Only 12 percent of foster care kids can call a place a home

“One of the very first cases that I had was a case with a substance exposed newborn. The report came in from a mandated reporter stating that the mother had tested positive for methamphetamine. During the labor process of giving birth to the newborn, the nurse found two white pills in the mothers vagina and another white pill in the baby’s placenta. Then, I had to make my response time and see if the baby was having any withdrawals from the mothers drug use during her pregnancy.”

Photo: Erica Knudsen

Photo: Erica Knudsen

This was the first story my sister had revealed to my family when she first started working as a social worker in the state of Arizona.

“This mother had five other children, and they were living in a motel room with one king size bed. The room was covered with clothes, junk, and wine bottles that were scattered throughout the room. There were drugs laying around in reach of the children and no food in the room. The families that I had put them with each bought them new clothes, provided them with their own room, and made them feel as if they were their own children. To me, that was rewarding because I feel that I personally gave these children a whole new look on life and what they truly deserve.”

After hearing this disturbing story, it caught my attention that there is more to the foster care system then we may know about. Where do these kids go, and are they provided with enough resources?

The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) showed that 415,129 kids were in the foster system in 2014. Out of this number, only 50,644 kids were adopted with help from a public child welfare agency.

Courtesy: Children's Bureau, Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System

Courtesy: Children’s Bureau, Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System

Making up the largest percent (46%) are parents who want to adopt that are not related to the foster child. As of September 2014, the foster care system has a variation in age, with a decrease in numbers once the child turns 18.

Courtesy: Children's Bureau

Courtesy: Children’s Bureau

“The judge decided that it is in the best interest for Serenity that she will be moved to the other family, and at that time my family was devastated. After all the preparation and attachment, it felt as if we lost a family member,” Marc Canez, a police officer and foster parent in Arizona said.

Serenity, Foster Child

Serenity, Foster Child

Officer Canez and his wife had been foster parents for Serenity for two years. In the process of finalizing paper work for adoption, Serenity was taken from their custody and given to the grandparents. Only 29 percent of foster parents are relatives of the foster child.

“I think the one thing that we learned becoming foster parents is that love for a child is huge, and that there is always room for more. There are many more children who do not have a home or parents to care for them,” Canez said.

Photo: Erica Knudsen

Photo: Erica Knudsen

According to the Children’s Bureau, $21.8 million is given by the federal government to all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico to ensure payments for foster care maintenance and administrative costs. Back in 2009, Tribes became eligible for foster care, where $3 million was put aside to help grant the tribal community. Known as title IV-E, this program allocates this money to help establish safer foster care systems and care placements for children.

The Secretary of State is supposed to grant each state $70,000. In addition, providing  a second amount depending on the population of people under 21, and the percentage of money a state should receive. This money is strictly set aside for foster care.

Title IV, Child and Family Services

Title IV, Child and Family Services

“I believe the system meets the minimum standards. There is financial compensation, however it was not enough to help support Serenity in some areas because taking on a new child is costly in many ways. I think the system should help provide with more clothing, however we were not doing it for the money,” Canez said.

In 2000, data was collected showing that in the state of California 29.7 percent of cases were because of child abuse or neglect. However, there are many other factors that can cause a child to end up in foster care, including teenage pregnancies, financial stability, and overall safety of the child.

Courtesy: Childwelfare.gov

Courtesy: Childwelfare.com

Courtesy: Childwelfare.gov

“The greatest blessing from growing up as a foster child is my mother being there for me when I needed her for comfort,” Garrin Bailey, an adopted son said. “She taught me that being connected through the heart can be a lot stronger than being connected through blood.”

Garrin Bailey, (third from left) with his family

Garrin Bailey, (third from left) with his family

Garrin’s guardians gave birth to one biological daughter and adopted three boys and four girls, making their family a total of eight.

“Being a foster child taught me how to be a good person and to always spread more love than hate. If you do good things in life, good things will happen back to you,” Bailey said.

Photo: Erica Knudsen

Photo: Erica Knudsen

Garrin is one of many who have had a good experience with the foster care system, however there are many children who have not had a pleasant experience. There is a lot of controversy when discussing if the foster care system is fair and caring. Also in the year 2000, the Children’s Bureau released a study showing if case workers had a reduced load of cases, the care of neglected and abused children would have much more attention. This is a problem the foster care system still faces today.

