Summary: This woman is of questionable mental ability, on welfare, with children, the state places the kids in state-subsidized foster care where they are molested, she gets repossession of the kids, still on welfare, sues the state, then the kids are placed back into state-subsidized foster care. I'm sure there will be a settlement, and she will probably be given some state subsidized training before the kids are returned to her, to be on welfare. And I'm sure the future holds many other cheery possibilities for her, her kids, and the taxpayers.
Be sure not to miss this part:
State officials would not confirm why the children were removed and court
records are closed. But a November case plan Lisa provided shows concerns about
her developmental disability, lack of steady employment and 19 hot-line calls
over the past 10 years alleging abuse or neglect, which Lisa and her attorneys
dispute. She also has a 20-year-old son who was in foster care as a child and a
15-year-old son who lives with his father..... A court-ordered evaluation showed
Lisa's IQ was 62, which she disputes. While she dropped out of school in the
eighth grade, she says she reads, cooks, cleans and pays her bills. An IQ of 50
to 70 is considered mild mental retardation, national reports show. Zychowski,
with Community Partnership for Children, said he wants a different type of
evaluation done to see if her parenting is a factor and wants to find state
services that may help the mother with employment and other assistance.
I would love to see how much this fiasco cost, aside from the overall human disaster aspects of the case.
Today's letter is "E" for "Eugenics."
Eugenics used to be a bad word.
But then maybe I'm just being a Grinch. I'm sure one of the kids will grow up to discover a cure for cancer, or be president of the United States.
THE ARTICLE: May 20, 2008
By DEBORAH CIRCELLIStaff writer
DAYTONA BEACH -- Brightly colored shirts and lacy dresses hang still in a packed closet, where they've remained untouched for six months.
New Dora the Explorer and Batman bedding wait with stuffed animals in two neatly organized children's rooms.
A 38-year-old Daytona Beach mother's apartment has all the signs three children live there. But all is quiet.
The mother has fought since November to get her children out of foster care and back to their own beds. Since they were initially removed from her home in 2006, one of the children was molested and exploited while in the state's care.
The latest battle in trying to bring her children home, according to her attorneys, is child welfare officials questioning her parenting skills because of a low IQ test -- an issue nationally with a high percentage of developmentally disabled parents losing their children temporarily or permanently.
The mother believes the timing of the second removal of her children is not a coincidence. She filed a notice in October to sue the state after one of her daughters was sexually abused in a Deltona foster home. Her children were returned to her after the abuse and almost a year in care, but a month after she made it known she intended to sue the state, her two daughters and son were again removed.
The abusive foster father, Robert R. Clinton, is serving a life prison sentence. The actual lawsuit, on behalf of the child, will be filed this month, attorneys say.
The case has raised red flags with other officials. Community Partnership for Children, the local foster care agency contracted by the state, last week took the case away from Neighbor To Family, which it subcontracts with for sibling foster care. The children will remain in Neighbor To Family foster homes, but will have a new case manager and supervisor from Community Partnership for Children.
Ron Zychowski, president and CEO of Community Partnership, said he's concerned about the length of time the 2-, 4- and 7-year-olds have been in foster care. He wants to make sure there's no perception of a conflict because of the sexual abuse by the former foster parent and pending suit by the mother. He also wants to get the mother any help or services available so her children can be returned. He said the move and review, prompted after questions from The Daytona Beach News-Journal, is probably something his agency should have done long ago.
"(I want) to make sure everybody is getting a fair shake," Zychowski said. "I don't know that the management has been wrong. What I want to do is put a fresh set of eyes on this."
The single mother, Lisa, whose last name is not being used to protect the identity of the daughter who was sexually abused, said she loves her children and wants them home.
"They don't need to keep putting me through this and my kids through this," she said. "It's not fair to me or my kids."
Lisa's three children were removed by the state Department of Children & Families in June 2006 after one of her daughters, who was 2 1/2 at the time, went to the emergency room unresponsive with swollen eyes and lips after her mother said her daughter got into a friend's hair product. The three were placed for 15 days in the foster home of Clinton, who police later found molested Lisa's daughter, now 4, and posted sexually explicit photos of himself with the child on the Internet. He was sent to prison in September 2007.
