Regarding the child abuse charges against Milwaukee Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, I warned the gentle reader that too many times, these charges are plea bargained down. Unfortunately, the same thing happened in this case, with Hamilton getting treated with kid gloves:
In covering the case of Christopher L. Thomas, the little baby boy that was brutally murdered by his aunt, I pointed out that until they revamp the entire system, the child welfare system in Milwaukee is going to stay dysfunctional. Again, I was unfortunately proven accurate this past weekend, when the local paper reported that the new agency taking over La Causa would be hiring 104 of the 107 of the same workers that work for La Causa. This number includes the incompetent supervisor that oversaw the case regarding at least two of the children that died in foster care in that area, but now they will make her an administrator, so she can oversee the deaths of even more children:
Milwaukee County prosecutors would drop a felony child abuse charge against Ald. Ashanti Hamilton if he completes counseling and keeps a clean record for the next year, according to a tentative deal reached Thursday.
"It would wipe the slate clean," said Hamilton's lawyer, Michael Chernin. "The charges would be dismissed."
Under the deal, the north side alderman would enter a no-contest plea at a court hearing May 11. Hamilton then would be given a deferred prosecution agreement for the next 12 months.
Integrated Family Services, the agency that will replace La Causa this month and provide services for abused or neglected children and their families in the southern third of Milwaukee County, has hired virtually the entire La Causa staff, including the supervisor who was in charge of the Christopher Thomas case, agency officials said Friday.
That supervisor, however, will be in an administrative position and will not work directly with children or families, said Ann Umhoefer, chief administrative officer for St. Aemilian-Lakeside.
And for you tax and spend haters out there, please note that Integrated Family Services will have a $12.1 million dollar contract. That is a whole million dollars more than what La Causa received. And of course, this whole system is a lot more expensive than what the public sector could have been doing it for.
State Senator Alberta Darling, who promised to fix child welfare, apparently forgot her promise while she was playing golf and has done nothing regarding keeping her campaign promises. Again, this does not surprise me.
Governor Jim Doyle, an adoptive father himself, also has failed to fix this monstrosity. To add insult to injury, he then goes ahead and proclaims May to be Foster Care month. Perhaps if he really wanted to give meaning to this otherwise hypocritical proclamation, he would take immediate actions to start fixing this broken system.
But all is not bad news. The Milwaukee Child Welfare Philanthropy Group has granted a $50,000 gift to the Department of Children and Families to retain the services of a foster care expert and to help start a program to recruit and retain quality foster parents. If this person is a true expert, hopefully they will tell the state to fix the whole thing and get a new foster care plan in place, including starting to treat and to pay foster parents what they are worth. I know that they would appreciate that a lot more than the current system when their requests for services are denied and they get paid a pittance that doesn't even cover the expenses.