INdiana Systemic Thinking

March 16, 2008

DOC Makes Improvements At Girls School

Remember back in December when I posted this about St. Joseph County Judge Peter Nemeth? The story then was he refused to send female juveniles to the Indiana Girls School for a variety of complaints.

Well, today’s South Bend Tribune is reporting the Department of Corrections is making some staffing changes that are encouraging to Nemeth. Specifically;

The DOC has announced it will end a two-year-old arrangement to house boys and girls at the same Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility by moving the boys to a recently renovated section of the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Nemeth said he was encouraged by the DOC’s announcement that a “staffing plan for the facility is being developed to ensure the appropriate deployment of staff.”

“If they are actually doing a staffing plan … if it means more than just words, I think that is real progress,” the judge said. “I applaud them for that.

Girls will be moved into the unit being vacated by the boys. The unit will house girls in single rooms that lock from a central control location, along with a special management unit specifically programmed for girls struggling with mental health issues.

“It looks like they are going to do what we want them to do,” said Bill Bruinsma, executive director of the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. “We’ll have to see what staffing they’re going to add in and what kind of programming they’re going to put into it … It’s a step in the right direction.”

However, Nemeth doesn’t appear completely sold on the changes…

Nemeth said he still will avoid sending girls to the Indianapolis facility until he knows more details about the changes, especially whether staff-to-child ratios improve. Instead, he said he is sending girls who are the most difficult to rehabilitate to a private juvenile detention facility in Vincennes, at a daily cost to the county of $138, compared to $60 a day at the Indianapolis DOC girls school.

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February 16, 2008

Sue Ellen Reed: On Her Way Out?

Most of the major news outlets, as well as blogs around the state are reporting on comments made by Governor Mitch Daniels that he is apparently supporting candidate Tony Bennett for Indiana School Superintendent.  All this despite Sue Ellen Reed has held the position for four terms and has not made a decision about a fifth.  Here are some links about the comments and what they may possibly mean:

 Taking Down Words

Blue Indiana

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

February 9, 2008

Inside H.B. 1288: Certified Behavior Analysts

H.B. 1288 requires the state to establish the State Board of Behavior Analysts.  Behavior Analysis, as defined by the bill “means the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional and environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvements in human behavior through skill acquisition and the reduction of problematic behavior”.  It allows for two levels of Analysts, one requires a Bachelor’s degree, while the other requires a Master’s degree, although the degree can be in any area.  Both certifications require a test and supervised hours.  The requirements mimic the requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, a non-profit Florida Corporation.

Background

This legislation was first requested at an Indiana Commission on Autism meeting.  Specifically, the commission was asked by Michelle Trivedi, “parent of an autistic child, for the commission to support legislation to be introduced in the 2008 session of the General Assembly that would require board certification for applied behavior analysts.”  The commission heard from Ms. Trivedi, but had many significant questions and did not recommend the legislation be pursued in it’s final report.  However, Rep. Vanessa Summers and Rep. Phil Hinkle, both commission members, introduced the legislation in the 2008 session.

Legislative Progress

Upon introduction, the legislation became very controversial for several reasons.  First, it did not exempt any professionals currently licensed to practice medicine, psychology, mental health counseling, social work, and marriage and family therapy.  Because the definition of what behavior analysis is, it would require all of those professions to become certified as behavior analysts to continue to practice with the licenses they already have.  Thankfully, the authors of the bill agreed to amend the bill to effectively state no-one could use the title Certified Behavior Analyst, unless they are certified.  With this amendment, the concerns of the already licensed professionals were satisfied and they did not oppose the bill in the house.  The bill passed the House last week and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters Committee.

