Many 911 calls are for overdoses, severe drunkeness, mental health crises, family disputes, and other emergencies that should not involve police. Thank heavens that some communities recognize this and are assembling mental health teams to de escalate heated situations which do not involve real crimes, just families and people out of control in a safe secure manner that helps people and families.
For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential.
Eugene, Oregon — When a mental health-related 911 call comes in, a specialized team in Eugene, Oregon, rolls out.
“Pretty much everybody we see is for one reason or another is in a state of crisis,” said Manning Walker.
Walker is a medic and Laurel Lisovskis is a mental health crisis manager. The pair are members of a mobile mental health crisis intervention team called CAHOOTS, which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets. They answer calls like suicide interventions and overdoses. They’re unarmed and most of the time, without police backup.
“We always move as a team,” Lisovskis said.
They took CBS News on an exclusive ride along. Their first call was for a woman they’ve met before, who they believe is schizophrenic. She said her name was Kayla.
“I like CAHOOTS. They help you in your time of need. When you are hungry and certain things like that,” she said.
CAHOOTS was founded in 1989. Last year, they responded to nearly 23,000 calls in Eugene and Springfield, Oregon. Denver is starting its own version of CAHOOTS. City leaders from Oakland, Olympia, Washington and even New York City are all considering similar pilot programs.
“We handle almost 20% of the entire public safety call volume for our area,” said Tim Black, Eugene’s CAHOOTS program manager. “But there was such a dramatic need coming in through the 911 and non-emergency lines that there was a need for there to be this kind of behavioral health first response.”
CAHOTOS team members are trained to de-escalate when responding to a mental health crisis. A recent study found 25 to 50% of fatal officer-involved shootings involved someone with a severe mental illness.
“They don’t need jail. What they need is they need to be able to be de-escalated from their crisis, they need a ride to a mental-health facility or to a medical-care facility or wrapped around with services. That’s what the people need. They don’t need to be going to jail every time,” said Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner.
It’s a new way to protect and serve — and maybe save a life.
Ida drives the poor and homeless to court and she also drives attorneys without cars to court to help the poor and homeless. You can paypal her at http://www.paypal.me/ida2002.
Thanks for whatever you can spare.
The Scourge Of Elder Abuse: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up
If you or a member of your family have experienced elder abuse in a highly flawed guardianship system, you should be aware that you’re not an isolated case or a helpless victim.
Elder abuse by opportunistic court guardians is one of those issues in American society that has reached critical mass in recent years, and some statistics indicate that it might soon achieve a dubious parity with child abuse.
In 2016, the General Accountability Office in Washington examined the state-based guardianship system and found hundreds of cases of physical and financial abuse, and negligence throughout the country. According to The New York Times, the GAO reported that “in eight cases examined in six states, guardians were found to have stolen more than $600, from their elderly wards.” And from 1990 to 2010, the GAO reported, guardians in 20 cases stole $5.4 million.
But it took a New Yorker piece in 2017 to define the scourge of elder abuse in a way that got the public attention it deserved. How did the magazine accomplish that? By focusing on a Las Vegas, Nevada guardian named April Parks who’s attained a sad distinction: she’s become a poster child for elder abuse in this country, and last January she drew a long and deserved prison sentence for her systematic criminality.
Parks’ predatory strategy was exemplified in the case of a Las Vegas couple in their late 70’s named Rudy and Rennie North. The Norths had some health problems, but were comfortable in their home in an adult community. They’d been married 57 years. But Parks learned of their apparent vulnerability and got herself appointed as their guardian. She had the Norths declared incompetent, moved them into an assisted living facility not nearly as nice as their home, and took over management of their assets as a profit-making legal maneuver. She spent all their money (an unknown amount) and the Norths became totally dependent on their daughter, who had fought hard against Parks’ machinations.
Parks’ conviction brought her the maximum sentence possible: 16-40 years. Victims testified at her trial about losing their life savings and feeling like victims under Parks’ care. Said one victim: “April Parks is a predator of the worst kind.”
Parks claimed in her own testimony that she always had a passion for guardianship and cared about her clients. But, said Judge Tierra Jones, “you told us you never meant any harm. But after hearing stories of people Scotch-taping their shoes, people being charged for Christmas gifts, how is that no harm?”
