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This example argues persuasively for independent status for the new Center and provisions for monitoring the new agency's performance.
As noted earlier, the availability of funds is crucial. To insure appropriation of funds, it is necessary to prove need and effectiveness. One of the main messages citizens have had for public policy makers or the public as a whole who are putting large amounts of money into child welfare programs has been to stop investing a lot of money in child welfare programs merely out of inertia or ignorance.
If time, money, and effort are put into a program, a substantial fraction should also go into solid evaluation. A few years later it is possible to determine whether it was worthwhile, how it compared with something else. Unfortunately, there are relatively few child welfare programs anywhere that put that kind of effort into evaluation so that you can have programs running for years with lots of enthusiasm and with no evidence as to what the success rate really is. We respectfully submit that evaluative mechanisms are crucial to the success of the proposed legislation.
Comprehensive child care plan
Finally, it should be evident that while we are in general agreement with the intent of H.R. 15779, it is essential that the bill be analyzed in light of effective child welfare principles which protect the best interests and rights of abused and neglected children, as well as the rights of genetic parents and, where applicable, the adoptive families.
The Committee can contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to the needs of homeless children by enacting legislative proposals which consider all of the alternatives. Any specific action which affects children and youth should be seen as one part of a long-term strategy for constructive change.
The minimum elements of a comprehensive child care plan are presented in Appendix B. They comprise a summary of objectives that have ample precedent in the history of child welfare, but have not typically been discussed in terms of their interrelationships. The objectives are attainable by adjustments in legislation or administration; they can be realized piece-meal or as part of a comprehensive program. In any event, they are practical and enacting them would bring homeless children the greater part of the distance they must travel to achieve permanence. The proposed legislation before the Committee should be analyzed for its overall relevance to children and youth.
Mr. Chairman, it should be evident that we believe H.R. 15779 to be in substantial agreement with sound child welfare principles. However, some suggestions are presented in this testimony (both main text and appendices) which we believe offer further improvement. As noted in Appendix A, there are provisions in H.R. 15918 which could usefully be incorporated into H.R. 15779. Other provisions in H.R. 15918 do not meet minimum requirements we believe necessary for legislative enactment.
Once again, Mr. Chairman, we thank you for allowing us to testify before the Committee. If you require further data and/or information, please contact: Dennis M. Gaughan, Social Services Institute, 4830 Ertter Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20852, 301/770-2338.
Janet Hutchinson, COAC of Metro D.C., 1628 44th Street NW., Washington, D.C. 20007, 202/338-7061.
APPENDIX A-ANALYSIS OF LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
P. 4-seo. 101. (d). (2)
SUGGESTED REVISIONS TO H.R. 15779
Beginning on line 15, replace the complete sentence starting with "Each ." and replace it with the following:
"Each team shall include individuals with expertise in the areas of child welfare, family counseling, and agency operation: (A) an administrator, (B) an attorney, (C) an experienced parent with direct knowledge of child abuse and prevention, (D) a pediatrician, (E) a psychologist or psychiatrist, and (F) a social worker."
P. 5-sec. 101. (d). (3)
Beginning on line 3, replace the entire paragraph with the following:
"It shall be the primary responsibility of the administrator team member to coordinate team activities and insure the application of Center resources to team activities without usurping decision making with a bearing on child welfare and family counseling. It shall be the primary responsibility of the attorney team member to provide guidance on matters of legal precedence and to research legal aspects of each child abuse and neglect case. It shall be the primary responsibility of the parent team member to provide first-hand experiential knowledge of child abuse and neglect problems that can lend perspective to team activities. It shall be the primary responsibility of the pediatrician team member to ensure that proper treatment for the physical condition of an abused or neglected child is provided to such a child. It shall be the primary responsibility of the psychiatrist or psychologist team member to ensure that an abused or neglected child and the members of his family are provided the psychiatric counseling necessary for the protection of the child and the elimination of the causes of abuse or neglect. It shall be the primary responsibility of the social worker team member to ensure that, working with an abused or neglected child and his family, a home environment conducive to the safe physical, mental, and emotional development of the child can be fostered."
P. 12-sec. 206. (b)
Change line 22 to read:
day care center workers, guidance counselors, volunteers, and paraprofessionals"
P. 13-sec. 208. (a)
Insert a new sub-set which says:
"() who has not been placed for care or adoption in violation of law;" Note that this is a supplement to, and not a replacement for, item (D) in Section 2301 (9) of title 16 of the District of Columbia Code.
P. 16-sec. 301. (g)
After line 19, add the following:
"(5) the least detrimental alternative for placement available to each child."
