Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Parenting Class

It's going to take longer than 7 minutes, but not as long as a month:

"Parental style may be viewed as neglect" by Donna St. George Washington Post   August 15, 2015

WASHINGTON — The total time her children were outside was 30 to 40 minutes. Natasha Felix allowed her sons — ages 11, 9, and 5 — to play on their own one July day at a park beside her second-floor apartment, a place close enough that she could peer out her open window to check on them.

She says she checked every 10 minutes. But two years later, Felix is still fighting a finding of child neglect related to that day, which led a stranger to make a report to authorities. ‘‘It’s been very stressful,’’ she said. ‘‘It changes our lives.’’

Her case, in Chicago, is one of more than 20 reviewed in a new report that comes amid a growing national conversation about parenting choices and how far the government should go in enforcing laws designed to protect children.

Why not just give them the kids at birth?


The broader debate about parenting approaches heated up early this year, when a Maryland couple tangled with authorities for allowing their children — ages 10 and 6 — to play and walk on their own. Twice since December, the family faced Child Protective Services neglect investigations after their children walked home alone from Silver Spring parks.

What did they want to do, hang them?

Parents Alexander and Danielle Meitiv went public with their difficulties, saying they embrace a ‘‘free range’’ parenting philosophy that encourages childhood independence. The family was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, their most recent CPS decision handed down in June.

I was raised under it. Can still hear my mother bellowing my name to get home, it's dark!

The new report touches on the attention that surrounded the case and takes issue with neglect findings against parents ‘‘for common, everyday parental decisions such as allowing their children to independently walk to parks, play outside, or remain inside a car while a parent runs an errand.’’

Two-thirds of the Illinois cases involved parents living below the federal poverty line, many of whom are minorities or immigrants, said Diane Redleaf, executive director of the Family Defense Center. All the cases involve what Redleaf sees as an ill-defined category of neglect called ‘‘inadequate supervision.’’


RelatedYoung children removed from Auburn home by paramedics, neighbors say

Some parents care too much:

"Slain social worker recalled at vigil in Barre, Vt." by Wilson Ring Associated Press  August 10, 2015

BARRE, Vt. — About 300 people packed into Barre’s Old Labor Hall on Sunday to pay tribute to a Vermont social worker who was gunned down by a woman who police say was upset at losing custody of her 9-year-old daughter.

Some cried openly while others stifled tears. Some spoke warmly of Lara Sobel, the veteran social worker whose death Friday outside the office where she worked has shaken many state employees. Others said they did not know Sobel or work for the state, but attended the vigil to show their support.

‘‘Lara was a beautiful, beautiful individual and she really, really cared about the kids, all the kids,’’ Joseph Faryniarz, the cousin of Sobel’s husband, said during the vigil that included a march ending at the spot where Sobel, a 14-year DCF veteran, was shot and killed as she left work. ‘‘This is a tragedy and the family is doing the best that it can.’’

Police said Jody Herring shot Sobel, 48, twice on Friday with a hunting rifle, killing her outside an office of the state Department for Children and Families in Barre.

Herring, 40, was tackled by bystanders. She was then arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

On Saturday, police were called to a home in the neighboring town of Berlin where they found the bodies of two of Herring’s cousins and an aunt. Authorities believe Herring killed her relatives before going to Barre and shooting Sobel, but no charges have yet been filed in those deaths.

They the tattletales?

Herring is scheduled in court Monday to answer a first-degree murder charge in the death of Sobel.

On Sunday police identified the other victims as Regina Herring, 43, and Rhonda Herring, 48, the suspect’s cousins; and Julianne Falzarano, 73, an aunt.

The Burlington Free Press reported that Tiffany Herring, 23, who identified herself as the daughter of one of the victims, said her mother received a threatening phone call from Jody Herring on Friday morning.

‘‘My mother got a call in the morning, maybe 7:30 or 8 o’clock, saying it was Jody Herring saying, ‘You guys need to stop calling DCF unless you guys are going to have it coming to you,’ ’’ Tiffany Herring told the newspaper.

