by Irene Masiello author of PARADISE COSTS-the first pro-active, grassroots REALITY WRITING book
Awareness is y/our responsibility
Believe in a Higher Power
Celebrate the moment
Discover something new today
Earth needs our prayers
Free-will ultimately prevails
Gratitude requires expression
Health balances mind, body & Spirit
Inspire others with enthusiasm
Joy is contagious
Kindness always counts
Love is never wasted
Miracles happen all the time
Nature is God’s palette
One day at a time
Peace on earth begins with you
Quiet time is required each day
Respect other people’s rights
Smile and sleep more
Time heals those who work at it
Understanding goes a long way
Virtue is its own reward
Xtra-ordinary people think bigger picture
Yesterday’s gone; today matters now
Zero in on a goal & go for it.
Monday, December 31, 2007
by Irene Masiello author of PARADISE COSTS-the first pro-active, grassroots REALITY WRITING book
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Researchers Dr. Michael A. Farrell, Prof. Gary Egan and Prof. Derek Denton of Melbourne Australia’s Howard Florey Institute discovered that a part of the brain called the mid cingulated cortex predicts how much water a person needs. In older people this region malfunctions.
The study involved 2 groups of people. The first consisted of individual’s age 65 to 74. The second included 21 to 30 year olds. All the participants were infused with salty water to make them thirsty and then allowed to drink as much as they wanted.
Though both groups were equally thirsty, the older people drank half as much as the younger ones.
Farrell and his colleagues used positron emission tomography (PET scan) to examine the brain of each of the participants. They found that in the older people, the mid cingulated cortex turned off much earlier by drinking small volumes.
The discovery explains why the elderly are at higher risk for dehydration and should act as a reminder to older people to be sure to drink sufficient amounts of water especially in warmer weather.
Dehydration is not something that should be taken lightly. Symptoms of dehydration include: headache, lethargy, and hallucinations. In extreme cases, it can cause death.
“Adults should drink about 8 glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration and physically active people may need to drink more,” said Farrell.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/
Martha told me how they found a hulking shell of a building and it took them weeks to track down the owner who was a 96 year old Jewish elder , that had been imported by Rafael Trujillo , a former white dictator of the Dominican Republic who in an attempt to purify the race imported single Jewish men and hence the Jewish settlers married Dominican women and became among the most succesful businessmen in Puerto Plata.
That same year a Entomologist convention was held in Santo Domingo and here was Marta and her orphaned children as guest of honor amongst scientist from all over the world staying at one of the country's finest hotels in the capital.
Marta's blog is described as : A journal of activities relating to volunteer service in the Dominican Republic mostly related to orphaned, abandoned, and disadvantaged children and the people who work with them.
Good Samaritan OrphanageBoys at orphanage in the Dominican Republic make surprising discovery of a beetle that was thought to be extinct (go to Archive, Newsletter 20).
*Reference Caribbean mailto:Insects@Harvard Entomology
***Recently Discovered Invasive Butterfly in the Dominican RepublicFirst New World documentation of an Old World citrus pest, the Lime Swallowtail Papilio demoleus (Lepidoptera:Papilionidae), in the Dominican Republic (Hispaniola).
They've already discovered more than 200 new species, and they expect to find thousands more before finishing up their Dominican work in about 2011.
On behalf of my readers thank you for showing us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. Thank you for walking your talk; let your example serve as an inspiration to others. Ray Fernandez Editor.- ElderAbuseHelp.Org
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
"show how you care...make them aware."
~John Bradshaw, New York Times best-selling author:
Bradshaw On: The Family, Healing the Shame that Binds You, Homecoming and Creating Love
THEFT OF ELDER NATION Elder financial abuse has become a hidden national epidemic
THE JURY DIDN'T BUY Ronald Brock's defense: That a 76-year-old-San Mateo man who had mental problems all of his life had voluntarily given his former legal adviser $661,000. We don't buy it either.
Brock flew Norman Roussey to New York to be evaluated by a psychiatrist - who happened to be his sister. She wrote a letter stating that Roussey had the mental capacity to change his will and leave everything to her brother.
He took a hypnotist to Roussey's house to perform "relaxation techniques" on the senior - prior to having him sign the new will, a will that Roussey later didn't even remember signing.
Roussey's self-professed close friend also convinced him to take out a mortgage on his late mother's house and give him $175,000 of the money. When Brock failed to make the mortgage payments like he'd promised, the bank foreclosed. Roussey lost his mother's house and wound up living in an apartment.
The jury looked at all that damning evidence and convicted Brock of elder abuse. A judge sentenced him to five years in prison. He also was ordered to repay the money.
But then, last October, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco threw out the conviction. Why? Because Superior Court Judge Joseph Bergeron had instructed the jurors that they could convict Brock if they believed he had taken advantage of Roussey's weakness of mind.
Under California law, intentionally exploiting the mental vulnerabilities of someone to steal their money or property - the legal term is using "undue influence-" isn't against the law.
That's right. So, the appellate court tossed out Brock's conviction. It ruled that Bergeron's instructions allowed a conviction for conduct that was "little more than overpersuasion."
The justices in effect followed the letter of the law. Undue influence is not listed as a crime under California's penal code.
Yet how can an elder consent to a financial transaction if he doesn't have the mental capacity to understand the implications? Most reasonable people - like those on the Brock jury - would say that he can't.
Consider this: Brock had met Roussey in the early '90s. At the time, he was a paralegal for attorney Hubert Forsyth whose firm was representing Roussey in a nasty fight with his brother over his mother's estate.
Roussey's mother died in 1991. He had lived with her his whole life because of mental problems. Roussey had never been able to hold down a job.
After his mother's death, he was worth $1 million and all alone for the first time in his life. Brock befriended him. The two men took trips to Hawaii. Then, once Roussey became dependent on him, Brock began asking for money.
"Asking" is a nice way of putting it.
When Roussey refused to sign checks over to Brock, Brock pursued him throughout the house until he relented. Brock told the senior that if he didn't give him the money, he would have to get a job and wouldn't be able to be his friend anymore.
Brock continued to pressure Roussey for money. He knew Roussey could not resist because of his dependency on Brock and his mental impairments.
Roussey's money bought Brock a Jeep and a Cadillac. That apparently wasn't enough. He successfully pressured Roussey to cancel an annuity that he had bought for his niece.
Many defense lawyers - and even some prosecutors - will argue that undue influence is a vague concept.
We strongly disagree.
It is a deliberate set of manipulative behaviors over a period of time that essentially brainwashes a weaker-willed person into doing things that are not in his or her best interest. Not unlike what happens in a cult.
Elder abusers seek out and "groom" vulnerable seniors. They target the lonely, the grief-stricken, the physically or mentally ill. They use deceitful tactics to loot their assets - all the while keeping victims in the dark about what is really going on.
The appellate court ruled that Brock's conduct was nothing more than "overpersuasion." However, we believe Brock crossed a line that went far, far beyond aggressive salesmanship.
