Who is Watching the Watchers – Another Child in Foster Care Dies

Died February 22,2001

Foster mother charged with murdering boy
West Side woman whose foster child died Thursday after being submerged in a tub of freezing water was charged Saturday with first- degree murder.
Police say 29-year-old Flora Stewart punished 6-year-old Allen Kalfus for misbehaving by holding him under a shower of cold water, echoing a similar charge leveled against the mother last year.

Stewart, of the 4300 block of West 19th Street, told police she sent Allen to take a bath and heard him fall after about 45 minutes. Stewart said she found him unconscious in a T-shirt and underwear in the tub with a bump on the back of his head. Police said he also had a first-degree burn under his eye.

A 2-year-old foster child living with Stewart was removed by the Department of Children and Family Services. Two teenage nieces also were living with her.

Last May, Stewart was accused of forcing Allen to take cold showers, said Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy. DCFS investigated the charge, which the boy confirmed but then recanted, and DCFS said it was unfounded, Murphy said.

Two months later, South Central Community Services, the agency that placed the boy, decided Stewart wasn’t cooperating and said the boy should be removed. Stewart filed an appeal, and during mediation, she apologized and promised to try harder. Ultimately, the mediator, Stewart and South Central agreed to leave the child in the home, Murphy said.

Both Murphy and DCFS Director Jess McDonald say the system needs to change.

Foster child’s death ruled homicide

A West Side woman whose foster child died Thursday in a freezing bathtub had been allowed to keep the boy last year after she was cleared of an anonymous accusation that she forced him to take cold showers, officials said Friday.

The freezing death of 6-year-old Allen Kalfus was a homicide, the Cook County medical examiner ruled Friday. Chicago police were still investigating, and no charges had been filed Friday night, said officer Matthew Jackson.

A child welfare official said that last year the foster mother was accused in an anonymous tip of neglecting the boy. The call to the hotline of the Department of Children and Family Services said the foster mother, 30, was forcing Allen to take cold showers after he wet his pants, officials said.

The accusation was investigated and determined to be unfounded. But the agency that had placed the boy in the home recommended that he be removed because the foster mother wasn’t cooperating. After state-required mediation, the private and government agencies agreed to leave him in the home.

Allen Kalfus died of hypothermia Thursday at 4336 W. 19th St. The foster mother had called police, saying she found him unconscious and clothed in the tub.

Another foster child in the home, a boy of 2 or 3 years old, was removed by DCFS on Thursday and placed with another foster parent, said Andy Martinez, a spokesman for DCFS. Two teenagers have been placed with relatives.

Florida CPS Didn’t Report Her Missing for Four Months WHY????

AngelDied December 18, 2006

An error of judgment, a child is lost

Andrea Moore said “It’s clear Florida children are not being protected in our child protection system,”
It took caseworkers four months to report her missing to law enforcement after she disappeared in September.
At the time of Kenia’s death, she and her sister were under protective supervision of the Safe Children

If this had been a parent who hadn’t reported her child missing for four months that parent would have been charged with so many charges they would have never been set free.They called it an error in judgement. That is more than an unfunny joke that is a travesty and criminal. How does CPS get away with this kind of behavior? How can they lose a child and not tell the authorities? How can they not be charged with criminal charges? The system is broken. It is time to make them stop kidnapping and selling our children. They have become the problem not the solution especially when they get federal money for every child they abduct and then adopt out.

Who Will Answer for this Murder???? Certainly Not CPS where the Blame Really belongs

Another victim of CPS

Died September 4, 2006

“I don’t want them [CPS] in my house.” -”I don’t want them near my other son.”

Parents Blame CPS For Toddler’s Death

Jessica and Ray Nieto cried Monday morning outside a Denton County courtroom, where Child Protective Services was fighting to take back their only surviving son.

“I don’t want them [CPS] in my house,” sobbed Jessica. “I don’t want them near my other son.”

The Neitos are grieving because their baby, Christian, was killed on Labor Day in foster care. Corsicana detectives say Beverly Latimer beat the 16-month-old to death. She’s now charged with capital murder.

The foster mother had been hired by Mesa Family Services to care for children in CPS custody.

CPS supervisor Teresa Morrow avoided FOX 4′s questions about Christian’s death, and Latimer as a foster mother. /

The Nietos say Morrow told them something else.

“She told us they had no idea where they [foster children] go,” said Ray Nieto. “It’s up to Mesa , it’s a contract.”

The Nietos are still angry at CPS for calling them instead of telling them in person that their baby was dead.

“They let us know we can visit our child in the Dallas County Morgue,” said Jessica.

A CPS spokeswoman says Aleda Oaks, the CPS caseworker on the Nieto case, has only two years experience on the job. She didn’t show up at work Monday morning.

But the family of the dead child says Oaks and her supervisor admitted they never did their own background check on Latimer.

CPS says they have no idea why Mesa Family Services kept giving Latimer foster children, because since last year, she had been accused three times of abusing kids in her care.

CPS is now reviewing their employees work on the case, and they’ve suspended Mesa Family Services from placing any foster children.

CPS took the Nietos’ children because they admitted they had smoked marijuana, but they were on the verge of getting them back.

“I want something done to change the system,” said Jessica, “because obviously, our son isn’t the only one who has died in their custody.”

Monday, a judge allowed the Nietos to keep their 3-year-old son while CPS figures out what to do next.

Foster Mother Indicted for Capital Murder

Corsicana, TX – In Navarro County, a Grand Jury indicted Beverly Latimer, 53, on charges of capitol murder of a child under the age of 6 on Oct 26th.

The child, Christian Nieto, was a foster child in her custody who died on September 4th at her home in Corsicana. His death was due to head injuries. He was 16 months old.

Bond was set at $750,000.

Christian and his 3-year-old brother, Logan, were entrusted to an agency that had a lengthy recent history of placing children in dangerous or deadly foster homes. At least one child had previously died in their custody. They were removed from their parents for drug addiction.

The agency shuffled the boys through five foster homes in 7 months. The last move killed Christian.

The papers state that she may have just been overburdened, which left her unable to save him. She’s being charged with a capital crime, however, his murder.

Beverly Latimer still sits in Navarro County jail. She was licensed through Mesa Family Services. Mesa is now on state probation and licensing officials have suspended placements. The state has moved to revoke their license.

The case spotlights the failures in the foster care system that occur when parties don’t do their part for the protection of children. In this case, a child had to die for them to pay attention, as so often happens. The murder of children in care is often the spark that foster care reform needed before the child was placed in harm’s way.

Problems with the system in Texas, as reported, are many and varied. Not enough foster contractors, too much privatization in foster care, more removals and a shortage of foster homes, and serious questions about the licensing process for foster contractors and potential foster parents. Many states repeatedly cite similar problems in the wake of a child’s death. Reforms rarely work the way we would hope.

As for Christian’s brother, Logan, he is back with his natural parents.
By Liz Copeland

Tot’s foster care death stuns legislator

She wants review of state plan to put kids in hands of private firms
12:17 AM CST on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AUSTIN – A key lawmaker says she was horrified to read of the death of a 16-month-old boy in a Corsicana foster home and now is thinking twice about the state’s mandate for full privatization of foster care, adoption and management of abused children’s cases within five years.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, said she now favors a more cautious approach after reading a Dallas Morning News account of Christian Nieto’s death. She said she might recommend that the state throttle back its plan and go with a pilot project instead.

“We continue to hear about child abuse and just horrible deaths in foster care,” Ms. Nelson, R-Lewisville, said at a hearing to discuss progress under a protective services overhaul bill passed last year.

Referring to The News’ account of how young Christian and his older brother disappeared in the state’s foster system, with Christian ending up dead, Ms. Nelson said:

“Quite frankly, when I read that, it just, it kills me. I see so many times that we should have done something. That child’s death is at the bottom of a spiral. And up here, parents who were abusing drugs. I would like for us to head off the problem way up here instead of waiting until we’ve just missed opportunities to protect that child all the way down to, you know, the last opportunity – and the child’s not with us.”

Ms. Nelson asked Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the state Department of Family and Protective Services, “What went wrong in the instance … and what else do we need to do to prevent this?”

Mr. Cockerell said Christian’s death was sobering, and the state still is reviewing what went wrong.

“Any time there is an instance of abuse, it touches the very core of who we are and what we are about,” said Mr. Cockerell, a former Fort Worth juvenile justice official who was tapped by Gov. Rick Perry’s administration two years ago to clean up the troubled Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services agencies.

‘What we’ve done’
“It calls on us to examine what we’ve done, everything that we’re doing and everything that we can do as we move forward,” he said. “And we are certainly in the process of doing that, as we have done in every case of abuse and neglect tragedies such as this one.”

Ms. Nelson did not go into specifics on how she would change the law ordering privatization. Lawmakers, who meet starting in January, would have to approve any change.

