Archive for the ‘adoption and safe families act’ Category

If Nancy Schaefer Gets It- Why Can’t DFC????

January 29, 2010 1 comment

Child trafficking and fraud by CPS. These kids should’ve never been removed.Posted by katherine shipula on January 28, 2010 at 3:58pm in Patriots for America – Texas
Back to Patriots for America – Texas Discussions
From the legislative desk of Senator Nancy Schaefer 50th District of Georgia November 16, 2007
THE CORRUPT BUSINESS OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICESBY: Nancy SchaeferSenator, 50th District< My introduction into child protective service cases was due to a grandmother in an adjoining state who called me with her tragic story. Her two granddaughters had been taken from her daughter who lived in my district. Her daughter was told wrongly that if she wanted to see her children again she should sign a paper and give up her children. Frightened and young, the daughter did. I have since discovered that parents are often threatened into cooperation of permanent separation of their children.
The children were taken to another county and placed in foster care. The foster parents were told wrongly that they could adopt the children. The grandmother then jumped through every hoop known to man in order to get her granddaughters. When the case finally came to court it was made evident by one of the foster parent’s children that the foster parents had, at any given time, 18 foster children and that the foster mother had an inappropriate relationship with the caseworker.
In the courtroom, the juvenile judge, acted as though she was shocked and said the two girls would be removed quickly. They were not removed. Finally, after much pressure being applied to the Department of Family and Children Services of Georgia (DFCS), the children were driven to South Georgia to meet their grandmother who gladly drove to meet them. After being with their grandmother two or three days, the judge, quite out of the blue, wrote up a new order to send the girls to their father, who previously had no interest in the case and who lived on the West Coast. The father was in “adult entertainment”. His girlfriend worked as an “escort” and his brother, who also worked in the business, had a sexual charge brought against him.
Within a couple of days the father was knocking on the grandmother’s door and took the girls kicking and screaming to California.
The father developed an unusual relationship with the former foster parents and soon moved back to the southeast, and the foster parents began driving to the father’s residence and picking up the little girls for visits. The oldest child had told her mother and grandmother on two different occasions that the foster father molested her.
To this day after five years, this loving, caring blood relative grandmother does not even have visitation privileges with the children. The little girls are in my opinion permanently traumatized and the young mother of the girls was so traumatized with shock when the girls were first removed from her that she has not recovered.
Throughout this case and through the process of dealing with multiple other mismanaged cases of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), I have worked with other desperate parents and children across the state because they have no rights and no one with whom to turn. I have witnessed ruthless behavior from many caseworkers, social workers, investigators, lawyers, judges, therapists, and others such as those who “pick up” the children. I have been stunned by what I have seen and heard from victims all over the sta te of Georgia.
In this report, I am focusing on the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). However, I believe Child Protective Services nationwide has become corrupt and that the entire system is broken almost beyond repair. I am convinced parents and families should be warned of the dangers.
The Department of Child Protective Services, known as the Department of Family and Children Service (DFCS) in Georgia and other titles in other states, has become a “protected empire” built on taking children and separating families. This is not to say that there are not those children who do need to be removed from wretched situations and need protection. This report is concerned with the children and parents caught up in “legal kidnapping,” ineffective policies, and DFCS who do does not remove a child or children when a child is enduring torment and abuse. (See Exhibit A and Exhibit B)
In one county in my District, I arranged a meeting for thirty-seven families to speak freely and without fear. These poor parents and grandparents spoke of their painful, heart wrenching encounters with DFCS. Their suffering was overwhelming. They wept and cried. Some did not know where their children were and had not seen them in years. I had witnessed the “Gestapo” at work and I witnessed the deceitful conditions under which children were taken in the middle of the night, out of hospitals, off of school uses, and out of homes. In one county a private drug testing business was operating within the DFCS department that required many, many drug tests from parents and individuals for profit. In another county children were not removed when they were enduring the worst possible abuse. Due to being exposed, several employees in a particular DFCS office were fired. However, they have now been rehired either in neighboring counties or in the same county again. According to the calls I am now receiving, the conditions in that county are returning to the same practices that they had before the light was shown on their deeds. Having worked with probably 300 cases statewide, I am convinced there is no responsibility and no accountability in the system.
I have come to the conclusion:
· that poor parents often times are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers;
· that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean your children are always to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to be, with family;
· that parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes and on and on are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system even while they are at work and while their children are separated from them. This can take months or even years and it emotionally devastates both children and parents. Parents are victimized by “the system” that makes a profit for holding children longer and “bonuses” for not returning children;
· that caseworkers and social workers are oftentimes guilty of fraud. They withhold evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights. However, when charges are made against them, the charges are ignored;
