INdiana Systemic Thinking

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 10, 2008

Autism, Anorexia, Anxiety, Rxing Kids, & Abusing Cold Meds

Wow, a bunch of Mental Health Related stories today.  Here’s the round-up:


Riley Hospital for Children today will announce a $2.2 million federal grant to expand research and clinical care services at the hospital’s Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center.

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indianapolis, who was instrumental in securing the funds, will be on hand for the announcement. The center, established in 1997, was named for his grandson, who has an autism spectrum disorder.

A rare genetic variation dramatically raises the risk of developing autism, a large study showed, opening new research targets for better understanding the disorder and for treating it.

Autism cases in California continued to climb even after a mercury-based vaccine preservative that some people blame for the neurological disorder was removed from routine childhood shots, a new study found.


Women who doll up with too much perfume might not know it because they’re depressed.

That’s the conclusion of Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, a physician and autoimmune disease researcher at Tel Aviv University in Israel who studies “autoantibodies.” This class of chemicals launches attacks against the body’s cells, often in patients with autoimmune disease such as lupus.

“Our scientific findings suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell, and may overcompensate by using more perfume,” he said.

Eating Disorders

Sitting down for regular family meals may protect teen girls from developing eating disorders, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Substance Abuse

About 3.1 million people between the ages of 12 to 25 — or about 5 percent of the age group — have used over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to get high, a U.S. government survey found.

Rxing Kids

Gives us this link to the entire Frontline episode about psychotropic medication prescriptions for children and teens.  Dr. Carlat actually appears in the documentary.  If this show doesn’t scare the heck out of you, nothing will.  The Blogmeister was particularly struck by one of the father’s saying, “why are we giving him all these pills, where’s the therapy?”


Researchers reported Monday that chronic anxiety can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack, at least in men. The findings add another trait to a growing list of psychological profiles linked to heart disease, including anger or hostility, Type A behavior, and depression.

Feel free to discuss any or all of the above. 

January 3, 2008

Rep. Battles Takes on “Child Seduction” and Student Aid

State Rep. Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes) announced yesterday he has filed two bills for the 2008 session of the General Assembly.  The first is HB 1032 which…

…aims to expand the scope and range of child seduction laws in Indiana. Child seduction refers to a criminal situation in which an adult in a position of authority, such as a teacher or guidance counselor, engages in sexual misconduct with a minor aged 16-18.

“Child seduction laws were designed to protect minors who technically reached the age of consent at age 16 from entering into an abusive situation with an adult authority figure,” Battles said. “Children under 16 are already protected under the state’s child molestation laws.”

HB 1032 expands the definition of “authority figure” to include anyone that works or volunteers for a cooperative organization that is involved with a public or private school corporation. Under current law, only a person who is employed by a school can be convicted of child seduction, which is a Class D felony.

“All individuals who hold a position of authority should be held to the same legal standards,” Battles said. “This bill will even the score.”

Hmmm, not really.  One would have to work or volunteer for an organization involved with a school.  The Blogmeister would be in favor of broadening this to anyone in a position of authority.  That would cover just about anyone who was working with a child in a professional capacity.   Still, this is better than whats on the books now.

The second is HB 1033 which “eliminates time restrictions on state-sponsored student aid.”

Currently, the state offers eligible students grant money for the cost of four years of higher education. The financial aid can be used over a 10-year time frame. HB 1033 would repeal this provision, allowing students to utilize state grants past the 10-year limit.

“Many students who have the best intentions of earning their degree in a timely fashion can be thrown off course by life’s many obstacles,” said Battles. “Family obligations, financial stress and personal issues can all impede a student’s degree progress.”

He continued, “There is no reason why the state should shun a student who wants to pick up where they left off, even if there is more than a 10 year time lapse. This will be especially beneficial for low-income students who often have to leave school to support themselves and their families.”

The Blogmeister was unaware of this existing provision, but supports the Representative’s bill for exactly the same reasons.  In the Blogmeister’s opinion, if someone qualifies for the aid, give it to them.  It’s a good investment as the state, and society as a whole, benefit from the increased income the person will earn over their lifetime (with a degree), which translates into higher tax payments (income, property, etc.) for the state.

