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Reformatory CP - October 2007
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, 17 October 2007
Orphanage changes procedures after shortcomings found in April
By Charlotte Tubbs
Texarkana Baptist Orphanage administrators have updated records, instituted a new discipline plan, installed new doorways to improve supervision in the children's dorms and are developing written case plans for each child.
The changes come in the wake of heightened state monitoring of the facility after a report in April of sexual misconduct between boys living at the orphanage. Two of the boys involved in the misconduct are now at a residential treatment facility and a third left the orphanage to live with family members, said the Rev. W. A. Dillard, chairman of the orphanage's board of trustees.
During multiple visits since April, state licensing staff found that orphanage staff files lacked documentation of their qualifications as required by state regulations, that the layout of the children's dorms presented a "supervision challenge," that the orphanage violated state regulations by admitting a 4-year-old child in 2003 and that the orphanage administered an "inordinately high" number of paddlings during the first five months of the year.
The orphanage has completed addressing nearly every deficiency noted by state licensing staff and is working to address a few others, such as writing case plans for children.
A licensing inspection and corrective action plan written by licensing staff based on a July 25 visit also stated that the orphanage's board of trustees has believed for several years that the facility was not required to comply with the state's Minimum Licensing Standards for Child Welfare Agencies. But Dillard and a former trustee, Morris L. Cloud, say that is not the case and that the orphanage always has been in "substantial compliance" with state standards.
The orphanage's efforts to meet state minimum licensing requirements and satisfy agreements orphanage officials made with the Department of Human Services in July isn't enough for one critic.
"I am pleased they are considering the recommendations, but I am uncertain if this is going to be adequate to protect the children there," said Rhonda Fleming of Hot Springs Village. Fleming sponsored one of the boys involved in the sexual misconduct earlier this year. Children at the orphanage have never been "at risk," Dillard said. "We don't control their every action 60 minutes of an hour, every hour of the day," Dillard said. "Anybody's kids can get in trouble if they're of a mind to."
Licensing workers also stated they were concerned over an "inordinately high" number of paddlings — 114 — given during the first five months of 2007. An average of 18 children lived at the orphanage then.
Watkins told inspectors that the majority of paddlings were given to a small number of older boys and were part of his effort to restore discipline. As of July 25, only one paddling had been given that month, according to the corrective action plan.
Watkins agreed to develop a behavior management program, incorporating rewards and losses of privileges, while using corporal punishment as a last resort.
Copyright © 2001-2007 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 31 October 2007
Change vs. experience at heart of 15th-D race
By Eva Loayza
It's the voices of experience versus the outlook of challengers seeking seats in the 15th District Assembly race this year.
Five-term Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and sixth-term Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, both Democrats, hope to hold on to their seats against Republican Sylvester Bobby Bryant and Green Party candidate Nicholas Mellis.
The opponents say voters should pick them Election Day if they are tired of business as usual in state politics.
The incumbents say they have the experience and the track record needed to handle the business of the state.
"We need people who can hit the ground running," said Coleman, who also is the Assembly majority leader.
Coleman said she has proposed a number of important initiatives, including a 17-point legislative package called "Fighting Gangs, Protecting Our Youth," which she said coincides with Gov. Jon Corzine's own anti-crime initiative.
Gusciora also has proposed a legislative package in line with the governor's proposal, which seeks to address prisoner rehabilitation and re-entry, strengthen the state's gun-tracing systems and enhance cooperation between the courts, police and corrections system.
Bryant said he would legalize the use of a reform school system to deal with disobedient and disruptive youths.
He proposes converting the county detention center into a reform school where corporal punishment and other disciplinary methods would be handed out. Professional disciplinarians would spank youths on their backsides with a paddle or a belt, he said.
These disciplinarians would be part of a whole team of people charged with evaluating each child's disciplinary needs. Parents would also be held responsible for the behavior of their children, he said.
Mellis said he would work to create jobs for young people as an alternative to gangs. He would also ensure police are equipped with the ammunition and guns needed in the fight against criminals who are "packing some serious heat."
© 2007 The Times of Trenton © 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.
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