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Infants and young children with medical complications and physical and mental limitations constitute the fastest growing group of children in need of foster care.

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Wisconsin CPS News Archive

Wisconsin News Coverage

by Crocker Stephenson

Last month, a Milwaukee County Children's Court judge lifted an order to protect twin boys born in the fall of 2008 to a woman then imprisoned for child abuse.

The decision by Judge Glenn H. Yamahiro was contrary to a recommendation by an assistant district attorney, who wanted the order extended for another year. It was contrary to a recommendation by an attorney representing the children's interests, called a guardian ad litem, who also wanted it extended.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

February 6, 2010

by Martin Kaiser

The best journalism makes a community a better place. When I look back at 2009, there are more stories that changed public policy than any year in my 13 years as editor, thanks in large part to reaction from readers.

The stories this year by Crocker Stephenson and Gina Barton, which we called "Fatal Care," not only reported on the children who died, but also revealed chronic mistakes in the child welfare system. The Journal Sentinel launched the investigation after the November 2008 death of 13-month-old Christopher Thomas...

Journal Sentinel

December 27, 2009

by Ralph Gundrum

As a foster father, I cannot and would not defend foster parents who neglect or abuse foster children. Like you, I am sickened by the thought of this happening.

My wife and I became foster parents knowing the sad truth that another foster parent might do something despicable while we were foster parents. Something that we could not and would not defend. Something that could make us guilty by association in some people's eyes.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

November 23, 2009

by Kelly Schlicht

Governor Jim Doyle signed the bill into law today, but the principal of Longfellow Elementary School in Eau Claire says this law won't affect their classroom enrollment because most kids in the state already go to kindergarten.

Fisher says the new law will make it easier for schools to crack down on parents who aren't bringing their kids to school on a regular basis, but it won't increase class sizes. Teachers say this new law will make sure parents keep their kids going to school, and to stop them from using kindergarten as a another form of day care.


October 14, 2009

by Gina Barton and Crocker Stephenson

During the time Will Robert Johnson spent in the child welfare system, newly minted case manager Johanna Barkei fought to keep him safe.

In the end, Barkei was second-guessed by senior social workers, her supervisor, the mother's therapist and more than one attorney. The caseworker and the boy she was trying to protect fell victim to an entrenched, bureaucratic culture that has been failing for decades. On Oct. 3, 2007, Barkei lost her fight, and Will's mother was given permission to spend short periods of time alone with the baby. He was dead 23 days later.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

October 12, 2009

by Raquel Rutledge

A Jaguar sits in the driveway of Latasha Jackson's million-dollar mansion in Menomonee Falls. Built on a hill with a sprawling back deck overlooking a pond, the 7,600-square-foot home features an indoor swimming pool and indoor basketball court.

Jackson is not an Olympic swimmer, a professional basketball player or a celebrity of any sort. She is a day care provider in the city of Milwaukee. She built her fortune with taxpayer funding from the Wisconsin Shares program.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

September 2, 2009

State Representative Calls For Investigation -- A social worker who was supposed to be helping a Milwaukee woman got her pregnant instead, the woman said. Now, she's fighting to get her daughter back.

The baby's father was assigned to investigate a child neglect complaint about the woman's other children. The agency said the social worker broke rules by having sex with a client and but then placed the child with him after they removed the baby from her mother's home.

WISN Milwaukee

August 29, 2009

by Crocker Stephenson

Officials responsible for reporting to the state that a Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare social worker had impregnated a bureau client did not report the incident until months later than required by law.

A state lawmaker, alleging that child welfare officials may have been involved in a coverup, called on Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to investigate. Peter J. Nelsen, 56, was sent by the bureau to investigate an allegation of child abuse and later impregnated the child's emotionally troubled mother, Theola Nealy. Nelsen kept the pregnancy secret, even as the bureau investigated allegations that Nealy abused her 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

August 29, 2009

by Gina Barton

Foster parents in Milwaukee County "do not feel valued, supported or appreciated" by the agency contracted to work most closely with them, according to a report released Wednesday.

What's more, foster parents chosen to help with recruitment efforts by the agency, Children's Service Society of Wisconsin, are not eager to do so because they have not been treated with respect, the report says.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

August 12, 2009

by Crocker Stephenson

Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare investigators made repeated but unsuccessful efforts to visit a north side home where, three months later, an emaciated 16-month-boy born with a host of medical complications died of alleged neglect.

Parion Williams was one of a set of twins born March 12, 2008, to 21-year-old Mandisa Randolph, who was already the mother of two. Among the child's medical complications: congenital syphilis, neonatal hypocalcemia, meconium plug syndrome, abdominal distension, apnea and bradycardia.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

July 18, 2009

The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare huddled over the issues of foster child safety Friday. Part of the discussion involved an initiative that was prompted by the death of baby who was in foster care late last year.

Eight months after 1-year-old Christopher Thomas was beaten to death by his foster mother. Friday they heard the results of medical examinations, which were ordered for all children in foster care under the age of 5 after Christopher's death. The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare said it's looking at 520 children.

WISN Milwaukee

July 17, 2009

by Ed Morrissey

The controversy over flag-burning has fueled a debate for decades, but what about flag flying? It depends on how it's done, as an Iraq war veteran embroiled in a local licensing dispute discovered.

An American flag flown upside down as a protest in a northern Wisconsin village was seized by police before a Fourth of July parade and the businessman who flew it - an Iraq war veteran - claims the officers trespassed and stole his property.