December 27, 2007

Gov. Daniels Interviewed by WTHR

Governor Daniels was interviewed by WTHR yesterday.  He says he had a good year, despite the property tax mess.  He also discusses jobs, the economy and a few other issues.  On the TaJanay Bailey incident, he says;

Rader: I know it just dawned on me during your last election you talked about the need to keep the kids safe. You have had a sad situation with FSSA recently, but overall, do you feel like you have improved that?

Daniels: Yes but don’t take it from me.  We have won national awards.  Two or three of them now from the experts who look at all fifty states for not merely having a better system of protecting kids but one of the best around.  We are not done but by about June we will have doubled the number of case workers and cut the number of cases per worker dramatically  from the worst in America to among the best ratios, new training and the rest.  Zero is still the goal.  Zero injuries and zero fatalities and anyone that happens is a reminder that this quest for excellence never ends and nothing is more important than protecting the most vulnerable Hoosiers around meaning our little ones.

Really, nothing new here, but an interesting read none the less.

The whole interview is here.

December 21, 2007

New Research Reported at MSNBC

There are some good articles over on the MSNBC site concerning some research on children and parenting.

The first appears to show no difference between parenting styles of divorced and intact parents.

“It does parents a disservice to automatically assume that they will have problems after divorce,” Strohschein said. “That education and to a lesser extent income predict parenting behavior says much more about what makes a difference to parenting behavior.”

The second is about promising mice research in the treatment of autism.

“We believe that drugs which block mGluR5 have enormous potential for the treatment of fragile X and related developmental disorders, including many cases of autism,” said Katie Clapp, president and executive director of FRAXA.

The third found formal sex education delayed the loss of virginity in teens.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, did not determine if the type of program matters — that is, abstinence-only versus more-comprehensive programs.

However, the findings do suggest that having some form of sex education helps delay teen sex, according to the researchers, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The fourth, conducted in Romania, found I.Q.’s were lower for children in orphanages, than children who were raised in foster care.

“The longer they stay in the institution, the worse their IQ,” said Dr. Charles Nelson III of Harvard Medical School, who led the study being published Friday in the journal Science.

“What we’re really talking about is the importance of getting kids out of bad environments and put into good environments,” Nelson said.

Fifth, there appears to be a resurgence of Syphilis in the U.S. and Europe.

In 2000, syphilis infection rates were so low that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention embarked on a plan to eliminate the disease. But about 9,800 cases were reported in 2006.

Finally, researchers think children with tantrums may be at higher risk for depression.

“If it gets to the point where the parent is uncomfortable leaving the house because they are so fearful their child will have tantrum, that should be a sign to the parent (to seek help)” he said.

(Blogmeister note on that last one…  Ya Think?)

December 8, 2007

Cleaning out the RSS Feed Barrel

 Most days, the Blogmeister doesn’t get to all the news stories he wants to.  Here are all the stories and posts the Blogmeister either didn’t get to, or were deemed interesting, but not worthy of the Blog, over the past week.

Foster mother of 45 gets help in time of need  
Read This Story: What The Guv’s Tax Plan May Mean For Marion County 
The Fallen Mighty: Allen County GOP Short On Cash After Election  
Kenley Has Devoted Years To Tax Reform, Proposals 
County executive concept develops  :Commissioners back idea; plan may go to legislature.  
Harper’s findings 

Report Ready on Trimming Government
Late filings cost Burton’s PAC $4,450 
Supreme Court will decide Indianapolis case 
Daniels appeals FEMA aid decision 
Suicidal molester sentenced 

Gloomy Hoosiers Opinion 
Senators urging welfare overhaul 
Children dying for lack of child-sized drugs   
Always aroused: A good thing gone awry
Indiana lawmakers consider bill to eliminate township assessors office               
Senate skeptical about appointed assessors        
Republican lawmaker’s support for Daniels’ tax plan is wavering?       
Local Concern: Kenley Cautious In Light Of New Circuit Breaker Data       
Now What? Tully Asks Readers To Chime In With Ways To Fix Phoenix       
Property tax plan to get another look     
Teacher’s post on blog leads to arrest, debate    
Dobson criticizes tax plan:  Commissioner says St. Joseph wouldn’t be able to function under Daniels’ proposal
Working ’10 til 2′ aids at-home professionals 
Lawmaker calls for balance on taxes  
Coming to terms with conflict at the office
Losing virginity early or late tied to health risks 
How depressed is your state?    
Child abuse death isn’t the fault of system 
Brain glitch behind distortion of self-image 
Smaller babies grow up to be sadder adults 
Anorexia risk may start before birth 
Fever can unlock autism’s grip     

Kids Health, Bone Health Down

From the South Bend Tribune comes this story related to children’s health.  Apparently bone density is decreasing.