Mr. Cockerell said his agency is still reviewing its regulation of Mesa Family Services, the child-placement agency that shipped Christian and his brother, Logan, from Dallas to the Corsicana home of Beverly Latimer on Aug. 30.

Christian, 16 months old, died of severe head injuries five days later.

Foster mother charged
Ms. Latimer, 53, has been charged with capital murder, although there are indications the child might have been injured before he arrived at the woman’s home.

Ms. Latimer, beset by health and financial problems, already was caring for three foster girls under age 5 when she says Mesa officials pressed her also to take in the Nieto brothers. They had been removed from drug-abusing parents in Denton in January.

The state has acknowledged it relies heavily on private child-placing agencies to report their actions and rule violations to the state.

Officials also say Mesa Family Services informed them of only two of the five foster homes where the company placed the Nieto boys from Jan. 27 to Labor Day.

Christian was at least the second child to die from neglect while in a Mesa-run foster home. Sierra Odom, 3, died while living in an Arlington foster home in August 2005.

In reviewing his department’s enforcement actions against Mesa, Mr. Cockerell told the Senate panel Tuesday that the department halted placements of more children with Mesa Family Services after Sierra’s death.

“In some instances about a year ago, we suspended placements,” Mr. Cockerell told Ms. Nelson. “We put them on corrective actions. We moved the monitoring plan down to the most rigorous monitoring plan that we had. We continued to do a fairly robust system of monitoring them and identifying deficiencies and asking them to correct those and move forward.”

Suspension now denied
Questioned later by a reporter, Mr. Cockerell said he had misspoken.

“We did not suspend [placements] after the first death,” he said.

The licensing division’s report on its investigation of Sierra’s death found foster father Timothy R. Warner responsible. Mr. Warner still is awaiting trial in the case.

“Our investigation did not find deficiencies for which Mesa Family Services was specifically responsible,” program specialist Arthur Bussey wrote to Mesa on Oct. 21, 2005.

Mr. Bussey said this even while attaching a list of deficiencies that mentioned a nighttime child-care service being run by Mr. Warner and his wife, which could have conflicted with being a dutiful foster parent. Another violation said Mr. Warner was unfit.

Ms. Nelson said she was relieved to hear that Mesa has relinquished its $7 million state contract for placing abused children in foster homes, and the state has moved to revoke the company’s license. Mr. Cockerell said the revocation would last five years.

He said Mesa’s 350 foster children and 160 foster homes have been transferred to other placing agencies’ supervision.

Patrick Crimmins, the department spokesman, said 140 of the former Mesa homes have been assigned to Therapeutic Family Life, an Austin-based nonprofit with Dallas operations.

New standards Jan. 1
Mr. Cockerell said newly revised standards for child-placing agencies take effect Jan. 1. They will require the firms to hire more staff to oversee foster parents and, in some circumstances, reduce the number of children a foster parent may care for. He also said his licensing division will place “weights” on violations so that serious ones lead to more intensive scrutiny, while mere paperwork lapses do not.

Representatives of placement agencies said the state should move forward with its privatization plan. The plan calls for measuring performance, and whether children spend less time in fewer foster homes. If so, the agencies would be rewarded financially. If not, they’d be punished.

But Ms. Nelson said a pilot project, to test proponents’ contentions, might be in order.

“We need to make sure that we move very slowly until we’re sure that the protections are in place,” Ms. Nelson said. “I don’t object to privatizing … It’s just we’re talking about kids. You can’t afford to lose a kid.”

Child Protective Services – An Abuse of Power – It is time to Stop It

What shall we say ?

What shall we say when history asks how such crimes came to be committed in the name ” In The ‘BEST INTEREST’ of OUR Children” Will we say that we stood silently by, shrugging our shoulders, filling our bellies, closing our eyes? Or will we be able to say: We saw. We dissented. We resisted. We condemned. For all those who want to open their eyes to the horrors of the illegal kidnapping OUR children , and to the brutality, social injustice and moral corruption of the Child Protective Services . Go, see, open your eyes, and let them know — these torturers, these bloodstained betrayers of our common humanity – let them know that you know what they are, what they have done.

Text of DeLay’s farewell address -June 8, 2006

“… these children throw their despair and distrust into a black plastic trash bag, along with their few belongings, and head off to the next place… the next let-down. They are abused and neglected long before they ever reach our abusive and neglectful foster care system – and once in, things often only get worse. Children are dying, Mr. Speaker, inside and out… and it’s our fault.” Read more….
Congressman Tom DeLay

Child advocate in Chicago said: “-an infant in a paper bag on the freeway at rush hour is safer than a child in protective custody there.”

Number of Cases per 100,000 children in the United States. These numbers come from The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) in Washington.

Perpetrators of Maltreatment
________________________________________________

Physical Abuse: CPS= 160 – Parents = 59
___________________________________________
Sexual Abuse : CPS = 112 – Parents = 13
____________________________________________
Neglect: CPS = 410 – Parents = 241
_____________________________________________
Medical Neglect: CPS = 14 – Parents = 12
_____________________________________________
Fatalities: CPS = 6,4 – Parents = 1,5
_____________________________________________
Did you know that…..?!

More than 75% of care leavers have no academic qualifications of any kind !!!! Read more…..

“This is a matter of conscience,” – “How can I know what’s happening to children and families out there and still let it continue to happen?”
Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the Madness
For every child that can get adopted, there is a bonus of $4,000 to $6,000.
DSS and affiliates rewarded for breaking up families! Must read

Information provided by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in Fiscal 2003, 30 foster children died in our state’s care; in Fiscal 2004, 38 foster children died; and in Fiscal 2005, 48 foster children died.
“Data shows that while the number of foster children in our state’s care increased 24 percent from 26,133 in Fiscal 2003 to 32,474 in Fiscal 2005, the number of deaths increased 60 percent. Read more….

Please Give Innocent Children a Voice !
Last year over two million American families were falsely accused !!!
It is not in any one individual state but is now a worldwide epidemic.

Since the Adoption & Safe Families Act, with states in competition for the Federal Funds offered for promoting adoptions, Walter Mondale expressed concerns that states could create a business in dealing with children.

In the name of “child protection” children have been beaten. In the name of “children’s rights” children have been raped. And in the name of “erring on the side of the child,” children have been murdered. These are the stories of some of those children: In memory of Children protected to DEATH by CPS.

PETITION # 2 :
In The Name of Those Children
We are asking For:
-Victims of Child Welfare Memorial Day-
to remember those who have died as a result of Child Welfare in their lives. -
Take Action Send Citizen Request To: The White House

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/986173347

“When will justice come? When those who are not injured become as indignant as those who are.” -Leon Tolstoy

The State Of Michigan Has A Dirty Little Secret. It is called Child Protection Services