A good question. And if you find yourself or someone you know in a guardianship situation that leads you to ask the same question, don’t hesitate to go to the authorities and/or seek legal counsel immediately. The Department of Justice has an elder justice coordinator in each of its 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, in accordance with the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act—enacted in October 2017. The guardianship system is now on trial and you need to take advantage of that.
Just when you thought the stories could not get any worse (and apparently this includes prisons too) another topic comes up: providing inadequate sanitary products to women and girls.
You would think that just about everyone, even men would understand these basic needs.
It was only a matter of time before President Donald Trump made headlines again over periods.
Just four years ago, in August 2015, he accused then–Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly after the first presidential debate of having “blood coming out of her wherever.” The charge landed the once-taboo topic of menstruation smack in the middle of election coverage—and on the front page of nearly every major national and small-town newspaper in between. It even generated its own viral hashtag, #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult.
Now, 19 states filed a lawsuit in California this week against the Trump administration for the indefinite detention of and conditions endured by migrant children and their families. Among the charges of hygiene deprivation for children detained at the border—including the alleged lack of basics like toothpaste and bars of soap—is insufficient access to menstrual products and care. Testimony in the lawsuit included that: “Girl(s) at the facility…were each given one sanitary pad per day. Although the guards knew they had their periods, they were not offered showers or a change of clothes, even when the other girl visibly bled through her pants.”
For over a year now, the news of babies torn from parents has been devastating to absorb. And the detailed accounts of children’s days and nights in detention—of stench and filth, teens tending to toddlers, preschoolers appearing solo in court—have revealed the situation to be even worse.
But this week’s blaring headline “Trump Administration Leaves Menstruating Migrant Girls ‘Bleeding Through’ Underwear at Detention Centres, Lawsuit Claims” was an unexpected gut punch. Such cruelty and degradation are simply unfathomable.
Period shame is real, it is harmful, and it exists in every corner of the world. A global cohort of activists is working to counter that stigma and the damage it does. Here in the U.S., it has been dubbed the fight for menstrual equity. Access to products—as well as toilets, education and safe and accurate care—is an essential part of that agenda.
And, encouragingly, considerable progress has been made. For example, in an effort to ensure that menstruation doesn’t hinder students’ ability to succeed in school, four U.S. states recently passed laws requiring that pads and tampons be freely provided in school restrooms. Fourteen states now require a similar provision for incarcerated women—in county jails, state prisons and juvenile detention centers. Even Congress voted to do the same in 2018, passing a bipartisan prison reform package, the FIRST STEP Act that mandates menstrual access in federal correction facilities. (And, yes, Trump signed it into law.) Since 2016, another six states have passed laws exempting menstrual products from sales tax—eliminating the notorious “tampon tax” and making the case that menstrual products should be affordable for all.
But at the border right now, there’s no solace for young teens who might know little about what’s happening to their bodies—yet have to summon the courage to tell a male guard and ask for pads, only to be denied or given too few to matter. Or have to manage their periods in over-crowded rooms where privacy is scant. And aren’t even able to shower or wash hands or scrub clean stained underwear.
The harm extends beyond all surface cruelty too. There are serious potential health risks, some fatal, that come from using a pad or tampon for too long, ranging from infection to toxic shock.
As a matter of policy, compassion and common sense, menstrual equity should be a no-brainer. But we are far from a nationwide mandate.
Which is where the courts come in. And why it is heartening to see this testimony—horrifying as it is—featured as part of the formal court record. For as a matter of law, there are viable, though still untested, arguments to support the case for menstrual equity: namely, that deprivation of basic needs like safe, affordable tampons and pads may amount to a violation of due process, sex-based discrimination under the equal protection clause, or both.
Last year, California criminal defense attorney Paula Canny filed a class-action lawsuit in Sacramento arguing that denying free tampons to people held in county jails is unconstitutional. Her action prompted numerous counties to ensure the provision of menstrual products. And a new legal campaign launched this summer—Tax Free. Period.—to mobilize lawyers to challenge the tampon tax in court. Constitutional law scholar and Dean of U.C. Berkeley Law Erwin Chemerinsky made the case for the illegality of the tampon tax in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed. And the director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Katherine Franke, told The New York Times that these legal claims, overall, “highlight a day-to-day way in which women experience discrimination in one of their most basic bodily functions.”
Fighting to have menstrual equity enshrined into our jurisprudence is a key step toward permanent, meaningful change. And a way to ensure that no one—especially a child in crisis—is shamed or harmed simply because they menstruate.
