014”; 2010 U.S. Census Data)
  17. KINSHIP CARE: TRADITIONS OF CARING AND COLLABORATING MODEL OF PRACTICE http://www.cwla.org/kinship-care/

 

A version of this column originally appeared in:

New Film Exposes Shaken Baby Syndrome Myth – Opponents Want to Silence it at Film Festivals

A new film exposing the corruption behind much of the Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnosis used to remove children from the custody of their parents, and in some cases put parents behind bars, is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. The Syndrome is a film produced and directed by Meryl Goldsmith, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who teamed up with her cousin and investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith as the co-producer and editor. It is Meryl Goldsmith’s feature directorial debut, according to the film’s website. Included in the cast are doctors and law professors.

Lauren Kirchner, writing for the Pacific Standard Magazine, recently interviewed Susan Goldsmith and discussed the opposition the film has received from the medical community:

Many of the film’s subjects have dedicated their professional lives to gaining attention to updated research on child injuries, and to defending accused abusers in court. For this, they have faced a huge backlash from the doctors and prosecutors who disagree. The filmmakers knew they’d get swept up in that, too. Many film festivals that considered including the film were threatened with litigation, and accused of promoting child abuse, the filmmakers said in a recent interview.

“This is a theme in our film—how the proponents of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma have tried to silence their critics,” Susan Goldsmith says. “And that theme is extending to here and now, to our documentary. I was expecting it. We thought we were helping by uncovering these other medical conditions that can look like abuse, but are not [abuse]. It actually threatens the entire shaken baby syndrome working group and industrial complex.”

Kirchner writes that those who support Shaken Baby Syndrome in the medical field are part of a powerful and influential group, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Before the film’s first screening, they tried to get the Kansas International Film Festival to block the film, calling it “dangerous” even though they had not viewed it.

Here is a description of the film from the film’s website:

Audrey Edmunds, mother of three, spent 11 years in prison for killing a baby she never harmed. And she is not alone. What happens when widely held beliefs based on junk science lead to the convictions of innocent people?

The Syndrome is an explosive documentary following the crusade of a group of doctors, scientists, and legal scholars who have uncovered that “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the US, is not scientifically valid. In fact, they say, it does not even exist.

Filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith teams with Award-winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith to document the unimaginable nightmare for those accused and shine a light on the men and women dedicating their lives to defending the prosecuted and freeing the convicted.

The Syndrome uncovers the origins of the myth of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” It unflinchingly identifies those who have built careers and profited from this theory along with revealing their shocking pasts. Shaken baby proponents are determined to silence their critics while an unthinkable number of lives are ruined.

Last year (2014) law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who is featured in Goldsmith’s film, wrote a an article for Slate about 43-year-old Jennifer Del Prete, a former Illinois day care worker who had served 10 years of a 20 year prison sentence over Shaken Baby Syndrome, but was then released by a federal judge. Tuerkheimer’s article, Finally, a Judge Calls Shaken Baby Diagnosis an “Article of Faith”, stated that the ruling was “one of a growing number that reflect skepticism on the part of judges, juries, and even prosecutors about criminal convictions based on the medical diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome.”

Tuerkheimer went on to write:

The case is also a critical turning point. The certainty that once surrounded shaken baby syndrome… has been dissolving for years. The justice system is beginning to acknowledge this shift but should go further to re-examine and perhaps overturn more past convictions. (Read the full article.)

Shaken Baby Syndrome Can be Evidence of Vaccine-Induced Rickets

Christina England has written about the work of Dr. David Ayoub, a practicing radiologist from Springfield, Illinois, who has linked healing fractures found on x-rays of children, used to a mistakenly diagnosis Shaken Baby Syndrome, to infantile rickets.  Dr. Ayoub believes that it is not only a poor diet and the lack of sunshine that is responsible for the growing number of children suffering from rickets, but also the growing number of vaccinations containing the adjuvant aluminium.

Dr. Ayoub, an expert on the subject of infantile rickets, has been involved in hundreds of cases of misdiagnosed rickets worldwide and has testified on the behalf of many innocent parents charged with Shaken Baby Syndrome. (Read more about Dr. Ayoub here.)

Support The Syndrome Film!

Do not let the medical industry intimidate and block the message of The Syndrome! False Shaken Baby Syndrome charges are ripping children away from their parents and putting innocent people behind bars! The message of this film must reach the public!