January 30, 2008

Abused Children: Indiana’s Hmurovich

Yesterday a report was released by Prevent Child Abuse America.  It calls for more federal money to be made available for “Federal” foster care support and prevention services.  Sounds good.  Unfortunately, the CEO of the organization is none other than James Hmurovich.  Those who have been around the “welfare” system long enough remember he was in charge of a former incarnation of Family and Children’s Services, where he attempted to do the same thing.   What happened when he was in Indiana is prevention services went up, BUT they were used INSTEAD of foster care services.  The reason?  It is much more cost effective to keep children in their homes than in foster care.  This led to many dangerous situations and the calls for welfare reforms implemented by Governor Daniels.  Looks like Mr. Hmurovich wants to screw up the whole country.  Under his current proposal, he wants to “reward” states for decreasing the number of children in foster care.  Doesn’t look like he learned his lesson from screwing up Indiana.  Here is a summary of what the Indianapolis Star had to say:

January 24, 2008

Black Marriage Amendment?

Not really, but I betcha that got your attention.  Now before you start sending the blogmeister hate mail, read this story over at the Indy Star.  Which makes more sense, the nonsense about the real marriage amendment currently going on over at the statehouse, or doing something to help a portion of our population that really, really needs it.  From the story:

About eight in 10 black children in Indiana are born to unwed parents — a start to life that sets them up for problems during adolescence and beyond, according to an Indiana Black Expo report.
Indiana’s black youths fare significantly worse than Hoosier youths in general across 18 indicators of well-being, such as graduation rates and poverty levels, and do worse than black youths in the U.S, according to the report being released Friday.
The explosion of births to unwed parents is driving many of the state’s social problems, such as increases in poverty and child abuse and the growing cost of public aid, said Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute.
He added that the problem is not exclusive to any one race.
Indiana’s out-of-wedlock birthrate is at an all-time high, with unwed mothers accounting for nearly 40 percent of all births, he said. Nationally, about 36 percent of all births are to unwed mothers.

Charity Bailey Appealling Release of Records

As most will recall, Charity Bailey, along with Lawrence Green, is accused of beating her daughter, Tajanay Bailey to death back in November.  The case shook the Department of Family Services to it’s core, mostly because Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Moores ordered the release of records pertaining, not just to TaJanay, but older records of Charity Bailey.  Now, according to the Indianapolis Star, Charity Bailey is appealing that, as well as other decisions, made by Moore.

An attorney representing the mother of TaJanay Bailey has notified the court she will appeal two court decisions releasing juvenile records in the case.

On Jan. 3, juvenile court Judge Marilyn Moores granted The Indianapolis Star’s request to release records in the earlier of two child-welfare cases involving TaJanay. The judge also released the juvenile records of the girl’s mother, Charity Bailey.

TaJanay, 3, died Nov. 27 of apparent abuse. Bailey and her boyfriend, Lawrence Green, both 20, face murder and neglect charges.

Attorney Frances L. Ashton filed a notice last week that Bailey would ask the Indiana Court of Appeals to review Moores’ decision. She also notified the court that she would appeal a Jan. 11 decision by Moores granting The Star’s request for a transcript of the last court hearing before TaJanay’s death.

January 23, 2008

FW Schools: Why Would We Need RN’s?

The Fort Wayne News Sentinel this morning is reporting a medication mix up in a Fort Wayne area school.  Read the excerpt below for more of the story, but isn’t this what happens when you cut school nurses out of schools?  Isn’t there some law, somewhere, that forbids the passing of meds by unregistered or uncertified professionals, other than family members?  If not, there should be.  By the way, neither if these medications are something you want to take if your not supposed to as they have are for serious disorders and have very serious side effects.

A 6-year-old child at Price Elementary School was given the wrong medication by a staff member last week, resulting in a trip to the hospital.

The child was supposed to be taking Adderall, a medication used to treat narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but was given two doses of Seroquel, or Saraquill as it was written in the police report, which is a medication to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The incident occurred on Jan. 15, and the child was taken to St. Joseph Hospital by his mother for being “sick and sleepy,” according to a Fort Wayne Police Department report.

The Seroquel was another child’s medication. The child was said to be fine after treatment at the hospital, according to the report.

