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DCF clears 557 convicts to live with foster kids in ‘13/ Boston Herald.com

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The state’s embattled child welfare agency admitted there are at least 475 convicted criminals now living in foster homes that care for at-risk kids, according to stunning data for 2013 released to the Herald last night.

The Department of Children and Families — already under fire from lawmakers — cleared the unnamed cons despite their checkered pasts.

DCF did not share the same data for previous years.

The department’s decision to release the report after the close of business on a Friday came after a Herald report this week showing criminals with convictions for more than 100 offenses, including drug trafficking, armed assault and inducing sex from a minor, could be cleared as foster parents.

The DCF data for 2013 states:

• In total, 557 waivers were granted to people with convictions ranging from misdemeanors to felonies to live in homes with foster children;

• Of those, 475 currently live with foster children, accounting for roughly 9 percent of the state’s total of 5,430 foster homes;

• Additionally, 77 people with arrest records, but no convictions, live in active foster homes; and

• Overall, DCF granted waivers to 650 of 661 people with rap sheets who applied last year, a more than 98 percent approval rate.

Among those given waivers, five people were personally approved by the commissioner and two other high-ranking DCF brass despite having rap sheets that fall on the agency’s most serious list of offenses, which includes murder, rape and indecent assault and battery on a child, among more than 30 other crimes.

One of those is an active foster home, and involves a man who committed crimes in his teens and close to a decade later was approved to be the foster father for his step-daughter, according to DCF. State officials did not say what crimes he or any of the others given waivers in 2013 had committed.

State Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) — chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, which is investigating DCF polices and procedures — said he’ll wait to draw conclusions on the numbers when the department coughs up more details.

“I expect to go back to DCF and ask for more specific data,” he told the Herald last night.

A DCF official said 97 percent of all felony convictions took place more than a decade ago, and none have sex crimes.

“The department uses a standard, well-
defined process outlined by regulations and law to review these cases,” DCF spokeswoman Cayenne 
Isaksen said.

“The safety of a child is DCF’s first priority when decisions are made about their placement, and the department promotes kinship placements where appropriate to keep families strong.”

This story was first reported on bostonherald.com.

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Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

October 18, 2014 at 2:13 am

Justina Pelletier’s legal nightmare should frighten all parents / FOX NEWS

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By Dr. Keith AblowPublished June 17, 2014FoxNews.com

ww.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/06/17/justina-pelletier-legal-nightmare-should-frighten-all-parents/

A Massachusetts judge ordered Tuesday that 16-year-old Justina Pelletier be returned to her Connecticut family. His ruling ended a 15-month odyssey that I believe showed that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Boston Children’s Hospital were willing to disregard the rights of her parents and, in essence legally “kidnap” her.

“We are stunned,” Lou Pelletier, her dad, told me minutes ago by phone. “Justina called us with the news herself. We just want to thank everyone who helped us get our daughter home.”

The Justina Pelletier case gives us a glimpse of what the state and a rogue hospital can do to any child and any parents who disagree with their “treatment plan.”
Back in February, 2013 the Connecticut teen went to Children’s Hospital for a consultation to complement her medical care at Boston’s New England Medical Center (NEMC). NEMC doctors were treating Justina for mitochondrial disease, a little-understood physical illness affecting energy production inside cells that is believed to cause muscle weakness, among many other symptoms. But the Children’s Hospital doctors disagreed. They claimed Justina was psychiatrically ill, had no real physical problems, and was actually suffering with somatoform disorder — a condition in which underlying, unresolved psychological problems make someone act physically ill.

When Justina’s parents rejected that interpretation of her condition, Children’s Hospital refused to release her. Ultimately, they went to court and were able to convince a judge to award permanent custody of Justina to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Let’s reduce that story to its basic truth: Boston Children’s Hospital and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts refused to return a child to her family because they believed she should be treated as mentally ill, not physically ill, even though doctors at an esteemed Boston teaching hospital (NEMC) disagreed and her parents wanted to have the NEMC doctors keep treating her.

And, guess what? After all the “expert” psychiatric care provided on a locked psychiatry unit at Children’s Hospital for Justina, after well over a year being separated from her parents and sisters and her pets, she remains in a wheelchair.

After all that time and all that psychiatric care, the consensus is now that she suffers with physical symptoms, just like NEMC physicians always said she did.

After the “kidnapping” of Justina by Children’s Hospital and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, everyone now agrees she can just go home.

There but for the Grace of God go all of us. The Justina Pelletier case gives us a glimpse of what the state and a rogue hospital can do to any child, and any parents, who disagree with their “treatment plan.”

Remember, Boston Children’s is the same hospital that tells parents to get out of the way and “follow their children” into gender reassignment, even when their parents have profound misgivings about whether that is the best course of treatment for their sons and daughters.

And just think about all the complicated cases of Lyme Disease that have a host of nebulous symptoms and may or may not be diagnosed by blood tests.

Think of all the cases of fibromyalgia and chronic streptococcal infection and food allergies that can trigger behavioral and emotional symptoms.