Here are the upcoming screenings, and we encourage you to attend and support this film:

Geneva Film Festival—this Thursday 3/12 9 p.m. and Saturday 3/14 3 p.m. @Dodson Place, 416 South 2nd St., Geneva, IL

(In)Justice For All Film Festival–Monday, April 13th 6:30pm @ Northwestern University Chicago, IL

Arizona International Film Festival–April 9-26th (TBA) Tucson, AZ

For more times and showings at future dates, be sure to visit the film’s website: TheSyndromeFilm.com

Mandatory Video Taping of All CPS Workers

qQxhAfhxVBWoQRD-580x326-noPad[1]I live in Phoenix Arizona. What has happened to my two daughters makes me beyond terror-stricken! My daughters, age 12 and 10 were snatched from their hospital beds by CPS under false allegations, (just 18 days after our family had dismissed their GI doctor for neglect.) Unjustly removed from their feeding tubes they have now lost over 25% and 17% of their body weight! Still stuck in the system 6 months later and suffering, many continue to speculate what happened. But one thing we know for sure is that the Hospital and CPS workers who removed them, could have had a camera or a body cam to record the incident -- a camera that could have prevented the incident or given us clear information about what happened.

I won't accept that my daughters are suffering in vain. That is why I am asking for the Maricopa County CPS/ DCSFS division be the first to require that all workers and visitation supervisors who come in any contact with the public, children and their families be required to wear body cameras at all times. I am asking that part of the 60 million dollars that was received from Obama, for that division, be used to fund this project. Within 6 months I am asking that every county with a CPS/ DCSFS division in Arizona be fitted and operational with such devices.

Requiring CPS workers/ visitation supervisors to wear cameras would come with many benefits. The cameras would cost a few hundreds dollars each and would:

-Provide greater transparency and a constant third party witness
-Enhance motivation to act lawfully and truthfully
-Reduce the number of lawsuits and increase dismissed lawsuits with digital evidence
-Increase citizen's trust of his/her CPS division thanks to recorded actions
- In addition to clarify allegations against the accused party(s) the initial tape must entail a verbal reading of the initial complaint even if redacted.

-Lawyers should also be able to subpoena these immediately with the client receiving them within 24 hours for the initial tape, and 3 business days thereafter, with a fee of no more than $2.

"Police departments nationwide are using or testing on-body cameras and they're reportedly reducing police misconduct. When the Rialto Police Department in California adopted cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent. Other municipalities that have employed these cameras have seen a sharp drop in complaints and misconduct." -Require Ferguson and St. Louis County and City police officers to wear body cameras (Petittion)

Dramatic Increase In The Number Of Children In Arizona CPS/DCS Custody

Arizona-CPS-Abuse-665x385

With the recent stories of children allegedly being medically kidnapped in Arizona, as well as reports that there are not enough foster homes to house all the children in DCS custody, some parents have asked if this is truly an increasing trend or if there are simply more of these stories being reported. The trends they are seeing are concerning.

An average of 32 children enter the foster care system in Arizona every single day. Kris Jacober, the executive director of the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, told KTAR, “There’s more kids in foster care than there has ever been before.”

She is correct. According to the latest DCS Semi-Annual Child Welfare Report, there has been close to a 50 percent increase in the number of Arizona children in out-of-home care over just the last four years, from 10,514 in the period from April 2010 to September 2010 up to 15,751 in the period from October 2013 to March 2014. “New removals” have increased at just about the same rate, from 4,010 in 2010 to 5,701 in the 6 month period ending in March 2014.

Besides having half again as many children living in foster care as were there four years ago, Arizona has the greatest increase in the nation of child removals from their home. While most of the nation has seen fewer CPS cases, only 11 out of 50 states have shown an increase in the past decade. Arizona leads the pack, by a large margin, according to a Data Brief by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services. Arizona’s own data confirms that increase.

Arizona leads the nation in the number of children taken by the state

Arizona leads the nation in the number of children taken by the state

The number of very young children in foster care has skyrocketed.

Despite a federal law that ties Title IV-E funding to a requirement that CPS/DCS seek to place a child with a relative first, many parents allege that this is not being done. They may be correct. According to the Child Welfare Report, only 42.7 percent of children removed from their homes in Arizona are placed with family members.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children whose parents’ rights have been terminated, who have been adopted out of foster care — again, it is a 50 percent increase over the past four years, from 991 over 6 months in 2010 to 1,518 in the 2014 period. Over half of those placements are finalized within one year of the child being taken from their parents’ custody. This could indicate that any parents who may be falsely accused are not given adequate time for a defense.

All of these numbers might be good if it meant that the government was getting better at protecting kids from abusive parents. But it is far from clear that this is the case. While the numbers have remained fairly steady for removals for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse over the four years between 2009 and 2013, it is neglect cases that make up the staggering increase in DCS cases, according to data from the DCS Oversight Committee.

Arizona-CPS-Abuse-Chart-670x322

Also, the same report show that the number of children entering the DCS system has sharply increased, but the number of children exiting the system has remained steady.

