Thursday, February 16, 2006
"New Jersey's new governor, Jon Corzine, has gotten off to a good start in the effort to reclaim one of the most notorious child welfare departments in the country. A task force has already recommended sweeping changes, and Mr. Corzine has named Kevin Ryan, formerly the state's child advocate, as director of the Human Services Department. The system needs a complete makeover.
The state's terrible performance at protecting its most vulnerable children was on vivid display last week, when an adoptive mother was sentenced to prison for systematically starving four children over a period of years — while the family was supposed to be under the supervision of the child welfare agency. The four boys were walking skeletons when they were removed from the home 27 months ago, but they have since been nursed back to health. Bruce Jackson, 21, who has grown more than a foot and gained nearly 100 pounds, moved onlookers in court to tears as he described how his adoptive mother, Vanessa Jackson, had starved, beaten and abused the siblings, forbidding them to play with toys or to bathe when they were dirty. This hellish treatment persisted, and the Jacksons were allowed to adopt three more children despite visits from caseworkers who missed obvious signs of trouble and tips from informants." Editorial, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 2-15-06 NVS)