More than 1200 children in 24 foster care residential facilities along the Texas coastline have been evacuated and taken to other facilities and churches in the San Antonio area. These other facilities include the Children’s Shelter, Boysville, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children and Roy Maas Alternatives.
Renee Garvens of Roy Maas Alternatives said,
“[These kids are] pretty amazingly resilient in their ability to just grab their stuff and walk away from one home to the next.”
Think about that for a minute. Amazingly resilient, or sadly accustomed to it? This “ability” is one no child should possess or be good at. But it’s the sad truth for many, if not most, children in foster care across the country. They learn not to put down roots anywhere, because they could be relocated any time.
They’ve most likely learned this the hard way, from previous failed placements. Learning things the hard way often results in a tough, bad-ass child/teenager/adult, who is unable to follow through with or commit to much of anything or anyone. And so the foster care cycle begins again for these children’s children, not in every case, but in many.
Blessings to the facilities and churches that took in these evacuated kids, and blessings to the staff who most likely followed the kids to ensure care was provided to them during this upheaval. Perhaps something remained constant for the kids if they at least had some familiar caregivers.
Roy Maas Alternatives
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
The New Mexico Children, Families and Youth Department has announced a pilot program designed to provide McDonald’s Happy Meals for kids newly placed in state custody.
Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson knew kids were often hungry when removed from their homes and awaiting placement in a foster home. McDonald’s restaurants in New Mexico were approached about providing meal cards to CFYD so kids could have a meal they were familiar with that also comforted them during this stressful wait time. The amazing thing about this pilot program (which began in August and runs through December) is that every single McDonald’s in New Mexico (over 100) agreed to participate in supplying each CFYD office with meal cards. When’s the last time you remember an entire state’s worth of any company agreeing with their state government on something? Never? Me neither. So, that’s good.
The sad things about this program are, number one, that these kids are so familiar with and comforted by a cheap, quick meal, bought on the fly, eaten in the car, requiring no planning or consideration or tradition, and is synonymous with “dinner” perhaps more often than it should be.
Number two, if more services and supports were available and were funneled to families in crisis in a larger effort to maintain kids in their own homes whenever possible, then maybe fewer would come into custody or be hungry when they do. Just my opinion.
To report child abuse or neglect in New Mexico, call 1-855-333-7233 or #SAFE from any cell phone.
I’ve worked in the foster care field for nearly 25 years, and over that time span, I’ve formed strong opinions about what probably works better than foster homes for some kids in foster care. There is also another reason I have these opinions, which I’ll reveal later.
I believe family foster homes are best for some children, say age 10-ish and younger. Why? I think the littler kids adapt better to a foster home and foster family than older kids do. Perhaps younger kids, and especially sibling groups, need a family atmosphere more than older kids. In my experience, I’ve found that the older kids actually do much better if placed in group home or residential settings compared to foster home placements.
Here are some reasons this may be true:
1. Group homes are more structured than foster homes. There are few opportunities to do something wrong or overstep one’s bounds in a rule-driven, scheduled environment.
2. Group homes have staff as opposed to parents who aren’t theirs.
3. Kids’ loyalties aren’t torn between their own parents and the staff, since the roles are nothing alike.
4. Kids’ loyalties aren’t torn between their own home and a group home, because the setting is totally different.
5. Kids don’t feel like they have to pretend people are their parents when out in public with staff, the way they do when out in public with foster parents.
6. The perception of others in a child’s home neighborhood or school is often one of blaming the child for his placement in a group home. Alternatively, when a child is placed into a foster home, the blame more often is placed on the child’s parents by others. It’s very difficult for kids to know others hold their parents in low regard.
7. When kids return home from a group or residential setting, they have a little bit of “status”, as some sort of survivor.
8. When kids return home from a foster home placement, they are often the subjects of unwanted pity for having such losers as parents.