THE FIA GAME

Many citizens in our great State of Michigan are unaware of Michigan’s dirty little secret that falls under the guise of the Child Abuse and Child Welfare Protection Laws. The advertisements and literature surrounding this area seem to be doing a magnificent thing for the children of our state. We have been led to believe that the State of Michigan is saving thousands of children from severe physical abuse and neglect. This is far from the truth. The truth is that this campaign is a giant money machine fueled by abuse of power of supervisors and case service workers employed by the Michigan Department of Family Independence Agency and private agencies that have contracted with FIA that we the taxpayers are paying dearly for through our hard-earned tax dollars. Basically, it is “make work by creating a case and keep your job or contract with the state government.”
The current campaign to save the children is doing just the opposite. Parents and children are being permanently separated and families are being permanently destroyed under this new plan because of abuse of power in the name of more state and federal funding. I have been working extensively in this area of law for approximately two (2) years. Not all of the cases that I am working on involve children suffering from broken bones, bruises or starvation. In fact most of the cases that I am involved in regard to parents that merely spanked their children by giving the children one or two swats on the clothed behind. In addition, parents who have physically defended themselves from a physically violent teenager, parents who argued in front of their children, recently divorced single parents, parents with low incomes, parents who have failed to take their child to a doctor for mere cold symptoms such as sniffles and mild congestion. Alternatively, parents who owned pornographic materials stored in a safe place where the children broke into and viewed the materials. According to FIA, the present state of law is that: 1) Parents cannot spank their child. Spanking, even with clothes covering the bottom, is severe physical abuse. Parents are only to use time out, reasoning and loss of privileges. 2) Parents cannot engage in physical self-defense to protect themselves from a physically hostile teenager. An act of self-defense by a parent is severe physical and emotional abuse. Parents are to use reasoning, time out and loss of privileges only and must sacrifice their physical safety for their violent teenager’s safety. 3) Parents cannot argue or talk about adult subjects, such as family finances, in front of their children. These are subjects that the child has no control over and creates extreme emotional distress in the child. FIA has classified this area as emotional or environmental abuse and/or neglect of the child. 4) Parents with low income are neglecting their children’s basic needs. Low-income parents cannot provide for the proper medical, physical or emotional needs of their children due to their limited income. The parents’ failure to obtain middle-income jobs means environmental, medical and emotional neglect. 5) Parents that fail to take their child to the family physician for colds, flu, sniffles and mild congestion, or parents who fail to obtain a family pediatrician are neglecting the medical needs of their children. FIA has classified this as medical neglect. 6) Parents who own pornographic materials, such as magazines, books, video tapes, and conceal such materials from their children have created environmental and emotional neglect of their children. Parents who own and hide such material run the risk that children will find these materials and view them causing emotional harm to their children. FIA has classified this as environmental neglect. 7) Divorced, single parent families seem to be targeted by FIA as high-risk environments for emotional and environmental neglect.
Most single parent families are low income and of course, according to FIA, cannot provide for the basic needs of the children as measured against middle-income standards. Single parents work outside of the home, leaving their children unattended or with “inappropriate care takers” (neighbors, older siblings, grandparents, relatives) causing environmental and emotional neglect of the child. Single working parents are unable to clean their homes “appropriately” and leave their homes cluttered, disorganized, and untidy (i.e. beds unmade, dirty clothes on floors or hampers, dirty dishes in the sink from breakfast, unswept floors and carpets, etc.) which the family must return to in the afternoon or evening that is classified as environmental neglect. Single parents tend more to their needs (i.e. working outside of the home) that to the needs of their children, which is, classified as emotional and environmental neglect. Ironically, FIA complies a list of single parent households from the Friend of the Court, sends prevention workers to the homes of such families and initially offers the families free, voluntary services through their prevention program. Such services include free parenting classes, free nutrition programs, free household budgeting programs, free employment training programs, and WIC. The social workers in these programs compile information on the family and home for FIA.
When you allow these workers to enter your lives and your home, you are allowing FIA to build a PS (Protective Services) record against you for child neglect, which leads to further child protective proceedings in the Probate/Family Court, which will ultimately result in the removal of your children and the children being placed in foster care. These workers are not hired to help you; they are hired to make a case of child neglect against you. Why are families being targeted by FIA? Most people have the misconception that concerned citizens report child neglect and abuse. This is untrue! A small percentage of my cases involve reports of neglect and abuse from neighbors, family members, friends and school officials. In fact, the majority of my cases involved the family receiving some form of voluntary services from FIA, such as the free programs listed above. In the majority of cases, school officials, such as teachers and counselors, never suspected child abuse or neglect in the families that were prosecuted. Moreover, in most cases the family physicians never suspected child abuse or neglect in the families prosecuted. Families are targeted because FIA must justify its need for State and Federal grants to keep its workers employed. Currently, FIA receives, in Federal grants, $2,000 to $4,000 per month per child in foster care and $10,000 per child adopted out into permanent homes after the parent’s rights have been terminated due to neglect and abuse. The State of Michigan provides matching funds to FIA. Bill Clinton recently signed new legislation providing for an additional $2,000 to $4,000 per month per child in foster care and $10,000 for adoption. FIA is making money hand over fist through our tax dollars. FIA social workers receive bonuses for removing children from their homes and for adoption. The incentive for abuse of power is extremely high and has occurred at alarming rates.
During 1996, Clare County removed 50% of the children in the county for neglect and abuse in the home. It is very hard to comprehend that 50% of the parents in Clare County are neglecting and abusing their children. Clare County is a “demonstration county” that is a pilot county for The Binsfield Laws supported by Federal Grants. These programs involve privatizing the foster care system. The foster care program hires private industry to service the foster care needs of the county children removed from the home. Currently, Eagle Village in Hersey, Michigan holds the foster care contract for Clare County FIA. How does the system work? FIA initially offers families free, voluntary services through prevention services to the families on the FOC (Friend of the Court files, AFDC files, Employment Security Commission files, Social Security files, etc.) such as free parenting classes, free nutrition programs, free homemaker services, free budgeting classes, free employment training programs, etc. The prevention worker works closely with the family to coordinate these free services by meeting with the family in their home on a regular basis, once or twice per week. While working with the family, the worker identifies problems areas that put the children at risk for abuse and neglect to qualify the family for these free services, such as poor parenting skills, homemaker skills, budgeting skills, and employment seeking skills.
The other side of this arrangement is that the worker is building a case of neglect and abuse against the parents. Most problems identified are lack of bonding with the children and nurturing due to the parents participation in these free programs. The parents are putting their needs before the children’s needs by focusing on their problems as identified in their participation in these programs. Furthermore, workers in these programs work in tandem with FIA to identify other risk factors such as poor parenting skills, why else would a parent take a free parenting class if they themselves have admitted to having poor parenting skills. Voluntarily entering into these programs is an actual admission to poor parenting, nutrition, homemaker, budgeting, or employment seeking skills that put the child at risk for neglect and abuse that lay the foundation for child protective proceedings in the Probate/Family Court.
The Courts believe that the FIA workers are the professionals and take their word as gold. The parents cannot defend against FIA. The testimony and statements mean nothing in the Probate/Family Court. In fact, the Court can issue an emergency pick up order for the children based on only FIA’s statements in an ex-parte hearing conduct by the judge and the FIA worker. The parents are not present during these hearings. The Court will issue an ex-parte emergency order allowing the FIA work to enter the home or child’s school to remove the child from the parent’s custody. The parents do get a hearing approximately two weeks later after the removal of the child but FIA is only required to prove that probable cause exists that the children are at risk of neglect and abuse if they remain in the home. Approximately 90 days later the parents may have a trial to determine whether by a preponderance of the evidence that the children are at risk to abuse or neglect if they are returned to the home. Most parents plea to abuse or neglect upon FIA’s promise that if the parents plea and engage in services they will get their children back sooner. Most parents’ plea to charges that they have a temper, they have beaten their children by merely spanking them, they have failed to provide the child with medical attention when they had cold symptoms, or they are unable to provide for the basic needs of the child because they are temporarily unemployed. The Court then takes jurisdiction over the children, places them in foster care and orders the parents to follow the Parent/Agency Agreement to be drafted by FIA. FIA then engages in a lengthy and vague process of ordering the parents to engage in specific services, such as individual counseling, parenting classes again, anger management classes and counseling, psychological evaluations, drug and alcohol testing, classes and counseling, etc.
Once parents complete these services, FIA informs the parents, usually during a court proceeding that they have not dealt with the proper issues in these programs that initially led to the removal of the children or the parents have not satisfactorily completed the programs. Because they will not or are not mentally able to comprehend their actions and the affect of their actions that have harmed their children. It is a no win situation. FIA is in complete control of the interpretation of whether the parents have successfully completed the Parent/Agency Agreement. Furthermore, if the parents elect to participate in FIA’s services with their hired agencies, then the parents never successfully complete the Parent/Agency Agreement. These agencies are FIA’s hired hands that build a case against the parents. If the parents elect to engage in services provided by professionals of their choice or referred by their HMO or other health care providers, then the parents must pay enormous amount of money for these services and for these professionals to come to court on their behalf to testify.
More importantly, the Court views parents hired witnesses as hired hands and discounts any testimony given by these professionals as being adversarial, unbelievable and hired hands of the parents. FIA and some of the Court have gone as far as accusing the parents of failing to comply with the Parent/Agency Agreement by engaging their own professionals for service, which has been deemed grounds for termination of parental rights. It is a no win situation that fails to focus on the best interest of the child. Also, most children are placed with foster parents who intend to adopt the children. The purpose of placement is to find the children a permanent, stable and safe environment, which they can live with dignity and respect. The focus in Michigan is no longer keeping families together by repair or rehabilitating parents to properly care for their children. The focus in Michigan and across the country now is to quickly place children into permanent homes.
This means the pool of foster parents are usually upper middle class with financial security. The children are then introduced to the finer things in life like Reeboks, Nikes, Starter Jackets, designer clothes, and other luxuries that the average working class or middle class family cannot afford to provide for their children. The children readily associate with their new parents as being the good parents that can provide for their needs and the biological parents as being abnormal, dysfunctional, poor, and unable to meet their new basic needs. Some children do not want to come home because they cannot live the new life provided by their foster parents to which they have become accustomed to during foster care. This system of protective services and foster care is very disturbing. During this completely process, Department of FIA is raking in the Federal and State grants to support its preventive, protective, and foster care programs. These are our tax dollars at work and are being misappropriated and wasted to create a foster care and adoption industry in our state. I am not arguing that there are never cases of child abuse or neglect in this state. There are real cases of such that must be meeting with the proper social nets.
But our current system is froth with abuse of power and waste of precious tax dollars that has created false child abuse and neglect cases for the purpose of creating employment for social workers and private industries providing foster care services, and counseling agencies. Also, provide individual therapy and psychological evaluations, and community education programs that provide anger management and parenting classes. All of these agencies are funded by our tax dollars, which are being wasted on parents who are only less than perfect and children who are not abused or neglected in the legal sense. Furthermore, all parents are court ordered to pay child support to the foster parents through the Friend of Court for the care of their children while in foster care. Parents pay on an average of $25.00 to $30.00 per week per child if FIA is providing the foster care family through it county agency. Parents pay approximately $150.00 to $2,000 per month if a private agency is hired by FIA to provide foster care services. Nobody is sure where this money goes once it is paid to the Friend of the Court.
The system of FIA needs to be restructured to make it workers accountable for their actions. Presently, FIA workers have complete immunity from civil actions in the State of Michigan unless a parent can prove that a worker was grossly negligent in the performance of his or her duties. Unfortunately, this is impossible to prove. If a parent pleas or the Probate Court finds that it has jurisdiction over the child for neglect and abuse, FIA continues to have jurisdiction over the child and ultimately terminates the parent’s rights, this will bar any suit against the FIA worker under the immunity doctrine. Once your child is in the system, FIA and its social workers are not accountable for the worker’s actions. The word is gold and the court’s accept the workers word as gold. The only recourse a parent has is to appeal the Probate/Family Court’s decision, which is very expensive. Most of my parents send approximately $10,000 to $20,000 in defending against FIA in child protection cases, even when they plea. Most of my parents end up losing their homes, vehicles, jobs because of court appearances and engagement of professional services, and savings. Most of my parents are forced into bankruptcy.