San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan who prosecuted Brock believes it's time that the Legislature changed the theft laws to help protect elderly victims of financial abuse. She is lobbying for a bill that would make undue influence a crime.
McKowan had convinced the jury to convict Brock on the grounds that he had knowingly taken advantage of Brock's mental impairments.
Many had hoped that McKowan's novel use of "undue influence" in a criminal case (it is already part of civil statute) would break ground for prosecutions of elder abusers across the state.
The victory was short-lived, though Brock did serve his full prison sentence before the appellate court reversal.
His attorney said Brock was guilty of nothing more than "aggressive panhandling," and that we can't create a crime to fit every behavior that we don't like.
Even some prosecutors are reluctant to tinker with the current theft laws. Yet we believe that using undue influence to commit a crime should itself be a crime.
It's time that the Legislature amended the penal code to make undue influence as prosecutable kind of theft.
The California District Attorneys Association is working on plans to introduce such a law.
Any law would first have to establish a clear definition for undue influence. It would also have to determine what kind of medical evidence would be required to establish that an alleged victim was susceptible to it, and establish what other conditions must be met.
We use such a process to determine if an accused defendant is mentally incompetent to stand trial. So why can't we do it to determine if an elder was incompetent when he gave consent?
If what Brock did to Roussey wasn't against the law, it certainly should be. There are far too many elderly Californians like Roussey who are being "overpersuaded" out of their life savings.
It's time to close the legal loophole that makes it so easy for elder predators to go scot free.
Theft of Elder Nation: An editorial series
Place legal curbs on 'rescue' practice
Theft of Elder Nation: An editorial series
Theft of Elder Nation: An editorial series
State needs to revoke theft license
Theft of Elder Nation: An editorial series:
Getting involved early is critical
Theft of Elder Nation: An editorial series
Elder court is crucial
Elder financial abuse has become a hidden national epidemic
By ANDREW POLLACK New York Times Published: December 25, 2007
Medical centers are rushing to turn nuclear particle accelerators, formerly used only for exotic physics research, into the latest weapons against cancer.
The machines accelerate protons to nearly the speed of light and shoot them into tumors. Scientists say proton beams are more precise than the X-rays now typically used for radiation therapy, meaning fewer side effects from stray radiation and, possibly, a higher cure rate.
“I’m fascinated and horrified by the way it’s developing,” said Anthony L. Zietman, a radiation oncologist at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, which operates a proton center. “This is the dark side of American medicine.”
Dr. Zietman said that while protons were vital in treating certain rare tumors, they were little better than the latest X-ray technology in dealing with prostate cancer, the common disease that many proton centers are counting on for business.
“You can scarcely tell the difference between them except in price,” he said. Medicare pays about $50,000 to treat prostate cancer with protons, almost twice as much as with X-rays.
Proponents say that more than 800,000 Americans — representing nearly two-thirds of new cancer cases — undergo radiation therapy each year. If only 250,000 of them could benefit from protons, they would fill more than 100 centers.
Most people undergoing proton treatment are men with localized prostate cancer.
Proton therapy can help avoid the worst side-effects, like impotence, by exposing the bladder and rectum of a prostate patient to less radiation than X-rays. The stray radiation, though, from the newest form of X-rays, called intensity-modulated radiation therapy, is already low, diminishing any advantages from proton therapy.
X-rays, which are high-energy electromagnetic waves, pass through the body, depositing their energy all along the way, not just in the tumor. By contrast, protons — subatomic particles with a positive electrical charge — can be made to stop on the tumor and dump most of their payload there.
Cancer a Very Lucrative Business?
With enough patients “it becomes a very lucrative system,” Mr. Phillips, a sales manager with Optivus Proton Therapy, said at the meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology held here in late October. Referring to one proton center that treats up to 175 patients a day, he added, “You can imagine what the return on investment is on that.”
Mr. Phillip: If by chance you happen to be one of the 2,400,000 Americans that will become new victims of cancer every year, I would like to interview you and ask you "How does it feels becoming "Very Lucrative" business?"
Can you imagine getting old and having cancer? then you would be twice as lucrative, your name might even make it on InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”
What if you are old, have cancer and get Alzheimer's ? Would this list sell at premium?
Teresa from New York Writes ;
My mother died while we were looking for her. She was placed in a home for elderly and we were lead to believe that she was in her own home with a family member.
We live in the United States and mother lived in Spain, it was hard for us to afford to check on her so the family member took all of her money and sent her to a home for the poor elderly. We are all so broken up about this still,.she was an American citizen and she died overseas with none of her children to be by her side how cruel is that!
Elder abuse must stop,.and families need to watch over their elderly better,.we feel we should have called the authorities in Spain but now it is too late for that, she was only visiting her family member for a little while, like a vacation and we couldn't stop her from going to Spain, besides, who knew she would be financially abused?
Never assume that everything is OK,.always watch your elders like you would watch children, they are more vulnerable than most children because children have no money and she did. Keep up the great work in educating people on your blog, we wish we would have read a blog like this before our mother became a victim!
Guilt is something that we all feel when we are devastated by the wanton destruction of something we hold so sacred as a human life, especially one that is so close and dear to us as a loved family member.
Looking back in retrospect, there is always something we could-have, should-have, done to avert the tragedy, exploitation and often times the wanton murder of a loved one, a love one who in the authorities eyes would have died *anyway due to their advanced age and that does not warrant the **expense of an investigation of their abuse or the retribution of it's perpetrators.
Just like I wish some one had warned me, I wish I could have warned you through this blog, but who could have warned either of us, that a family member would exploit our love ones and then discard them like a broken doll and warehouse them to die quietly once they were of no use to them?
Monday, December 24, 2007
Clara is spending time with her family who shower her with love and attention all of her waking hours. She is never alone for a day, or an hour or a moment. She is getting really spoiled and used to her surroundings and is doing surprisingly well , standing up to pray after prayer meetings , and dancing when she hears music which is often.
*Experts estimate that one in five elderly Americans are victims of financial exploitation. Some studies put the figure at closer to 50 percent. However, only 4 percent to 15 percent of such cases are ever reported to authorities, and even those that are reported often don't result in convictions. Even if there's a conviction, the penalties imposed for such crimes are much less than for similar offenses where the victim is younger.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
D.T. Writes Elder Abuse
I am surprised that four years after my father's death, I still feel so much frustration and anger over my dad being scammed at the end of his life. I feel like the kid who's telling the Catholic Church that he/she was molested by a priest.
I'm still getting most of my inheritance (that's been an unbelievable ordeal by itself - since lousy people got involved with the distrubtion of his estate, too) but only because I spent countless thousands of dollars, pints of blood, sweat, and tears dealing with professionals, elder abuse personnel, lawyers, police, staying at hotels, renting condos, etc. all to keep up with the hoards of people surrounding my sick father who had lots of money, a big heart and no personal boundaries with strangers.
