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WALWORTH COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES W4051 County Road NN P.O.

Box 1005 Elkhorn, WI 53121-1005 262-741-3200 800-365-1587 TTY 262-741-3255 FAX 262-741-3217 August 9, 2013 Sylvia Andrews Montello, WI 53949 Re: Lewis Children Dear Sylvia, It has come to my attention that you may not fully understand the reason for the countys denial of placement of the children with you and your husband. Although, the Department has tried to relay the information to you on several occasions during telephone conversations, the hope is that a written explanation will provide further clarity and understanding. In order to understand the Departments logic the Departments history with you should be brought up first. The Department placed Brianna with you on August 30, 2005 when Brianna was an infant after being physically abused by Daniel Lewis. A protective plan was devised to allow Tonya to stay with you during this time as long as her interaction with Brianna was supervised. On August 31, 2005 after the TPC hearing, you stated that you could not keep Brianna long term. Brianna and Justin moved to Justins home because of your statement. In October of 2005, Brianna and Tonya are once again staying with you. In May of 2006, Brianna was again removed from Tonyas care after the police were called to her apartment due to Tonya being under the influence of alcohol and having a BAC level of .241. Brianna was again placed with Justin. Services commenced for Tonya to help her deal with her drug use; however, she continued use despite being 4 months pregnant with her second child. Brianna was placed in foster care due to the fact that Justin could not continue to care for Brianna. In 2011, a JIPS petition was filed alleging that Brianna was habitually truant from school as a kindergartener. Brianna became an adjudicated truant on November 21, 2011 and placement was given once again to you at the request of Tonya and Daniel. While placed with you, Brianna attended both Lyons Center and Necedah Elementary. On February 24, 2012, you state a desire for Brianna to go home as you are not able to handle Briannas behaviors. On the 27th of February, you inform caseworker Thelma Kuntz that Brianna needs to go home immediately, and stated that Brianna was already back with Tonya.

"Walworth County is an Equal Opportunity Employer"

Brianna, Harmony, and Owen were removed from Tonya again in April of 2012 after the Department received reports of abuse and neglect within the home. Initial Assessment worker, Deb McDaniel, verified these reports. Drug paraphernalia was found throughout the home and the childrens room was unsafe. Clothes that smelled of soaked urine, boxes, toys, and other items were scattered on the floor. The children reported being locked in the room for longs periods of time and not being able to use the bathroom because their parents would not allow them out of the room. Owens face and neck had severe bruising and Owen lacked the ability to verbally communicate how the injuries occurred. Both girls had some bruising, as well. The children were placed in the Spiegelhoff/ Newlin foster home. These particular foster parents are extremely experienced and well trained. Having the three children in their home was overwhelming for the Spiegelhoff/ Newlins even having significant experience as foster parents. The childrens negative behaviors seemed magnified when they were together and each had such significant medical and behavioral needs. The foster parents found it challenging to get each of the children where they needed to go in order to meet their needs. Family was examined as an option for placement. Tonya suggested you and Justin as options. Due to the history you had with the Department, it was decided that you would not be an appropriate option for placement of all three of the children. Those who worked with you in the past recall you stating that Briannas behaviors were too much for you then. It was determined that if Briannas behaviors were too much for you to handle a couple months prior, you would be unable to meet the needs and handle behaviors of all three of the children. The Department offered to place the children with Jamie and Justin, but Jamie and Justin stated that they didnt have the room for all three of the children. In May of 2012, while arranging a visit between you and the children the children reported you do not make them wear seatbelts while driving with you. They, also, stated that there has been lying involved in different scenarios where you are concerned. In May, you also stated that if the children were to be out of the home long term you would find a way to take custody of the children. This is something that you never followed through on. Despite the childrens concerning comments, rules for visitation were discussed and you saw the children on several different occasions when Brianna was placed with Jamie and Justin the summer of 2012. However, in setting up visitation with extended family, there were many times family cancelled at last minute or stated they were unwilling to drive to meet foster parents in Madison. You have mentioned on numerous occasions that you havent been able to see Harmony and Owen since Christmas of 2012; however, the Turners made it clear that, although weekend visits were not in the childrens best interest as they strive on structure and order, you were welcome to come down to see the children. These visits occurred no more than two times within the summer and fall of 2012 even though you did regularly pick Brianna up for weekend visits. I believe you did see one of Harmonys soccer games. The Turners, also, told you that you could come to the hospital to see Owen after his surgery. Owens surgery took place the end of January which means everyone was still open to you having visitation with the kids at that point.

