Saturday, November 19, 2011

Economic Solutions in the Child Welfare Sector

So today's blog post is short a multiple choice test. Some background information you will need to take this test:

Road to Independence Funding: RTI, in general, provides funds for young adults who have aged out of foster care and who meet requirements of "progress" academically. The funds are intended to help youths complete their education and/or training, providing them with a cushion to allow them to make a start in life as they earn their education and hopefully have food, shelter and clothing while doing so. Monthly stipend for qualified youths in Florida: $892. 

Bus fare on Miami MetroBus: $2

Transfer on Miami MetroBus if you do not have an Easy card: $2 for every bus you ride when you pay cash.

Number of School Days in an Average Week: 5

Number of Buses to School: 10 if you travel without transfers

Number of Buses to School If You Are Really Unlucky: 20+ with transfers

Weekly Fare with Easy Card: $20 weekly

Weekly Fare if You Pay Cash: $20 without transfers and $40 or more with transfers.

Just for kicks:

Median Rent in Miami-Dade County (with Lease): $890, lower quartile: $676

The Baker Act: A Florida law that provides for a 72 hour hold for a person who you believe to be a risk to themselves or others, due to a mental health crisis.

Agency for Persons with Disabilities: APD, an organization undergoing severe budget cuts under Governor Rick Scott's inimitable (thank the quantum field) governing style.

Agency for Health Care Administration: The people who administer Medicaid in Florida.

Certified Behavioral Analyst: A person who helps develop behavioral strategies for children or adults who have significant behavioral issues due to their mental health status or developmental disabilities.

Total Annual Cost for Level 1 (supervision) and Level 3 (biweekly documentation of plan and implementation reviews) CBA services for a 13 year old child: $4300

Locked Mental Health Unit Crisis Hospitalization, 10 days: estimated cost on state Medicaid dollars, perhaps $2500- $5000 daily? Estimates vary based on the facility surveyed. (please note that it is evidently impossible in most facilities for any patient hospitalized on a 72 hour hold toward the end of a week to be discharged on a Saturday or Sunday. Of course, they get out on Monday!)

And now for our quiz! Excitement!!!

Question #1:

If you wanted to cut costs in your Independent Living Program for your aged out foster care youth, you would:

A. Stop providing bus cards for your aged out youth in good standing in your RTI program.

B. Make youths in good RTI program standing apply for bus cards, and have their applications approved or denied, thereby creating a situation where it is a burden for youths at far ends of your very large county to come in and apply, go home, wait for a decision and then if they are lucky, come back and get their bus card. (Oh, by the way, that would be using the public transportation that they likely don't have a bus card for... Hmmmm.) Hey, maybe they won't bother to apply. That's $$$ saved!

C. A and B.

D. Realize that if students can't afford to get to their classes on public transportation that they may then fail in school and that you can therefore drop them from your RTI program! Yay! You saved money!

E. All of the above.

Question #2:

If you wanted to save money on APD service provision for Behavioral Focus Clients/Consumers, you would lower them off the expensive Behavioral tier of service and:

A. Eliminate their behavior therapy services because they really didn't need them anyway because, hey, they're not on that service tier.

B. Make the staff in the consumer's group home responsible for their own behavioral strategies in working with this client. (Hope they don't get too frustrated or anything...)

C. Provide fewer dollars for the group home owner to compensate their staff for handling behaviorally challenging consumers in their group home. (Hey, those 15% cuts to group homeowners were necessary!)

D. Decide that spending $4300 a year on behavior services is not worthy preventive care. Preventing $50,000+ in 4.5 months on 10 days of crisis hospitalization for 13 year old with lifelong, deeply entrenched behavioral problems, and who has now been Baker Acted twice in the 4.5 months since you eliminated her behavioral therapeutic service is way stupid and not your problem. Besides, AHCA is picking up her hospital stays and that's not money coming directly out of your APD coffers! Yay! You saved money!

E. All of the above.

I'll leave it to you to figure out the right answers. M'kay?