“The only thing that I believe the government can change is making sure that there is a better response time for the case managers,” Kaylee Baumstark, Case Manager Specialist for the State of Arizona from the Department of Child Safety said. “The reason I believe that foster care and CPS doesn’t always have a good rating is because sometimes the case manager doesn’t have all the information they need in order to stand their ground with their case.”

Courtesy: Childwelfare.gov

Courtesy: Childwelfare.gov

Case managers have a lot on their plate, from first hearing a case to making sure the kids are taken out of their homes and put into better care. They receive an enormous amount of cases a day, and if they had more employees for each state or less cases to close within 48 hours, their focus on each case would be better.

“The children I have worked with have suffered extreme trauma during their time living with birth parents. The most common reason for placement includes sexual abuse, physical abuse or severe neglect,” Alyssa Forster, an intern at Koinonia Family Services said. “From my own personal assessment, clients have multiple issues pertaining to the lack of treatment for their childhood abuse.”

Although the foster care system does a lot for our society, there are people who believe they can never be foster parents.

Photo: Erica Knudsen

Photo: Erica Knudsen

“Adoption is wonderful, but it is not for everyone, and I feel that if I were to choose to adopt, it would be for a very selfish reason of trying to fill a void, and it would be an unhealthy and unfair expectation to put on the adopted child,” Carissa Payan, an infertile wife said. “And while adoption can bless a childless couple with a child, and also bless a parent-less child with parents, the fact remains that an infertile couple will still grieve the loss of their ability to conceive, and we forget how it is an incredibly expensive alternative.”

It costs anywhere from free to $1,000 to adopt a foster child. However, if it is a newborn being adopted from a non-profit organization it can cost between $10,000 and $25,000.

Courtesy: Ca.gov

Courtesy: Ca.gov

Adopting may not be for everyone, but according to the numbers there are many foster kids still in need of a home.

Photo: Erica Knudsen

Photo: Erica Knudsen

“I believe that the foster care system should inspire more people to become a foster parent and allow under privileged children a life that they deserve,” Case Manager Baumstark said.

 

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BOOM, there goes another bomb

Well, another attack has happened again, reports from CNN said Tuesday. A deadly explosion went off at the capital of Kabul in Afghanistan killing dozens and wounding over 300 others.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombings and believed to be targeting a security team that protects government officials.

The first attack consisted of planted bombs in a vehicle behind the targeted building, following a second attack of a gunman going inside.

Shortly after, the gunman died in battle where witnesses say they could hear gunfire after the explosions near the Afghan Defense Ministry and the presidential palace.

Courtesy: New York Times

Courtesy: New York Times

About a week ago, the Taliban said by all means they would declare war to stop any invaders or enemies getting in the way of their plans.

“Today’s attack shows the insurgents are unable to meet Afghan forces on the battlefield and must resort to these terrorist attacks,” the Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, John W. Nicholson said, according to CNN.

The U.S Embassy in Kabul stated that Afghanistan deserves peace and security and that the civilians in this country should not be afraid to do daily activities like taking their children to school or simply heading to work.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also disapproved of the attacks, saying the enemy defeated in battle against government forces.

The attacks also took place near a school district where many parents were running to save their children.

The Taliban is associated with many other Islamic groups including the anti-American group Al-Qaeda who executed the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Weirdly enough, 9/11, the Brussels bombings, and now this attack in Kabul all took place on a Tuesday morning.

We can only hope that the next POTUS can help put an end to the mass killings happening in other countries.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/19/asia/kabul-explosion/index.html

Sleep deprivation among teens leads to risky behaviors

According to CNN, a new study has been released stating teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors because of their lack of sleep.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that teenagers getting less than seven hours of sleep on school nights are prone to dangerous activities. Such as, texting and driving, drinking and driving, riding with a drunken driver, or simply not wearing a seat belt. This study has proven that because of the lack of sleep these teens are experiencing, they tend to have poor judgement and bad decision making skills.