The children remained in other foster homes for almost a year before returning to Lisa last June. But they were removed again in November after the mother said day-care officials reported her daughters were taking off their clothes and sexually acting out. The mother and her attorneys attribute the behavior to the foster home abuse. There was also concern whether she provided enough diapers and clothing and was taking her children to counseling.
State officials would not confirm why the children were removed and court records are closed. But a November case plan Lisa provided shows concerns about her developmental disability, lack of steady employment and 19 hot-line calls over the past 10 years alleging abuse or neglect, which Lisa and her attorneys dispute. She also has a 20-year-old son who was in foster care as a child and a 15-year-old son who lives with his father.
Regarding her current case, Gordon Johnson, CEO of Neighbor To Family, said the nonprofit organization has been trying to find services for the mother.
"We always have been supportive and have not treated her any different," Johnson said.
But Lisa's court-appointed dependency attorneys, Ronald Kowalski, and his wife, B.R. Ferfel, said Neighbor To Family case managers have consistently stalled the case and are using the mother's low IQ as an excuse. An April court hearing was postponed for no reason until September, they said. The mother, who does housekeeping work, has finished two parenting classes, a budgeting class and anger management.
But Neighbor To Family staff asked that Lisa take a special parenting class for people with developmental disabilities that now both DCF and Zychowski agree doesn't exist. She's on a wait list for other services.
"I've seen her with her kids and she's a great mother," Kowalski said. "She's not a nuclear scientist. But she's perfectly capable of taking care of her kids."
A court-ordered evaluation showed Lisa's IQ was 62, which she disputes. While she dropped out of school in the eighth grade, she says she reads, cooks, cleans and pays her bills. An IQ of 50 to 70 is considered mild mental retardation, national reports show. Zychowski, with Community Partnership for Children, said he wants a different type of evaluation done to see if her parenting is a factor and wants to find state services that may help the mother with employment and other assistance.
"I take care of my kids. I don't understand why they keep messing with me," she said.
National studies show 40 to 60 percent of parents with mental disabilities have their children removed, mainly for neglect.
"It's just tragic. We need to provide the supports to help people be successful parents," said Deborah Linton, executive director of The ARC of Florida, which represents developmental disability agencies.
Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, who lobbies against removal of children from their homes, said the state should take the money it's paying for foster parents and put services in the mother's home. He said the children have already been traumatized enough by the state by being placed in an abusive foster home.
"The question right now is who has done a worse job of being a parent for these children -- their mother with the low IQ or the geniuses with (the state) who placed these children with a child molester," Wexler said.
Back at Lisa's house, she showed off photos of her children, along with her parenting class certificate.
She said it's hard not knowing what to tell her 7-year-old son when she visits.
"He always says, 'Mommy, when am I going to come home?' " she said. "I just want them to leave me alone and let me have my life with my kids."
What's Happened in the Case
Local child welfare officials are reviewing the case of a single Daytona Beach mother whose children are in foster care. Her attorneys question why the children -- one of whom was molested while in state care -- have not been returned. Here's what's happened:
JUNE 2006: State officials remove Lisa's three children after her then-2 1/2 -year-old daughter was hospitalized after she got into a friend's hair product. The children were temporarily placed in the Neighbor To Family foster home of Robert R. Clinton of Deltona.
NOVEMBER 2006: Internet portal Yahoo files a complaint with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after discovering Clinton was posting pornographic pictures of children.
FEBRUARY 2007: Clinton is arrested and charged with possession of pornographic images involving children, including images of himself molesting Lisa's daughter.
JUNE 2007: Children are returned to the mother after she finishes parenting and other classes.
SEPTEMBER 2007: Clinton sentenced to life in prison.
OCTOBER 2007: Attorneys make official the mother's intent to sue state Department of Children & Families and Neighbor To Family for emotional damage to the child.
NOVEMBER 2007: The three children are again removed after day-care officials report two of her daughters are sexually acting out, Lisa said.
APRIL 28: A dependency hearing in the case is delayed by child welfare officials until September
LAST WEEK: Community Partnership for Children, the lead foster care agency for the state, takes the management of the case away from Neighbor To Family.