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vile and Despicable

In the wake of the scandalous child sexual abuse cover-ups by the Vatican, I suppose that we should be surprised by nothing that adults want to sexually perpetrate on children, nor the extent to which people in power are willing to cover up and/or ignore it anymore. Still, it's hard to absorb the fact that accused pedophile rapist Jerry Sandusky was evidently sexually abusing minors, extremely vulnerable at-risk minors, and coaching staff and administration at Penn State did nothing about it.

Accused Pedophile Jerry Sandusky
(photo credit: Associated Press)

Sandusky, who retired as an assistant coach at Penn State in 1999, founded a group called Second Mile in 1977. It was a perfect grooming opportunity for his victims. Second Mile serves disadvantaged and at-risk youth. You know, kids unlikely to complain, or to be taken seriously when they complain, about being molested or raped. Virtually every reference to Sandusky, other than the statement now on the organization's website home page, has been stripped from Second Mile's website. They had removed him from their activities in late 2008. I cannot imagine how utterly horrifying it must be to the staff of the organization to think that Sandusky used them, and the children they sought to help, as a means of grooming new children to molest and rape. Only, wait a minute there, it seems that some did know that there was something not quite right about Sandusky. Namely, CEO Jack Raykovitz who you would think should know that Jerry Sandusky shouldn't be showering in the nude with a child. 

In spite of my immense cynicism and extensive writing on the Catholic sex abuse scandals, the Centre County Grand Jury's findings that led to indictment of Jerry Sandusky (40 counts of child sexual abuse), Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, and former Penn State Vice President of Finance Gary Shultz are absolutely astonishing to me. Their 23 page report alleges at least nine victims of clear child molestation and/or rape. (The ninth victim was unable to testify to the Grand Jury as he is stationed overseas with the military.) And it is almost as damning a report, with respect to Penn State, as it is to Sandusky.

Recounting the timeline, thanks to CNN, is simply nauseating.