The prevailing trend in foster care placement is to place all children in homes instead of group settings. The national average of kids in out of home care who are placed in group settings is 6%. Some states pride themselves in having a lower percentage, and strive for a lower percentage. I wonder if the outcomes and futures of these children back up the perception that family home settings are best for all kids. I can find no long-term follow-up studies of children’s well-being 5 years, 10 years, 20 years after aging out of foster care. Believe me, I’ve tried. The only other reliable source I have for my beliefs listed above is myself, because, you see, I was a child in foster care many years ago, and experienced all those things and thrived much better in the group setting in which I was finally placed.
30-year-old Colleen Nichols was allegedly found behind the wheel of her vehicle after overdosing on prescription pills in Boca Raton, Florida. In the back of the vehicle was her 4-year-old daughter who just wanted to go her preschool. It doesn’t sound like the car was involved in any kind of collision, thankfully. However, the vehicle was unlocked with Nichols slumped over the wheel. A witness called 911 and EMT’s had to use Narcan to revive her. Reports say Nichols took an almost 30 day supply of Klonipin in a little over a day. After Nichols returned to consciousness, first responders asked her where she thought her daughter was and Nichols was said to have responded by saying: “I don’t know, I must have blacked out, I’m under a lot of stress.”
How much ‘stress’ do you have to be under to take a month’s worth of Klonipin in less than a two-day period? Unless you’re a four-fingered member of a bomb squad in Afghanistan, you’re not under that much stress. Then again, it’s a common characteristic of drug addicts to blame everyone but themselves for their behavior. They tell the most outlandish lies in order to try to get their fix and expect you to believe them. In too many cases, addicts don’t care who the repercussions of their actions affect, even if it’s their own children.
Prescription drug abuse is now the worst drug abuse problem in the U.S. today. Unfortunately, most addicts don’t think they have a problem, and can’t start recovering until they do. The Mayo Clinic website has a detailed guide on how to stage an intervention in case a loved one has a substance abuse problem.
Want another story about a Bad Breeder? Check out this story about a man who took his infant to a craigslist sex date on Crime Classified.
Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon
Police in Calvert County, Maryland, responded to a home after they received complaints a 3-year-old boy had marks on him. The complaint came from teachers at the boy’s Head Start program. (Let’s hear it for teachers.) When the police and CPS approached the boy’s mother about the marks, 40-year-old Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon was said to have admitted to the abuse. She claims the boy is too wild for her to control but tries not to hit him because, in her words, “he’s white and it leaves marks.” She also allegedly claimed to hit the boy with a shoe because using her hands cause blood clots. The reason she claimed she couldn’t control the child was “because he’s 3”. That’s only the tip of the iceberg too. I recommend reading the entire article from Southern Maryland News Net linked above.
While Calderon was arrested and charged with abuse there is a sort of silver lining to this story…
The Child Protective Services Worker prepared a safety plan for Calderon, which was signed by both parties, indicating that she was not allowed to hit the child with any objects. The plan also indicated that in-home services would be provided by CPS to assist Calderon with the child’s behavior and with cleaning her home so that it is sanitary.
From what Lady Gray tells me, these kind of resources are available in most states. So hopefully, we can get this message out to people who will now reach out to their state agencies before hitting their children.
Here’s something you may not have thought of, I know I didn’t. While the article I read only deals with the state of Colorado, I would imagine it’s the same in every state.
Reports to the Colorado child abuse hotline reach a lull in the summer months, then start up again as school begins. Caseworkers at Colorado’s DHS say this is because teachers don’t have eyes on their students during the summer months.
Imagine a child who is going through abuse at home during the summer. They may not even have the option to reach out to someone for help during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year for kids. While other kids are out swimming or playing, they might be at home, not allowed to go out so no one sees the signs of abuse, just counting the days until school starts again so they can have some kind of escape from their home lives.
This means as regular citizens, we need to be more active in reporting suspected cases of abuse. It’s better for there to be a false alarm than an abused child not receiving any help because we didn’t want to get involved.
Here is a link to all the state child abuse hotlines, while Colorado’s is 1-844-CO-4- KIDS (1-844-264-5437). In any state you can remain anonymous, although more weight is given to a report when the reporter gives their name. A suspected abuser is never given the reporter’s name. However, it’s better to report anonymously than not at all.
