I’ve worked in the foster care field for nearly 25 years, and over that time span, I’ve formed strong opinions about what probably works better than foster homes for some kids in foster care. There is also another reason I have these opinions, which I’ll reveal later.
I believe family foster homes are best for some children, say age 10-ish and younger. Why? I think the littler kids adapt better to a foster home and foster family than older kids do. Perhaps younger kids, and especially sibling groups, need a family atmosphere more than older kids. In my experience, I’ve found that the older kids actually do much better if placed in group home or residential settings compared to foster home placements.
Here are some reasons this may be true:
1. Group homes are more structured than foster homes. There are few opportunities to do something wrong or overstep one’s bounds in a rule-driven, scheduled environment.
2. Group homes have staff as opposed to parents who aren’t theirs.
3. Kids’ loyalties aren’t torn between their own parents and the staff, since the roles are nothing alike.
4. Kids’ loyalties aren’t torn between their own home and a group home, because the setting is totally different.
5. Kids don’t feel like they have to pretend people are their parents when out in public with staff, the way they do when out in public with foster parents.
6. The perception of others in a child’s home neighborhood or school is often one of blaming the child for his placement in a group home. Alternatively, when a child is placed into a foster home, the blame more often is placed on the child’s parents by others. It’s very difficult for kids to know others hold their parents in low regard.
7. When kids return home from a group or residential setting, they have a little bit of “status”, as some sort of survivor.
8. When kids return home from a foster home placement, they are often the subjects of unwanted pity for having such losers as parents.
The prevailing trend in foster care placement is to place all children in homes instead of group settings. The national average of kids in out of home care who are placed in group settings is 6%. Some states pride themselves in having a lower percentage, and strive for a lower percentage. I wonder if the outcomes and futures of these children back up the perception that family home settings are best for all kids. I can find no long-term follow-up studies of children’s well-being 5 years, 10 years, 20 years after aging out of foster care. Believe me, I’ve tried. The only other reliable source I have for my beliefs listed above is myself, because, you see, I was a child in foster care many years ago, and experienced all those things and thrived much better in the group setting in which I was finally placed.
Zemmer Middle School
Earlier this week there was a hearing in regards to the alleged school shooting plot targeting Zemmer Middle School in Lapeer, Michigan. The defense for the three teen suspects tried getting the charges thrown out, however, the judge ruled there was substantial evidence for a trial to be held.
One of the defense attorneys seems to be treading on familiar grounds…
“These kids were desensitized to the reality of the things they were talking about, Columbine and school shootings,” said attorney, Matthew Norwood. “In the case of XXXXX, he was looking to get a reaction … there were no steps taken. It was just talk … Prosecutors are going off of pure paranoia.”
Pure paranoia, huh? Well, in addition to their own version of the Basement Tapes, where they refer to themselves as gods, further evidence was revealed about their alleged intentions. Police found the following ‘story’ on one of the suspect’s cell phones.
“My name is XXXXX and everyone at school thought I was kidding, that I wouldn’t shoot it up, or bring the guns to school,” Lapeer County Detective Bob Wells read from the story messaged from XXXXX to XXXXX on social media. “They always bullied me and thought I was kidding, just like the kids at Columbine.”
Except there’s no evidence to show the Columbine cowards were bullied. More misinformed cretins who turn to violence when things don’t go their way.
The suspects have been released on over $100K bond each and have been ordered to stay off the internet. It’s also been ordered that guns need to be removed from all the households and it’s recommended all three suspects undergo counseling. Considering the three have been charged as adults and are facing life sentences, maybe they should have received counseling earlier.
UPDATE 1/21/2018: Back in November, two of the suspects have pleaded guilty to making a false terrorist threat and using a computer to commit a crime. They are set to be sentenced on the 29th. The third suspect is set to enter a similar plea later this week.
38-year-old Vien Lam, of Louisville, Kentucky, was arrested after a father caught him talking to 12 and 13-year-old girls at a park. When the man approached Lam, the suspect ran off. (I guess you could say he was…wait for it….on the Lam.) When police interviewed the girls they reportedly said they had been talking to Lam since June on Instagram. They also said Lam was allegedly posing as someone younger and asked them to meet up. The conversations were said to be rather explicit. Thank God that father was at the park or who knows what would have happened to those girls.