What I DID NOT GET was to see my father at the end of his life - an old girlfriend was given control of his body and person by other crooks wanting to get my dad's large estate and business. The new book "T is for Trespass" by Sue Grafton is a "cute chronicle" compared to the sick, evil, twisted behavior that went on behind closed doors as I (the only sane and loving person in my dad's life) fought to bond with my dad and keep greedy people from trying to steal everything he had before he passed on.
Everyone convinced my dad I was bad news which is so ridiculous I can't even begin to comprehend the uncanny evil that must possess people to be this greedy in this lifetime (my own relatives, too.) I want to believe in people again, but I just don't - mostly because there are still so many people who won't validate my experience (friends, relatives, and all of those people who fear the very nature of this crime - don't blame them.) I won't fly on a plane, don't feel happy having money, and love my dogs more than any human.
I used to be fun-loving, proud of my dad and his great car dealership in Palm Springs. He started with nothing and became a great businessman and had complete passion for his work. Everyone still wants to "blame the victim" (he had bad taste in girlfriends, etc.) I feel like I made up my entire past. If no one ever sees this, thanks for giving me an opportunity to "vent" at this time of year. I'm the only female in a large family of men - and no one, and I mean NO ONE gets what I went through as my dad's daughter. And no - it was none of my dad's three kids who did any of the scamming. It was all done by non-blood strangers. America sure isn't the country is used to be. Everyone is greedy and into gaining materially these days - ironically my dad WASN'T. He just made a lot of money because he loved what he did. "I'm often embarassed I'm an American."
I still love my God and am thankful for that relationship and my husband and sons - who my dad loved, too.
Thanks for writing to E.A. we are taking the liberty to publish your courageous letter because the success your father attained is very commendable and so is his contribution to his government and our society as whole. Your father success attracted the predators and highlights the fact that our government in its indifference and its in-ability to adequately protect our elders once old age and senility sets in leaves much to be desired.
D.T. Please correct me if I am wrong but without knowing the entire story I can just about know that the "girlfriend" was NOT included in your father's original will . The predators know that the 'elder financial abuser' usually has nothing to lose and everything to gain, so the predator does not mind spreading it around ! and sharing the booty with others who swarm in to protect the elder financial abuser(s) by dis-crediting the original heirs. (The story repeats itself, over and over)
In speaking out for the voiceless , we realize that telling your father story isn't an easy thing to do , and believe me it doesn't get any easier but your story is fascinating and needs to be told! And who better than you to tell it ?
We will continue to give a voice to victims like you everywhere, unafraid, and hold our heads up high, continuing to publish the letters like yours from people that have the courage to speak out and encourage others to come forward with their stories.
Merry Christmas D.T. from all of us.................
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Divorce cases are increasing and everywhere we hear about family law attorney. But what exactly is family law. Well, family law is the field of law that encompasses different facets of family relations.
Components Of Family Law
This law includes children’s rights, child custody as well as visitation, child support, separation agreements, marital division property, civilian as well as military divorce, estate and trusts, estate planning, matters of elder law, probate wills as well as will contest, insurance, pre-marital agreements, cohabitation agreements, marriage, and other issues related to family that come under the law.
The best divorce lawyers fight cases relating to divorce, legal separation, nullity of marriage, child support, spousal support or alimony, child custody, property division, and others. In addition to this, they also take up cases of insurance, guardianship, domestic violence and abuse, legal matters related to elder law, estate planning that includes wills and will’s contest, trusts, probate, and other legal issues associated with estate.
Things To Remember When Looking For Family Law Attorney
If your case is that of a divorce, you need to analyze whether you both are in agreement for a divorce. If you are, then just one online divorce attorney would do. However, if the situation is such that you are ready to kick each other, then it’s best to hire two lawyers, one for each party.
Now, this is a real life situation for you and a serious one, at that. Therefore, this is not the time to let an amateur practice his or her skills on your case. Look for a highly experienced and reputed family law attorney, who, just by listening to your problem, makes you feel that you are going to win the case!
Divorce makes you pay a price, both through your heart and your pocket. But, don’t get too carried away by your traumatic situation to forget discussing the fee of your family law attorney! Be straightforward in your approach regarding fee and do not hesitate to ask about hidden costs, if any.
When you find a divorce lawyer, he or she should be the ultimate one for you. If you feel even a bit uneasy talking with the lawyer, drop him or her. It’s a matter of your future and you would not want to take risks, right? Choose a family law attorney with care and take your time. Your future happiness depends on your attorney now.
There are hundreds of legal family issues in this world. But, thanks to family law attorney, they can be solved with tact and harmony. To find a divorce attorney you do not need to run from pillar to post any longer, just go onto the net and find yourself an online divorce attorney.
by Maria C Gallo, Esquire.
I think I have explained the Baker Act procedure before but if not, here's how it is suppose to work (or least how it works in our circuit).
Baker Acts are fairly common in law enforcement arenas. A person who is suicidal or a person who exhibits odd AND injurious behavior, either to themselves or others, are at risk for being Baker Acted.
This is for the safety of that individual and for the public at large. A person is taken, involuntarily, to a hospital, mental health facility or, in our circuit, the Crisis Stabilization Unti. That individual is then placed under observation, usually for 72 hours.
If it is determined that the individual is NOT a threat to himself or others, he is released (or should be - if he is not released, that is a civil rights violation. More on that later.)
If the person is determined to be a threat to himself or others, a Baker Act hearing is held. The alleged impaired person is appointed an attorney to challenge the on-going detention in a mental facility and to fight treatment if it determined that it is not appropriate or if treatment is not what the client wants. Baker Acts do not give authority to any other person to then be able to raid that alleged impaired person's property.
That would require a different kind of hearing. And certainly any Powers of Attorney written by the alleged impaired person are no good.
Any person taking property from the alleged impaired person while they are in observation is not permissible and prosecution of that would be up to the State Attorney in that circuit.It is common, but unethical and/or illegal, to Baker Act someone without proper cause merely in order to get guardianship or improper access to the alleged impaired person's property.
This is exploitation of the elderly or exploitation of a vulnerable adult and both are crimes. Both can be reported to the Department of Children and Families Adult Protection Division (the abuse hotline) which in Florida is 1-800-96-ABUSE.
Hello, *Martha Lenderman,
I understand and have read about your involvement with the Baker Act.What I'm curious about is how far you'll go to see that the Baker Act isn't misused.
Please take notice that the events you are about to go over are currently happening and my Sister and I are helpless todo anything about it.
There is a side to the Baker Act that allows a person to use the Baker Act to have an elderly person placed in the Florida Hospital in the Psych ward for observation while they steal their home and finances.
Who takes or is responsible for the Baker Act, when it is the tool used for the prior mentioned activities.
If I were to place a person in a hospital under the BakerAct, and did this with the intension of stealing my grandmothers assets.Who would want to know about this that could do anything about it?