At your request I scheduled a meeting on February 22, 2013 to meet with you and Jamie. Several individuals here at the Department made it a point to be available for that meeting, and the day of the meeting you left a message saying something came up. However, you did manage to drive down to Walworth County to pick up Brianna for the weekend. This meeting had been scheduled for you to voice your concerns about the case to not only myself as the case manager, but also Corporation Counsel, my supervisor, and the foster care coordinator here in Walworth County. You not coming to the meeting once again led us to believe that there was limited follow through on your end. I did set it up for us to talk to you over the phone, yet more could have been accomplished face to face as it was difficult to hear over the phone. At this meeting it was determined that phone calls would be set up on a weekly basis. After your first phone call with Harmony, promises were made about future visits. The Department had stated many times that promises should not be made to the children because if they dont come to fruition then it is the children who end up getting hurt. Another issue brought to the Departments attention is that you gave Harmony a hard time for calling you Sylvia. Although, I can understand why that would be difficult to hear, it was hard for Harmony to hear you say, Who is this? I dont know who this is because you called me Sylvia. This ties into our concerns about you not understanding how things that may be fine for older and/or healthier children is not appropriate for young children, particularly young children who have endured as much as your grandchildren have. Harmony broke down after that interaction and her individual therapist recommended that phone calls not be continued with extended relatives if the calls are going to cause that sort of effect on Harmony. The foster parents have never not allowed the children to call relatives when they (the children) requested to do so. However, Harmony and Owen are young and dont regularly ask to speak on the phone with relatives or friends. The couple times Harmony has requested to call someone those requests have been honored by the Turners. Brianna is older and has had a more significant relationship with you and her extended family. She asks to call relatives more, but still not a great amount as she is busy with school, therapy, and playing as a child her age should be. When she has asked to call a particular family member, that request has been honored by whoever she is placed with at the time. On April 30, 2013, the childrens behavioral therapist contacted me after being able to briefly observe Briannas behavior with you and your husband, Bob. The behavioral therapist was in the home before you arrived and stated that Brianna was well behaved and task oriented with requests made of her by Marieke. After you and Bob arrived, however, for what was a surprise visit for Brianna, her behavior changed significantly. The behavioral therapist reported that Briannas behavior became silly and the previously observed appropriate physical boundaries disappeared. One concerning thing noted is that Brianna was particularly preoccupied by her grandfather and responded to his touches in a provocative matter. The behavioral therapist gave examples of her shaking her rump at him when the skirt she was wearing flipped up showing her shorts underneath; and 2) standing provocatively in a manner that encouraged her grandpa to pat her pooched belly. The behavioral therapist did not make any claims that either you or Bob were acting in any way unordinary for grandparents to act, but he did state that it was clear you did not have an understanding of how to interact therapeutically with Brianna. Due to these observations, the behavioral therapist

recommended that you and Bob attend specific trainings or counseling sessions related to PTSD, sexual abuse, and therapeutic relationships if they (the two of you) are to continue with their visits. It was also recommended that your contact be limited to supervised visits so as to better assess their (your and Bobs) capacity for interacting therapeutically and willingness to comply with any limits/directives provided by the county. I then let you know the recommendation of the behavioral therapist the next time we spoke which was in May of 2013. Another concern that was brought to light during this visit was your unwillingness to cooperate with the foster homes request of you and Bob. Marieke had asked that you minimized the gift giving as the foster home was trying to reduce Briannas focus on materialism and focus instead on building relationships. The behavioral therapist witnessed you agreeing to keep the gift giving to a minimum and yet when Brianna returned she had several new things. Bob, also, indicated at the end of this visit that he was in his right as a grandparent to ignore requests made by the foster family. The concern this incidence brings up is your ability or willingness to comply with directives made by the Department or foster parents. It makes me wonder if you can limit discussions about specific topics, limit promises and enforce appropriate boundaries. In conversations I have had with you and in conversation you have had with both sets of foster parents, you have made comments stating that Tonya is not to blame for the abuse and neglect that occurred to these children. You have stated that you believe Dan is solely responsible for the entire trauma the children have gone through. You have voiced a belief in some of what the children have stated they went through, yet deny that many things could have possibly happened. All three of the children have been through significant physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Your behavior in dealing with the children has not shown that you know how to meet the needs of children having dealt with such traumatic pasts. When I have shared with you the concerns voiced by professionals in the childrens life, you have repeatedly dismissed their concerns and recommendations as they are not part of the family and havent heard the familys or Tonyas version of events. This reaction is concerning. In order for the children to heal, they will need to be believed and have their voices heard. They will need continued treatment of various forms for years to come. Currently each of the children is in various forms of treatment and intervention to meet a variety of needs they have shown to have. Owen participates in individual therapy, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Harmony does individual therapy, behavioral therapy and the Turners are looking into SMILES (therapeutic horseback riding) as being a beneficial program for Harmony. Brianna is involved in individual therapy, behavioral therapy, and occupational therapy. On top of these treatments, the children are continuing to have follow up medical treatment. Brianna is seeing an allergist and dentist. Harmonys oral health, although improving, has taken several appointments. Owen will need regular follow up appointments in order to keep an eye on his brain and skull following the significant surgery he had in January of 2013. The Department has concerns that you are not capable of getting each of the children to the appointments they need in order to heal, particularly due to your lack of belief that they need to heal in all the areas that they do.

The Department worked hard at the beginning of this case to keep extended family involved, particularly as Brianna has a relationship with you but this is not typical. Our primary goal in cases is to reunify children with their biological parents. We look for family placement options first and foremost when children are removed from their parents, but if extended family is ruled out for placement family visits do not typically occur. If reunification with a biological parent is not possible, we look to provide permanence for the children as quickly as possible as studies have proven that permanence is in the childrens best interest. The many things discussed in this letter, from history to lack of follow through, are why the Department did not feel that placement with you and your husband was appropriate. Your interactions with the children have become continually more restricted as professionals in the childrens lives made decisions about what was in the childrens best interest based on what has transpired and the fact that TPR (termination of parental rights) has now been filed. One of the individual therapists for Harmony and Owen stated, It would be in the best interest of the children to simplify life as much as possible and allow contact only with consistent, caring and truly collaborative parties who can place the needs of the children soundly first. Many of your behaviors throughout the case calls into question if you are able to collaborate with the others involved in the case (particularly foster parents) and whether you are putting the childrens needs or your wishes first. If you have questions regarding what is written in this letter, feel free to contact me. Also, updates regarding Harmony and Owen can be sought only through me as at this time. Sincerely,

Leslie Thorngate Ongoing WCDHHS W4051 County NN PO Box 1005 Elkhorn, WI 53121 262-741-3317

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