“Way back … as in rickets, the soft-bone disease of the 19th century — a condition that was supposedly eradicated with milk fortification.

Once you get past the initial shock, the reasons behind such disturbing news are all too clear: In this era of unhealthy fast-food diets, shortened or eliminated gym classes and summer days spent watching TV instead of playing outdoors, children simply are not drinking enough milk nor getting enough exercise or sunshine. Those three realities add up to children who aren’t building as much strong bone as they need. African-American children are especially at risk, given that skin pigment alters sun absorption.

The consequences are far-reaching, with bone specialists warning of the possibility of an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

On the heels of this discouraging news comes another study that may offer a bit of hope. Contrary to popular opinion, a University of Minnesota study has found that school lunch sales don’t suffer when healthier meals are on the menu.

The bottom line: Kids will eat healthy foods.”

November 26, 2007

IN 11th Worst for Child Poverty

Filed under: Politics: General Issues — kurtglmft @ 9:44 am
Tags: , , ,

In another story from the Indianapolis Star,  Indiana has the distinction of being the 11th worst state for children who live in poverty.

From the story:

“Growing up in poverty makes children vulnerable to a number of problems, including impediments to their physical, emotional and academic development. Poverty can affect cognitive development and the ability to learn; promote behavioral, social and emotional problems; and lead to poor health, according to research by the National Center for Children in Poverty. Children living in or near poverty also are more likely to be victims of abuse and neglect and to become teen parents.”

The gist of the story is not that there are more kids living in poverty, but that once they are there, resources are not available for them.  For those of us in the Mental Health field, tell us something we don’t know.  One more argument for relaxing stringent medicaid restrictions on who these families can see if they need Mental Health care.

November 24, 2007

Adopting in Carmel

The Indy Star this morning has an interesting story about the city of Carmel paying some (or in some cases all) of the costs for employees to adopt children.  From the story:

“…Carmel’s Board of Public Works this week approved a plan to offer each of its 500 city employees up to $5,000 in adoption costs per child, with a $10,000 maximum per employee.

…Carmel’s benefit would cover expenses such as agency and placement fees, court costs and medical expenses for the birth mother and child. The board on Wednesday approved a resolution to start the program.

Barbara Lamb, the city’s director of human resources, said the adoption assistance dollars would come from money in the city’s employee health-care account. Carmel runs its own health insurance program with a third-party administrator.

…’We’re always looking for things we can do in our never-ending quest to make our benefits package as attractive as possible,’ Lamb said.

…Carmel City Councilman Eric Seidensticker said he doesn’t view adoption as an insurance issue — especially not one that should come from city funds.

‘I feel for the people who can’t have children, but insurance is designed to prevent catastrophic loss,” Seidensticker said. “Just because other companies (provide the benefit) doesn’t mean it’s fiscally responsible.’   “

On one hand, the blogmeister is glad an employer is helping with the costs of adoption…BUT the last the blogmeister knew, the Carmel third party administrator was not paying for family therapy.  Since some statisticians have pointed out that half of the visits to physicians are marriage and family issues and we (those in the mental health community) all know about half of our referrals are for marriage and family therapy, it seems the money would be better spent helping those already with children and/or assuring that once the adoption is complete families would get the help they may need in the future.  The story goes on to say that;

“Because not many employees take advantage of the option, it provides a relatively low-cost way of making the company a more attractive place to work.”

So really, is this just a dog and pony show designed to attract employees, many of which will never use the program?  Or does the city of Carmel really care.  One is inclined to think the former, or they would do more to help with existing problems everyone knows will affect their employees.

On a related note, is this really the time to spend taxpayer dollars on a benefit program almost no one has in the private sector?  We keep hearing about the need to raise taxes to maintain public services, but this doesnt quite seem to fit.  Just one more thing to ponder the next time you write that tax check. 


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