So far, no one cares one way or the other, from Medicare SIU, Any political affiliation passes the buck, The DCF wants to see bruises, the police are helpless, and The Florida Hospital can't say anything due tothe Mental Illness aspect.
It seems like The Baker Act has totally protected anyone affiliated with it except for the victim My Grandmother Revelle Rose Markert. So far, I haven't seen one procedure or protocol from the Baker Act actually respected , from Kidnapping an Elderly woman, to a 196 hour stay at the Florida Hospital, to Using the Temporary Guardianship to move every bank account Revelle has prior to petitioning for Plenary Guardianship.
Not to mention the people that observed the persons improperly medicate my grandmother while under the Baker Act.
I do apologize for looking for answers from you. From my Surfing the internet, you are the only one that seems to know what the Baker Act is and how it is supposed to be used.
My Grandmother, Revelle Markert,
a current resident of Sebring Florida
4225 Seawood Ave
Sebring, Florida 33875
I've copied staff from the district office of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) on this reply so they can follow-up on your grandmother's situation. DCF is the state's mental health authority and it designates facilities to participate in the Baker Act.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration actually licenses the hospital.
It's best that your inquiry be handled by representatives of state agencies.
We forwarded your email to the DCF and the local sheriff's department for review
You may also contact The Bar by mail at 651 East Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300, telephone (850)561-5839.
Please continue to seek private legal counsel if you need any legal assistance to ensure that your best interests are represented. An attorney can provide the legal advice which our office is precluded by law from giving to private individuals. The Florida Bar also offers a Lawyer Referral Service at the above address. The toll-free telephone number is (800)342-8060.
Contact the Humana Medicare Offices of Special Investigation Unit for Abuse and Fraud.
Because of the volume of e-mails I receive on a daily basis, combined with the workload that comes with my position, I may not be able to respond to your concerns immediately.
Section 16.01, Florida Statutes, sets forth the powers and duties of this office. We are precluded by law from providing legal advice or opinions to private individuals.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has received your Email expressing your concerns about the possible exploitation of your elderly grandmother as described in your correspondence. Attorney General McCollum asked that we respond. We are saddened to hear of your grandmother's troubles.
*Martha now does consulting, primarily related to the Baker Act and Marchman Act. She:
• Assisted the Legislature in preparing the 1996 Baker Act reform,
• Wrote the Florida Administrative Rules governing the Baker Act,
• Developed the model Baker Act forms,
• Developed the facility survey guidelines for AHCA and DCF, and
• Wrote the state’s Baker Act and Marchman Act Handbooks.
By Tom Smith Senior Staff Writer Times.Daily
A local man has been arrested on a grand jury indictment accusing him of extorting money from an elderly man.Florence police said William Louis "Slick J" Johnson, 1938 Maple Ave., Florence, has been indicted on charges of abuse and neglect of the elderly and second-degree burglary.
The abuse charge is a Class C felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison, if convicted. Second-degree burglary is a Class B felony and has a punishment of 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted.Court officials said Johnson was indicted during the December grand jury session.Johnson, 51, is accused of abusing an 85-year-old Florence man.
Authorities said the abuse had been going on for a long time.
Johnson is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail totaling $7,500.
Tom, let me see if I got this right, crook has been extorting thousands from elderly, this has been going on a long time , he can post 10% $750.00 bail with his credit card and be out the next day , extorting more elders, to pay for his bail money.
Tom will you keep us posted, why do I have the feeling this guy's sentence is going to be suspended and he is not going to do any time?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
GRAHAM, Washington USA. - December 18,2004 .- Ma and Pa's Roundup is the kind of hole in the wall where everyone turns to look at the rare newcomers who venture through its doors, which is exactly what happened the night that Daniel T. Tavares Jr. came striding in.
Tavares had a tattoo of a raging bull on his neck. He announced he had a stash of crystal meth in his pocket. He said he had ties to the Mafia and owned his own tattoo business. And he let it drop that, by the way, he had killed three people back in Boston.
Tavares fugitive from Massachusetts with a history of horrific violence, a man who killed his mother with a carving knife, led police to another woman's corpse in his former backyard, and threatened Mitt Romney and his own father. Hours after leaving the Roundup, Tavares is believed to have killed again. He allegedly killed a couple who lived across the street from his trailer, shooting each one three times in the head.
How did, how a mentally ill, drug-abusing killer was unleashed on a rural community 3,000 miles away, his sentence for killing his mother came to an end last summer, including the hearing July 16 in which Tavares, facing more criminal charges for assaulting prison guards, appeared in Superior Court asking that he be set free until trial.
It took Judge Kathe M. Tuttman less than 10 minutes to waive bail and release Tavares and
prosecutors rejected or ignored serious concerns about the inmate raised by police and prison officials over a 16-year period.Tavares's egregious prison record that included more than 100 serious disciplinary complaints.
Word never reached the people of Graham that a violent fugitive had taken up residence. Brian and Beverly Mauck, who planned to start a family in the house they had purchased in 2006, never mentioned their new neighbor to family members. Beverly's mother said she first heard the name Daniel Tavares when he was arrested in her daughter's murder.
Tavares claimed he was hearing voices when he stabbed her over and over again on the night of July 11, 1991, telling police that he "just started swinging" with a 12-inch knife after an evening of drinking and taking LSD. Police found 14 vials of psychiatric medications on the dresser in Tavares's bedroom.
Tavares's history of mental illness persuaded Walsh, the DA, to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter rather than pursue murder charges, prompting criticism recently from police involved in the investigation.
"To me, it was definitely homicide," said former Somerset police chief James M. Smith. "Certainly, when you stab someone 16 times, there's an intent there."
Walsh said later that he feared Tavares's psychological problems could suggest he did not understand what he was doing on the night of the killing. "We have to prove that he possessed a sound mind. . . . If we can't prove that, he's found not guilty."
In 2000, he contacted police to say that he could tell them where to find the body of 32-year-old Gayle Botelho, who he said had been killed by two acquaintances after "some wild party" in 1988. Investigators unearthed Botelho's skeletal remains in a makeshift grave behind the Fall River house Tavares had lived in at the time of her disappearance. Like Ann Tavares, Botelho had been stabbed to death.
For years, he wrote threatening letters to public officials and family members from his cell, prompting a State Police investigation in 2006. "He threatened to kill me," said the elder Tavares. "He said he'd come down here when he got out and break all my ribs and maim me."
However, Tavares could not be charged with a crime, prosecutors said, because, as an inmate, he had no ability to carry out the threats.
By July 16, the only thing that separated Tavares from freedom was raising the $100,000 bail he faced in the assault charges.His problem would be solved in a brief hearing barely noticed outside of Judge Tuttman's courtroom in Worcester.
Despite the freedom, Tavares's father said, his son was unchanged, calling the elder Tavares in November to blurt "I'm out" and hang up.
That night, the elder Daniel Tavares Sr. slept with his gun.
