8.13.2008

Praying for Change

As I pray for change at the state level of Arkansas DCFS I also realize it will take community action. Please join me in letting you voice be heard and that our children deserve more. This is my letter sent to:
Joyce Dees, DCFS liason to the Governor's Office: joyce.dees@arkansas.gov
Ray Kidd, State Representative: kiddr@arkleg.state.ar.us
Paul Bookout, State Representative: bookoutp@arkleg.state.ar.us
Jennifer Ferguson, Arkansas Advocates: jferguson@aradvocates.org
Diana Davis, KAIT8: ddavis@kait8.com
William Grimm, National Center for Youth Law: bgrimm@youthlaw.org

Ms Dees,
After reading the article on August 12, 2008 in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette entitled "Foster-Kid-Death Probe Sprung at Panel" I couldn't help but wonder "when will someone hold DCFS accountable." Cameron Smith died in Jonesboro May 2007. He had been in XXXXX's foster home for many months. The 'word on the street' was that he had not actually stayed at her home in months. He attended school but lived on the street here and there at friends homes. He would 'go by' XXXXX's, as XXXXX was called, home every so often to exchange clothing. XXXXX was an elderly woman who normally housed teens, sometimes up to 10 or 11 children at a time. Her home had many complaints and wasn't even officially closed until some months after Cameron's death. Cameron was shot while playing basketball and got caught in the crossfire. His story was in the news for about a week and then there silenced. I was told that Little Rock DCFS had threatened anyone who discussed the case due to 'confidentiality'. Cameron Smith left the world the same way he lived his life in 'confidential silence'.

The Dept. of Child and Family Services should be held accountable for Cameron's death. If DCFS had been visiting Cameron's fosterhome they would have known that he didn't live there. DCFS is responsible for these children's lives and should be held accountable. Instead they are protected by a veil of confidentiality. There is no way the DCFS Areas across the state can fix this problem and I'm not even sure that the state DCFS office can either. This mess of a system rests in the DHHS office with John Selig and ultimately the Governor's office. I encourage you to think outside the box and look for ways to change DCFS before a lawsuit forces Arkansas to change. Unfortunately, it seems we are back at pre-Angela R. times with DCFS.

Did I mention that Cameron Smith wasn't about to 'age out' of the system on his own..........he was only 14 years old. How many 'Camerons' are actually out there.....well we know there are 4 confirmed this year.

Praying for Change,
Dia Sawyer
www.diasawyer.com
Jonesboro, AR

3 comments:

Pam said...

praying with you for change.

Dana said...

very well written Dia!
Dana

Anonymous said...

I too have written Ms. Dees, Pat Page and every senator and house of representative in the state of Arkansas and never heard any response. My two nieces were molested in foster care. DHHS never even removed them from the homes. They never protected those two children. Instead they pinned rape on their father and threw an innocent man in prison for 35 years. Email me if you are interested in the whole truth about Benton Count DHHS, Children's Advocacy Center, Ozark Guidance Center drugging kids, the whole mess. Yes I am praying for change and still praying to bring my family back home where they belong. Cindy Dye arkcdye4@hughes.net