My heart goes out to any child despite color or ethnicity, because I believe that they need to be with their parents after the parents have received help. These CPS workers are extreme profiteer, profiting off our beloved American children. The American dream is not one where evil and sinister people are controlling, the American dream rest in the heart of every child and everyone that treasure the niceties of democracy. I believe in fairness and justice, and I hope everyone that have relatives in this tortuous system or have lost children to these inauspicious CPS workers, I ask that you run to your representatives and governing officials and tell them you do not want your tax dollars used for an organization like Child Protective Services to use unfair practices to take children away.
Nevertheless, if children are placed in an agency like St. Francis Family Center that makes most of its profit from adoption, one must consider why they would implement the truth of family reunification when they can adopt children out and make more money. They do not care about the “best interest of the child”, only the “best interest” that will line their pockets with more government aid and bonuses. Yes, I believe that children should never be in harm’s way, and anyone that harms children in any kind of way, need to have their head examine, and anyone believe that a foster home is more appropriate for children instead of their biological home after counseling services deem them appropriate, should be federally investigated.

Beware Child Protective Services: What Victims, Advocates, and Mandated Reporters Need to Know

Introduction

Probably no other public agency leaves victims and advocates more perplexed than Child Protective Services. On the one hand, people think of CPS with appreciation as they envision a selfless agency rescuing innocent children from horrific conditions. Indeed, CPS workers across the country do this routinely. The gratitude is deserved.

At the same time, the agency seems to be perpetually marred by a steady drumbeat of nightmare stories about CPS emanating from the very families CPS is supposed to serve. This text deals with just one of these problems; the CPS practice of removing or threatening to remove children from the nonviolent, non-offending parent in cases of family violence. This guide explains why this happens with such frequency, how to help prevent it from happening in your case, and what to do about it if you’re already caught in its grip. (Since the non-offending, nonviolent parent in these cases is usually the mother, we often refer to this parent as ‘the mother’, though there are certainly cases where the non-offending parent is the father.)

The Situation as it Usually Unfolds

In brief, the particular problem we cover usually unfolds like this. A mother herself seeks help from CPS or becomes involved with CPS through someone else’s report of suspected child abuse. Her child has been physically or sexually abused by a family member, usually by a male family member, or there are concerns the child is living in a home where there is domestic violence. At first, the mother naturally anticipates that CPS will try to help her and her child, and try to punish and stop the perpetrator. So these mothers are stunned when suddenly the CPS/juvenile court system turns its sights on her, even though everyone agrees she didn’t perpetrate the abuse or violence.

Suddenly she is the one under investigation, and the perpetrator is seeming to be all but ignored. And worse, CPS is threatening to take her child from her, or has already done so without warning or notice, and is threatening to keep the child, right at the time that mother and child need each other most. She feels the system turn hostile toward her. Did she, the non-offending parent, protect the child from the violent parent? Did she protect the child from molestation? Did she protect the child from being exposed to domestic violence in the home? Well, no, obviously she did not, or could not, or, in the case of molestation, often didn’t know about it.

Instead of being treated more as a co-victim of a violent perpetrator, with help and guidance provided according to the mother’s expressed needs, she is treated more as a co-perpetrator, with CPS establishing mandated controls over virtually any which aspect of her life CPS chooses, all under threat of losing her child. In addition to court dates at which it is her behavior that’s in question, CPS gives her a mandated, often overwhelming set of programs and goals she must comply with to the satisfaction of the CPS/juvenile court system, in order to – maybe – get the child back – and maybe not. She is also held accountable for maintaining a cooperative attitude throughout, even though she is, in fact, in a profoundly adversarial relationship with CPS (which is why she’s given an attorney at court time). At the same time, she begins to realize that the CPS/juvenile court system isn’t pushing to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence, nor is CPS even invested with the power to do so.

Most mothers say they would rather be threatened with jail than to be threatened with the loss of her child. Yet as invasive, terrifying, and awesome as this governmental threat is, virtually all the decisions as to her fitness, compliance, and fate are being decided at the lowest judicial standard of evidence, 51% of the evidence, the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard. This is a far cry from the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard the government must reach before sentencing someone to jail for even the briefest time.

The level of proof against her that CPS is required to put forth is so minimal that it provides the mother little protection against any abusive, prejudiced, or discriminatory exercise of power by CPS. The low evidence burden on CPS also makes it nearly impossible for the mother to defend herself, especially against such vague accusations as ‘failure to protect’, or that ‘she knew or should have known’, things which don’t even constitute a crime in the criminal system. And to top off the injustices, an all too common requirement on her must-do list is that she and/or the child must partake in family conferencing or a family reunification plan in which one or both must meet, mediate, or co-counsel with the perpetrator – the very same perpetrator from whom the mother has been accused of ‘failure to protect’ the child.

The Dawn of Recognition

Unfortunately, such stories are not the result of occasional human errors that are bound to occur in any public agency. They are, instead, inevitable and frequent outcomes stemming from the flawed founding premises and the weak legal underpinnings of the CPS/juvenile court system. The structure of the system drives toward these injustices no matter how well intentioned individual CPS workers may be. Nor is this to say that children should never be removed from the non-offending parent. There are circumstances in which they should. The problem is that the system is so arbitrary, sexist, secret, and outdated, that it tends toward abusive or mistaken results.

In the last decade, there has been growing recognition and discussion of the CPS problem as it pertains to the non-offending parent. In 1999, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges put together the Greenbook Initiative, a set of 67 recommendations aimed at remedying precisely this set of problems. But though the Greenbook gives long overdue recognition to the issue, the recommendations don’t call for installing any firm checks on the system, as will be discussed in more detail in a later section.

And in 2004, in New York state, there was a landmark settlement in a class action lawsuit against that state’s child welfare agencies. The lawsuit, Nicholson v. Scoppetta, had been brought by mothers who had their children removed for no other reason than that the mothers, victims of domestic violence, had failed to protect their children from ‘exposure’ to the domestic violence. The 2004 lawsuit agreement and an earlier injunction prohibited child welfare agencies from using this reason alone to remove children from non-offending parents.

Though the lawsuit put CPS agencies around the country on notice of their wrongdoing and harm done in these cases, to date it has brought only modest change in practice. The vague laws and weak evidence standards governing CPS means that CPS workers need only adjust the language used in their justification for removing a child, offer the usual scant proof, and many juvenile courts continue removing children in these situations as before.

Perhaps the brightest spot on the horizon is the year 2005 resolution passed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in support of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to close. Since their founding, most CPS/juvenile court proceedings have been operating in secret, completely off the public record. This secrecy has mushroomed the system’s tendency toward abuse. The judges’ 2005 resolution in support of open hearings is not yet law, but it’s a promising step. It’s highly unlikely any of the system’s abuses will be corrected until this essential public airing and public scrutiny of the system’s proceedings is firmly set into law and practice.

The Oppressive Swath of Danger and Damage

The harm of the widespread CPS practice of removing or threatening to remove children from non-offending parents extends far beyond the dangers and injustices to individual mothers and children. The harm extends to nearly every poor, immigrant, or minority race mother who is trying to deal with family violence. Most have heard first hand stories of CPS removing children from other mothers in their neighborhoods. As a result, they become reluctant to seek help for their own situations for fear that the same thing might happen to them.

