Nicholas Alahverdian uncovers 1,450% increase in child deaths or near-deaths since Gina Raimondo elected

DCYF expert releases statement on foster child deaths during the first 3 years of the tenure of Governor Gina Raimondo

MORE CHILDREN IN DCYF CARE HAVE DIED UNDER SPEAKER MATTIELLO AND GOVERNOR RAIMONDO THAN ANY OTHER SPEAKER AND GOVERNOR COMBINED

Nicholas Alahverdian uncovers 1,450% increase in child deaths or near-deaths since Gina Raimondo was inaugurated

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 18, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (nicholasalahverdian.com) — Harvard scholar and DCYF reform activist Nicholas Alahverdian unleashed a fierce warning to the people of Rhode Island today after discovering that more children in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) have been killed or nearly killed since Governor Gina Raimondo and Speaker Nicholas Mattiello have risen to power in state government. 

Gina Raimondo
Gov. Gina Raimondo has turned a blind eye to the chaos at DCYF

The report is released by the Office of Nicholas Alahverdian in conjunction with a video detailing the failures of Raimondo and Mattiello which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiM09Hic0RI

“What we have found,” said Nicholas Alahverdian, “Through diving into everything from Providence Journal archives to FOIA requests, is that children in DCYF care are more at risk than ever. This is an election year and I take no ignominy in stating the obvious: Gina Raimondo and Nicholas Mattiello have not — though executive order or legislation — done anything to substantially curve this dangerous trend of dead or nearly-dead DCYF kids.”

Nicholas Alahverdian, Gina Raimondo
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo

“Gina Raimondo and Nicholas Mattiello have blood on their hands,” Nicholas Alahverdian continued. “One of the last times a child died in state care was the case of Thomas Wright, under the administration of former Governor Donald Carcieri. Coincidentally, I had the same social worker as little T.J. Wright — and while he was being killed in Woonsocket, I was being tortured and raped in Florida — all in the month of October 2004. Poor Patricia Chabot was so overburdened with a high rate of cases that she had one kid being tortured and raped and another ending up dead — all in one month. This practice continues unabated to this day under the Raimondo administration — except it is literally and exactly 1,450% worse.”

Nicholas Alahverdian, Nicholas Mattiello
Nicholas Mattiello, Speaker of the House

As the 2018 election draws near, it is important to highlight the records of the incumbents. “We have had over 30 deaths or near-deaths in the past 3 and a half years,” said Nicholas Alahverdian. “Gina Raimondo, in her ubiquitous blasé tone, has dismissed DCYF issues as ‘longstanding.’ While these issues are longstanding, these dead kids are 8 and 9 years old. They are not given a fair chance at life.”

Turning to the situation of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Alahverdian was considerably infuriated: “Over 50% of the House Chamber supported an omnibus bill and individual bills to overhaul DCYF. Not one bill — bills which were introduced year after year — made it out of committee. Not one. Nicholas Mattiello’s legal counsel and members of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services worked to actively inhibit any legislation that would improve or overhaul DCYF. Vicariously, Nicholas Mattiello is jointly responsible for the deaths and abuse suffered by children in DCYF care.” 

Nicholas Alahverdian, Harvard
Harvard scholar Nicholas Alahverdian

The study, conducted by Nicholas Alahverdian and his team of researchers, found that within the past three gubernatorial administrations, there has been a stark increase in DCYF child deaths since Raimondo became Governor. “In 2008, DCYF investigated reports of the death of a child in their care. In 2003, we saw the tragic death of T.J. Wright. Within a five year timespan, we had two investigations of DCYF-related deaths,” said Alahverdian. In the Chafee administration from 2011 to 2015, there were no child deaths. Yet under Gina Raimondo, we as a state have to take a seat and say to ourselves ‘within 4 years there have been over 30 deaths or near-deaths’” 

“It’s unconscionable,” said Alahverdian. “We have dead Rhode Island kids while Raimondo mingles in glitzy ballrooms raising funds for her campaign — policies which, by practice, include the disregard of DCYF-related killings.” 

Mike Chippendale, Nicholas Alahverdian, Doreen Costa, DCYF
Rep Michael Chippendale, Lobbyist Nicholas Alahverdian, and Rep. Doreen Costa at the Rhode Island State House Press Conference on DCYF

Nicholas Alahverdian, a former legislative aide for the Rhode Island House of Representatives hired at the age of 14, has been fighting for DCYF reform since 2002. Alahverdian suffered torture, abuse, and negligence in the infamous night-to-night program at the same time he worked for the state government. 

When legislators and the media began to act and report on the abuse Alahverdian was suffering, he was exiled by Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah and Governor Donald L. Carcieri to two facilities — Manatee Palms in Florida and Boys Town Residential Treatment Center in Nebraska — which were later closed by their own states for torture, abuse, and neglect. Thought that period of time, Alahverdian was allowed to contact no one at all — lawyers, the courts, DCYF social workers, the police.