Sometime in the next few hours, Pierce County prosecutor Gerald T. Costello alleges, Tavares kicked in the front door of the Maucks' home, shot Brian Mauck in the face, then shot him twice more as he lay on the floor. Beverly Mauck tried to run, but she only made it to the front door before she was shot in the head, too. Tavares told police he then placed her body on top of Brian's and covered them with a blanket as a sign of respect.
Troyer said Massachusetts officials have to do better than blaming one another for Tavares. "Everybody needs to take a little bit of responsibility," said Troyer. "If somebody were to say, 'Boy, we could have done a better job,' we'd have a lot more respect."
Abridged for E.A. =>>
I received the phone call that every child of an elderly parent dreads. The management office in my mother's condo left this message: "We had a report that the aide who picks up your mother is verbally abusing your mother. We're quite concerned, and we'd like you to get in touch with us."
My 94-year-old mother lived in Florida, 1,500 miles away. Like a detective I made a half-dozen calls until finally speaking to the woman who'd filed the report. "It was a blue Echo," she said, and I froze, knowing my mom's aide Josie (not her real name) drove that car. "The aide had her foot out the driver's door, so I could hear her yelling. She kept saying, 'Are you crazy? Are you crazy?' Then she slammed the car door and gunned the motor, took off real fast, stopping with a screech a few yards later. She started yelling at your mother again. I was so disturbed. I felt if this old woman had family, they ought to know. But even if she didn't have family, there's no reason for anyone to be treated that way."
"Thank you," I said as many times as Josie had called my mother crazy.
I'd had misgivings about Josie, my mother's "live in" for three months. She seemed distant and mysterious, leaving my mother eating lunch alone to return to her soap operas. After years of hiring aides to care for my mother, I knew that some watched TV all day, but each one had strengths and weaknesses. Exhausted and unable any longer to combine my work, marriage, child-rearing and long-distance care management, I hired a pricey social worker to oversee the aides. Just last week, she told me, "The aides are fabulous!" Perhaps I dreamed of perfection for my mother's care but had to settle for mediocre. I viewed Josie as more benignly neglectful than explosively dangerous.
Within an hour Josie was off my mother's case, but told to stay the night. Initially the agency had refused to give me references for Josie, promising she'd been screened and trained. Now when I pressed them, they said she was required only to take a two-hour course for certification, and they conducted criminal checks only for Florida (she could have broken the law in 49 states). A cottage industry had exploded nationwide: services for elderly parents of children who lived far away. Their Web sites promise personalized and compassionate care for our loved ones, and we need to buy it.
All night I worried that Josie might harm my mother, even though the agency assured me she was safe. The day after the "incident," my mother had an acute paranoid episode, common in dementia. She told me people were hurting her and stealing; she was afraid they'd poison her food. She'd made accusations so many times before, I didn't pay much attention. Just calmed her down and assured her she was safe. This time she was lucid, and I was delusional.
I called before she went to bed. "Can I talk to my mother?" I asked Josie.
"She's in the shower," Josie said pleasantly, not at all like an ax murderer.
"What's Josie doing answering the phone when Grandma's in the shower?" my daughter demanded. My 12-year-old knew more about how to deliver personalized, compassionate care.
"We're going to wire her apartment," my husband said, a path I'd never wanted to take. "We need TV cameras now. And fire that social worker."
"She's on vacation," I said. Her $1,400 bill from last month lay on my desk.
"I told you to get rid of Josie months ago," Steve said.
"I trusted the social worker's judgment. And I-told-you-so's aren't helpful to me right now!"
Now we were fighting. I took deep breaths and tried to stop hyperventilating. We were a tabloid headline: Home health aide verbally abuses 94-year-old.
After Josie was gone, after Mother called me in shock that a stranger named Ana Maria had shown up to care for her, after I coached Ana Maria on my mother's schedule and dietary habits, my mother asked me why Josie had to leave -- worried that Josie was unemployed.
"Did she ever yell at you?" I asked, not wanting to hear her answer.
"Did she yell at you in the car? Last week? In the parking lot?"
"I can't remember," Mom said.
Josie confessed to the executive director of the agency that she'd lost her temper and "cursed my mother out." She admitted that she'd yelled at my mother before, and she'd charged gas purchases on my mother's credit card even though I paid Josie's car expenses. Monitoring my mother's credit card online, I'd seen the gas purchases, but had ignored them. If she needed extra gas money so badly, I felt, let her have it. Now I faxed the agency credit-card documentation; they promised to refund my money from Josie's pay.
How could I have allowed my mother to be verbally abused? My friends tell me not to feel guilty. They've fired dozens of aides for their aging parents. It was the nature of this "imperfect system," according to one friend, a hospital social worker, adding: "The agency will probably place her with someone who's not as ill as your mother. And it's useless to put all the blame on this one agency; if you switch agencies, you'll inevitably find similar problems."
The only bright spot: Because of my mother's illness, she's already forgotten. "Josie's not coming back," I remind her when she asks.
"But she was such a good cook," my mother responds.
The hostage, sympathizing with her captors. Someone else's mother, I keep thinking, may soon be in the hands of a woman who loses control and steals. I place pressure on the agency, and they finally report the incident to the elder abuse hot line. Then I once again thank the woman from the parking lot who was kind enough to file the report. We need to watch out for each other, the way we'd want someone to watch out for us when we get old.----------
Candy Schulman lives in New York City.
Thank you Candy, If you are an elder in Florida and you are frail your are fair game for heartless predators.
So you say "This can't happen to me, I have a will and advance directives, I have a Trust and all my ends are tied up!" Yeah and I am Alice in Wonderland ...... Read on..........
A Last Will and Testament is not Adequate
Dr. Irwin Weiss MD , Why?
Because existing laws do not adequately protect such individuals against other persons (typically family members and lawyers) who would wrongfully exploit their diminished mental capacity so as to influence them into signing new wills or other legal documents, including codicils, deeds, and trusts. ....more=>>
When There is a Will
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Perhaps they suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. They're physically weak from a chronic illness. Lonely and isolated. Dependent upon someone else to take care of them. Afraid of being sent to a nursing home. Financially unsophisticated.
"The lioness goes to the watering hole because that's where the gazelles are," says Alameda County District Attorney Eileen McAndrew who heads the elder abuse unit. "They don't find the strongest ones, they find the small, the sick the lame and the old."
Criminals and the criminally-minded target vulnerable elderly people because, like the gazelles, they're such easy prey. What's so outrageous is that, for the most part, predators are getting away with it.
Yet despite the magnitude of the problem, the federal government hasn't taken any significant steps to protect elders. We have federal laws to protect children from abuse and women from domestic violence.
So why hasn't Congress passed comprehensive legislation to detect elder abuse, protect victims, and prosecute elder abusers? Our lawmakers' failure to protect the most vulnerable among us is downright shameful. Don't they care that thanks in large part to their inaction, millions of old people are suffering?
It's not a question of ignorance.