Though we include a fair amount of information about the structure and history of CPS, the purpose of this guide isn’t to do policy analysis nor to make recommendations for change. The purpose of this guide is to give family violence victims, advocates, and mandated reporters information and tips that can help you, as best as possible, to understand and avoid the pitfalls and abuses of the CPS/Juvenile Court system as they pertain to the non-offending parent.

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Part 1 – Key Facts About Child Protective Services and Child Welfare Agencies
Though most of the information in this section is meant to explain why so many non-offending parents get victimized by the CPS system, we start by correcting a very common misconception about mandated reporting.

1. In California, and Many Other States, Mandated Reporters Do NOT Have to Report to Child Protective Services.

We start here because so many counselors, teachers, doctors, and other mandated reporters, many of whom are already sympathetic to the problems mothers experience with CPS, say there’s nothing they can do about it. They believe their state laws require that whenever they suspect child abuse, they must make a report to CPS. But that’s not, in fact, what the law in California and many other states says at all.

As you can see clearly in the California law printed here, the law gives mandated reporters a choice of institutions to which they can report. You can make your report to police, sheriffs, probation departments, or child welfare agencies. In fact, in California and many other states we’re familiar with, the mandated reporting laws put child welfare agencies last on the list of options.

Here is the section of the California State Mandated Reporter Law that pertains to whom one should report.

California Penal Code Section 11165.9
11165.9. Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made by mandated reporters, or in the case of reports pursuant to Section 11166.05, may be made, to any police department or sheriff’s department, not including a school district police or security department, county probation department, if designated by the county to receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. Any of those agencies shall accept a report of suspected child abuse or neglect whether offered by a mandated reporter or another person, or referred by another agency, even if the agency to whom the report is being made lacks subject matter or geographical jurisdiction to investigate the reported case, unless the agency can immediately electronically transfer the call to an agency with proper jurisdiction. When an agency takes a report about a case of suspected child abuse or neglect in which that agency lacks jurisdiction, the agency shall immediately refer the case by telephone, fax, or electronic transmission to an agency with proper jurisdiction. Agencies that are required to receive reports of suspected child abuse or neglect may not refuse to accept a report of suspected child abuse or neglect from a mandated reporter or another person unless otherwise authorized pursuant to this section, and shall maintain a record of all reports received.

One obvious question after reading this law is why are so many mandated reporters taught incorrectly that they must report to CPS when the law in many states so clearly gives mandated reporters a choice. The reasons will become clearer in the section on the history of child protection. But in brief, CPS agencies were established back in the late 1960′s and 1970′s at a time when a strong national consensus had developed that children shouldn’t suffer abuse in the home. However, it was also a time when family violence was not yet viewed as criminal, and perpetrators were not held accountable. CPS powers and functions were shaped to reflect that ambivalent constellation of beliefs. And today, despite advances, there is still strong societal resistance to holding family violence perpetrators accountable. And there’s a corresponding tendency to channel intrafamilial child abuse cases into CPS where policies and powers are set to detain the child and not the perpetrator.

But the main point we want to underscore here is that mandated reporters in many states can choose not to report to CPS. You have other options, and often those other options will be much more beneficial for both the mother and the child.

NOTE 1: Finding the Text of Your State’s Mandated Reporting Law – Most states have their full legal codes on the Internet in searchable form. Go to your state’s legal codes page. In most states, the mandated reporting laws will be in your state’s Penal Code. Search ‘child abuse mandated reporter’ or similar term.

NOTE 2: Cross Reporting – In California and in many other states the child abuse mandated reporting laws require ‘cross-reporting’ between agencies. This means that the agency which receives the initial report must immediately send copies of the report to other designated agencies. So if CPS receives the initial report, CPS must immediately send a copy of the report to the relevant police agency and to the District Attorney’s office, and visa versa. This cross-reporting requirement has little effect on the problems we’re trying to outline here because in general practice the agency that first receives the report is the agency which takes primary responsibility for handling the case.

2. CPS Does Not Have the Power to Open a Criminal Case Against the Perpetrator, Nor Do They Have the Power of Arrest. CPS agencies are not law enforcement agencies. They are social service agencies. This explains why CPS does not take action against the perpetrators of the violence.

Child Protective Services do not have the power to open a criminal case against perpetrators of child abuse. They do not have the power to do criminal investigations of child abuse, nor the power of arrest. Nor does the juvenile court system that corresponds to CPS cases seek to prosecute the perpetrators, nor are these courts invested with the power to do so.

CPS workers are not law enforcement officers, they are social service workers. Child Protective Services are a branch of your state social services department. They are not part of your justice department nor of your local law enforcement agencies.

Understanding this is key to understanding why the CPS/juvenile court system does not hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against a child, nor does it seek to gather evidence for prosecution, nor to punish the perpetrators for what they’ve done. The CPS/juvenile court system was never intended nor empowered to do so.

So, if your daughter was raped by her stepfather, for example, CPS will not investigate his crime, will not seek to punish him, nor in any way hold him accountable. Likewise, if your husband is violent with you and CPS is looking into the status of the children, CPS has no power to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence.

NOTE 1: The CPS ‘Investigation’ – One of the things that creates confusion on this issue is that CPS and others use the word investigation to describe the CPS process of looking into the child abuse matter. But these are not criminal investigations where evidence is gathered to determine ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ who committed a particular crime, and how, so that the perpetrator can be brought to justice.

A CPS ‘investigation’ can be better understood as a social narrative report on the status of a child and the child’s family. To be sure, the CPS report centers around the issue of the suspected abuse. But once CPS determines it’s ‘more likely than not’ that the abuse occurred, that satisfies CPS inquiry into the incidents themselves.

Different from a criminal investigation, the main purpose of the CPS report is to determine whether or not the child needs to be protected from future abuse, and if so, what needs to be done to protect the child from future abuse. As such, CPS reports focus in on detailing the family histories of the parents, the psychosocial and economic conditions of the home, the relationships between the family members, the school and educational status of family members, as well as covering the alleged abuse. All of these things, except for the abuse, would be completely irrelevant in a criminal investigation.

NOTE 2: Juvenile Court Powers in CPS cases – In many states, juvenile courts do now have the power to order perpetrators into counseling, and in some states have the power to order the abuser out of the home. These decisions, however, are rendered with the purpose of protecting a child from future abuse, and not with the purpose of holding the perpetrator accountable.

3. The CPS/juvenile court System Has Only One Significant Power, the Power to Remove Children from their Parents.

Although CPS does not have law enforcement powers, unlike most other social service agencies, CPS does have one awesome power, the power to take custody and remove children from the home. The stated purpose of this power is to protect the child from future abuse. The stated purpose is not to punish anyone, though obviously for parents and children who love each other this forced removal can be the worst punishment of all.

The lack of law enforcement powers explains why CPS does not take action against perpetrators. The power to remove children explains why CPS so quickly turns its sights on the non-offending parent.

Once CPS decides that abuse of a child or violence in the home has probably taken place, the CPS worker must then decide how best to protect the child from future abuse. Since it’s usually obvious that the child should not be immediately returned to the perpetrator of the violence, CPS quickly turns to the question of whether or not the child should stay with the non-offending parent. That’s how and why CPS becomes so fixated on ‘investigating’ the nonviolent parent. Did the mother protect the child from the abuse? Did she know, or should she have known, that the child was being molested? Did the mother protect the child from living in a home with domestic violence? Will she protect the child in the future?

No matter how you look at it, the circumstances of these situations can almost always be construed to indicate that the mother didn’t protect, and that she knew or should have known. After all, goes the thinking, she’s the mother and she’s living in the same home.

NOTE 1: CPS does have other options than to remove the child. In fact, federal and state law governing CPS requires that CPS pursue family preservation as well as child safety, and that CPS first make “reasonable efforts” to establish a service plan for the family to follow so the child can stay in the home, or return to the home.

But even if CPS is making a good faith effort to abide by these policies, it doesn’t alter the adversarial (oppositional) nature of the relationship with CPS in which the mother finds herself. Even if CPS has not taken the child and lays out a program for the mother to follow so the child can stay in the home, the mother knows full well what this means. ‘You do this program or we take your child’. The mother knows this doesn’t feel like help. It feels terrifying, hostile, and punitive. Especially so as her must-do-list is often hugely overwhelming since so many of the mothers are poor and acutely stressed. And even more hostile as the mother begins to see how prone the CPS exercise of power is to be arbitrary, prejudiced, and with shifting input and goals, the frequency of which is partly explained by the following.