· that the separation of families is growing as a business because local governments have grown accustomed to having taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets;
· that Child Protective Service and Juvenile Court can always hide behind a confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions and keep the funds flowing. There should be open records and “court watches”! Look who is being paid! There are state employees, lawyers, court investigators, court personnel, and judges. There are psychologists, and psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, therapists, foster parents, adoptive parents, and on and on. All are looking to the children in state custody to provide job security. Parents do not realize that social workers are the glue that holds “the system” together that funds the court, the child’s attorney, and the multiple other jobs including DFCS’s attorney.
· that The Adoption and the Safe Families Act, set in motion by President Bill Clinton, offered cash “bonuses” to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care. In order to receive the “adoption incentive bonuses” local child protective services need more children. They must have merchandise (children) that sell and you must have plenty of them so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000 bonus for each child adopted and an additional $2,000 for a “special needs” child. Employees work to keep the federal dollars flowing;
· that there is double dipping. The funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. When a child in foster care is placed with a new family then “adoption bonus funds” are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16 drugs per day, like two children of a constituent of mine, more funds are involved;
· that there are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep them together;
· that the incentive for social workers to return children to their parents quickly after taking them has disappeared and who in protective services will step up to the plate and say, “This must end! No one, because they are all in the system together and a system with no leader and no clear policies will always fail the children. Look at the waste in government that is forced upon the tax payer;
· that the “Policy Manuel” is considered “the last word” for DFCS. However, it is too long, too confusing, poorly written and does not take the law into consideration;
· that if the lives of children were improved by removing them from their homes, there might be a greater need for protective services, but today all children are not always safer. Children, of whom I am aware, have been raped and impregnated in foster care and the head of a Foster Parents Association in my District was recently arrested because of child molestation;
· that some parents are even told if they want to see their children or grandchildren, they must divorce their spouse. Many, who are under privileged, feeling they have no option, will divorce and then just continue to live together. This is an anti-family policy, but parents will do anything to get their children home with them.
· fathers, (non-custodial parents) I must add, are oftentimes treated as criminals without access to their own children and have child support payments strangling the very life out of them;
· that the Foster Parents Bill of Rights does not bring out that a foster parent is there only to care for a child until the child can be returned home. Many Foster Parents today use the Foster Parent Bill of Rights to hire a lawyer and seek to adopt the child from the real parents, who are desperately trying to get their child home and out of the system;
· that tax dollars are being used to keep this gigantic system afloat, yet the victims,
parents, grandparents, guardians and especially the children, are charged for the
system’s services.
· that grandparents have called from all over the State of Georgia trying to get custody of their grandchildren. DFCS claims relatives are contacted, but there are cases that prove differently. Grandparents who lose their grandchildren to strangers have lost their own flesh and blood. The children lose their family heritage and grandparents, and parents too, lose all connections to their heirs.
· that The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population.
· That according to the California Little Hoover Commission Report in 2003, 30% to 70% of the children in California group homes do not belong there and should not have been removed from their homes.
On my desk are scores of cases of exhausted families and troubled children. It has been beyond me to turn my back on these suffering, crying, and sometimes beaten down individuals. We are mistreating the most innocent. Child Protective Services have become adult centered to the detriment of children. No longer is judgment based on what the child needs or who the child wants to be with or what is really best for the whole family; it is some adult or bureaucrat who makes the decisions, based often on just hearsay, without ever consulting a family member, or just what is convenient, profitable, or less troublesome for a director of DFCS.
I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to these families that I am not sure if I even believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so. Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set our children and families free.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy” Proverbs 31:8-9
Please continue to read:
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
1. Call for an independent audit of the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) to expose corruption and fraud.
2. Activate immediate change. Every day that passes means more families and children are subject to being held hostage.
3. End the financial incentives that separate families.
4. Grant to parents their rights in writing.
5. Mandate a search for family members to be given the opportunity to adopt their own relatives.
6. Mandate a jury trial where every piece of evidence is presented before removing a child from his or her parents.
7. Require a warrant or a positive emergency circumstance before removing children from their parents. (Judge Arthur G. Christean, Utah Bar Journal, January, 1997 reported that “except in emergency circumstances, including the need for immediate medical care, require warrants upon affidavits of probable cause before entry upon private property is permitted for the forcible removal of children from their parents.”)
8. Uphold the laws when someone fabricates or presents false evidence. If a parent alleges fraud, hold a hearing with the right to discovery of all evidence.
Senator Nancy Schaefer
50th District of Georgia