P. 6-sec. 102. (entire)
ANALYSIS OF H.R. 15918
This appears to be a useful addition to the proposed legislation, provided that proper safeguards are included. There should be a time limit on reporting out a recommendation to minimize the thread of harassment. In addition, a formal report should be filed which contains the same information that a judge would need in determining the best interests of the child.
P. 12-sec. 202 (lines 11 through 22 on p. 12)
This change shifts in-depth data collection and analysis from the multidisciplinary team to the police. It calls for, among other things, the administration of "... physical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of any member of that home. ." This provision does not meet the guideline of clear separation between civilian and police authority.
P. 13-sec. 205
As this stands, the provision is a tool for police intervention in civilian affairs. However, if used by civilian authorities under the supervision of the court, it is a recommended procedure.
P. 17-sec. 301. (b). (2)
This provision is acceptable provided that rights of free counsel, cross-examination, and the use of competing experts is fully protected.
APPENDIX B-BASIC ELEMENTS OF A COMPREHENSIVE CHILD CARE PLAN
If oriented to the rights of children and youth, then there are basic principles which should be followed to develop a comprehensive child care plan. These include, at minimum:
Providing services to bio families so that children can remain with bio parents; Separating quickly, and with minimum of trauma, bio parents and children where it is in the last interests of the children (and/or parents) to do so;
Providing services to the bio family after separation to enable them to cope with the problem that caused the separation;
Quickly finding permanent loving homes for (the) separated children; and, Providing post adoptive services to the adoptive family and child.
However, most social agencies providing services to children and families (particularly the large public agencies) are structured for management instead of children. As a consequence, any approach to one facet of the overall problem is shunted aside due to its inextricable relationship to the other facets. Clearly, a more comprehensive approach is needed.
ELEMENTS OF A PLAN
There are several interrelated areas of basic need which require legislative scrutiny. A summary is offered now, with detailed explanations and histories of successful precedents available at the Committee's request. These recommendations are intended only as general guidelines to the future and should not be construed as final.
1. A constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right of every child to a permanent home with provision for appropriate enabling legislation to implement said right throughout society;
2. The development of comprehensive information and management systems that will precisely identify and monitor the movements of the homeless child population;
3. The development of alternative permanent plans, which can only consist of restoration or adoption, for each child at intake;
4. Mandated family rehabilitative services, including the use of subsidies; 5. The means for securing voluntary termination of "bioparental rights" at intake, when appropriate;
6. A requirement for an in-depth statement of need and objectives from any social agency contemplating or operating interim (foster) care services as part of an annual licensing review;
7. Semi-annual review of children in agency custody;
8. Mandatory termination of "bio-parental rights" on the grounds of abandonment following a period of no contact between parent and child not to exceed six calendar months;
9. Compulsory annual review and recertification of custody by the courts for each child within each agency each year;
10. The means for securing mandatory termination of "bioparental rights" following a specific time period not to exceed two calendar years from intake of the child into the appropriate social service agency;
11. The institution of just and constitutional notification procedures:
12. The careful consideration of rebuttal evidence in all cases of termination; 13. Mandated adoptive services, including the use of subsidies;
14. Non-discrimination in accepting applications for adoption and placement which specifically rejects screening criteria based solely on the grounds of the race, color, religion, age, sex, income level, or marital status of any person or persons over eighteen (18) years of age;
15. More efficient procedures for international and interstate placements; 16. Compulsory listing of children available for adoption and all families and individuals who have an approved home study within ninety (90) days, and publication of the lists in a prominent public manner;
17. Mandated post-adoptive services;
18. Provision for revoking a termination of "bio-parental rights" order if no adoptive placement is made within specified time limits;
19. Accurate and publicly available records, coded if necessary to protect privacy, which provide in-depth data and information on the disposition of each child's case; and,
20. Explicit means of obtaining agency accountability and legal redress of non-performance.
Hon. ROMANO L. MAZZOLI,
THE TRAVELERS AID SOCIETY,
OF WASHINGTON, D.C., INC.,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Social Services and the International Community, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the District of Columbia, Washington D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN MAZZOLI: Thank you for your letter of July 10, 1974, enclosing a copy of HR 15779 a bill on prevention of child abuse in The District of Columbia and inviting our comments.
I regret that because I leave on scheduled vacation within a couple of hours of receiving your material and will not return until early August. I am unable to study and respond to the provisions of the bill as I might wish. However, I am asking my associate Mrs. Ruth E. Spurlock, to review the material and add any comments she may have during the course of the coming week.
Meantime, I note with interest but without opportunity to develop a point of view on this that HR 15779 proposes a separate agency in The D.C. Government outside the Department of Human Resources.
The provisions that I most heartily welcome is the broad definition of the "neglected" child and the inclusion of protection and services for him within the context and to the same extent as those being called for for the physically abused child.