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is vice president and women and democracy fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, and author of Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
New Study Confirms Foster Care System Harms Children
by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a study comparing “mental and physical health outcomes of children placed in foster care to outcomes of children not placed in foster care.”
The study claims to be the first of its kind looking specifically at these health outcomes.
We find that children in foster care are in poor mental and physical health relative to children in the general population, children across specific family types, and children in economically disadvantaged families… Children in foster care are a vulnerable population in poor health, partially as a result of their early life circumstances.
The study reached three key conclusions:
First, children placed in foster care had more mental and physical health conditions than children not placed in foster care. For instance, these children were about twice as likely to have a learning disability and 3 times as likely to have ADD or ADHD. They were also roughly twice as likely to have asthma and speech problems and 3 times as likely to have hearing problems and vision problems. Differences were even more substantial for other mental health conditions; they were 5 times as likely to have anxiety, 6 times as likely to have behavioral problems, and 7 times as likely to have depression.
Second, although some of the mental and physical health differences of children in foster care compared with other children were explained by characteristics of these children and their households, many of the differences in mental health persisted after adjusting for these child and household characteristics, suggesting possible effects of foster care placement on mental health. However, unlike much other research in this area, our primary goal was not to ascertain whether foster care placement has an effect on children. Rather, our goal was to use these large and representative cross-sectional data to provide a descriptive portrait of the health of children in foster care relative to other children.
Third, children placed in foster care were in poor mental and physical health relative to children in virtually every other type of family situation and in children in economically disadvantaged families. The differences in mental health outcomes (ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, behavioral or conduct problems) were statistically significant. The differences in physical health outcomes, although sometimes substantial, were not statistically significant. Additionally, the results show that children adopted from foster care had worse health than their counterparts placed in foster care. These differences could be driven partially by the fact that children in foster care only become available for adoption after parental rights have been terminated (and therefore these children have likely experienced more maltreatment than children who remain in the system) or because adoption subsidies offered in some states encourage adoption of children with health conditions.
Read the full study here.
Good Foster Parents Handicapped in a Corrupt System
Ryan White from the Center for Health Journalism at USC Annenberg wrote a piece on this study. Some of the comments published at the end of the article point out the frustrations of those foster parents who often agree that children are better off with their biological parents rather than put into the foster care system.
A comment from “Shelly”:
Thank you for this. As the foster/adoptive parent of three, I love my children tremendously, but if I had a choice I’d rather that their biological families had the supports and opportunities to be healthy parents. Foster care is always a tragic choice.
A comment from “Carmen”:
I just read the article written by Ryan White and I agree with his observations and as a foster and now adoptive parents I went through these same stages. I learned that foster/adoption mental health services are not really equipped to help the amount of loss these children endure with the biggest loss of being removed from their families. I found that the kids develop coping skills to live within their families situations and in foster care/adoption spend years trying to overcome the effects of being removed from their families this has had on their lives.
So now I say if you can’t really help them then put impact services in the areas/schools where this is more prevalent so these kids can gravitate towards opportunities and healthy relationships vs removing them from their families and they can influence (empowerment) changes in their homes/communities.
One of the biggest factors is that most of my adoptive kids bio parents are developmentally delayed and so are the kids. So without opportunities for people in our society I have noticed that they all have turned to “survival” living.
And then, from the prospective from one who grew up in the foster care system, a comment from “Jeff”:
Let me start by saying that I am a former foster child. I grew up in 40-50 different placements ranging from mental hospitals, lockdowns, group homes, foster homes, etc al. Every type of abuse you can put an adjective in front of I personally endured. When I aged out I had less than 1 year of High school. On my own I got a GED, and a BSW in Social Work.
I initially wanted to be a social worker so that I could utilize my unique background to help other kids who are in a similar predicament that I was in. One of the first things that I learned in University was that most of my classmates were totally indoctrinated in the progressive view point of glorifying the victim. The professors were completely out of touch with reality.
There were three people who turned my life around. Two of them were foster parents and the third was a social worker without “proper” training that you described. There are several tangibles that an advanced degree is unable to teach chiefly empathy and love. I went to my first foster mother when I was 9 years old having come from a group home where I was repeatedly raped by older residents. Not only that but the so call experts (the ones that you want to turn to) were forcing me to take medication that no 9 year old should take in huge dosages.
