Thursday, June 19, 2014

Justina Pelletier: Case of medical child abuse or family abuse by the Department of Children and Families?

This is a sobering case where a teenager was taken from her family on the charges of child medical abuse - despite the fact that she was being cared for by one of the world's best hospitals. Supposedly on the basis of what was best for the child, the legal system took custody claiming her problems were psychological not medical- because the parents refused to accept the new diagnosis. It cost the government $400,000 for treatment in the last 16 months based on the new diagnosis - with little improvement and a deterioration in her physical condition. Because of wide spread outcries - she has been at last returned to her family. Big Brother does not always know what is best!
Boston Globe   When juvenile court judges and the state’s child-protection agency allow children in custody to return to their parents, there is supposed to be only one standard: the best interests of the child.

But political, legal, and financial factors appear to have also figured prominently in resolving the impasse in the 16-month-long custody battle over Connecticut teenager Justina Pelletier, and, some child welfare specialists argue, the factors may have played outsized roles. The case was locked in acrimony between the parents and the Department of Children and Families , and as recently as March the judge in the case deemed the parents unfit.

Much changed in the past month, however.

Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Johnston, at the request of DCF, restored custody to the parents Tuesday, ending the case that the child welfare agency had brought against the parents, whom officials had accused of medical child abuse. On Wednesday, Justina returned to her family’s home in West Hartford, Conn., cradled in her father’s arms.[...]

DCF filed a motion June 6 to dismiss the case. The judge went along Tuesday, citing “credible evidence that circumstances have changed.” The order said nothing about the diagnostic dispute, one in which he sided as recently as March with Boston Children’s Hospital, saying Justina’s ailments had psychological origins.

The hospital staff had filed medical child abuse charges against the parents in February 2013, a few days after Justina arrived in their emergency room. Her mother insisted that Justina was suffering from complications of mitochondrial disorder, for which the girl had been treated at Tufts Medical Center for more than a year.

Yet, more than a year later, many child welfare officials said they could not argue that moving Justina home is not in her best interests, given some sobering truths. She had not been getting much better in DCF care, and her mobility appears worse, as the teen who once walked easily now relies on a wheelchair.[...]

1 comment :

  1. An endorsement of Dr Ross Greene's approach - 'CPS - Collaborative Problem solving or Collaborative proactive solutions ' to
    help parents and medical practitioners to focus on the child's lagging skills
    in the context of unsolved problems rather than looking for a diagnosis which does not buy much , because most DXs are purely descriptive . From the article -

    Dr. Danya Glaser, a British psychiatrist and coauthor of an influential paper on medical child abuse :
    “What becomes more and more important is the question of the child’s functioning, and how best to improve it, regardless of the question of diagnosis,” Glaser said in an e-mail interview. “This approach requires, however, a ‘buy-in’ by all professionals involved and a firm approach as parents are sometimes more keen on a diagnosis than on attempts to restore the child’s functioning.”


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