In Brief


November 18, 2008

Group questions care for at-risk children

Fewer abused and neglected children are being removed from their families, but a report released yesterday by a youth advocacy group questions whether the state agency that cares for those children is doing enough to ensure their safety. Studies have shown that abused and neglected children removed from their families suffer long-term difficulties, such as drug use and emotional problems, at higher rates than abused and neglected kids remaining with their families. Despite fewer kids being placed out of their homes, the number of children receiving in-home services also is dropping, according to a report by Advocates for Children and Youth. "The fear is that, without appropriate services for those families, there could be a significant recurrence of malfeasance taking place," said ACY Director Matthew Joseph. Human Resources Secretary Brenda Donald said cases where children have been abused again have not risen and are in line with federal standards. She said the in-home services caseload fluctuates but has been "trending upward" in recent months.

Julie Bykowicz

Woman in knife attack on officer committed

A 63-year-old Howard County woman who was shot by a police officer this year after she threatened his partner with a knife pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible yesterday to first-degree assault. Pearl Wardell Harris of Columbia will be committed indefinitely to a state mental health facility. On April 30, Harris, armed with a knife, lunged at a police officer, police said. His partner shot Harris after she refused to drop the weapon. Since her arrest, Harris has been at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a maximum-security psychiatric hospital in Jessup. Harris' attorney said that at the time of the incident her client suffered from paranoia and felt threatened by nearly everyone with whom she came in contact.

Tyeesha Dixon

Teenager, woman hurt in Woodlawn fire

Two people were injured early yesterday when a home in Woodlawn caught fire, authorities said. Baltimore County fire crews were dispatched to a home in the 3500 block of Essex Road at 2:11 a.m. Otelie Jones, 85, and an unidentified 19-year-old man suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to the hyperbaric unit at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, according to the Fire Department. Jones was listed in critical condition, while the 19-year-old suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening, authorities said. Investigators have ruled the fire accidental.

Gus G. Sentementes

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