4. At best, CPS/juvenile court Decisions are Made on the Lowest Judicial Standard of Evidence, the ‘Preponderance of the Evidence’ Standard, i.e. 51% of the Evidence. The void of evidence and rigor in the CPS/juvenile court system leaves the decision making process wide open to the virtually unchecked influence of mistakes, bias, discrimination, prejudice, vengeance, hearsay, junk science, nonsense, and arbitrariness of all kinds. (The one exception to this is that a final termination of parental rights usually requires a ‘clear and convincing’ standard of evidence, which is still a much lower standard than the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard of the criminal system.)

When CPS seeks to establish the abuse, remove a child for up to 18 months, establish mandated service plans, determine visitation, etc., CPS must go into juvenile court to get these decisions authorized by the court. At first this may seem to provide the kind of oversight on CPS decisions that would make the process just, equitable, and safe from abuses. But read on.

First, the body of law governing the CPS/juvenile court system is so vague and open ended that virtually any and all decisions made by these bodies falls within the scope of the laws.

Second, at best, CPS and juvenile courts makes these decisions based on the ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard. This is the lowest judicial standard of evidence. The preponderance of the evidence standard is 51% of the evidence. It’s sometimes called the ‘more likely than not’ standard. What this means is that all CPS needs to support a decision is evidence on their side, the CPS side, which is just a sliver more than the evidence on your side. This is a far cry from the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard criminal officials must establish before they can convict someone of a crime, even a misdemeanor.

Example of Preponderance of the Evidence: The mother tells CPS she didn’t know that the stepfather was sexually molesting the daughter because the stepfather always did it while she (the mother) was watching television in another room. The CPS worker tells the court that the fact the mother was in the same house watching television while the stepfather molested the child is a good indication that the mother should have known what the stepfather was doing. Given the sloppiness of the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard, all the judge has to do is lean ever so slightly to the social worker’s argument, and the judge can issue a finding that the mother ‘knew or should have known’, and then based on this finding grant the CPS petition to detain the child. Which is exactly what happened in this case.

Many lawyers themselves are so scornful of the flimsy evidence standard of the CPS system they call it “a crap shoot”, or the “anything goes” standard. The problem for the mother goes beyond the fact that CPS doesn’t need much evidence against her. It also means that whatever opinion a CPS worker may have of you, the worker can usually support that opinion in court simply by fishing through the extensive family details the worker has gathered and then selecting out the one or two tidbits that favor the opinion.

Add to this the huge initial mistake many women make of thinking of CPS as their advocate or friend or counselor. They pour their hearts out to the worker, giving the worker a whole ocean of intimate information in which to fish for evidence against them.

Yes, it’s true that with all this latitude, the CPS system can actually do things right and put its full resources into helping the mother and child to get safely on their feet together. And indeed, there are plenty of cases where this is exactly what happens. But there are a number of things that makes the system tend toward abusive responses. One of these is the cardinal truth of any power. Unchecked power always tends towards abuses of that power. And the power of CPS is hugely unchecked. And worse yet, as is discussed later, it is exercised in secret.

A second thing that tends the system toward abusive and prejudicial responses is the class of the mothers themselves, and the heaping social prejudices that already prevail against them. The mothers who come to the attention of CPS are most often poor, or immigrant, or minority race, and themselves are the direct or secondary victims of family violence. The harsh realities of their lives are chaotic, frantic, and generally incomprehensible to people who don’t live them. There is so much prejudice, stereotypes, ignorance, and blame against these women floating in society that the middle class social service system is primed from the start to blame these mothers, or at the very least, to believe it’s the mothers that need to be fixed.

NOTE 1: Lessons from the Native American Community. Prior to the passage of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, child welfare/juvenile court systems were removing up to 25% of the children from many Indian tribes, then terminating Indian parental rights, and adopting the children out to non-Indian families. Non-Indian social workers and judges were using rampant prejudicial and racist notions to justify these removals. In particular, CPS/juvenile courts were judging many traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive, in and of themselves. Native American peoples’ were losing so many of their children to this process, many tribes labeled these child welfare policies as genocidal.

The Indian tribes crafted the Indian Child Welfare Act with the aim of stopping this systematic removal of their children. In so doing, the Indians keenly understood how the use of the ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard gave free reign to the prejudices, racism, and arbitrary factors that were being used to justify taking their children. They understood that the more oppressed a person is the more they need a high standard of evidence to protect them from governmental abuse. So, among other things, the Indian Child Welfare Act requires that CPS/juvenile courts must use the stricter ‘clear and convincing’ standard of evidence before the state can put an Indian child in temporary foster care, and must use the even stricter ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard of evidence before the court can order termination of Indian parental rights. The act also requires that at any termination hearing, there must be expert witness testimony on Indian culture and child rearing.

We feel strongly that these same protections should be extended to all who come before CPS, since most all of these families are members of historically oppressed groups.

5. The Flimsy ‘Preponderance of the Evidence’ Standard is Bad Enough, But Things are Actually Much Worse. Increasingly, the CPS/juvenile court systems are handing off their fact finding and decision making responsibilities to mediators, evaluators, and even to CASA volunteers, all of whom operate on NO standard of evidence at all.

There’s no doubt that the juvenile courts have become increasingly stressed over the last few decades as victims of family violence have emerged to seek help for their plights. But instead of adding resources to properly meet the need, the CPS/juvenile court system, like the family court system, has handed off more and more of its fact finding and decision making responsibilities to a whole phalanx of psychologists, mediators, evaluators, and even to volunteers.

These are court janitors, really, brought aboard to mop up the judicial mess made by women and children who have found a way to make their needs and outrage heard. When a case becomes complicated or contentious, or is just more work than the judge wants to handle, the judge simply turns the case over to one of these evaluators to look into the case and come back to the judge with a set of recommendations. In nearly all cases, juvenile court judges blindly rubber stamp these recommendations with no further ado.

What is absolutely critical to understand is that once handed off to these evaluators, you have been ushered out the court’s back door, outside the rule of court law, and completely unprotected by rules of evidence. These evaluators operate under NO standard of evidence. NO rules of admissibility. NO legal protections at all. Hearsay, psychobabble, prejudice, lies, gossip, it all comes in. And it’s often all against you because the perpetrators are usually expert manipulators and liars, and, in addition, they have likely already poisoned the social relationships around you. This is why it’s the non-offending parent who most needs strict rules of evidence for protection, and is most hurt by their absence.

NOTE 1 – CASA Volunteers – But it gets even worse. Many juvenile courts across the country are now handing off official fact finding and decision making responsibilities in these cases to CASA volunteers, people who are only required to have 30 hours training. And the juvenile courts are usually assigning these volunteers to the most egregious and complex cases of child abuse.

The public has been thoroughly wooed to the feel good idea of having CASA volunteers to ‘protect the interests of the child’ in these cases. Indeed, there is great benefit for the child to be assigned a special person to talk to and even to advocate for the child through this process.

The whole CASA program would be just fine if it ended there. But juvenile courts routinely swear these volunteers in as official court fact finders (investigators), as representatives of the child’s stated interests, as representatives of the child’s best interests, and, as formulators of recommendations to the court as to the best disposition of the child. A recent national study, the Packard Foundation funded Caliber Study, finds that juvenile court judges adopt ALL the recommendations of the CASA volunteers in over 60% of cases.

This is a complete mockery and travesty of any and all notions of justice, and is particularly contemptful of mother’s and children’s rights. For so many reasons. But just for one, imagine if your surgeon sought out and took the recommendation of whether to amputate your leg from a volunteer with 30 hours training. You would be outraged! And you would never deal with this surgeon again. Yet this is exactly what juvenile court judges across the country are doing on the question of whether or not to remove the child from the mother, in the most complex and egregious of cases. They are turning over their fact finding, evaluation, and decision making responsibilities by swearing in persons with 30 hours training to act in any or all these official capacities.

The courts say they are doing this because they want to be sure to hear the children’s voices. But you only have to think for a moment to realize what the courts are really doing is avoiding the costs of a professional investigator, expert, or professional representation that is minimally needed to guarantee even minimal judicial standards for children.

And these courts have the nerve to accuse the mothers of failure to protect!

6. Both the Federal and State Welfare Law Governing the CPS/Juvenile court System are Full of Vague, Non-mandatory Language, a Fact Which Further Promotes the ‘Anything Goes’ Atmosphere of CPS Proceedings. In addition, these laws almost always refer to the parents as an undifferentiated single unit, “the parents’, a fact which puts a legal lock on viewing the non-offending parent with as much culpability as the abusive parent. Only recently has the legal language begun to recognize the existence of the ‘non-offending parent’ as separate or unique from the offending parent.

As you read through the federal and state law governing child protective services you can see features of the law that further help explain the frequent arbitrary and biased actions of these agencies. Here are just two.