My foster mother only had a high school education. She had no special degree or no special training (this was back in 1988). when I arrived in her care I could not even read and could only sign my first two initials ‘JL.’ The public schools did not want to work with me and the social workers constantly fought with my foster mother trying to take me away. She was able to keep me for nearly 3 years often fighting the system tooth and nail for my sake.
The social worker that I mentioned did not have a degree in social work when she became my worker. If I recall correctly she only had an education degree though later she was mandated to get a masters. What made her stand out though among the dozen of other social workers I had? She had a caring heart who could not stand injustice. She treated me as though I was one of her own children.
There are going to be bad social workers, supervisors, and even directors. Having a advanced degree as you advocated will not change that. I would even argue that having an advanced degree is oftentimes a detriment in this field. What needs to be done? Do away with children courts altogether (its unconstitutional) and forcing the state to make their allegations against the parent in a regular court of law. All parents have a right to be judged by their peers and not some judge! Also, stop incentivizing the state government through adoption grants. This amounts to modern day slavery when the federal government gets 80,000 dollar per year per child in the system and even more when they get adopted.
Not the First Study to Show the Failures of Foster Care
There have been numerous reports published over the past several years that clearly show the current foster care system is an abysmal failure. Children who stay with parents who are accused (but not arrested or convicted) of “abuse” or “neglect” clearly do better than most of the children being put into foster care.
In 2007 Joseph Doyle, an economics professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, published a study which tracked at least 15,000 kids from 1990 to 2002. It was the largest study of its kind at that time.
USA Today ran a story on the report – Study: Troubled homes better than foster care. Here are some excerpts:
Children whose families are investigated for abuse or neglect are likely to do better in life if they stay with their families than if they go into foster care, according to a pioneering study. Kids who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile delinquents or teen mothers and more likely to hold jobs as young adults.
Doyle’s study…. provides “the first viable, empirical evidence” of the benefits of keeping kids with their families, says Gary Stangler, executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a foundation for foster teens. Stangler says it looked at kids over a longer period of time than had other studies. “It confirms what experience and observation tell us: Kids who can remain in their homes do better than in foster care,” says Stangler.
Read the full study here.
Joseph Doyle did another study, one year later in 2008, comparing children left in troubled homes with foster care children to see which group was more likely to be arrested as adults. The study looked at 23,000 children, and it found that “children placed in foster care have arrest, conviction, and imprisonment rates as adults that are three times higher than those of children who remained at home.” Read the full study here.
In January of 2015, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack ruled against the State of Texas stating that their foster care system was unconstitutional. In her 255 page ruling, Judge Jack stated:
Texas’s PMC (Permanent Managing Conservatorship) children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.
She ordered the State of Texas had to replace their foster care system with one that was Constitutional. (Full Story.)
Molly McGrath Tierney, the former Director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, gave one of the most insightful TEDx talks about the problems with the “Foster Care Industry” – an industry where children become a commodity that profits doctors, lawyers, judges, social workers, advocates, and other organizations, an industry that can only exist by taking other people’s children, an industry that damages the very children it purports to be helping. She goes on to explain the trauma inflicted on children by the foster care industry, saying:
… we’re digging a wound so deep, I don’t believe we have a way of measuring it. This dismantling of families – it has enormous consequences. Kids that grow up outside of families – they don’t master the things that can only be learned in that context, like who to trust, how to love, and how to take care of yourself, and that frankly does more damage than the abuse and neglect that brought the kid to my attention in the first place.
Foster Care System Beyond Reform
The late Georgia Senator Nancy Schaefer wrote:
I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to these families that I am not sure if I even believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so. Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set our children and families free. (Full story.)
With billions of dollars employing hundreds of thousands of people in the corrupt foster care system, it is unrealistic to think it could ever be reformed. The only solution is to remove all funding and abolish it. Local communities, as they once did, would then be responsible for dealing with the problems of troubled families, instead of State Government bureaucracies motivated with federal funds to put more children into the foster care system.
For a greater treatment of this subject, please see:
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Here is a very interesting documentary about Forgotten Children, the disabled ones, their lack of resources, how few are adopted, and how some women (journalists and a Russian socialite) are attempting to give them a better life–the life they deserve of caring and kindness.
Note the sections on the Ukrainian Court system and how it rubber stamps the words “incapacitated” upon them and how only one managed to reverse the designation.
How many similarities to the US court system for guardianship are there?