Hot Air

July 11, 2009

by Raquel Rutledge

Child abusers and people who have committed other serious crimes are becoming licensed child-care providers and are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Wisconsin Shares system.

Johnson, now 42, was charged with felony child abuse and in 1997 pleaded guilty to battery and domestic abuse. Her foster license was revoked. Yet three years later, she opened a certified day care center in Milwaukee County called Planting Seeds. And as of April 2009, she had taken in more than $430,000 from the taxpayer-supported Wisconsin Shares child-care program.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

June 13, 2009

by Raquel Rutledge

State regulators misspent nearly $20 million in taxpayer-supported child-care funds in 2008, according to estimates in a state audit released Friday.

The Legislative Audit Bureau's examination of the Wisconsin Shares child-care program found fraud and other problems in dozens of cases. Auditors examined 400 randomly selected cases and found tens of thousands of dollars went to providers when parents weren't eligible for child-care assistance.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

June 12, 2009

by Megan VerHelst

An average of 30 children were placed in foster care in Jackson County last year, and although the county has 20 homes for children to go to, foster care needs are continuing to grow.

Meyer said the county also plays a role in keeping families together and assisting them with specific needs. But if they feel a child or family is at risk, it is their job to intervene. The county makes the decision if a child is at risk. If that is determined, the child then needs to be placed in the system.

Jackson County Chronicle

June 10, 2009

by Crocker Stephenson

Integrated Family Services, the agency that will replace La Causa and provide services for abused or neglected children, has hired the entire La Causa staff, including the supervisor who was in charge of the Christopher Thomas case.

La Causa, which provided ongoing case management and safety services, shouldered much of the blame for mishandling the Christopher Thomas case. Police say 13-month-old Christopher Thomas was beaten to death, and his two-year-old sister tortured, while in the kinship foster care of their aunt, Crystal Keith.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

May 1, 2009

by Hillary Gavan

Children overdosing on illegal or prescription drugs happens once in awhile in Beloit, according to Michelle Tyler, clinical manager of the emergency department at Beloit Memorial Hospital.

The child was living with his mother and a 5-year-old sibling in the 2000 block of Wren Drive. Tyler said the child's father was visiting the residence during the time frame of the incident. The parents were interviewed by detectives and investigators have searched the residence.

Beloit Daily News

April 28, 2009

by Rosemary Winters

Three gay-rights bills, all sponsored by Salt Lake City Democrats, cleared legislative hurdles Friday. The measures, considered long shots, have made it out of the sometimes-bill-blocking House Rules Committee and scored public hearings.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck's HB288 -- which would allow unmarried couples, including gay and lesbian partners, to adopt and foster children in Utah -- will be debated Tuesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The Salt Lake Tribune

February 14, 2009

MILWAUKEE -- Charges have been filed against the husband of a 24-year-old Milwaukee woman accused of beating her 1-year-old nephew to death and severely abusing her 2-year-old niece.

Crystal Keith is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death last November of Christopher Thomas and physical abuse of his sister.

620 WTMJ

February 13, 2009

by Crocker Stephenson

A 21-year-old woman with a history of child neglect was charged Thursday with the death of her infant son, who starved to death three months after a family caseworker decided the mother did not require supervision.

Vera Morehouse is the second woman in less than a month to be charged with allowing a child to starve to death while her family was receiving child welfare services. Melody Cole was charged Jan. 20 with the 2006 starvation of her 7-month-old daughter. That child, Layunnia Lewis, perished even as child welfare workers repeatedly visited her home.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

February 5, 2009

by Dirk Johnson

WESTON -- Kara Neumann, 11, had grown so weak that she could not walk or speak. Her parents, who believe that God alone has the ability to heal the sick, prayed for her recovery but did not take her to a doctor.

After an aunt from California called the sheriff's department here, frantically pleading that the sick child be rescued, an ambulance arrived at the Neumann's rural home on the outskirts of Wausau and rushed Kara to the hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

The New York Times

January 22, 2009

by Crocker Stephenson

The safety of children in Milwaukee County's foster care system is the focus of a study to be conducted by the Planning Council for Health and Human Services, Inc., the agency's executive director, Kathleen Pritchard, announced today.

The Nov. 11th beating death of 13-month-old foster child Christopher Thomas has raised questions about the quality and oversight of foster care in Milwaukee County, according to a statement issued by non-profit agency, and points to the need to identify programs that are working in other communities.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

January 15, 2009

by Crocker Stephenson

A Milwaukee mother of five, who police say spent hundreds of dollars a month on gambling, was charged Tuesday with allowing her 7-onth-ld daughter to starve to death in 2006.

According to the criminal complaint, police found no baby food in the house, just an empty can of infant formula. Police say the parents spent the day after Layunnia's death at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

January 2, 2009

MILWAUKEE -- Following the death of 1-year-old Christopher Thomas Jr. last week, a local lawmaker is proposing changes to the child welfare system, from stricter accountability laws to more supervision during infant visits by social workers.

Darline and Robert Logan wanted to adopt Christopher Thomas. They believe more could have been done to protect the boy who was in the care of his aunt and foster mother, Crystal Keith.

WISN Milwaukee

November 19, 2008

by Vikki Kratz

Supvs. Sheila Stubbs and Scott McDonell have also proposed spending another $147,000 to hire three new social workers for the county's Child Protective Services division.

The move comes following an incident in 2007 in which a county social worker sent a six-week-old infant home to her abusive mother, who allegedly murdered the child. The full County Board considers the budget next week.

The Daily Page

November 10, 2008

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