Monday, March 14, 2011

Florida DCF - Task Force Report into Death of Adopted Twin

The final report on Nubia Barahona's death at the hands of her adopted parents in Florida has been released.

This report was authored by experts, professionals in the field of child welfare. I have consistently bemoaned the fact that "professionals" dominate the issue when it comes to investigations, or recommendations, and that parents, who are the only true experts regarding their own children, are excluded from participation in every aspect of child welfare case administration and legislation.

It seems my concerns are justified. While this report was authored by professionals--experts--it reveals to the astute reader that professionals contributed to the practices that caused the death of this child, and the attempted murder of her brother.

I have linked the report for the reader's reference, but I can only address one issue at a time. Today, it will be item (1) of the Findings on page 6, which states:
The court-ordered psychological evaluation of Nubia and Victor performed on Feb. 12, 2008 by Dr. Vanessa Archer recommending adoption of Nubia and Victor by the Barahonas to be “clearly in their best interest” and “to proceed with no further delay” --- failed to consider critical information presented by the children’s principal and school professionals about potential signs of abuse and neglect by the Barahonas. That omission made Dr. Archer’s report, at best, incomplete, and should have brought into serious question the reliability of her recommendation of adoption. Several professionals, including the Our Kids’ case manager, the GAL, and the Children’s Legal Services attorney, as well as the judge, were, or should have been, aware of that significant omission, and yet apparently failed to take any steps to rectify that critical flaw in her report.
The psychologist's recommendation was found to be unreliable. Yet the court gave it great weight in arriving at it's determination that these children be adopted by the Barahonas.

How does this happen? I'm so glad you asked.

In practice, nationwide, these court-appointed professionals are under contract to the child welfare agency. They perform their evaluations and therapies at a discounted rate, deeply discounted. They obtain the large majority of--if not all--their referrals from the child welfare agency.

They have a vested, monetary interest in maintaining their flow of referrals. These referrals will dry up if the provider does not produce the recommendations and diagnoses the agency desires.

I have interviewed dozens of mental health professionals who have worked in some capacity on child welfare cases. Every one of them has disclosed that when the caseworker calls with the referral, she will invariably advise the service provider of the history of the client family, and state what diagnosis and recommendations she wants. She rigs the case, and the mental health professional goes along with it. Not surprisingly, those who maintained their professional ethics and conducted a competent evaluation consistent with the standards of their practice often returned diagnoses and recommendations that were refused by the caseworker, who then shopped for a more compliant professional to treat the family.

My investigations have revealed that the family history is often wrong, at the very least exaggerated and at the worst, completely false. Yet, the providers who rely on CPS referrals will accept this history as valid, and provide recommendations and treatments based on the false history, that conform to what the caseworker wants. Attempts by the parent to correct this erroneous history often results in the provider stating the parent is in denial, or out of touch with reality, and cite it as a contributing factor in their recommendation to keep the children out of the family home. The family members receive treatment for issues that do not exist, and these treatments invariably fail to remedy the issues. duh.

It appears this was a compliant mental health professional, who did exactly what the caseworker wanted. There is no way the caseworker, even knowing of the reports of abuse that raised concerns, was going to dispute the finding she had elicited. The GAL, being a typical GAL, rubber-stamped what the caseworker wanted. The judge did what judges do, accept agency recommendations without demanding evidence to support their recommendations.

This is one reason, a big reason, why the system failed Nubia. Why it fails all the children. I've stated this for years, and now, finally, some experts agree. It's about time.

1 comment:

  1. My ex husband and I had an evaluation by Vanessa Archer in 2008 during a divorce and custody battle. Her report was completely erroneous and she did not contact other professionals who could have collaborated pertinent information. I don't know how this woman has a license to practice. It's an outrage and destructive to the welfare of innocent children. I know several divorcing couples who have used her. She is extremely unethical, ignoring her duty to the "best interest" of the child. I want to know why she is not being held accountable, in part, for the death of Nubia. As far as I am concerned she has the blood of an innocent child on her hands. Her excuse is that a psychologist cannot possible obtain all of the information necessary to make an accurate report??? It seems like basic, common sense to contact the school in such a case. She knew there were reports of abuse from teachers, yet she decided to ignore that. She at fault for this death and abuse and should be held accountable.


Leave the emotions, propaganda and rhetoric at the door. This blogger is only interested in intelligent, logical, well-thought out, factually based comments which are on-topic, indicating the writer has an open mind and a mature ability to reason.