Well, any child suffering with any of those could run into the wrong doctor (at least in Massachusetts, at least at Boston Children’s Hospital) and end up labeled psychiatrically ill. And if you, as a father or mother don’t like that, even if stellar academic doctors at another hospital back you up, then you, too, could have your child taken off to a locked psychiatric unit or group home for a year or more.

This is the kind of government intrusion and violation of parental rights that can happen in any state.

Remember, this is Deval Patrick the same governor who threatened to send citizens of the Commonwealth to jail if they drove during a recent snow storm.

Jail. Imagine.

Now, Justina will be free. And, among other things, what she will be free to do is to sue the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Boston Children’s Hospital and those doctors who insisted all her symptoms were “in her head” for violating her rights and for malpractice. That wasn’t possible until now because she has been in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.

Does that sound like a conflict of interest to you — holding a child against her will, and the will of her parents, when you know that the moment she is released you’ll be sued for what you have done? You bet it does.

Think about potentially $25 or $50 or $100 million in damages paid out by the taxpayers of Massachusetts and malpractice insurers by the time this is over. And, although that will be money well-spent to deter power hungry politicians and doctors from “kidnapping” my kids and your kids and essentially experimenting on them, according to whatever medical theory is in vogue at their hospital, it will never compensate Justina Pelletier and her family for the attempt to destroy her and her family’s dignity, liberty and self-determination.

This time the attempt failed. The truth won out. But, trust me on this: They will try again, and again.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at info@keithablow.com.

Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

June 20, 2014 at 9:52 am

Victory for Justina Pelletier Family

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http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/06/17/family-says-justina-pelletier-will-be-released-from-state-custody/

BOSTON (CBS) – A Connecticut teenager is being released to her family after a long custody battle.Justina Pelletier’s sister says the family will be reunited on Wednesday.

Justina’s family lost custody 16 months ago when Children’s Hospital said it found evidence of medical abuse and the state of Massachusetts stepped in.

WBZ asked Justina’s mother, Linda, about potential legal action against the state but she would not comment.

“I’m still numb from it,” Linda Pelletier said Tuesday. “I am so excited, and Justina started crying.”

The family is planning to hold a news conference on Wednesday.

Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz weighed in on the judge’s ruling, calling the result a collaborative effort.

“Today’s decision is a result of our collaboration with the Pelletier family around the reunification plan, and the strong work of staff at the Susan Wayne Center for Excellence in helping Justina along her road to recovery. The Court’s ruling reflects a thorough review of this complex case, and we are very pleased with the result,” he said in a statement.

Lou Pelletier: Justina dying under care of Massachusetts

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http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/25070872/permanent-custody-of-justina-pelletier-awarded-to-mass

BOSTON, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) –Lou Pelletier, the father of 15-year-old teenager Justina Pelletier is speaking out against a Tuesday ruling in which a judge gave permanent custody to Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

A juvenile court judge ruled that the Department of Children and Families has “permanent” custody of Justina, until May 25, according to the Pelletier family’s attorney, Matt Staver.

“She needs to be home,” Lou told FOX 25’s Maria Stephanos. “She is mentally, and more importantly physically, dying under the care of the state of Massachusetts.”

On May 25, the judge will then revisit the issue of who is granted custody of Justina in another follow-up court hearing.

Staver said the Pelletier family will now pursue an appeal to send the case to a higher court.

“This is not justice for Justina, or the family,” Staver said.

The Connecticut teen was treated at Children’s Hospital in Boston for almost a year and was previously in Children’s locked psychiatric unit for treatment.

Pelletier was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease years ago – a condition causing muscle pain and weakness. Then, almost a year ago, she was admitted to Children’s with the flu.

At the hospital, her parents say a different set of doctors diagnosed her with “somatoform disorder,” in short, saying she suffered from a mental illness, not mitochondrial disease, and that her symptoms were psychologically induced. The hospital took her off all of her medications, Lou Pelletier said.

When her parents reportedly disagreed and asked for a second opinion, they lost custody of their daughter. DCF was called in after just four days. The parents haven’t had custody since last February.

“Based on credible psychiatric and medical evidence this court has found that Justina suffers from a persistent and severe Somatic Symptom Disorder,” the judge stated.

In December, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families determined that Justina’s parents, Linda and Lou, neglected Justina, and that “return of custody of Justina to her parents was not in her best interest.”

Justina’s parents, the judge continued, “engage in very concerning conduct that does not give this court any confidence they will comply with conditions of custody.”

The decision finished by stating that the judge is ready to help return Justina to her “home state of Connecticut,” but did not specify whether that meant her home, or a placement in a Conn. DCF facility.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families released a statement on the judge’s ruling on Tuesday evening.

“DCF’s primary goal has always been the health and well being of Justina, and finding a solution that would allow her to return to Connecticut. That has not changed in the face of this ruling,” the statement read. “The Department is exploring all options that will allow Justina to return to her home state where she has the support of her friends, family, school and community.”

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