For 30 years at least, witnesses have testified before the Congress about the devastating effects of elder abuse --
especially financial -- on seniors and their families. There have been committees galore.
In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences released a damning report called "Elder Mistreatment, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in Aging America."
That same year, then-Sen. John Breaux, D-La., introduced the first Elder Justice Act of 2002, which incorporated a number of recommendations from the NAS report. The bill died. So has every version of the Elder Justice Act introduced since then.
As often happens with good, sound legislation, the bill fell victim to partisan maneuvering -- despite support from both sides of the aisle.
It's time for our lawmakers to stop burying their heads in the sand. The ramifications of elder abuse -- for California and the nation are staggering. Seventy-five million baby boomers are approaching retirement age. Unfortunately for a number of them, they will fall victim to Alzheimer's and other debilitating conditions that make them unable to protect themselves from thieves.
Meanwhile, Social Security is fast heading toward insolvency. That means elderly people who get swindled out of assets that it took decades to accumulate may not even have Social Security checks to fall back on. What's going to happen to the millions of elderly victims of financial abuse who become destitute?
The public costs of caring for them will be astronomical. But even more to the point, the final years will be ruined for countless elderly parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Instead of enjoying their golden years, they will be living a nightmare -- thanks to ruthless con artists who are getting away with highway robbery.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has introduced yet another version of the Elder Justice Act in the 110th Congress. Says Hatch: "Few pressing social issues have been as systematically ignored as elder abuse." No truer words were spoken.
The Elder Justice Act has the broad support of the AARP and other advocates for the elderly. SB2010 and its companion bill in the House, HR4933 will elevate what has largely been a grass-roots issue into the national spotlight.
For the first time, federal funds would be allocated specifically for elder abuse and prevention research. The government would begin gathering national statistics on elder abuse, which are currently lacking.
Those are crucial if we are to truly comprehend the scope of the problem and convince the holders of the purse strings that it should be a national priority.
Most important, the Elder Justice Act mandate federal funds to bolster Adult Protective Service Agencies around the country. These are the frontline public agencies responsible for investigating elder abuse complaints and intervening to protect at-risk seniors.
Many APS offices can't respond to complaints in a timely manner because they're understaffed and underfunded. At present, APS agencies have to rely on funds from the federal social services block grants that go to each state.
Individual states can devote as much -- or as little -- as they choose to elder abuse prevention. In most cases, it's usually very little. Elder financial abuse isn't a priority because no one has made it one. Because it so often occurs behind closed doors, people mistakenly think it isn't a problem.
A guaranteed flow of federal funds would enable APS to hire much-needed caseworkers and investigators. That means more manpower to conduct investigations into elder abuse complaints. It also means more trained staff to conduct regular home visits to check on the safety of at-risk seniors who might be in trouble.
It would provide the ability to intervene before an elder has been physically abused, neglected, or a victim of financial exploitation.
At present APS investigators and case workers don't even have the resources to keep up with the most egregious cases. This worthy bill has been sitting in the Finance Committee since March. It's time for the Congress to act.
There's been enough dilly dallying. Our vulnerable elders have waited long enough.
It's time for the Congress to show some long overdue leadership on this vital issue and pass the Elder Justice Act now.
Monday, December 17, 2007
From this point forward, there will be news about Paradise Costs--A Victim's Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse as there has been before, but as of today, a group called STOP GUARDIANSHIP ABUSE requested that I put up some of their stories.
This blog is about ELDER ABUSE.
For every case of guardianship abuse, an elder (or some other vulnerable person) has suffered and so has a family. Most people don't want to hear about Elder Abuse, maybe because they don't want to know the truth.
However, we are going to tell the truth.
Here's an excerpt from my book and the reason why "a small group of committed citizens" will change the world....Margaret Mead said many years ago that, a small group is the "only thing that has EVER changed the world."
Everyday, there will be a story of elder abuse posted here and the location of the story could be Anywhere, USA.
from PARADISE COSTS--A Victim's Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse...
"Before, during and after my father’s death, lawyers and social workers repeatedly made requests—they urged me to take his story public. In what has been a staggering evolution of consciousness for me, I have done so. I could not allow grief to cripple me— the stakes are too high.
Seventy-eight million baby boomers are the next generation of potential victims. In telling this painful and harrowing story it is my hope that we, an empowered and educated generation, will act and advocate in many ways including using the letters and petitions contained in this book to put a stop the pandemic of elder abuse existing in this country.
We must act now for the statistics are staggering:
The American Psychological Association estimates that each and every year over 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological or other forms of neglect and abuse.
The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates there may be as many as 5 million victims of financial exploitation a year in the U.S. It’s also estimated that actual numbers of victims may be 5 times as many. The Center acknowledges that because there is no comprehensive data collection nationwide many seniors remain uncounted and suffer in silence. Millions may hide their embarrassment or remain in denial while countless others don’t have the competency to comprehend that they are being abused, neglect or exploited.
The National Committee to Prevent Elder Abuse (NCPEA) estimates that $20 million per day is pilfered from the elderly…in California alone.
National Institute of Health estimates that 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease now.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 1 in 10 individuals over 65 and nearly half of those over 85 already have Alzheimer’s. It’s estimated that within the next 25 years the number of sufferers will triple.
The Alzheimer’s Association states the number of Americans with Alzheimer's has more than doubled since 1980; it will continue to grow, and by 2050 the number of victims with Alzheimer's could range from 11.3 million to 16 million. Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's.
Every 72 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s; the related costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias exceed more than $148 billion annually.
The Alzheimer’s Association reiterates that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process. It is a devastating disorder of the brain’s nerve cells that impairs memory, thinking and behavior. Obviously, victims of this ailment will be the most vulnerable among us.
An attorney who worked in an elder legal clinic told me, “An abused dog has more rights and will get more protection under the law than the elderly.”
If that is the case and, for my father’s it indeed was, immense changes are urgently needed to protect the elderly. Therefore, Paradise Costs is a wake-up call for action. We must change the laws now or millions will face victimization and too many with be casualties.
The emotional, physical and financial exploitation my parent suffered is all too common. Tragically, my father lacked the competency, as millions do, to recognize how he was being exploited.
It’s essential that the jury of public opinion—those reading this frightful story—be aware of what defines elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Our understanding needs to expand beyond the image of an elderly person tied to a bed or being beaten. As this story demonstrates more subtle forms of exploitation and abuse too often go undetected and are never identified or reported for what they are: crimes.
In the pages that follow, it will become dreadfully clear how vulnerable senior citizens are and perhaps in ways one could never imagine. My father’s story is not included in the ugly statistics; he fell through the cracks. Too many do.
Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel said societies are judged by how they treat the defenseless. He spoke to the unique needs of the elderly stating that our society “is too busy worshiping the culture of youth” to value them. Instead of ignoring the needs of the elderly, Wiesel said, people should consider it an opportunity and a privilege to extend a helping hand to them. “Why does our society try to do so much for children but so little for the old?” he asked.
Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are not indigenous to any one area of this country. It is a multidimensional and pervasive collective ill that permeates throughout every layer of our society. It’s an issue that’s everyone’s business.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (appendix 2) has estimated that it will take 30-40 years before the awareness of elder abuse achieves the level of recognition that child abuse has now.
Can we wait that long?
Readers as participants in “reality writing” can change the future. It’s within the scope of the most enlightened and powerful generation of all time, the baby boomers, to use its huge political and economic clout on this crucial issue.
After you read this story, please make a decision about whether this cautionary, tragic tale has enough merit to motivate you to action remembering that as many as one-in-three baby boomers may be victims of some form of elder abuse.
If it does serve as a wake-up call, please “vote” your consentience by signing and mailing the prefabricated reality writing letters included in Chapter 10. Please pass around the petitions also included and mail or fax them to your U.S. Senators. Feel free to make copies of any part of the reality writing section of this book and pass it along to others.
The Elder Justice Act (EJA) came before both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate just as the finishing touches were put on this book in late March 2007. It is critical that the EJA, U.S. House of Representative Bill number HR-1783 and the U.S. Senate Bill number S-1070, be supported into law as soon as possible. And readers can help by imploring action now and in the future by becoming proactive immediately via reality writing.
After the EJA passes our task is not complete and, therefore, we must remain vigilant. It’s vital that the EJA be amended, as needed, and enforced to serve the welfare of the largest number of elderly.
We must, therefore, remain proactive demonstrating our ongoing interest and support for social reform on behalf of the elderly of this nation.
It’s obligatory for concerned citizens to continue to pressure Congress with reality writing letters enclosed in this book to drive home our imperative message.
We, as committed and watchful citizens, must demonstrate our steadfast interest by pledging to remain involved by continuing to telegraph our federal legislators that we want to stop elder abuse now.
It is to that end this book was written. This is a pro-active rally against the painful lessons taught by my own personal history, one many of us can relate to, and by other tragic world events that are remembered as blights upon humanity.
Apathy always costs in this “paradise” known as democracy or anywhere else on our planet.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”
Irene A. Masiello
Member of the ELDER JUSTICE COALITION
April 2007 (and now on December 14, 2007)
SEND YOUR STORIES TO:
Rules as of now (this will be checked with my attorneys on Monday)
1000 words (spell checked and properly punctuated, please)
no names (refer to yourself as a first name and a location only)
county and state only.
TAMPA , FLORIDA - The Tampa Bay Online - Revised 12-17-07
When two child welfare workers were fired last year for claiming they had visited children, 'they hadn't', co-workers braced for more cases on top of their already heavy workload.
Overburdened workers are a chronic challenge for the Florida Department of Children & Families. And despite efforts in recent years to lessen the workload, more caseworkers are risking their jobs - even prison - by falsifying records.
In a case made public last week, a Miami worker accused of falsifying records, told investigators that with 63 children to visit each month, he had no other choice. Samuel Orejobi said his was an "impossible job", it made him ill, kept him from his children and drove him to fight with his wife.
Last fiscal year, the Inspector General's Office investigated 24 DCF and community-based-care employees suspected of falsifying records. Nine months into fiscal 2007, 32 workers have been investigated. Of those 32, 24 were found to have falsified records. Ten were fired, and 14 resigned.
But, "reorganization won't put an end to false reports", said Jeff Rainey, chief executive officer of private contractor Hillsborough Kids Inc.
"We've got pretty good checks and balances," Rainey said. "But we can't stop it. The system we have in place can only deter it."
A Legal Loophole -
In 2002, the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson in Miami, made national news when law enforcement officials discovered that DCF hadn't checked on the foster girl in 15 months.
Rilya has never been found. Her case led to the resignation of a DCF secretary and yet another overhaul of a system that critics argue continues to fail children.
Since 2002, when state law made falsifying child welfare records a 'third-degree felony', punishable by up to five years in prison, only three child welfare workers have been convicted.
"More cases could result in convictions", Inspector General Sheryl Steckler said, "and if lawmakers plugged a loophole: A worker has to alter, destroy, overwrite or delete a record before it is considered falsified".
"Nowhere does the law mention the word 'create", Steckler said. The result: "Our state attorneys are struggling to file charges."
In the closing days of the 2007 legislative session, state lawmakers are discussing Senate Bill 1394, which calls for 'rewording the law'. "A House bill is being drafted", Steckler said.
It took a year for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to charge Robin Schofield of Tampa with two counts of falsifying records. She was fired March 9, 2006.
Schofield, a former Children's Home caseworker, claimed to have visited a client on a day she didn't work. An internal review found two other cases in which Schofield, with three months on the job, falsified reports.
Schofield did not file mileage forms - "a red flag to managers that someone might be falsifying a report".
Her firing soon was followed by another. On March 29, 2006, Margaret "Peggy" Haq, a one-time supervisor in Tampa who had four years on the job, was let go.
An internal review uncovered 12 false entries by Haq in a computer system designed to monitor children's care. One of the children, who hadn't been seen by a caseworker in three months, landed in juvenile detention for 21 days. A month later, he ran away from his sister's home.
She Tells A Different Story -
FDLE has not filed charges against Haq. In an interview with The Tampa Tribune, she said she was fired for 'speaking out against a supervisor during a court proceeding'. Haq described a system that functioned on falsehoods. As a supervisor, Haq said, she carried 48 cases and, later, as a caseworker, 30. Some workers had as many as 60 cases, she said.
Workers were pressured to see children in the first 20 days, Haq said. She got bogged down in paperwork, she said, and didn't have time to file mileage reports. When she couldn't visit children, her supervisor told her to report she had, Haq said. After Haq was fired, she went to work for a Clearwater Child Welfare Agency, Directions for Mental Health.
Haq was hired there one year ago, on April 21, 2006. Her last day was Jan. 9. Haq said she again was fired for falsifying records. "I was doing what I was told."
Haq told Directions officials the termination from The Children's Home was a "misunderstanding," said Thomas Riggs, president and chief executive officer of the Clearwater agency.
Workers are carefully screened, with references checked, Riggs said. Directions was not aware that Haq's misunderstanding included being fired for making false reports, Rigg said.
"We do not have a record showing either a telephone or written reference request being made regarding Ms. Haq's employment with us," said Lisa Braswell, director of public education and communications at The Children's Home. "If we receive a reference request over the phone, our standard procedure is to simply verify title and the dates of employment."
Parker, a director at The Children's Home in Tampa, doesn't believe a supervisor would tell a worker to lie about seeing a child. And she can't imagine any worker agreeing to do it.
"Most of them would rather say 'I didn't do it' than lie," Parker said. "The consequences are a whole lot less harsh."
A Long List Of Duties -
When a caseworker can't get to a child in a month as mandated by law, The Children's Home will tap another worker to make the visit. The agency has hired more people when caseloads start to creep toward 35, Parker said.