Alahverdian later sued his abusers in federal court in Rhode Island, led an attempted state and federal legislative blitz to attempt to enhance DCYF policies and practices, and studied comparative literature at Harvard University. 

###

Contact: Nicholas Alahverdian
+1 401 472 4955
nalahverdian@gmail.com
nicholasalahverdian.com

Resources: 

T.J. Wright Killing: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/29263056/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/man-gets-life-fatal-beating-over-spilt-milk/#.W8fjzS2ZORs

Nicholas Alahverdian Biography: https://www.nicholasalahverdian.com/nicholas-alahverdian-biography/

Brief Nicholas Alahverdian biographical video (2011): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnYCsZg-FdY

2011 WPRI 12 Story on Nicholas Alahverdian story and legislation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTufox9v7to

2002 Providence Journal Column by Bob Kerr- https://www.nicholasalahverdian.com/posts/posts-14611102483-a-survivor-tells-the-story-of-kid-dumping/ 

2011 Providence Journal Column by Bob Kerr- https://www.nicholasalahverdian.com/nicholas-alahverdian/nicholas-alahverdian-he-knows-the-ri-system-inside-and-out/

Providence Journal op-ed 2017 – http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/20170407/nicholas-alahverdian-dcyf-workers-need-help-to-protect-children

DCYF Report: Recurrent, vile and ominous abuse findings. Again.

Mattiello and Raimondo need to go. Here’s why.

By Nicholas Alahverdian
nicholasalahverdian.com

I have, in collaboration with current and former Representatives Bob DaSilva, Raymond Hull, Michael Marcello, Anastasia Williams and multitudinous others, drafted and submitted bills to ameliorate the seemingly irremediable Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). We have introduced this legislation year after year. Each bill, year after year, has been held for further study.

Interestingly enough, when I was actively lobbying for this legislation in my 2011 DCYF reform blitz, we had over 40 co-sponsors in the House. Think about that for a second. The House of Representatives has 75 members. There were forty co-sponsors. If those bills were transmitted from committee to the floor for a vote, they would have passed with flying colors. Continue reading DCYF Report: Recurrent, vile and ominous abuse findings. Again.

Nicholas Alahverdian | Testimony on House Bill 5855

By Nicholas Alahverdian

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to discuss this important legislation that will furnish to the honorable House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island crucial oversight of the agency that is charged with protecting our state’s most vulnerable children, the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Nicholas Alahverdian, Rhode Island, State House

I want to begin my brief remarks by paying tribute to the DCYF social workers, who, in the face of being overburdened with excessive cases and long hours, have acted with incredible strength and determination. My message to them: this legislation will compel the Department to treat you more fairly, give you the resources that you need to protect children, and keep alive the dreams of those you honorably serve.

Meanwhile, even as we speak, children are victimized in DCYF group homes, foster homes, and shelters. Not unlike the exportation of commodities, children, like products, are exiled to for- profit, out-of-state facilities that have extensive histories of abuse and neglect.

This brief story of mine is just one of many, however, I would ask that this honorable committee consider it among the hundreds of horror stories that we have all heard over the years. It actually began happily in 2002 in the grand chamber just outside this room. I was merely a high school freshman, working for the honorable House of Representatives as a page, hired first by Sen. Lanzi while she honorably served in the House, and then in 2003 by Speaker Gordon D. Fox, who was Chairman of the House Finance Committee at the time. Needless to say, my mother was not as excited as I, most aptly characterized by the fact that she refused to purchase the blue blazer required for all pages, and instead, decided to purchase a case of white Zinfandel to cater to her alcoholism. In the end, it was a state rep who graciously provided to me the blazer.

Yet I involved myself in DCYF because I had finally come to the determination that my mother was inept, negligent, manipulative, and not unlike a bad role model. In short, she could no longer provide the necessary parental care.

This decision later led to my devastating detriment. In the care of the department, one abusive situation morphed into several thousand spanning nearly three years. I was placed in numerous shelters in DCYF’s night-to-night program. Often, I was not provided with meals due to the lack of communication between shelter employees and DCYF staff concerning the allocation of responsibilities.

I spent my days here at the state house and my nights fighting for a bed, looking for food, trying to make sure my belongings weren’t stolen. Most of all, I had to fear constant physical assaults and dangerous situations. The bruises, lacerations, and other visible injuries were noticed by concerned members of the honorable chamber to my left. There were many breathtakingly compassionate acts of kindness by representatives of that honorable chamber who refused to see me go hungry, who refused to let the bruises and cuts from the abuse go unnoticed, and who refused to let my voice be unheard. These representatives were my lifeline, and to them, I am eternally indebted.