Since the majority of the children removed from their homes are neglect cases, and since the greatest increase in DCS removals are based upon that charge, it is helpful to understand how neglect is defined by the Arizona DCS. According to the state code in Arizona, “neglect exists when parents, guardians or custodians place children at unreasonable risk of harm.”

“Neglect occurs when children are not given necessary care for illness or injury. Neglect also includes leaving young children unsupervised or alone, locked in or out of the house, or without adequate clothing, food, or shelter. Allowing children to live in a very dirty house which could be a health hazard may also be considered neglect.”

Further clarification states that neglect includes “a denial or deprivation of necessary medical treatment or surgical care or nourishment with the intent to cause or allow the death of an infant who is protected under A.R.S. § 36-2281.”

Herein lies the rub. Recently there have been a string of cases that have been taken up by Arizona’s DCF which have been termed “neglect.” Most of these allege medical neglect of the child(ren), when what is actually happening is that the parents challenge, debate, or disagree with a treatment plan or diagnosis by a doctor, or simply ask for a second opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMJJ4oCSMoU

When parents in Arizona try to enlist the help of their elected representatives, or file a redress of grievances when they say they are falsely accused, they report that they get nowhere. Health Impact News recently reported why, and it is a reason that should alarm everyone who believes in representative government. Maria Hoffman is an unelected employee under contract to the Arizona Legislature who is the Director of the Arizona Legislative Office of Family Advocacy. She reports that she is the “the only person at the legislature who handles CPS constituent issues directly and with the Attorney General’s Office.” All complaints are routed through her. When concerned citizens ask questions or talk to the media, she has threatened them with contempt and jail time, citing an ambiguous federal law that removes the person’s first amendment freedom of speech.

Two-Sisters-Kidnapped-By-S

The Inquisitr has reported on several of these stories in Arizona, and elsewhere, including the two Deigel sisters and Christopher Brown, who were taken by DCF based on accusations from doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Isaiah Rider in Chicago, Jaxon in Missouri, and Justina Pelletier in Boston are other cases that have made headlines recently. There are hundreds more whose stories have not been reported, often out of fear, and sometimes because of an unconstitutional gag order that has been placed upon the parents.

Arizona CPS Christopher Reign

Christopher Brown

The question is: How many of Arizona’s DCS/CPS cases are truly abuse cases, and how many of them are for alleged crimes by the parents, when the parents were simply doing what parents do, and fighting for answers and the best possible care for their children? When did disagreeing with the doctor become a crime punishable by having one’s child kidnapped?

Arizona has solid parental rights laws, laws that overzealous or corrupt social workers, judges, and doctors need to be reminded of, laws that are not being followed in many cases.

“The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health car and mental health of their children is a fundamental right.”

For the parents whose children were taken away because they questioned or disagreed with a doctor’s treatment plan, the law may as well not exist. There has been a huge increase in the number of children taken from their homes in recent years, more in Arizona than in any other place in the country. Parents and concerned citizens want to know why.

More Texas child abuse claims by CPS being overturned

174197278[1]AUSTIN, Texas — The state is overturning an increasing number of cases in which Child Protective Services initially ruled that a child had been abused or neglected, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

Twenty-seven percent of CPS rulings were reversed in 2009. That number has risen each year since then, hitting 42 percent last year. More than 1,140 cases were appealed in 2013, and 486 were overturned.

Even though a CPS ruling may be thrown out, the person accused of mistreatment can still face significant hurdles, the Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/1k6Uxhg ) in a story published Saturday. For instance, CPS decisions are used in criminal and civil cases, and they are a factor in custody disputes.

Child advocates expressed alarm at the reversal rate.

"I think it's positive for me to see that CPS is actually admitting to wrongdoing and correcting it," Johana Scot, executive director of the Parent Guidance Center, told the American-Statesman. "On the other hand, it's a very scary statistic. That means there are probably a lot of wrongful substantiations, which is scary to me because it's very harmful to the children and families."

But the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees CPS, says there are no indications of systematic problems with its abuse investigations.

Fewer than 3 percent of the 40,000 confirmed abuse cases are appealed each year, agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said.

There's also no evidence to show that a 42 percent reversal rate is an abnormally large number, he said.

"There is no criteria or standard that we are aware of that indicates that it is high," Crimmins said. "With 160,000 investigations, there are going to be some mistakes made. That is to be expected."

Such mistakes are not uncommon across the U.S. because of high caseloads, poor supervision, inadequate training and high turnover, according to Michael Petit, a member of the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.

"The vast majority of these caseworkers and supervisors are doing the best job they can under the circumstances," Petit said. "The problem is they're outmatched by the dimension of the problem."

 

A version of this column originally appeared in: