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KUNR Today: Audit finds health, safety, and other problems among state’s child placement providers

A close-up photo of the bottom of the state seal of Nevada
The Nevada state seal hangs inside the Legislature on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Carson City.
The Nevada Independent
The Nevada state seal hangs inside the Legislature on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Carson City, Nev. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Read or listen to news headlines for Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

Audit finds health, safety and regulatory problems among state’s child placement providers
By Tabitha Mueller

State auditors have tasked the Division of Child and Family Services with developing a plan to correct health, safety and regulatory problems plaguing foster child placement providers.

A recent performance audit found that of the 30 foster homes inspected, a third had health or safety deficiencies. Additionally, about 79 percent of foster placements had at least one regulatory violation. Reviews of unlicensed placements indicated insufficient or missing documentation and situations that could potentially harm children or care providers.

To address the problems, auditors made 10 recommendations to improve oversight. They include creating and implementing an inspection checklist for unlicensed placements that is completed on a regular basis. They also suggest establishing a written agreement with unlicensed providers regarding rights and responsibilities for the care of children in state custody.

Read the full story at The Nevada Independent

California moves toward allowing lawsuits over illegal guns
By The Associated Press

California senators have approved giving people the power to sue those who traffic in illegal firearms, mimicking a Texas law that is intended to deter abortions. They acted hours after Tuesday's deadly elementary school shooting in Texas. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom sought the bill in response to a Texas law allowing people to go after those who provide or assist in providing abortions.

The California version would allow people to file civil lawsuits against anyone who distributes illegal assault weapons, parts that can be used to build weapons, guns without serial numbers, or .50 caliber rifles. Republican Sen. Andreas Borgeas said legislators should instead empower law enforcement to act.

Missing children reports on the rise during pandemic
By Kaleb Roedel

Reports of missing children have been on the rise in several parts of the country. That includes some states in our region. In 2021, there were nearly 28,000 reports of missing children in the U.S, and nearly 3,000 were still missing at the end of the year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

New Mexico had the biggest increase in missing children among Mountain West states. It had 74 active cases at the end of the year – over four times more than at the end of 2020. Nevada, Utah and Montana have also seen their numbers go up.

Leemie Kahng-Sofer is with the center. She says in some instances, reports of missing children have been a direct result of the pandemic.

“They maybe ran away from home, and it was in frustration to some of the stay-at-home restrictions, and then there were also on the family front … certainly, visitation rights and children not being returned due to concerns of COVID,” Kahng-Sofer explained.

Kahng-Sofer says the simple act of sharing posters of missing children on social media can make a big difference. Of note, Wednesday is National Missing Children’s Day.

Attorney paying ex-casino mogul Steve Wynn defamation claim
By The Associated Press

Former Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has accepted an undisclosed financial settlement to end his federal defamation lawsuit against an attorney. The attorney represented a dancer who she said accused Wynn of sexual harassment and retaliation.

Wynn's lawyers on Tuesday gave The Associated Press a settlement document that included a statement from Los Angeles attorney Lisa Bloom. Her statement retracted and withdrew claims she made in a news release in March 2018. The settlement amount was blacked out in the document. A federal judge approved the agreement and dismissed the case Monday.

Wynn is now 80 and lives in Florida. His statement declared the matter fully settled.

BLM removing many trees damaged by Hog Fire back in 2020
By Gustavo Sagrero

The Bureau of Land Management is cutting down trees along the Bizz Johnson National recreation trail near Susanville. The goal is to remove trees that have been heavily damaged during the 2020 Hog Fire, which burned over 9,500 acres.

Trees with more than 40 percent of live limbs will still remain. Crews will be working alongside the trail. There will be guides making sure that visitors know about the trail's conditions. The BLM doesn’t expect to make any closures.

California aims to shield against Texas-style abortion laws
By The Associated Press

Lawmakers in the state Assembly have voted to stop courts in other states from penalizing abortion providers and volunteers in California. The bill is part of Democrats' plan to make California a sanctuary for women seeking abortions should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. A Texas law lets people sue people who provide or aid in abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Monday, lawmakers voted to ban enforcing those judgements in California courts. Abortion opponents say the bill is illegal because the U.S. Constitution requires states to recognize the laws of other states. But Democrats believe the bill would be allowed under an exception.

Nevada scholar lands prestigious fellowship to pursue second masters
By Gustavo Sagrero

Out of 1,800 applicants, one Nevada scholar has been awarded a $90,000 fellowship. The program is tailored to new residents of the U.S. to continue their academic pursuits.

With this award, Macias Franco will work to get his second masters degree in statistics and data science, and a doctoral degree in animal and rangeland sciences. Most recently he’s worked on supplements which lower the water intake of cattle.

Franco has deep roots in agriculture. His grandfather was a rancher, and Franco was born in Coahuila, Mexico, in a region of the country known for cattle ranching.

Renown Health begins rationing iohexol and iodixanol amid shortage
By Gustavo Sagrero

Renown Health has begun to ration its supply of iohexol and iodixanol. These are fluids introduced into the body that are often used during CT scans. They help health professionals get a better image of the body during that time.

The hospital is prioritizing the fluids for people who are in critical situations. That means folks likely looking for elective surgery will get a call roughly a few days before their appointment letting them know if they’ve been rescheduled.

The fluids are manufactured in a GE Healthcare plant in Shanghai, China, where COVID-19 lockdowns have impacted production. The FDA anticipates iohexoland iodixanol will be back in stock in July.

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