Sometimes workers may fear they'll lose their jobs, but it becomes a disciplinary issue only if they repeatedly can't make their required visits, she said. "It may mean they're overwhelmed."
That easily can happen, given the amount of work each case requires. Only once a child protective investigator determines a child needs outside supervision, caseworkers begin the process of monitoring the child's care.
The to-do list can seem endless - visiting children in their homes each month, keeping chronological notes of court hearings, meeting with parents, transporting children to doctor's appointments, overseeing visits with brothers and sisters, and entering all the information into a computer file.
The list grew when DCF relinquished its child welfare duties to 20 community-based care groups statewide. In the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough Kids and Sarasota Family YMCA employ caseworkers and contract with smaller agencies to provide the services in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.
That's for the better, said Parker, a former caseworker who recalls having 40 to 60 cases at a time at DCF. The Children's Home, one of those smaller agencies, has a staff of 22 caseworkers that handles 537 cases. Teams are made up of six caseworkers and a supervisor who has access to all cases and conducts monthly reviews. When caseworkers give notice, the agency asks them to stay 30 days or until replacements are hired, Parker said. Turnover is about 3 percent annually.
"There's a lot more cohesiveness," she said. "More of a team approach. It's not just a caseworker by herself anymore."
Steps To Reducing The Load -
Since taking the helm at Hillsborough Kids in 2005, Rainey added the subcontractors to help oversee care for 4,400 children. The move reduced caseloads among all workers and allowed for better supervision, Rainey said.
Workers are closing cases more quickly, within 20 months on average, he said. Federal and state performance measures call for closing cases within a year.
Turnover dropped from 15 percent in recent years to 8 percent this year. Caseloads on average stand at 22.
Since February, supervisors have been calling foster parents to verify a visit by a YMCA worker, said Lee Johnson, the YMCA's executive vice president.
Foster parents also are invited to attend meetings in which caseworkers and others discuss the child's care, Johnson said. That provides another opportunity to double-check on visits.
In addition, the Inspector General's Office will start attending supervisors meetings to provide training on the risks and consequences of falsifying client records, Johnson said.
It's all part of a move to ensure that quality care has been delivered when a box is checked off the to-do list, said Nick Cox, DCF's new Suncoast regional director.
"We need to spend quality time with children," the former state prosecutor said, "not just a drive-by."
Careful Monitoring Is A Must -
As DCF continues to ferret out fraudulent reports, agency Secretary Bob Butterworth said he still wants caseworkers to feel they can work without fear of punishment for failing to meet expectations. That fear, he suspects, leads some to lie.
"We'll never stop it," he said while in Tampa recently. But the former Florida attorney general vowed his agency wouldn't tolerate it, either. The shift to community-based care groups requires monitoring. "I'm concerned about the CBCs," Butterworth said last week. "I've been traveling around the state and hearing their caseloads are too high."
He said caseworkers also inform him they're afraid to tell supervisors they can't do the job because they will be fired. Butterworth can't force the community-based agencies that contract with DCF to change the work environment, at least not yet. But future contracts will include protections for workers who come forward, he said.
"I want them to stand up and tell us when they can't visit a child because they have too many cases," Butterworth said.
"If we can't do the job because we don't have enough people, maybe that will get the Legislature's attention."
Reporter Sherri Ackerman can be reached at (813) 259-7144 or
WHAT'S NEXT -
Senate Bill 1394: Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee bill.
Attached to the reorganization of the Florida Department of Children & Families, a section of the bill calls for changing the wording of Statute 839.13 to include the word "create" as it pertains to falsifying state records. The Senate passed the bill Thursday. It awaits hearings by the Judiciary and Health & Human Services Appropriations committees. Similar bill language is being considered by the House.
Sponsor: Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, chairwoman of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee; firstname.lastname@example.org; (850) 487-5072
Track the bills at http://www.flhouse.gov/ and http://www.flsenate.gov/
Article abridged entire article archived here >>
Revised 12-17-07 from 6-6-07
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology has put forward the option of permitting mercy killings of the sickest infants to a review of medical ethics.
It says “active euthanasia” should be considered for the overall benefit of families who would otherwise suffer years of emotional and financial suffering.
Deliberate action to end infants’ lives may also reduce the number of late abortions, since it would allow women the chance to decide whether their disabled child should live.
“A very disabled child can mean a disabled family. If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making,” the college writes in a submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
“We would like the working party to think more radically about non-resuscitation, withdrawal of treatment decisions, the best interests test, and active euthanasia, as they are ways of widening the management options available to the sickest of newborns.”
British medical researchers recently announced plans to use cutting-edge science to eliminate a condition my family is familiar with: autism. Actually, they are not “curing” autism or even making life better for autistic people. Their plan is to eliminate autism by eliminating autistic people.
My name is Arthur Manthorne I am 74 years old. My wife Terri, who is now 90, has advanced stage Alzheimer’s; I have been her primary caregiver for the past 15 years. I live in Woodstock, CT with my wife of the past 25 years; she has lived here for the past 45 years. Since the time she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s she has been the victim of abuse and estate theft. I have made numerous complaints to the State police troop D as well as the CT department of public health without response. I am writing this in the hopes that my information can be directed to the proper individuals for review.
Here is some information surrounding my case.
For more than 15 years my wife and I have experienced a rash of vandalism to our vehicles, threats, equipment destruction, broken door locks, to multiple buildings on our estate, including our Nursery business building on the estate. We have had material stolen also including check registers, keys, money and antiques that have been removed from our property unlawfully.
In 1989 my wife Theresa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and eventually required 24 hour care. Caregivers were hired privately and eventually through agencies. Caregivers were being harassed on the road and their vehicles were being vandalized and items stolen in the attempt to compromise my estate. While I was away from the estate, antiques were stolen from the property. Files and Statements were removed from the business office. I have also documented through photographs and employee logs evidence of abuse to my wife. A restraining order had been issued against a suspected abuser in 1992 but not properly enforced.
I have sought help from the state police and Social Services in Hartford and Norwich including protective services under Marilynn Fox. The investigation was started then was ordered stopped at the request of the probate judge, Nancy Gale. A Department of Social Services agent Marlyn Doughrity has come to the house, made statements that she was concerned and I have not heard back from her. She also stated that I need to “prove” that abuse exists because I may be “making it up”. I have faxed Mr. Larzo from the Elder Abuse Unit of the Chief State’s Attorneys office my information and was never contacted. I have filed many local police reports. I have had many lawyers and investigators employed by me, under great expense, to have a case opened to get justice for something that I should not have to fight for.
My question to you is: I have a case of Abuse and Estate stealing, who can help me when all of the proper channels refuse or fail me? I have seen document w-410 Form which states that any social, health, or law organization must report abuse and open an investigation. Why is there no ongoing investigation regarding my case when I am filing claims over and over with no attempt at an investigation?
If you are able, please do something to have my case looked into. Here is my contact info:
422 Roseland Park Road
Woodstock, CT 06281
For more information in this case please see comments.