As I tendered my resignation as an employee of the RI House of Representatives nearly a decade ago, at the age of 15, I began to lobby for fair treatment for individuals in state care. The media attention, calls from the legislators, and pressure from the Office of the Child Advocate all motivated DCYF to rid themselves of a publicity threat. I engaged in hostile conflicts with DCYF administration due to violations of basic constitutional rights, the inability to remain in one school district, the constant beatings inflicted upon me and corroborated by medical records, the humiliating practice of night-to-night placement, and the discouragement of civic participation. The department is fundamentally flawed, not only for the reasons heretofore stated, but for the children that have died in their care, for the assaults, beatings, and rapes that continue to this very day, and for the inability of the department to provide a free and appropriate education in accordance with state law.

Additionally, It is truly tragic to think that an employee of DCYF would sit in the sanctified office of the majority whip and attempt to illicitly coerce a state official to admonish a young legislative aide that his presence at the state house is unwelcome and his advocacy for DCYF reform is hindering the agency’s ability to provide an appropriate placement free of abuse and negligence. They may have won battles early on, but the war is still waging.

Consequently, I was sent to two different states and placed in inappropriately restrictive facilities where contact with the outside world was prohibited and the infrastructure and mentality of the population was tantamount to a maximum security prison. Staff and youth formed rival gangs. I was beaten nearly every hour of every day. A staff person admitted to raping me in Florida.
Both facilities were closed by their states before and after my placement in those facilities for the rampant abuse and negligence that ensued on a daily basis. And, of most concern to the taxpayer, the State of RI expended over a quarter of a million dollars on this corrupt, for-profit corporation that cut staff and services, increased the population, reaped in the profits, and sipped martinis and watched the sun rise as the children they were responsible for wept from the pain of the punch and the constant, piercing screaming that ensued as a result of the unmanageable population juxtaposed with assaultive, unprofessional, ill-equipped staff.

Furthermore, each request to communicate with the outside world was denied. Contact was prohibited even with lawfully entitled agencies with whom children are always guaranteed contact: the Office of the Child Advocate, the Court Appointed Special Advocate, law enforcement, and the Courts.

According to court records, DCYF and the RI Family Court were aware that the abuse was ensuing in both Nebraska and Florida and they left me there, even after my social worker demanded that I be removed from this corner of the earth comparable only to my nightmarish imagined description of hell’s hottest fire.

In the face of seemingly innumerable decades of the State’s condemnation, DCYF has monotonously issued trumped-up news releases, exaggerated plans, and arbitrary reports, but no amount of bureaucratic paperwork that this entity can issue will stop the horrific abuse and negligence that kids experience at the hands of unqualified, untrained employees, many of whom have criminal records.

DCYF has proven that they consistently fail to manage themselves and that theirs is a fundamentally flawed department. DCYF’s past four directors have not been innovative at all. DCYF has unceasingly demonstrated its inability to keep kids safe. I will never, ever be able to experience childhood or adolescence; and the same goes for countless of Rhode Island citizens. Today, I stand strong. I am a student at Harvard University. I have started an effective non-profit advocacy organization. My hope is that each and every child will be able to have the same chance for self-determined success. This legislation is conducive to ensuring that same chance of success for every young Rhode Islander.

As a young and zealous high school student, I walked through the halls of the Rhode Island State House. I saw passionate lawmakers and fervent activists push for what they believed in. I saw heated debates and ceremonies of recognition. I have now returned to the State House nearly a decade later, where the impassioned debate continues. There are new issues and new leaders. But one issue still remains, and we can unanimously agree that it must be addressed – child abuse. This is the year that it stops. NexusGovernment is on the front lines in the battle against child abuse and neglect.

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken with many Rhode Islanders. They have told me about raising their children in poverty. They have told me about losing their jobs and not being able to take care of their families. They speak of witnessing youth in DCYF care being deprived of education, suffering hunger, and lacking medical care. They feel helpless when they hear of children being abused by careless, untrained employees. I’ve heard the cries for justice, and I’ve seen the tears fall for the terror they witness. We need your support to confront these misdeeds and save these kids.I grew up in Rhode Island, where our motto, “hope,” is engrained in our state flag. We have never lost that hope since Roger Williams first established this great state in 1636 after being banished by the Massachusetts Bay Colonists.

As a young man, I saw resilient Rhode Islanders every day. Rhode Islanders who faced hardship and poverty. I know many Rhode Islanders are feeling that way today. I know that feeling; I lived it. We know that our children deserve an education because they are dreamers. They have a bright future. We need to tackle those who abuse our most vulnerable children with the taxpayer dollar in hand. We need to encourage their dreams and aspirations. These children have never asked for more than to not be abused. Almost a decade ago, I fought relentlessly against those who were willing to sit back and let the abuse and neglect run its course.