1977 -- Sandusky founds "The Second Mile."
1994-1997 -- According to the grand jury report, Sandusky allegedly engages in inappropriate conduct with three different boys he met separately through the Second Mile program. One boy was 7 or 8, another was 10 and the third was 12 or 13 at the time. According to the grand jury report, the now-grown men said Sandusky engaged in inappropriate conduct ranging from touching to outright sexual encounters, including several incidents during the night before Penn State football home games, when the team, staff and boys Sandusky had allegedly invited were staying at a hotel.
1998 -- Penn State police and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare investigate an incident in which the mother of an 11-year-old boy reported that Sandusky had showered with her son and may have had inappropriate conduct with him. In a June 1, 1998, interview with investigators from both agencies, Sandusky admits showering naked with the boy, admitting that it was wrong and promising not to do it again, according to the grand jury report. The district attorney advises investigators that no charges will be filed and the university police chief instructs that the case be closed, according to the testimony included in the grand jury report of the police detective who investigated the incident. 
1999 -- Sandusky retires from Penn State after coaching their for 32 years, but stays on as a volunteer and retains full access to the campus and football facilities.
2000 -- Sandusky allegedly showers with a young boy and tries to touch his genitals during overnight stays at the coach's house, according to the now 24-year-old man's testimony included in the grand jury report.
2000 -- Tim Calhoun, a janitor at the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus, tells his supervisor and another janitor that he saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy, according to the grand jury report. A second janitor reported that he saw Sandusky and a boy leave a shower room and walk out of the building hand in hand. No one reports the incident to university officials or law enforcement, according to the grand jury report.
March 2, 2002 -- According to the grand jury report, a graduate assistant allegedly tells Coach Joe Paterno that he saw Sandusky in the locker room shower the night before, performing anal sex on a young boy he estimated to be 10 years old.
March 3, 2002 -- Paterno reports the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley, saying the graduate assistant had seen Sandusky "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy," according to the grand jury. Later, the assistant is summoned to a meeting with Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz..
While the assistant insists to the grand jury that he told Curley and Schultz that he saw Sandusky and the boy engaged in anal sex, Curley and Schultz told the grand jury they had not been told of such an allegation. Instead, Curley said he had the impression the conduct amounted to non-sexual "horsing around." Schultz said he couldn't remember details, but seemed to recall that "Sandusky might have inappropriately grabbed the young boy's genitals while wrestling," according to the grand jury. Sandusky's locker room keys are confiscated, he is told not to bring his Second Mile participants to campus and the incident is reported to the charity, but no law enforcement investigation is launched, according to the grand jury.
2002 -- The Second Mile learns of the shower incident. Curley tells them that "the information had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing," the group said in a statement Monday.
2005 or 2006 -- Sandusky allegedly befriends another Second-Mile participant whose allegations would form the foundation of the multi-year grand jury investigation.
2006 or 2007 -- A wrestling coach at the high school where Sandusky was volunteering allegedly surprises Sandusky and the boy "lying on their sides, in physical contact, face to face on a mat" in a cramped weight room. Sandusky jumps to his feet and told the coach the two were just working on wrestling moves, the coach later recalls in grand jury testimony. As time goes on, Sandusky allegedly begins to spend more time with the boy, taking him to sporting events and giving him gifts, including golf clubs, a computer, cash and clothes. During this period, according to the grand jury report, Sandusky allegedly performs oral sex on the boy more than 20 times, and the boy performs oral sex on him once.
2008 -- The boy breaks off contact with Sandusky. Later, his mother calls the high school to report her son had been sexually assaulted and the principal bars Sandusky from campus and reports the incident to police. In grand jury testimony, the principal, Steven Turchetta, recalls Sandusky's behavior as suspicious, and said Sandusky was often "clingy" and "needy" when a student no longer wanted to spend time with him. The ensuing investigation reveals 118 calls from Sandusky's home and cell phone numbers to the boy's home.
November 2008 -- Sandusky informs The Second Mile that he is under investigation, and he is removed from all program activities involving children, according to the group.
September 2010 -- Sandusky retires from The Second Mile, according to the grand jury.
Friday -- The grand jury report is released.
Saturday -- Authorities arrest Sandusky on seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and numerous other charges, including aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child. He is freed on $100,000 unsecured bail. Curley, 57, and Schultz, 62, are each charged with one count of felony perjury and one count of failure to report abuse allegations.
Sunday -- Curley asks for and is granted administrative leave to deal with the charges, while Schultz steps down from his post to retire.

How many children has Sandusky violated, one wonders? And how, HOW, could the Penn State individuals who knew of this live with knowing what this monster was doing, and live with their choice not to call the police? Only high school principal Steven Turchetta appears to have acted on Sandusky's suspect behavior, which he termed, even without any further evidence than close physical contact, unacceptable and decided that Sandusky be kept away from his school's children. Only Turchetta called the police! Even the graduate assistant (reportedly Mike McQueary, whose statements, according to the indictment, page 8, were considered to be "extremely credible" by the Grand Jury) who reported his horrifying observation of Sandusky subjecting a child he estimated to be only ten years old to anal sex in a Penn State locker room shower, did not call the police. Instead, he called head coach Joe Paterno, who felt his duty was done when he told athletic director Curley. While I can better understand a graduate assistant's fear of being a whistleblower (more courage evidently, would have been required to ask why Sandusky wasn't then arrested, why he himself was never interviewed by police, even campus police about an incident that was so clearly illegal), I cannot comprehend Paterno's lack of action nor the State's Attorney's lack of charging him with failure to report sexual abuse allegations involving a minor, at a minimum. Joe Paterno had much on his side in coming forward with this illegal behavior. He had a powerful reputation, which is now, justifiably, forever tainted with his cowardice.

As the New Jersey Star-Ledger's Editorial Board puts it:

"He knew this much: Sandusky, little boy, shower, vacant locker room. What more detail did he need to alert authorities that something might be wrong?"

