Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BMCW: Screw The Public!

I've written an ongoing series of posts of the tragic story of Christopher L. Thomas, Jr., the little baby boy whose short life was filled with being taken from his mother, bounced from home to home to home in his short life, only to end up with his aunt who would become his murderer. Tragedy even follow Christopher into death, with a fight at his funeral.

To make matters worse, those that cared about Christopher are now being punished.

Crocker Stephenson, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported this morning on how Robert and Darlene Logan, the couple that had been former foster parents to Christopher, and wanted to adopt him, are now being punished, harassed and maligned by the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. The Logans only crime, as far as I can tell, is that they wanted to help with Christopher's funeral. Since they didn't get any response from the BMCW, they contacted the paper. The BMCW apparently finds that to be intolerable.

The article tells of how the Bureau wouldn't let the Logans adopt Christopher, but not the reason why the Bureau said that they couldn't. To be fair, the investigation into a potential foster home is rather intensive and intrusive. They look into the past of every person in the home. They look at their financial situation, their demeanor, their health, their room space, and everything else. The Bureau may have found something way in their past, or a financial concern, or some health concern that made them think that the Logans were not fit to be an adoptive resource.

I can give the BMCW that much of the benefit of the doubt.

What comes after that is unforgivable.

When Darlene Logan continued to press her case, the worker started to question her mental health and ordered her to take a psychological evaluation (which was paid for by the tax payers). They also suspended their license, pending the results of the evaluation.

The psychologist found no reason for the Logans not to be foster parents.

Despite of this, the Bureau still hasn't reinstated their license. To make things worse, the Bureau is trying to recoup almost $2,500. That would be about the entire amount that they were paid for taking care of Christopher.

From the article:
"All I wanted was for Christopher to be honored, to have a decent funeral," Darlene Logan said Monday.

The Logans' situation grew more complicated this weekend, when they received a letter from the bureau stating the couple had been overpaid while caring for a foster child placed in their home from late June to early September. The letter demanded repayment of $2,474.38.

The Logans said Monday that they believe they were paid the correct amount for taking care of the infant girl. Calls to the bureau to straighten out the matter have not been returned, Bob Logan said.

Early Monday, Bob Logan said he did not want to believe the bill was in retribution for speaking to the newspaper about Christopher.

But Monday afternoon, as the Logans were trying to talk to somebody about the alleged overpayment, their caseworker's supervisor called to say their license remained on hold while the bureau reviewed the psychologist's 4 1/2 -page report and while bureau lawyers reviewed the Logans' contact with the news media.

"They are so vindictive," Darlene Logan said.

"I think they should be more concerned about the care they provide than what people say about them," she said.

Phone calls on Monday by the Journal Sentinel to the caseworker, her supervisor and the supervisor's supervisor were not returned.

This is completely inexcusable. It also shows the lack of accountability that happens when something like this gets privatized.

After reading the article this morning, I emailed Mr. Stephenson with some questions, including which worker was the one who order the psych eval and the fines, why were the Logans denied the chance to adopt and the rationale for the recoupment letter.

He was kind enough to tell me that it was the licensing worker who ordered the eval, and that no reasons were given for the denial and the recoupment.

I feel I need to point out that both the foster worker and the licensing worker work for the same private agency, which is a subsidiary of Children's Hospital. It is unclear if the private agency has undertaken these punitive actions on their own, or if it was under the directions of Denise Revels Robinson, director of the BMCW, who still hasn't spoken to the public or the media about this case, as she has done in the past on other cases. It is really beyond me why this woman hasn't been fired yet.

What is equally alarming is the deafening silence from the elected officials. State Representative Josh Zepnick has started an investigation. State Senator Alberta "Do Nothing" Darling has used the tragedy as a chance to grandstand and do some publicity seeking. Governor Jim Doyle has been silent, as has been Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Of course, I don't expect anything from Walker, who is too busy running for governor - again - and wouldn't want to alienate any potential campaign contributors by bad mouthing a private agency.

It will be interesting to see if anything develops from the protest that is being planned for tomorrow morning.


  1. "as has been Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Of course, I don't expect anything from Walker, who is too busy running for governor - again - and wouldn't want to alienate any potential campaign contributors by bad mouthing a private agency."
    What a crock. You really do a disservice to yourself when you make cheap political shots at Walker, who has no clout in the matter.
    Why not mention Barrett in whose city this happened and why not say more about Doyle who has the ulitimate authority in this matter.
    You do a good job reporting this, more insightful than most, but you weaken your arguement tremndously when you take cheap political shots.

  2. Dan,

    Walker is running for governor, again. That is no secret. I am actually surprised he did not try to take a swipe at Doyle. It would have been a legitimate, and not even a cheap shot. I guess it shows that he isn't too bright. Or maybe he recognizes that people would know (thanks in no small part to me) that he had voted for the Bureau to be born, and didn't lift a finger when it was shown to be going in the wrong direction.

    But even if he weren't running, when stuff like this happens, it is not unusual for a local leader to express outrage, even if they have no control over the matter.

    David Clarke does it all the time.

    And I did not mention Barrett, because child welfare was never with the city. It is not a municipal function in any city in the state. It is the function of every county in the state, but Milwaukee, of course.

  3. Alberta Darling should be ashamed.She was the one who really pushed for the state to take over child welfare functions, claiming that state workers would do a far better job than (those awful) county workers and for less money. The state took it over, it almost immediately cost millions more to run and has been a bigger mess than ever.

  4. The state workers make more money than any of the county workers ever did. Then they had to pass a law that the private agency workers get paid as much as the state workers, to keep the turnover rate down. And that still hasn't worked.