I can’t stress enough to parents to check all of your kids’ social media accounts. Check their friends list, check who’s commenting on their pictures, and check who is sending them messages. You never know who may be trying to meet your kids at a park. It may seem like a daunting task, but isn’t your child’s safety worth it?
30-year-old Colleen Nichols was allegedly found behind the wheel of her vehicle after overdosing on prescription pills in Boca Raton, Florida. In the back of the vehicle was her 4-year-old daughter who just wanted to go her preschool. It doesn’t sound like the car was involved in any kind of collision, thankfully. However, the vehicle was unlocked with Nichols slumped over the wheel. A witness called 911 and EMT’s had to use Narcan to revive her. Reports say Nichols took an almost 30 day supply of Klonipin in a little over a day. After Nichols returned to consciousness, first responders asked her where she thought her daughter was and Nichols was said to have responded by saying: “I don’t know, I must have blacked out, I’m under a lot of stress.”
How much ‘stress’ do you have to be under to take a month’s worth of Klonipin in less than a two-day period? Unless you’re a four-fingered member of a bomb squad in Afghanistan, you’re not under that much stress. Then again, it’s a common characteristic of drug addicts to blame everyone but themselves for their behavior. They tell the most outlandish lies in order to try to get their fix and expect you to believe them. In too many cases, addicts don’t care who the repercussions of their actions affect, even if it’s their own children.
Prescription drug abuse is now the worst drug abuse problem in the U.S. today. Unfortunately, most addicts don’t think they have a problem, and can’t start recovering until they do. The Mayo Clinic website has a detailed guide on how to stage an intervention in case a loved one has a substance abuse problem.
Want another story about a Bad Breeder? Check out this story about a man who took his infant to a craigslist sex date on Crime Classified.
39-year-old Brian Watson of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has been arrested for allegedly soliciting for a 12-year-old girl to have sex with on craigslist. Watson’s ad, that was noticed by police reportedly said he was looking for “mothers who were looking for a guy to teach their daughter about the joys of sex.” Nothing too subtle about that one, huh? But I digress.
Murfreesboro police responded to Watson’s ad, posing as an interested mother with a 12-year-old daughter. The meeting took place at a local fast food restaurant, naturally. The kicker is when Watson showed up for the meeting, he had his 9-month-old baby in tow. I shudder to think what would have happened with the baby if this wasn’t a sting. How do we know that Watson hasn’t done anything like this before? How do we know the baby hasn’t been molested? Thankfully, CPS is investigating as well. Did I forget to mention he’s also a school employee?
Again, this isn’t even taking into account that craigslist allows these ads to fester on their site for who knows how long, and they do nothing to stop it. Not to mention, every time the cops catch one of these scumbags, it makes me wonder how many are carrying out these meetings with people willing to turn out their kids to child molesters.
But hey, you once found a cool couch on craigslist so it can’t be that bad, right?
Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon
Police in Calvert County, Maryland, responded to a home after they received complaints a 3-year-old boy had marks on him. The complaint came from teachers at the boy’s Head Start program. (Let’s hear it for teachers.) When the police and CPS approached the boy’s mother about the marks, 40-year-old Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon was said to have admitted to the abuse. She claims the boy is too wild for her to control but tries not to hit him because, in her words, “he’s white and it leaves marks.” She also allegedly claimed to hit the boy with a shoe because using her hands cause blood clots. The reason she claimed she couldn’t control the child was “because he’s 3”. That’s only the tip of the iceberg too. I recommend reading the entire article from Southern Maryland News Net linked above.
While Calderon was arrested and charged with abuse there is a sort of silver lining to this story…
The Child Protective Services Worker prepared a safety plan for Calderon, which was signed by both parties, indicating that she was not allowed to hit the child with any objects. The plan also indicated that in-home services would be provided by CPS to assist Calderon with the child’s behavior and with cleaning her home so that it is sanitary.
From what Lady Gray tells me, these kind of resources are available in most states. So hopefully, we can get this message out to people who will now reach out to their state agencies before hitting their children.
Dene High School at the La Loche Community School
If you’ll recall, last year a 17-year-old boy from La Loche, Saskatchewan, shot and killed two brothers at their home before going to the Dene High School at the La Loche Community School and killing two teachers there. In October of last year, he pleaded guilty to the murders. For the past few months there have been sentencing hearings to determine if he will be sentenced as an adult or a juvenile. If sentenced as an adult the unnamed teen is looking at a life sentence, but a juvenile sentence would be less than ten years. Families of the victims he killed, along with the victims he wounded, have been calling for him to be sentenced as an adult.