Tags: child, corruption, cps, fraud, government, removal

Shredded Society: States Earn Bonuses & Rewards For Taking Children Away From Their Parents

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The State of Georgia Subsidy Profile of 2009 in other words More Money for Adoping our Children

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Georgia State Subsidy Profile

Updated November 2009

State Subsidy Contact Person

Mr. Adrian J. Owens
DHS/Social Services Administration Unit
2 Peachtree St. NW, Ste. 8-400
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: 404-657-3558 / 888-460-2467
Fax: 404-463-3735

NACAC Subsidy Representatives (parent/volunteer)

Jymme Reed
6319 Hillview Lane
Douglasville, GA 30134
Phone: 770-947-1265

Kathryn Karp
My Turn Now, Inc.
PO Box 7727
Atlanta, GA 30357
Phone: 404-657-3479


Adoption subsidies are available for children with special needs. Federal subsidies were created by Congress (through Public Law 96-272—the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980) to encourage the adoption of special needs children and remove the financial disincentives to adoption for the families. Children may receive a federally funded subsidy under Title IV-E or a state-funded subsidy as per state guidelines. Below we have outlined information related to definitions of special needs, benefits available, and procedures in your state. Answers to select questions were made available by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (AAICAMA) through the Child Welfare Information Gateway ( Profiles for each state’s subsidy program are available on our web site at If you have additional questions, please call the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) at 651-644-3036 or our subsidy help line at 800-470-6665, or e-mail us at If you have state-specific questions, please call your State Subsidy Contact Person or the NACAC Subsidy Representative (listed above) for more information.


Adoption Resources on the Web: 09
100000bf01010aRCRD and

Georgia’s state-specific medical assistance:,2467,31446711,00.html;jsessionid=


1. What specific factors or conditions does your State consider to determine that a child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing financial assistance? (“What is your State definition of special needs?”)

A child with special needs is defined as a child that has at least one of the following needs or circumstances that may be a barrier to placement or adoption without financial assistance:

Eight years of age or older
African American heritage and one year of age or older
Member of a sibling group of three or more children placed together at the same time
Member of a sibling group of two children to be placed together where one child is eight years of age or older or has another special need as defined herein
A documented physical, emotional, or mental problems or limitations, or a predisposition there from
Note: Children must be legally free for adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance. To be eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance, the state must also determine that the child cannot or should not return home to the birth parent(s) and that reasonable efforts to place the child with out adoption assistance have been made (except when contrary to the best interest of the child).

2. What are the eligibility criteria for the State-funded adoption assistance program?

In order to be eligible for state-funded adoption assistance a child must not be eligible for Title IV-E, special needs child as defined above, legally free for adoption, and have been in the permanent custody of the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

3. The maximum basic monthly adoption assistance maintenance payment in Georgia is:

These rates are effective July 1, 2009 for new subsidy agreements only.

Basic rates: Age Rate

Age Rate
0-5 $441.04
6-12 $463.85
13-18 $486.67

4. Specialized rates are based on the extraordinary needs of the child, and/or the additional parenting skill needed to raise the child. If Georgia offers these rates, the criteria used to define them are as follows:

If a child receives a specialized family foster care rate, a foster care worker can submit an application to the Adoption Unit for a determination for a higher per diem based on the exceptional special needs of the foster child. The foster care rate is determined by the Provider Relations Unit.

Adoption assistance payments can be up to 100 percent of the applicable DHS/DFCS family foster care per diem that the child was receiving immediately prior to the adoptive placement. The rates are dependent on the current level of functioning of the child.

Note: DHR/DFCS specialized family foster care rates may be lower than a private therapeutic foster care agency’s rates. For negotiating specialized adoption assistance, the rate can only be negotiated up to the DHS/DFACS family foster care rates.

5. Parents can receive payment or reimbursement for certain nonrecurring adoption expenses directly related to the finalization of an adoption. Below are the allowed expenses and the limit per child.

Nonrecurring expenses include: reasonable and necessary legal fees/ court costs, travel/lodging/meals (as part of pre-placement visits) and physicals for adoptive parent(s) as part of the adoption home assessment directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs.

Children adopted internationally are not eligible unless they meet the federal definition of special needs. To meet the federal definition of special needs the state must determine that the child cannot or should not return home, the child must meet the state definition of special needs (see question 1), and the state must be able to document that there have been reasonable efforts to place the child without adoption assistance.