In 2011, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health reported that out of the 50,000 high school students they conducted a study on, almost 70 percent of teens were not getting enough sleep. The study found that cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana use, sexual activity, lack of exercise, and attempted suicide were all factors that played into teens getting less than eight hours of sleep.

Due to this outbreak of concern, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2014 suggesting schools should start no earlier then 8:30 AM, so that the students can at least get in between eight and nine ours of sleep per night.

Courtesy: @kellywallacetv

Courtesy: @kellywallacetv

Even though this suggestion was made, since 2012 only 18 percent of education systems have changed their start time to be 8:30 AM.

“The real issue at this point is that our society does not respect sleep, and we grown-ups who brag about how we can get on with five hours of sleep,” said Maribel Ibrahim, an advocate for this cause, according to CNN.

If this study is affecting your teens health, you can be apart of this conversation by sharing your thoughts with reporter Kelly Wallace on Twitter @kellywallacetv.

Courtesy: @kellywallace

Courtesy: @kellywallace

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/14/health/teens-sleep-school-start-times/index.html

 

Hillary Clinton – Palo Alto, California: Analysis

Stanford University welcomed presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, on March 23 to speak on behalf of counterterrorism, following the Brussels bombings. It was held at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at 11:40 AM and was 30 minutes long.

Clinton started her speech with praising Stanford and recognizing the university for its superb understanding on national security.

Courtesy: New York Times

Courtesy: New York Times

Following this introduction, Clinton immediately switched gears when transitioning on to the topic of ISIS. Her tone of voice and rhetoric adapted to the message she was about to present.

She opened her speech up with imagery and facts about what happened when Brussels was attacked. Phrases such as, ‘Men and women hurrying to catch a plane, train, or to meet a loved one.’ She then stated facts about what occurred in Brussels. Stating there were more then 30 people dead, as well as three Mormon missionaries from Utah. In addition, a U.S Air Force officer and his family wounded. Later to find out that the wife of the Air Force solider had died from her injuries.

Clinton claims ISIS is targeting religious groups and ethnic minorities, as well as torturing and raping women and children. She believes the only way to contain ISIS is to defeat them.

Courtesy: Christian Today

Courtesy: Christian Today

She then continues to paint a picture by stating, “Our new commander in chief will walk into the Oval Office and find a world of hard choices and complex problems. That president will sit down at the desk and start making decisions that will affect the lives and lively hoods of every American and people around the world.”

The rest of the speech consists of her three part plan to end ISIS.

  1. Defeat ISIS on their homeland
  2. Reinforce alliances
  3. End online propaganda

According to Clinton’s website, she has stood by her three step plan. Back in January, Clinton gave a speech in Iowa claiming she is the only candidate to provide the Americans with a specific plan, which is false. Many of the candidates have given plans on how they would go about defeating ISIS.

Clinton believes working with the Silicon Valley will allow for America to stay head of technological advances, making a statement against Donald Trump saying, “When other candidates talk about building walls around America, I want to ask them how high does the wall have to be to keep the internet out?” Clinton claims this problem will be solved if the government and the tech community can stop being enemies.

This  may actually be worthy because of research done on the relationship between technology and ISIS.

According to an article from LexisNexis, ISIS users try to create a community around a potential recruit and then can be detected through social media analysis, for instance measuring interactions sent by known ISIS recruiters and examining how many ISIS supporters a target follows.”

Courtesy: LexisNexis

Courtesy: LexisNexis

Ironically, it’s weird to see Clinton optimistic about technology and encryption when she believed Edward Snowden should have faced charges for leaking national security databases. In addition, Clinton quotes in her email scandal, “If I had not asked for my emails all to be made public, none of this would have been in the public arena.” This is actually false when a reporter filed a law suit under the Freedom of Information Act to the State Department because they were not responding quickly enough with Clinton’s emails. Clinton also falsely stated she put out all her emails, but in fact she has still withheld over 30,000 emails from the public.

Clinton changed her rhetoric into a personal anecdote stating when she served as a senator, 9/11 was a horror for her. Indeed, since the 9/11 attacks Clinton continues to be a strong advocate for the people who sacrificed their health to help save the victims of the attacks.