I want to take a moment to say how excited I am to be a part of the new Bad Breeders! I started reading all of Trench’s crime blogs, and especially Bad Breeders, many years ago, and to now be a contributing writer alongside my friend and mentor is exhilarating. I hope readers will enjoy my articles and opinions, and I hope positive things happen with the site back in business.
My heartfelt thanks to Trench for giving me a chance to publish my thoughts on the same page as him, The Master Crimefighting Blogger.
In May of 2017, 66-year-old former foster parent Clarence “Charlie” Garretson was sentenced to life in federal prison for sexually abusing and raping at least 14 out of the 35 foster children entrusted to the care of he and his wife by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The crimes took place between 1998 and 2004, when Garretson would take children on over-the-road “trucking trips” and then abuse and rape them in the truck’s sleeper compartment. Following these acts of depravity, big bad Charlie would then threaten the children into not telling what had happened.
Garretson was not charged with any of these crimes until he raped yet another child in 2014. This rape was reported by the child’s parent, resulting in the involvement of the FBI, who then discovered all the other crimes that had occurred while the Garretsons were licensed foster parents 10 years earlier. In court, at least one victim revealed she had tried to tell state caseworkers, Mrs. Garretson and DHS investigators repeatedly, but no one believed her. Another victim said she was too scared to tell anyone at the time, fearful of being moved to another home and thus separated from her siblings.
When Garretson spoke in court, he claimed he didn’t even remember the 7 victims who gave victim impact statements. That’s how trivial and meaningless these crimes were to him. He offered a hollow “I’m sorry to anyone I’ve hurt.” BFD. The judge who handed down the life sentence got it right, though. U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes made sure Garretson, who should have been a safe haven for the already-traumatized children placed in his “care”, will never have the opportunity to hurt another child.
The Arkansas abuse and neglect hotline number is 1-800-482-5964.
After a long absence, Bad Breeders is finally back.
The reason I stopped writing for the site was because I didn’t have the time to maintain such a popular site, and to be quite honest, the stories we would post were playing havoc with my depression. Well, now I have the time and I have a better handle on my depression so I felt there was no better time than the present to bring the site back.
However, things are going to be done a little differently this time. The first thing is, joining me in writing for the site will be my proofreader and editor Lady Gray. She’s going to be a great addition to the site because she has an extensive background in the child welfare field. Secondly, this site is going to take a new direction. Instead of just naming and shaming suspects, we’re going to use these stories to address the problems behind the stories. This will no longer be a site where you go just so you can be outraged. We want to make a real difference. Lastly, the site is going to be more PG rated. In order to be more respected we need to tone the language down.
As far as the old posts go, they’ll eventually be around in one form or another, I just haven’t decided if they’ll be part of the main site or if I’ll have them archived separately.
If you followed the site before on social media, you’ll need to follow the new links posted at the top of the right hand column for your social network of choice. If you were on the mailing list before, you’ll need to sign up again.
So hopefully, you join us in this new journey going forward.
It’s been 8 years since then 5-year old Giovanni Gonzalez disappeared. In 2008, Giovanni was supposed to have spent the weekend with his father Ernesto Gonzalez in Lynn, Massachusetts. When it came time for Giovanni to be returned to his mother, Ernesto Gonzalez never returned him and Giovanni has been missing since. After being arrested for Giovanni’s disappearance, the elder Gonzalez claimed that he murdered Giovanni, but authorities claim that there is no evidence that corroborates that story.
After having kidnapping charges against him dropped Ernesto Gonzalez has been held in a Massachusetts mental hospital. Now that hospital is claiming that Ernesto Gonzalez is mentally competent. This starts the process for Gonzalez to stand trial in the disappearance of his son. The next step is for Gonzalez to be examined by doctors from both the defense and the prosecution to see whether he is fit for trial.
As I have previously stated, I unfortunately don’t believe Giovanni is alive, even though I pray that he is. If he is still alive he us believed to be either still in the Lynn area or in Puerto Rico. I’ve included his most recent missing poster from the NCMEC below.