Reimbursement for nonrecurring expenses will be made only after the adoption is finalized. Documentation of expenses must be provided prior to payment. The reimbursement limit is $1,500 per child.

6. What Medicaid services are available in Georgia?

The state contact for eligibility questions is Teresa Johnson, 404-657-7263, and the contact for questions on services is Yvonne Dove, 404-463-2135.

7. Children who have federally funded (Title IV-E) subsidy are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits. However, it is the state’s decision whether state-funded (non-Title IV-E) children are eligible for Medicaid benefits in Georgia. Below is information on the Medicaid benefits available for state-funded children.

A child receiving State-funded adoption maintenance assistance is eligible for State-funded Medicaid. In practice, staff indicate that children have a “future need for counseling” so all children may receive Medicaid.

8. What mental health services are provided by your State?

Public mental health services for children in Georgia are administered through the Department of Community Health (DCH), Division of Medical Assistance and include the following examples: psychological services, in-patient hospital services, mental health clinic services, targeted case management for the chronically mentally ill, therapeutic residential intervention, and pharmacy services.

DMA and Medicaid covered services:,2467,31446711,00.html

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or medical assistance specialist for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

9. Does your State provide additional finances or services for medical or therapeutic needs not covered under your State medical plan to children receiving adoption assistance?

Special Services funds are available only to children who had been in the permanent custody of DHS. Georgia provides limited funding under the Special Services Adoption Assistance Program, these funds are approved on an annual basis.. These funds are contingent on availability of State funds and need. Family income and availability of community resources is considered in these requests. Special Services funds are provided by a separate agreement. The county social services case manager is the source of contact for application.

Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact:

Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.

10. What types of post adoption services are available in your State and how do you find out more about them?

Post adoption contracted services in Georgia are administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) thorough the DFCS, Social Services Administration Unit and community resources. DHS post adoption services include the following:

Georgia Center for Adoption Resources and Support (Tutoring referrals, lending library, training and referrals adoptive parent support groups).
A-Team (teen support group)
Crisis Intervention Team (therapeutic intervention, family case management)
Adoption Reunion Registry
Local county departments may have a local listing that adoptive families may call. In addition, a toll free number for the Georgia Center for Adoption Resources and Support is available and will provide families with information relating to resources, support groups, local and statewide adoption related activities. The number for the resource center is 1-866-A-Parent (1-866-272-7368).

Special Services Adoption Assistance—provides a time-limited or one-time special service when no other family or community resource is available:

Child Care: Based on need and family income
Respite: Provided to afford the family some down time that cares for a special needs child that may have medical/emotional/physical/mental diagnosis by a licensed medical or psychological provider. Can be approved for up to 20 hours per month/per family.
Other Special Services: Services such as orthodontics, prosthetics, psychological counseling (not paid for by Medicaid).
Contact your local DFCS County Office for more information. Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact:
Special Services funds are contingent upon the availability of State Funds. A family’s resources are taken into consideration when the application is made. Special Services are not provided each year for every child.

In addition, many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Georgia’s respite programs, link:

11. If the additional assistance (listed above in questions #8 -10) is to cover specific services (e.g., counseling/mental health services, respite care, etc.), must these services be explicitly identified in the adoption assistance agreement?

No. Special Services may be applied for anytime after the child is placed on adoptive status. Special Services are based on the availability of State Funds. These services are covered under a separate agreement and paid strictly through special services funds.

12. How are residential treatment costs covered (if at all) for adoptive families? What procedures must a family follow to receive these services?

Families requiring residential treatment should contact their county social service office or mental health center. Funding is dependent on meeting specific eligibility criteria and availability of funds. Families must be Georgia residents in order to be eligible for this service. Any child is eligible whether or not initially in Georgia DHS custody. If the child and family is receiving adoption assistance from Georgia the family will be asked to contribute a portion of the adoption assistance towards the cost of the placement as they are still legally and financially responsible for the child(ren).

13. A deferred adoption assistance agreement is one in which the initial monthly maintenance amount is $0. Does Georgia offer such agreements?

Yes, Georgia offers deferred agreements. If a child does not meet the definition of a child with special needs prior to adoption finalization, a deferred adoption assistance application is completed by the adopting parent(s) for a $0 dollar amount. If at a later time the child is diagnosed with a physical/mental/emotional, medical condition by a licensed provider, the family can request another special needs determination through the local DFCS office. All approvals/denials are completed by the Social Services Administration Unit. No adoption assistance payment will exceed the basic foster care rate the child received as a family foster care board rate prior to adoptive placement.

