Cindy Hart is 23 years of age. She was born on 6/11/86, the fourth child born to Betty Hart (born 6/1/66) and Barney Hart (born 4/11/55). Her father, Barney Hart, was an alcoholic who drank daily and recently passed away from cirrhosis of the liver. Mr. Hart was extremely violent with his wife and his children. He repeatedly beat his wife throughout the marriage and was often violent with the children. Cindy and her three siblings were taken from the custody of their parents several times during their formative years because of their father’s drinking, domestic violence, and their mother’s inability to protect them. Cindy likely bore the brunt of her father’s alcoholism and family violence because she was the youngest of her siblings, and her father’s alcoholism was severe for the last 12 years before his death. Cindy’s father could not hold a job because of his alcoholism, and her mother did not work, so the family had limited funds and finances were always a source of great strain and tension. Cindy’s mother was ineffectual and inept as a parent. She allowed repeated beatings of the children by Mr. Hart. Her mental health is questionable.
Her older siblings are Noah, age 25; Colleen, age 26; and Laura, age 28. Noah is currently incarcerated after recently being found guilty of drug trafficking. He is to serve a 40-year sentence. Colleen has six children; three of whom have been removed by Child Protective Services (CPS) because of issues involving drugs, inadequate supervision, and her recent arrests for prostitution. Laura, who is the most stable of the siblings, is married, has one child, and is working full-time as a physician assistant. She has no ties with her siblings or her mother.
Cindy Hart has never been married and has two children: Benjamin, age 5 and Luke, age 3. The children have different fathers and neither father is involved on a regular basis with either child. Cindy is receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) (i.e., welfare) and Medicaid as health insurance for the children. She lives in an apartment in a crime-ridden, rundown neighborhood. She did not complete high school and did not graduate with her class but instead she dropped out in the 11th grade. She had a series of drug binges during this period. She eventually did receive her GED and is very proud of that fact because only her sister Laura graduated.
Cindy works part-time in a day care center as an aide. She has a history of mental health treatment, which includes two psychiatric hospital stays (one at the age of 15 and the other at the age of 21). She currently takes antidepressant medication, has a dual diagnosis (DSM-IV-TR diagnosis plus a substance abuse diagnosis), and has very few social supports. She sees her psychiatrist monthly for medication consults but has missed her last two appointments. She also sees her social worker for ongoing mental health counseling twice per month but has missed her last two appointments.
Luke, her 3-year-old son, was recently diagnosed with autism, and Ben, her 5-year-old son, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 3 (2 years ago). Because she has not followed through with appointments, referrals, services for the children, and additional evaluations of the children, CPS has recently become involved. Cindy is in denial about her children’s special needs. She does not send Ben to school on a regular basis, and the school has notified the authorities.
Assume for purposes of this scenario that the state this scenario takes place in has a criminal statute that states parents can be charged with a misdemeanor when they do not ensure their child’s attendance at school under the compulsory education laws of the state.
Cindy has been charged with this misdemeanor, and the court has released her to pretrial diversion.
Using the information in the scenario, prepare a memo to your supervisor Sarah Harris discussing the following:
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