Now, I have returned. This time, I have your support. Rhode Islanders have never lost hope. We have proved that hope is always necessary to get us through every fight. We will take back our state – and our children. This is our state. Roger Williams created it and the responsibility is ours to kindle the flame of hope that drove him to establish this marvelous home of ours. Together we can prevent that flame from being extinguished – and extend that hope to every child in our great, resilient state. We will stand courageously to protect our children. I promise you wholeheartedly that should this legislation pass, together, we will give them hope.

HEARING ON H5855 – CREATING THE RHODE ISLAND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES EMERGENCY OVERSIGHT COMMISSION ON THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES given by Nicholas Alahverdian on March 30, 2011 at the Rhode Island State House, Providence, Rhode Island.

RI DCYF workers need help to protect children

By Nicholas Alahverdian

Nicholas Alahverdian
Nicholas Alahverdian

Over the course of past decades, many people have fought for systemic changes that would substantially improve or overhaul the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families. I have never seen the agency so thoroughly scrutinized as it is today.

The overhaul and examination haven’t come a moment too soon.

The agency’s turmoil is seemingly never-ending. Harvard Kennedy School professor Jeffrey Liebman called it the “most messed up agency ever” (“Auditors find history of chaos at R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families,” Providence Journal, July 30, 2015).

A short look at the past decade shows that the problems plaguing DCYF are endemic. The Journal headlines remain unchanged.

An August 2007 headline reads: “Panel hears DCYF horror stories: As the agency’s director looks on, witnesses present a long list of deficiencies.”

Nicholas Alahverdian
A 2007 Providence Journal cover

A November 2004 headline: “Child’s death prompts review of DCYF actions”

Last month: “Warnings failed to save four babies.”

There has been a pattern over the past two decades of media coverage and legislative inquiry followed by abrupt radio silence.

House and Senate leadership seem to be breaking that trend.

Nicholas Alahverdian, Dan McKee
Lt. Gov. Dan McKee

Over the past 15 years, I have worked with four DCYF directors and spent hours in General Assembly committee hearings. I had a marathon strategy session last year with Lt. Gov. Dan McKee. I have met with dozens of hardworking front-line staff, and listened to countless parents, experts, and advocates, all of whom echo the same refrain: the system is beyond repair.

Read: Nicholas Alahverdian endured torture as a result of his political activism when he blew the whistle on abusive DCYF practices as an employee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives

At a hearing before the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, Child Advocate Jennifer Griffith indicated that the majority of calls she receives are from DCYF employees asking for help or seeking investigations, a fact she described as “telling.” If the front line staff aren’t equipped with the tools and resources to tailor services to the children under their supervision, why not? It’s within the purview of the department and its employees to be the first line of defense and preventative measures — not the Office of the Child Advocate.

The legislative intent upon creating OCA was to protect the rights of children in state care, not micromanage overburdened and underpaid DCYF social workers. Social workers, if treated fairly and given an appropriate array of services and educational opportunities to provide to their clients, would not need OCA to check what should be routine departmental work.

DCYF social workers are beyond capable of providing first-class care to the youth they serve — if DCYF administration reduces caseloads and strengthens licensing and auditing processes. To allow the high case rate and lax licensing standards to remain in place is to condone longstanding abuse and negligence.

Patricia Serpa, Nicholas Alahverdian
Rep. Patricia Serpa

Problems plaguing DCYF have ranged from high social worker burnout rates to antiquated case management software. The 47 workers to be hired by May 31 certainly provides a boost, but not as much as necessary (and what is to say they will not be burned out if the number of cases reaches new highs?). Investing in our social workers is an absolute necessity. Disallowing reasonable case assignment ratios at the expense of budget cuts is tantamount to inviting in the wolf at the door.

Anastasia Williams DCYF
Rep. Anastasia Williams

DCYF also needs to audit the expenditures for unnecessary or redundant services. As House Oversight Chairwoman Patricia Serpa so memorably put it, “we’re saving money but we’re losing babies.” We should encourage solutions conducive to child safety and financially prudent service delivery.

Furthermore, we should respect the collective intellect of our legislators. Resolutions to create a special House Oversight Committee on DCYF have been introduced, always being held for further study. Rep. Anastasia Williams, D-Providence, reintroduced the resolution in 2017 only for it to be tabled last month. We grossly underestimate this great brain trust.

Social workers deserve the resources and tools necessary to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable population is afforded a fair shot at life, being cared for in a safe environment where they are provided with education, health care and the basic necessities of life.

Is that too much to ask?

Nicholas Alahverdian (nalahverdian@gmail.com) is a lobbyist and managing partner at Rhode Island Government Solutions.