According to drugs.com, side effects of Seroquel are drowsiness, dizziness or decreased vision. Also, children who take this medication may “be at increased risk for suicidal thoughts or actions.” The Web site reports there is a possible fatal reaction to the drug.

The Price staff member, who was not identified, may have been a secretary at the school, although a police report says the person was the school nurse. Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said full-time nurses are not available in all schools, and secretaries are sometimes required to give a child a medication.

January 22, 2008

ADHD, Lilly, and Resurecting Strattera

Missed this story in the Indianapolis Star a few days ago about Lilly’s attempts to revitalize Stratera.  It made me chuckle, because as I saw the headline I thought, “oh yeah, I remember when that came out”, but then never heard of it again…or saw anyone who was prescribed it.  It seems my experience is not unique, which is the point of the story.  Below is just a little blurb, as the article is really long, so if you want to read it follow the link. 

Lilly says ADHD is a legitimate, serious disease and is actually under-diagnosed around the world.

“Lots of people don’t feel this is a real condition, even though we have lots of data and a huge scientific base,” said Dr. A.J. Allen, Lilly’s medical director for Strattera. “But parents whose kids have ADHD know it’s real.”

Strattera faces other hurdles. It carries a black-box warning to alert doctors to reports of suicidal thinking in children taking Strattera, as well as a bold warning about the potential for severe liver injury.

And unlike other ADHD drugs, which start working within days, Strattera usually requires four to six weeks to take full effect — too long for some parents, who sometimes need to treat a crisis immediately.

January 21, 2008

10% Laid Off At Dunn MHC

Calling it a “temporary reduction in force”, Dunn Mental Health Center is saying goodbye to 29 employees, according to the Indianapolis Star.  This accounts for almost 10% of their workforce.  Not wanting to sound partisean, here is the whole story from the Star.  Remember, she said it, I didnt.

Twenty-nine employees of Dunn Center Mental Health in Richmond have been laid off, said CEO Kay Whittington on Sunday.Whittington called the “temporary reduction in force” a result of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ proposed cuts in Medicaid and a bill that could limit how much Medicaid communal health centers may offer.
Dunn Center is comprised of a staff of more than 300.”We have had a temporary reduction in staff across (the) seven counties that we provide services to,” Whittington said.The Dunn Center is a Medicaid provider, and the state government has “dramatically reduced what (the center) can do for Medicaid rehabilitation options,” Whittington said.Gov. Mitch Daniels said in early January a new budget forecast that shows state revenue falling below predictions could lead to some cuts “in some of the entitlement programs like Medicaid.””It all relates to that,” Whittington said.Five of the 29 positions laid off are part-time and the rest are full-time, and Whittington said many of the employees were offered a transfer into other positions.

Whittington said she knows of other communal health centers in the state that have laid off workers.

“We’re all faced with the same thing,” she said. “You can’t wait for the ship to sink.”

Whittington will be available for further details about the situation today, she said.

“We wanted to make sure our staff had the weekend to think about (transferring).”

January 20, 2008

New Info on Phoenix Apartments

The Indianapolis Star has an excellent report on the owner(s) of troubled Phoenix Apartments this morning.  It details the rise of the company that owns the apartment complex and it’s founder.  The article is really long and worth reading, but it is difficult to summarize it here.  So read the story for yourself and come on back.

However, in the Blogmeister’s opinion, the people more to blame for the living conditions at Phoenix are the Housing and Urban Development Inspectors who continued to improve the complex’s ratings over the last three out of four years.  From the story:

The complex got new roofs and new windows and scored steadily higher in annual health and safety inspections by contractors working for HUD. The apartments, graded on a scale of 1 to 100, averaged 44 in 2004 when Belfonti took over, then 68 in 2005 and 91 in 2006.
In 2007 it went down to 77 according to the story.  The Blogmeister continues to wonder how a facility can score this high, even at 77, when local officials who toured the facility are quoted as saying it was “unlivable”.
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