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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

Here are three short takes. The first is here and comes to us from Montgomery County, Texas, just north of Houston (Houston Press, 8/5/11).  Last week, two sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a residence to check out a complaint by a woman that she'd been sexually assaulted by her boyfriend.  When the officers arrived, the alleged perpetrator was still there, making their job considerably easier and perhaps causing them to wonder about her story. Whatever the case, the officers interviewed her and then turned to the 26-year-old man she claimed had done the foul deed.  My guess is that he didn't seem too nervous about the whole thing.  As the police report explains,
"Upon further investigation the deputies watched a video recording the male had made that showed the female telling him that she was calling the police because he was making her leave the apartment and she would tell the police he assaulted her."
The woman was arrested for making a false report to police. It's an important lesson.  Within the bounds of the law, people can protect themselves against all sorts of things by the simple expedient of recording - either by audio, video or both - what another person is doing.  The man in this case certainly saved himself a trip to jail and possibly prison time and a lifetime on the sex offenders registry, just by recording the woman with his phone. Check out the law on recording others, in private, in public and on the telephone.  Depending on your jurisdiction, some or all of that may violate criminal law.  Educate yourself about who and where you can record; then protect yourself accordingly. Thanks to Jerry for the heads-up. Next up is this article (ABC News 4, 8/4/11).  Breast cancer in men isn't common, but it happens.  According to the Center for Disease Control, about 2,000 men per year will be diagnosed with the disease each year.  Sadly, that's just what happened to Raymond Johnson, a 26-year-old tile layer from South Carolina. Johnson is uninsured and not a wealthy guy, and the diagnosis and treatments for his cancer are costly.  So he went the Medicaid route, for which he qualifies.  But there's a catch; Medicaid reimburses health care providers for services for breast cancer only if the sufferer is female.  Men and boys aren't covered.
A patient advocate from the Charleston Cancer Center, Susan Appelbaum, applied to a state program that provides Medicaid for breast cancer patients on Johnson's behalf, but Johnson was denied because he's a man. He recently underwent his second round of chemotherapy, which runs around $10,000 a treatment, and will need several more.
Apparently the state's Department of Health and Human Services has known about the anti-male discrimination in breast cancer care for a long time and has begged the feds to change the regulations, but to no avail. My guess is that Raymond Johnson will find himself the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services soon.  Any lawyer will see this case for what it is - a slam dunk.  It's as plain a case of discrimination based on sex as I've ever heard of.  Let's just hope Raymond Johnson is around to get the benefit of it. It's a bit hard to figure out why Medicaid excludes men from treatment for breast cancer.  The Department surely knows men get the disease and, since so few do, the amount of money saved by not treating them is insignificant.  Plus of course it's blatantly illegal. I wish Mr. Johnson the best of luck with his treatments and with his lawsuit.  Surely this will encourage the Department to change its regulations denying men coverage for breast cancer care that should never have been promulgated in the first place. Thanks to John for the heads-up. Finally, I've written a couple of times recently about the heavy flak being taken by the Los Angeles County child welfare authority.  It's currently resisting compliance with a state-ordered audit of it and similar offices in three other counties.  Its resistance is flagrantly illegal, but the office is digging its heels in anyway, strongly suggesting its got a lot to hide. It's the kind of thing that happens when 70 children die in less than three years after the child welfare office was notified they were in danger. Now this article tells us that parents in Utah are demanding a state audit of the state's Division of Child and Family Services (Salt Lake Tribune, 8/12/11).
Led by Darcy Van Orden, an activist who is one of the leaders of Utah"s tea party movement, the protesters claimed the entities are unjustly taking children and placing them with foster and adoptive parents because it"s more lucrative than working to reunite families. The event was part of a national protest of government abuses, Van Orden said.
"I believe there is corruption in the system with built-in incentives for caseworkers to remove children from homes," Van Orden said, adding that too much federal funding goes to support foster care and adoption rather than family reunification services.
I've got my doubts about the notion that states make money on the foster care system.  I've never seen any reliable data that suggests it's a money-maker for states, but I'd be glad to look at any well-done study of the matter. What's more interesting is the fact that the Division has already undergone an audit that revealed budgets that stand its mission on its head.  Child welfare agencies are usually tasked with keeping families together if at all possible.  That's known as "family reunification."
A legislative audit released in February found DCFS spends more than $112 million on foster care and adoption assistance, but just $7 million on in-home services aimed at helping reunify families. The audit recommended that the division "reverse its practice of diverting resources from in-home programs."
So for whatever reason, the DCFS prefers foster care and adoption to family care.  My strong suspicion is that a large subset of that is a preference for foster care over father care. We know that the problem of child welfare agencies ignoring fathers when children are taken from mothers for abuse or neglect is nationwide.  That's what the Urban Institute reported four years ago.  Indeed, although the identity of the father is known in over 80% of cases, no effort to even contact him is made in over half the cases in which a child is taken from a mother.  That's despite federal guidelines encouraging child welfare caseworkers to contact fathers as possible alternatives to foster care. So almost surely that's what's been going on in Utah.  The spending habits of the DCFS strongly suggest it bypasses dads in favor of foster care and adoption.  And I'd be willing to bet that has more to do with an anti-dad culture among child welfare caseworkers and administrators than it does with making money for the state.

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