Just recently, it was thought the hearings were about to come to a close, but it’s now been delayed. The defense has recently argued the shooter may have fetal alcohol syndrome after recently receiving the diagnosis from defense psychiatrists. The hearing has now been delayed until September 1st.
If you think he should now garner any kind of sympathy, remember this was the kid who thought he would be getting a present on the one-year anniversary of the shootings while in detention. Let’s also not forget he killed two people in one location, then went to a second location to try to kill as many people as possible.
This is just a ploy by the defense to try to get a lenient sentence for their client, however, what it’s really doing is delaying justice for the victims.
UPDATE 9/12/2017: The sentencing hearing is now set to resume in October.
21-year-old Malik McCaster of Detroit, Michigan, is accused of allegedly forcing a 15-year-old runaway girl into prostitution on craigslist. Reports say he offered the girl a ride, but once she got in the car McCaster is said to have thrown her cell phone out the window and threatened to kill her if she tried to escape. He then took her to a relative’s home where he reportedly raped the girl and recorded himself doing so. McCaster also took explicit pictures of the girl and advertised her as a prostitute on craigslist. He is even said to have held a gun to her head in order to keep her from escaping. While at a motel, the victim was able to call 911 and escape. Police caught McCaster trying to flee the scene.
If all of this wasn’t bad enough, McCaster sent a letter to a judge asking to be released on bond while awaiting trial. In the handwritten letter McCaster claims he’s a good man who has a young daughter and siblings to take care of besides having a job and attending college. The icing on the cake, pun intended, was this…
McCaster will be celebrating his 22nd birthday on Aug. 31. Being released on bond would “be the best birthday a 21-year-old innocent man could ask for,” McCaster wrote.
He also claimed to be a “good man in a misunderstood situation.”
What’s to be misunderstood? The raping part or the forcing the underage girl to be raped by strangers while you collect the money? If you had all these responsibilities, maybe you should have thought of them before holding thid girl captive for days. Also, good men don’t sell children.
This story also shows prostitution and human trafficking are still alive and well on craigslist and will continue as long as craigslist refuses to moderate their site.
Michael Alan Guerra
21-year-old Michael Alan Guerra, of San Antonio, Texas, has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl he met through the social networking and dating app Skout. Guerra reportedly first told the girl he was 16 and his name was Frank. While GUerra was driving the girl around, he is said to have forced the girl to perform a sex act on him.
Police were able to track down Guerra through his phone number. When approached by police Guerra reportedly told police he only meets girls who are 19. He also supposedly did not want to talk to police because “he had been through this before.” It turned out Guerra had a previous arrest for ‘having sex’ (child rape) with another 14-year-old girl.
Guerra was found out when the victim’s mother discovered her daughter had been in contact with a man on Skout. Skout’s terms of service states no one under 13 should use their app. Not only does the TOS say that anyone between 13 and 18 should have the permission of a parent or guardian to use the app, but the Google Play Store gives the app a Mature rating. TL;DR version is, no one under 18 should really be using this app. Skout is also owned by the same company that owns MeetMe, another shady dating app kids shouldn’t be using.
Here’s something you may not have thought of, I know I didn’t. While the article I read only deals with the state of Colorado, I would imagine it’s the same in every state.
Reports to the Colorado child abuse hotline reach a lull in the summer months, then start up again as school begins. Caseworkers at Colorado’s DHS say this is because teachers don’t have eyes on their students during the summer months.
Imagine a child who is going through abuse at home during the summer. They may not even have the option to reach out to someone for help during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year for kids. While other kids are out swimming or playing, they might be at home, not allowed to go out so no one sees the signs of abuse, just counting the days until school starts again so they can have some kind of escape from their home lives.
This means as regular citizens, we need to be more active in reporting suspected cases of abuse. It’s better for there to be a false alarm than an abused child not receiving any help because we didn’t want to get involved.
Here is a link to all the state child abuse hotlines, while Colorado’s is 1-844-CO-4- KIDS (1-844-264-5437). In any state you can remain anonymous, although more weight is given to a report when the reporter gives their name. A suspected abuser is never given the reporter’s name. However, it’s better to report anonymously than not at all.