She said she discovered the women’s bodies.

‘‘Both doors were wide open, and I walked into the living room, and that’s where I saw my mom dead,’’ she said.

Barre Police Chief Tim Bombardier said the weapon used to kill Sobel was a hunting rifle, but he would not reveal the caliber or additional details about it. He also would not comment on whether Jody Herring had obtained the gun legally or a possible motive Friday — weeks after losing custody of her daughter.

‘‘That’s one of those things that’s open to interpretation, so I’m going to stay away from it,’’ Bombardier said.

He also would not discuss the 9-year-old’s father or his whereabouts.

Officials said after Sobel’s shooting that the girl remained in state custody.

On Sunday, the governor’s office distributed a statement to state employees saying all offices would be open on Monday, but state officials were reviewing security at state buildings.

Paul Coates, a lifelong Montpelier resident, said before the vigil that he knew Sobel, the other shooting victims, and the woman accused in the shooting.

‘‘It’s just tragic, it’s just sad. I am sick about it, it just didn’t need to happen,’’ Coates said.

Cindy Walcott, DCF deputy commissioner, said that during the weekend, she has been thinking there would be no way to go forward, but she found support from the people she and the other social workers have helped overcome obstacles.

‘‘In my darkest moments I actually have focused on the children and families that we serve and I think about the dark moments that they’ve had in their lives and how so many of those have triumphed over those [situations] and learned from them and moved forward,’’ Walcott said. 

They are miracle workers down here.


Related: Three dead women were related to suspect in fatal shooting, Vt. police say

Also see: Racine Run Out of Vermont

And when the kid grows up:

"Colleges tapping unlikely housing; As dorms fill, off-campus sites are used" by Sally Ho Associated Press  August 15, 2015

CEDAR CITY, Utah — Incoming freshman Gabrielle Szczerbiak isn’t getting the traditional college housing experience she expected.

Could be a good thing.

She will have a roommate, and there will be rules — no boys in the bedrooms and a curfew. What’s different is that her dorm room will be in a private home.

The rules aren’t being imposed by any college — they’re actually the wishes of the married couple who are taking in the 18-year-old music major after she got stalled on a rural Utah university’s housing waitlist.

This fall, an enrollment boom that created a housing crisis has prompted Southern Utah University in Cedar City to urge neighbors and employees alike to house the dormless. Many have done so, creating an unusual if not quirky housing situation.

It’s not uncommon for a small college to get creative when campus housing fills up, sending first-year students to such dorm alternatives as local hotels, rival schools, or even a waterpark. But housing officials say they’ve never heard of a college resorting to putting up students in the spare bedrooms of employees and residents.

Such unusual arrangements don’t necessarily impact student retention, although most agree such an inconvenient step isn’t ideal during an already stressful life interchange.


Calculating exact college enrollment figures can be tricky with the fickle nature of young adults who often change plans during summer months.

That’s why the industry standard is to assume there will be a significant ‘‘melt’’ of the student population and overbook, said Allan Blattner, president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers International and a college housing official for more than two decades.

For a big campus like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Blattner is housing director, a few hundred kids can be squeezed in across a massive campus, or off-campus partners can strike a quick deal with the school. But the options are more limited at small schools in small towns.... 

Screw reading this. You better get looking for a place!


RelatedCity’s last tenement an island awash in modernity

Give 'em a break, will ya'?


"DCF visited Auburn home days before child’s death; Clues sought in foster home case" by Jan Ransom, Astead W. Herndon and Jennifer Smith Globe Staff | Globe Correspondents  August 16, 2015

AUBURN — State child welfare officials visited the home of a foster child four days before the 2-year-old died and a 22-month-old was hospitalized, officials said Sunday, as investigators continued to search for clues in what they called a “very difficult” and “evolving” case.

“There’s a lot of questions,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said at a news conference Sunday evening. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done.”


Foster parents are the worst.

UPDATE: Threats to child-welfare staffers on rise