"Paterno insists, “I did what I was supposed to do,” by handing off to Curley, but Paterno did only the minimum the law required. Telling Curley doesn’t absolve Paterno from a moral obligation. He should’ve taken action himself. Failing to do that allowed Sandusky to victimize boys for another seven years."

Calls for Paterno, who has still not been charged, to step down are coming from all quarters, as well they should. As it is, Paterno's own written response is so wholly off-mark that one wonders if he sees anything at all wrong with child abuse.

And Curley and Schultz? Let's be frank about what Penn State's agenda was here and call a spade a spade. This was a business decision for them. They chose their bottom line with donors, who might balk at the idea that the football program had held a sexual predator among its ranks, over the welfare, health and psyches of children of their community.

What was Penn State's basic reaction to the revelation that Jerry Sandusky was raping children in the locker room showers on the Penn State Campus?

Paterno, Schulz and Curley only told Jerry Sandusky that he could no longer rape little boys on Penn State's campus. 

And for that, they should ever be remembered as the men who enabled Sandusky's pedophilia. 

These men, while not as vile as Jerry Sandusky, are despicable cravens.

Penn State's Shame:

Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz
(Photo credits: Little for the AP, Sports Illustrated, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Oh, and talk about irony, six weeks ago, Penn State dedicated it's new Child Care Center in the name of retired Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz. Because, you know, Gary's all about caring for kids.

Photo credit: Mark Viera via

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Comtesse Palate Cleanser

this one comes with hugs...

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wow, These Protestors....

I really wish these OWS people would get it together and have a clearer message. They're just a bunch of... Oh... Wait a minute...


Mais Non!!!! Anything but that! Now they're not even just talking about corporations... political accountability? No!

As for corporate greed knowing no bounds, hey, they aren't fooling people. At least not in my family.

Two Weeks Ago in a Publix parking lot- A conversation with my 15 year old about his sister's BOA account and why she is upset with their planned (now backpedaled) policy of charging for use of a BOA debit card:

Me: "No, it's not like a credit card because you're not using their money until you pay your bill off. It's funded with the money in your BOA checking account."

15YO: "Whoa... wait a minute... isn't that kind of like they are charging you to use your own money?"

Me: "I have such a bright child. BOA should talk to you, kiddo."

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One of those days....

No, don't read this. Have an otter instead.

It's been one of those days. Actually, one of those weeks (so far). Today alone I canceled my nephrology appointment to take my child to his doctor (leaving in 10 minutes), screwed up plans with eldest son (depressed, stressed, I have not seen him in three weeks) by accident and felt like a jerk, then one of my GAL kids was Baker Acted at school while I was talking to teacher and counselor and listening to screaming, sobbing, smashing child in background, and then I took Snow White some money and a bracelet for her birthday only to find her the most depressed I've ever seen her. EVER. Like postpartum was warm and fuzzies! Now I'm plotting how to get my son's psychiatrist, who used to be her psychiatrist long ago when she was in a group home, to see her private pay (my dime) for antidepressant treatment, but I have no idea where she's gonna get that cognitive therapy component on Medicaid. My youngest is going to tutor her in Algebra 2 (yay!) but will she be able to get to Planned Parenthood on public transportation in Homestead (boo! I better take her, right? Don't know about you but when I've been seriously depressed, it is exhausting even thinking about doing things...) All these many things filled my head as I drove home, or should I say as my student driver drove me home (thrills, chills!) from his school.

But then I got home and this is what a colleague had sent me (no, no, don't feel bad you did, okay?):

It was the perfect capstone to my day, my week, our reality in this country for the ill, the disadvantaged, the disabled, the former foster care, the 99%, Scott Olsen, the people living in all those Florida ALFs.

Here, have another cute picture. In this world, we need some happy. DESPERATELY.


“In my mind I have not done anything wrong other than discipline my child when she was caught stealing. I did lose my temper, I’ve apologized… it looks worse than it is.”

In my mind, I hope there is no statute of limitations on ASSAULT.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011