Federal and state welfare law governing child protective services are vague, nonspecific, and use mostly non-mandatory language. For example, federal law ‘encourages’ child welfare agencies to provide their materials in languages other than English. It does not mandate that they do so. As such, many, if not most, non-English speaking mothers receive their CPS reports, their service plans, and notices in English only. Another example is that welfare law states a ‘preference’ for family reunification, and says social workers shall make ‘reasonable efforts’ to provide services that allow the family to stay together.

This kind of language in the law leaves so much wiggle room that virtually anything the system decides will fall within the law, a fact which further magnifies the difficulties for a non-offending parent trying to defend herself or appeal these decisions.

A second feature that runs throughout child welfare law is that it constantly refers to ‘the parents’ as an undifferentiated entity. There’s very infrequent distinction in child welfare law between the offending and non-offending parent. In fact, if you were an alien from outer space reading this law, it would be a while before it even dawned on you that “the parents” are two separate human beings. This dubious framework stems from the archaic patriarchal view of marriage of not very long ago that the two become one and the one is the man.

Naturally, this constant reference to “the parents” helps cement the system’s huge blind spot to a woman’s predicament when her partner is abusive. Clearly, the law can’t see her more as a victim of the abuser, if the legal language lumps her in with the abuser. If the father is a domestic violence perpetrator, the mother, too, is automatically “engaging in domestic violence”, which is precisely the language the system has used to justify taking the children from mothers who are victims of domestic violence. Legal recognition and distinctions between the offending and non-offending parent are coming at a snail’s pace.

7. The CPS/Juvenile Court System Operates in Secrecy Off the Public Record. This secrecy fans the flames of the system’s other tendencies to abuse.

The reason that CPS/Juvenile Court findings, proceedings, mandates, and actions take place off the public record is ostensibly to protect the privacy of the child and family in what is viewed as a private family matter. But one certainly must ask, who really has been more protected by this secrecy, the CPS system or the families it serves?

Nothing fans the flames of governmental abuse like governmental secrecy. Secret files, secret evidence, secret accusations, secret proceedings are a sure fire formula for allowing abuses to thrive and expand throughout the system. Since its inception, CPS/juvenile court activities have been off the public record with the exception of only a few states. The involved parents are informed. But, to date, neither the public nor any public watchdog has been allowed scrutiny or oversight of the handling of these cases.

Fortunately, it looks like there is the possibility this may change. In 2005, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges voted approval of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to close. This isn’t yet law, but it’s a big step in that direction. As part of the resolution the judges wrote the following,

“Open court proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical problems faced by juvenile and family courts and by child welfare agencies in matters involving child protection, may enhance accountability in the conduct of these proceedings by lifting the veil of secrecy which surrounds them, and may ultimately increase public confidence in the work of the judges of the nation’s juvenile and family courts.”

We would probably word this a little differently, ‘Open court proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical problems faced by children and non-offending parents in matters involving child protection,…..’

8. Most all CPS/juvenile court Systems deal ONLY with Intra familial Child Abuse. This schism between the way society deals with child abuse perpetrated by a family member versus child abuse perpetrated by an ‘outsider’ points out a staggering hypocrisy in the rhetoric about treating child abuse seriously. Behind the rhetoric is a child welfare and police system that in reality works hand in hand to let most child abusers walk free.

Many people are very surprised when they call CPS to report a child abuse case perpetrated by a neighbor, a priest, a stranger, or by any one outside the family. CPS tells the caller they don’t handle these cases. They only respond to cases in which the perpetrator is a family member. So in most cases in which the perpetrator is not a family member, CPS tells the caller they’ll need to report to police.

Another thing that may surprise you is that if you call police to report a case of child abuse perpetrated by a family member, police will often tell you should report the case to CPS. Granted police could take the report if they wanted to, and they should take the report. But police themselves are all too often on the same philosophical page as CPS. They too often believe that when fathers ‘grow their own victim’, the fathers shouldn’t be held accountable like other offenders.

And another thing. Even if police do take a report of sexual abuse perpetrated by a family member, chances are very good that the perpetrator, even if convicted, will get off lightly compared to an outside-the-family perpetrator. California law, like the law in many states, maintains gaping legal loopholes where, prosecutors can, and frequently do, charge intra familial child sex abuse under different codes which allow the family offenders much lighter sentences. In addition, the law allows convicted intra familial child sex offenders to be given probation, different from outsider child sex offenders who must go to prison. And the law allows convicted intra familial child sex offenders to stay off the state’s public registered sex offenders lists, also unlike ‘outside’. (For a good discussion of the legal loopholes for fathers and other family members who sexually molest their children see Child Sexual Abuse and the State by Ruby Andrew at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=904100)

There isn’t a civic leader out there that doesn’t publicly rage to the heavens about what monsters child molesters are, and how these ‘animals’ should be strung up at the crack of dawn. But, remember, the overwhelming majority of all child sex abuse is perpetrated by family members. What this means is that, in reality, we have a system that publicly beats its chest over the small percentage of child molesters who attack someone else’s child, while by legal slight of hand that same system lets the vast majority of child molesters go free. Not by accident, but by legal and institutional design. What’s perhaps most telling is that, at least in California, these legal loopholes for intra familial perpetrators have been widened over recent years, rather than tightened.

Or to put it another way, the more women and children have made demands on the system to stop family violence, the more the system has created ways to look good while paving the perpetrator’s escape. The patriarchy with all its bluff and bluster to the contrary, still supports the notion that a man’s home is his castle, and that his children are his to do with as he pleases. Unfortunately, CPS, with its hold-no-perpetrators-accountable system, is a vital part of the machinery for perpetuating these archaic and oppressive beliefs.

To Part 2

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women’s Justice Center,
http://www.justicewomen.com
rdjustice@monitor.net

Money Greed and Corpution Child Protective Services

We all hear the horror stories involving Child Protective Services but believe it will never happen to us. Maybe we like to believe that those horror stories are the exception to the rule. Maybe we like to think that the media is sensationalizing the facts for ratings and profit, after all, that is what the media does. Maybe we think that we are doing everything right and will never have to deal with the system.

The reality is that states and counties receive $30,000 for each child removed from the home and put into the system. Those funds go up to between $40,000 and $150,000 if the child has special needs. If you think that kind of money doesn’t breed corruption, think again. In March 2003 the city of San Francisco had 75,000 children in their system. 75,000 children at $30,000 each (that is assuming none of them were handicapped) is $2,250,000,000! Foster families receive between $3,000 and $8300 a year for fostering a child depending on the state. That is a nice little profit being made even after you account for salaries and other overhead. It would be interesting to know where several million dollars each year is going.

The Department of Child Protective Services is a relatively new department of the government. In 1974 the first child abuse case went before the courts. There were no child abuse laws at that time so the case was taken up by the Human Society of the United States. It was after that case that the first child abuse laws were written and the Department of Child Protective Services was put together. It wasn’t long before around 500,000 children were placed into the system with nothing in place to either return the children to their parents to find permanent homes for them. I remember attending elementary school with several children who lived in an orphanage where these children were put and forgotten about by the system.

Like most government agencies, CPS has evolved over the years and undergone reform to prevent abuse of the system as well as to make things run smoother and more effectively. However, it seems that the more rules that are put in place the more loopholes there are for corruption.

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Money, Child Protective Services, and Greed
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Kidnapping for Profit- Child Protective Services

Kidnapping for Profit by Child Protective Services

Posted By: kbcjedi
Date: Friday, 24-Jun-2005 12:21:03 Call a Spade a Spade. Here is a dynamite article on the usurpation of the rights of parents.

The wisdom, and the understanding of human nature evidenced by our Founding Fathers in their statement in the Declaration of Independence: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed” continues to shine forth.

I receive requests from all over the country asking what to do about various problems. The most common request concerns the Child Protective Services, (CPS) or as Utah calls it, the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

Federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ordered the Illinois Department of Family Services to redesign their entire program because their investigations of child abuse and neglect had too many false accusations. She judged the system to be unconstitutional because they threatened people with removal of their children unless the parents cooperate with every whim issued by DCFS. Judge Pallmeyer said this tactic was extortion, which is a felony. Utah uses exactly the same tactics. This is no different that Al Capone’s protection racket of the 1920′s – do what I want or I will destroy your business.

The favorite malady that DCFS uses to take away children is called Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, It is interesting to note that the Irish Examiner, in a story on Wednesday, January 21, 2004, titled, “Theory puts ‘5,000’ in care,” had this to say about Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy and Professor Meadow who created the Syndrome.

“It is estimated that 5,000 British children may have been taken into care over the past 15 years as a result of Professor Meadow’s theory of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. The theory that some mothers harm their children to draw attention to themselves has been largely discredited as a result of a series of high-profile court cases.

