child advocate

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Almost 500 infants born in New Hampshire between July 2018 and September 2019 had signs of neonatal abstinence syndrome. That's according to a new report from the State Child Advocate which looks at how well the state is dealing with the problem.

The report identifies systemic problems in how the Division for Children Youth and Families currently responds when a baby is born exposed to drugs.

Department of Human Health and Services

A new report by the Office of the Child Advocate says the state agency tasked with investigating allegations of child abuse is hampered by poor communication, chronic understaffing, and an outdated, inefficient records keeping system.

The report, which examines systemic factors affecting child safety in New Hampshire, focuses on the deaths of five children and one parent whose families had contact with the Division for Children, Youth and Families since February 2018.

New Hampshire’s Office of the Child Advocate is launching a review of some practices used by residential youth facilities in the state.

Child Advocate Moira O’Neill is taking a look at how both private centers and the state-run Sununu Youth Center use restraint and seclusion among children in care.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with O'Neill about what she's hoping to understand through her review.

 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Office of the Child Advocate is launching a review into how restraint and seclusion are being used on children in behavioral health settings.

The review will look at both private residential treatment facilities and the state-run Sununu Youth Services Center.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire's Child Advocate says the Department of Corrections and the Division for Children, Youth and Families could do more to protect children from the negative experiences of having their parent incarcerated.

Studies show when a parent goes to jail, it can have long-term mental and emotional impacts on their children.

One way to mitigate that is to maintain a relationship through visitation or regular communication between the parent and child. At the state prison, a Family Connection Center is supposed to facilitate that connection.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

The state Office of Child Advocate has announced it is currently reviewing how the Department for Children Youth and Families handles cases of infants born exposed to drugs.

The Office of the Child Advocate says it opened the review in December of last year after it received concerns about how DCYF was handling the cases. In two cases in 2018 infants, died after DCYF closed assessments for neglect as unfounded.

Statewide, the state Child Advocate says there were 466 children involved in DCYF cases where there were indications that the child was born exposed to drugs.

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New Hampshire’s Office of Child Advocate is endorsing a bill to create 77 positions to better protect children.

Moira O’Neill says 57 of those positions are for child protective service workers. The rest are for supervisors.

The Senate Finance Committee has a hearing on the legislation Tuesday. It would cost about $8.5 million over two years, with $2.5 million coming from federal funds.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: January 18, 2019

Jan 17, 2019

The State's Office of the Child Advocate releases its first annual report on the state of DCYF. Director Moira O'Neill says lots more needs to be done to keep kids safe. Julian Castro comes to New Hampshire in his bid to win over Democrats in the 2020 presidential primary. And democrats have made legal marijuana a part of its platform, so why do some leading democrats seem reluctant to back legalization bills? 

NHPR

New Hampshire’s legislative leaders voiced support for strengthening the role of the Child Advocate, an office established in 2018 to reform the state’s child welfare system.

The call to action comes two days after the Office of the Child Advocate released its first annual report that proposes additional caseworkers and training.

Department of Human Health and Services

An attorney representing the families of two children in litigation against DCYF says a new report from the Office of the Child Advocate doesn't go far enough.

Rus Rilee represents the families of Brielle Gage and Sadee Willott, two toddlers who were killed by abusive mothers in separate incidents in 2014 and 2015. In both cases, abuse had been reported to the state's Division for Children Youth and Families.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Office of Child Advocate is calling for additional caseworkers and additional training at the Division of Children, Youth and Families. That was one of many recommendations from the OCA in its first annual report released Monday.

The Office of Child Advocate was created about a year ago in the wake of the deaths of two children at the hands of abusive parents. The deaths occurred despite the fact that both cases had been reported to DCYF.

FILE

New Hampshire has a shortage of people volunteering as court appointed special advocates. These volunteers help abused and neglected children through the court processes.  

In 2015, the agency was able to accept 90 percent of family court cases. This past year, it was just able to accept 65 percent.

Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The juvenile justice system in New Hampshire is built around the idea of rehabilitation. Instead of going to jail, young people who commit crimes gain access to services like counseling and substance abuse treatment to address the underlying causes of their behavior.

But a blind spot in the state’s juvenile justice system can keep some kids from getting the help they need.

A proposal to strengthen New Hampshire's new office of the child advocate has the support of the division it monitors, though the governor is reserving judgment for now.

Lawmakers created the watchdog agency as part of larger effort to reform the Division of Children, Youth and Families, which has been under scrutiny since two toddlers were killed in 2014 and 2015.

The department of health and human services and DCYF support an amended bill to enhance the office, while a spokesman for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says he is closely monitoring it.

Department of Human Health and Services

The New Hampshire Senate approved three bills last week that would provide more than $5 million dollars toward strengthening the state’s child protective system.

The funding would go toward support services for at-risk families and for reducing caseload burdens on the Division of Children, Youth and Families.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with the state’s Child Advocate Moira O’neill about the potential for this new funding and how it could affect the division.


Department of Human Health and Services

New Hampshire’s newly appointed Child Advocate says an apparent murder-suicide involving a father and his 6-year-old son in Derry signals the need to fund supports for at-risk families, especially after a review of state records revealed that the father himself made multiple calls to child protective workers for help.

The Office of Child Advocate is a watchdog agency created last year by lawmakers as part of a larger effort to reform the state’s current child protection system.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Moira O’Neill, the new director of the office, about her plans for the agency.