On March 28, 1973 while federal legislation in this field was being developed we wrote to Senator Mondale urging that the "emotionally abused" be included in the child abuse legislation for which he was taking leadership. Enclosed is a copy of that exchange correspondence. I would gather from a single reading that the present bill for The District of Columbia covers our intent and concern.
Obviously, since we deal with children who are only transiently in the District and the main thrust of HR 15779 is in behalf of resident children of this community, there are provisions in the bill which would not apply to "our" youngsters. I do hope that other wording is broad enough to offer temporary safeguards for them until responsible relatives in their home communities can be reached and assume appropriate responsibility for their return and continuing care. At present, and in the absence of such legislatiin neither we nor the police nor any other authority can touch them against the will of the usually-psychotic adult with whom they are away from home.
If the present wording of the bill does not encompass the above, we would earnestly hope it could be modified to do so.
Again thank you for inviting us to comment and with all good wishes for your success, I am.
Very sincerely yours,
(Miss) CATHERINE C: HIATT, ACSW, Executive Director.
EXAMPLES OF CHILDREN IN JEOPARDY KNOWN TO WASHINGTON TRAVELERS AID IN 1973
Case No. 1
A mother traveling with her 3-year old son was put off the train in Washington because of her wild behavior. She was triggered to leave home with the child at the time of President Johnson's death, claiming herself to be President Johnson's widow. She kept exhorting the child to cry for his "daddy was dead"; kept screaming that she was going deaf and blind and turning to the child, she told him he could not see or hear either "nor can you-don't say you can!" The only way she felt they could be saved was to keep their faces buried against the wall. Our worker who was called in by station personnel was able to get the name of a doctor the woman had known in another city. He acknowledged that she was totally uncontrollable when without medication and urged that the child be taken in protective custody until family could come for them the next day. This was reported to local authorities, but they felt the woman was not hospitalizable, nor was she sufficiently endangering the child that they could remove the child.
Instead, they arranged housing for mother and child together that night. By the time the family arrived next day, the child was indeed mute and totally immobilized. The woman continued to rave.
Case No. 2
In October, 1972, an obviously intelligent educated, but agitated woman had kept her 4 children, 17, 15, 5 and 2, for 5 days and nights at the bus station. When evicted from there, they spent the next 2 days and nights at Union Station. Except for occasional visits to the restroom, all five just sat in total silence day and night. Finally, at the Station Police insistance, the mother reluctantly came to Travelers Aid, but refused to give any identifying information, saying only, "I didn't ask for your help", nor would she let the older children speak to us. Our worker called the Children's Protective Services Division of the Dept. of Human Resources to see if they would temporarily house the children and give them some hot food and exercise while we continued to try to find some way to help the mother. When the official agency worker arrived, she could not do anything because the children's clothing was neat, they showed no scars of physical battering, and the mother would not budge or give permission for their care. Next day, the family was gone.
Case No. 3
In a similar situation earlier in the year, the children (all boys) were ages 8, 6, 5, and 9 months. The three older children were destructively hyperactive, uncontrollable, and kept urinating on the furniture, wherever they stood. The baby whimpered constantly. This mother was willing to tell us where they came from, but refused to let us contact her family for help. Only the oldest child had ever been to school, but had been kept out of school for the past two months. Both parents had a history of mental hospitalization. After we had housed this family for 3 days, they, too, disappeared.
FAMILY AND CHILD SERVICES OF WASHINGTON, D.C.,
Hon. ROMANO L. MAZZOLI,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Social Services and International Community, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN MAZZOLI: I have read attentively H.R. 15779, a bill to establish an agency for the prevention of child abuse in the District of Columbia. It seems to me that this bill merits some qualified support. Its enactment would bring into line practices in the District in the field of prevention of child abuse which parallel the efforts of those forward-looking states which have adopted similar plans for the protection of children. It would strengthen the hand of those concerned with the well-being of children and provide the structure which, properly administered, would safeguard all parties involved in the sad situations of abused children.
The opportunity to comment is much appreciated.
JOHN G. THEBAN,
CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND
OF THE WASHINGTON RESEARCH PROJECT, INC.,
Hon. ROMANO L. MAZZOLI,
DEAR MR. MAZZOLI: Marian Edelman has asked me to contact you regarding the Children's Defense Fund's response to your request for comments on H.R. Bill No. 15779.
The stated purpose of the bill: the prevention of child abuse through the provision of services to all members of an abusive or neglectful family, is excellent. The legislation's recognition of the need for government responsibility for direct services to such families and the procedures it outlines for the establishment of highly trained, interdisciplinary team of professionals who will diagnosis,