Prof Meadow’s theory has been discredited as a result of three cases in which he gave evidence of women who were wrongly accused of killing their children.

Prof Meadow is now facing an inquiry by the General Medical Council into allegations of serious professional misconduct.

The attorney general Lord Goldsmith is now examining a further 250 criminal cases involving Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy to see if more mothers may have been wrongly convicted.”

The purported mental “disease” does not exist and the Doctor that created the problem is losing his license. But DCFS doesn’t care, because it’s not about the children, it’s about money.

That’s right, the Money.

According to an article in the Charlotte World by Angie Vineyard, the DCFS receives $4,000 for every child they place in their system. They get even more money if the child can be shown to be Special Needs. Ruling the child to have “Attention Deficit” qualifies the state for an increase in funding.

An investigation by The LA Daily News found that up to half of the 75,000 children in the California system and adoptive homes were needlessly placed in a system that is often more dangerous than their own homes because of financial incentives in state and federal laws. These laws, according to state documents, encourage counties and their private contractors to earn money by placing and keeping children in foster care. The county receives $30,000 to $150,000 in state and federal revenues annually for each child placed.

DCFS has a long history of judgment lapses and scandal. According to Angie Vineyard in the Charlotte World, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has placed so many children for adoption that the US Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson gave them an award for “collaborating with the court system, mental health providers, the General Assembly, churches, business and private citizens and for doubling the number of special needs children adopted from the foster care system in just six years.” This all adds up to more money.

Troy Anderson of the LA Daily News reports Anthony Cavuoti, a DCFS social worker for 14 years, said the department does a poor job of protecting children.

“The nominal goal is to protect children, but the real goal is to make money,” he said. “A caseworker used to have 80 to 100 cases. If the workers put kids before paperwork and administration, they are going to be forced out or harassed. With such a mentality, children are always in danger.”

In Massachusetts, Anderson Consulting and Public Consulting Groups have been hired to “maximize federal revenue”. The companies have brought the state an additional 90 million a year. That’s 90 million tax dollars awarded for pulling children out of one home and placing them with another.

The problem is much deeper than that.

EVERY CHILD WHO HAS EVER BEEN REMOVED FROM THE HOME OF ITS PARENTS HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED UNDER THE COLOR OF LAW.

As proof of that statement I offer the following:

There is no person anywhere on earth that has the inherent right to take a child away from its parents. I can’t do it. You can’t do it. And neither can your neighbors or friends.

If nobody has that power and authority, and, if We, the People, are the ones who give the government its power and authority, then –

WHERE DOES THE GOVERNMENT THINK IT GETS THE POWER AND THE RIGHT TO TAKE KIDS AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS?

The government knows it does not have the power and the authority. The many well educated lawyers are not dumb about the Constitution – they don’t care, because of the money that can be made. To heck with the kids, the parents, and the Constitution.

This situation is a ticking time bomb.

Eventually the people will reach the point our Founders Fathers described and demand redress for the unconstitutional actions that have been perpetrated against them by the government.

There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for the pain and suffering. And, it’s not just the parents and the kids who have suffered, it’s the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, and the cousins.

Most of the children may be just returned to their parents, but what about the thousands who have been killed by abusive foster parents? What about the unlawful adoptions? The adoptive parents will now want redress, along with all of their extended families.

Who knows where this will go, or where it might end up.

Jim Barrus
CEO
Constitutional Concepts Foundation

The More I dig The Worse It Gets- Children Removed by Child Protective Services Wind up Dead or Worse

PART II CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES HORROR STORIES

It is time to take our children back. They are our future. Once they are gone there is no replacing them. They are not pets. They are abused by the very system who comes and rips them out of their parents homes and lives. That is the worst abuse in the world. I am sick and tired of it.

Posted By: kbcjedi
Date: Friday, 24-Jun-2005 12:28:08

In Response To: Kidnapping for Profit by Child Protective Services (kbcjedi) To date, the city of Wenatchee, in the state of Washington, and Chelan and Douglas counties have either agreed to or been ordered to pay plaintiffs at least $10 million. This year, at least $1.21 million has been paid to settle lawsuits. Though settlements have been reached, about two dozen people are still seeking damages from the government agencies, public defenders and other entities and individuals. Attorneys expect more suits as children who were interrogated and removed from their parents during the probe file their own claims. At least 14 children have already sued.

Utah currently has about 7,000 children living in faster care.

Five DCFS agencies placed six children in a foster home run by 64 year old Mary Bryant. When police searched the house, they came to a bed with something under the cover. Officer Oscar Arteaga found under the cover a three year old little boy with a 10 foot chain wrapped three times around his neck padlocked in place. The foster mother, said he was chained up for stealing food. Mr. Bond was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment while Mary Bryant was charged with felony child endangerment and weapons and drugs charges. Five other kids in the house, ranging from three to eleven, were taken into the custody. The sixth child was left in the home. Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy rebuked DCFS for placing so many children in the home.

Lena Cumberbatch, 36, of Jacksonville, Florida pushed a baby’s head under water while at least two other children watched her murder the baby. The baby died from drowning and blunt head trauma. Cumberbatch had 8 children in her home, four of whom were foster children and four her own ranging in ages from 2 months to 10 years old.

Rilya Wilson, a Florida foster child was missing for more than a year before anyone noticed in April 2002. She is now presumed dead. Rilya Wilson’s caseworker filed false reports of monthly visits, and no supervisor reviewed the case.

The Florida legislature passed a law making the falsification of documents concerning children under state care punishable by up to five years in prison. Death or serious injury to a child resulting from such records fraud is now a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In Utah the Judge looks the other way when changes are made to make dates and other information fit the story better.

Odelia Baca’s two children Miguel, two years and Oswaldo 14 months were placed into foster care. They ended up with Ricky and Evon Haney. Miguel was taken to the hospital on February 1st, 1999 by his foster parents who claimed that he had fallen off the toilet during a potty training session. He died the next day from severe head injuries suffered from a beating. Miguel was in the Haney home several months, while his mother Odelia was allowed visitations. She asked about several bruises on Miguel. Once was told that the marks were from a permanent marker that Miguel been played with. Odelia’s complaints to Social Services fell on deaf ears; they never bothered to check them out and both kids were left in the abusive foster home. How could Social Services place her children with a couple who both had arrest records? After Miguel’s death it was found that both of the Haneys had arrest records and both of their drivers licenses had been suspended.

When biological parents report suspected incidents of child abuse in foster care there is no investigation. I know of one case. in Utah, where the biological mother was told that if she reported any more child abuse by the foster parents they would put the biological mother in jail to shut her up.

A Will County judge awarded custody of 11-year-old Nicolas Zavala to Margaret Williams in February 2002, based on a glowing report about the woman, written by a Benton County, Ind., child-welfare worker. He didn’t know that the home study hadn’t been done by Indiana’s Department of Family and Social Services. It was done by an attorney for Margaret Williams. The study said nothing about her being convicted of two child abuse-related misdemeanors in 2000. These findings are part of a report from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ inspector general into Nicolas’ case. The boy disappeared in August 2002 in Oxford, Ind., and was found dead in April.

Troy Anderson of the LA Daily News reports that in 2001 in the United States, 1.5 percent of the 1,225 children who died from abuse and neglect were in foster care. County and state systems are so overwhelmed with false allegations of abuse by parents that four out of every five reports of mistreatment are ruled unfounded or inconclusive. And experts say the system is filled with so many children who shouldn’t even be in the system, that social workers are failing in their basic mission to protect kids. Nationally, two out of three reports of mistreatment are false.

Across America, thousands of foster children are missing. More than 5,000 are runaways; some have been abducted. And some simply disappear; the state agencies responsible for their care can’t find them.

Tennessee 496
Texas 142
Michigan 198
Illinois 362
Florida 650
Los Angeles County 740

These figures count only those missing children not suspected of running away. Any missing foster child between the ages of 14 and 17 is deemed to have run away and is not included in the figures. All children who turn 18 while still listed as missing are simply removed from the list.

There is no national register of missing foster care children. And there is no standard for reporting missing children. Reports surface of foster parents continuing to receive payments for children who are missing of case workers falsifying visits and not even filing reports of death, injury or molestation.

Jim Barrus
CEO
Constitutional Concepts Foundation

HHS Give Millions to States For Adoption

This should be criminal the Federal government would rather sell our children than re-unite them with their parents- they would rather sell them then help the poor parents succeed!

9-15-09Print This ArticleForward to a Friend Good News: HHS Gives Millions to States for Adoption

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $35 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico. The Adoption Incentives program is part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the nonpartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, said her group has been working to have this important program reauthorized.

“I think it’s a wonderful step forward,” she said. “It shows an incredibly important first sign from the Obama administration that this is an issue that they care about.”

—Nima Reza

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