One of the main points Clinton highlighted was making America’s alliances stronger. She put into effect the United States – European Agreement on Passenger Name Records in 2012. This agreement increased the government’s ability to track who was coming into the country. Homeland security was provided with with every passengers name flying in and out of Europe.

Courtesy: Hillaryclinton.com

Courtesy: Hillaryclinton.com

She also stated that NATO is one of the best investments America has ever made. Clinton is a strong supporter of the NATO and believes we should maintain that relationship. Again,  she throws Trump under the bus saying he wants to pull the U.S out of the NATO. Trump actually used the words ‘reform or restructure’ when referring to this organization because he thinks were spending too much money. He does not necessarily want to pull the U.S completely out of the agreement.

Back to figurative language, Clinton compared having Trump as president to a Christmas in the Kremlin.

In the New Hampshire debate, Clinton states, “He is becoming the best ISIS recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

This may seem like a good hit against Trump, but this quote by Clinton is actually false. After intensive research, there were no evidence of videos or statements of this.

Clinton emphasized on consulting with Israel and revoking passports and visas. Clinton has in fact made it a priority to strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S. Clinton stated at a speech in Nevada that not one Republican candidate is supporting a path to citizenship, but this is false. During this presidential election there have been seven candidates to express support for citizenship.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.11.20 PM

Clinton finalized her speech with the importance of not shunning out Muslims and demonizing them stating, “They are more likely to recognize the warning signs of radicals, when Republican candidates like Ted Cruz treated Muslims like criminals. It’s wrong, it’s counterproductive, and it’s dangerous.”

Using the comparison to ‘criminals’ could be argued, but Clinton has a point when calling out Cruz for antagonizing Muslims. Through his entire campaign, he has called Muslims terrorists, does not have a strong support for citizenship, and now in light of the Brussels attacks wants surveillance on Muslim communities.

Courtesy: Identities.mic

Courtesy: Identities.mic

Clinton also claims that torture is counterproductive. Based on evidence, using torture makes the prisoner say false information in order to get the punishment to stop. This makes Clinton’s statement true.

In closing, she used a quote from John McCain and positive crowd rhetoric about American leadership saying, “If we lead, we will succeed”.

Overall, Clinton has proven herself to be mostly truthful. However, she likes to make false claims on other candidates. Her speech contained smooth rhetoric throughout, as well as ‘we’ statements and a quote to put the icing on the cake.

Hostility is STILL in the air for the Republicans

It’s sad to announce that the hostile environment continues for the Republican Party. As we found out on Tuesday, Donald Trump’s campaign manager was arrested for simple battery, according to CNN.

Surprisingly enough, Corey Lewandowski turned himself in to the police for assaulting reporter Michelle Fields. He was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.

Courtesy: matzav.com

Courtesy: matzav.com

Fields showed up at the police station to reveal her left forearm that appeared to have bruises and finger marks. Apparently, Lewandowski did not like the question Fields asked Trump when out of nowhere she was yanked by her arm.

Of course, Trump does not want anything to get in the way of him winning this campaign, and so he believes Fields ‘made up the story’. To add to this, Lewandowski claims Fields to be an ‘attention seeker’ and ‘totally delusional’.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.08.39 PM

Ironically, Trump is allocating most of the attention this campaign, and this is just another incident to add to the books.

The Jupiter Police Department released a video that shows the allegations. However, Fields has been accused of making exaggerated claims in other news stories, according to Trump’s press secretary, Hope Hicks.

Courtesy: Breibart.com

Courtesy: Breibart.com

During this campaign trail, we have yet to hear an apology from Trump; fighting back is his specialty.  Whether Lewandowski is innocent or not, other Republican candidates released statements saying they would never tolerate this behavior. Yet, none of this is surprising based on the culture Trump has established within his campaign.

Hicks confidently announced that Lewandowski is not guilty, and when his court date comes the charges will be dropped.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.12.19 PM

Meanwhile, Fields resigned from the Breitbart News Network because they did not ‘stand by her during these events’.

What’s up next for the Trump organization?

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/29/politics/trump-campaign-manager-charged-with-simple-battery/index.html