14. Does Georgia operate a subsidized guardianship program?


Programmatic Procedures

15. Who makes the final determination of a child’s subsidy eligibility in Georgia? What roles, if any, do workers and administrators at the county, district, or regional level play in eligibility determination and/or assistance negotiation?

Adoption Assistance is applied for at the local level (county office). All determinations/approvals/denials are made by the Social Services Administration Unit at the State Office. The caseworker submitting the documentation will be notified of the approval or denial by SSAU.

16. Will Georgia consider my family income to determine my child’s eligibility for subsidy?

Written documentation of a family’s financial circumstances must be submitted with the initial application. This information is not used to establish eligibility for subsidy, but it does give the agency an idea of the family’s ability to meet the special needs of the child.

Eligibility for Special services adoption assistance funds will consider the adoptive family income and the availability of community resources.

17. When do subsidy payments begin?

For children involved with Georgia DFCS, Adoption Assistance payments and benefits may begin at the time of adoptive placement.

For children not involved with DFCS (Private/Independent adoption), Adoption Assistance payments and benefits begin once the adoption has finalized.

18. Do children adopted from private agencies in Georgia receive the same subsidies as those children adopted from public agencies?

Only Federal (IV-E) subsidies are available to children in the custody of private agencies at this time. Children placed through private agencies are ineligible for state-funded subsidy. Special Services Funds are not available to children in the custody of private agencies.

19. When my child turns 18, which benefits if any, are available to our family?

Listed below are the criteria for adoption assistance eligibility over age 18. All adoption assistance payments will end when the youth turns 21 years old or earlier.

For youth over age 18 who are still in high school:

For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance the child must have been in the permanent custody of DFCS (Both biological parents parental rights were terminated and DFCS had sole custody of the child when the adoption occurred. The only exception to this is when the child was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption. If a child does not meet either of these requirements, then the adoption assistance will end in the month of the child’s 18th birthday.
If the child meets the eligibility requirements above, then they must document that they are in school full time (GED or Job Corp does not qualify as full time school) by providing verification on school letterhead quarterly.
NOTE: The adoption assistance ends when:
The child graduates from high school (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their graduation month)
The child drops out of high school (Can receive adoption assistance the month they drop out only),
The child turns 21 (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their birth month)
For youth over age 18 who are in college or technical school:

For an adopted child to be eligible for continued assistance they must have been adopted prior to July 1998 (any age) with an adoption assistance agreement. For children adopted after July 1998, they must have been adopted after their 13th birthday with an adoption assistance agreement.
The child must also have been in the permanent custody of DFCS (Both biological parents parental rights were terminated and DFCS had sole custody of the child when the adoption occurred, or was placed from the temporary custody of DFCS (DFCS initiated TPR) with the relative/fictive kin for the purpose of adoption.
If the child meets the eligibility requirements above, then they must document that they are in school full time by providing verification on school letterhead quarterly.
NOTE: The adoption assistance ends upon:
Failure to provide quarterly verification of full time enrollment
Child turns 21 (If still in school can receive adoption assistance through their birth month)
Child drops out of school (Can receive adoption assistance through the month they drop out)
20. A child’s adoption assistance agreement may be periodically reviewed by the state. What is the typical process used in Georgia?

Georgia does not renew nor recertify a child for adoption assistance; however Medicaid is renewed annually by the REV Max Unit.

21. Can adoption assistance agreements be modified if requested by adoptive parents?

Georgia Policy does not allow for an increase in the adoption assistance benefit beyond the amount the child received in family foster care immediately prior to the adoptive placement. However, the family may have other requests such as post adoption services, referrals for community and/or agency resources, a change of address, etc. Any requests or notifications by the parents are made to the case manager. This is outlined in the adoption assistance agreement. If an adoptive family is unsuccessful in making contact with the case manager, they should contact the supervisor or county director.

Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact:

22. What are the exact steps a family must go through to access the fair hearing/appeal process in Georgia?

Adoptive families can request a fair hearing any time there is a disagreement with a DFCS decision affecting their child’s adoption assistance agreement. Parents are directed to contact their local county Department of Family and Children Services to request a fair hearing. Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact:

All requests must be made in writing and provided to the county DFCS case manager who will send a formal referral to the Legal Services Department of DHS for processing. DHS in turn forwards the request to the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

The Office of State Administrative Hearings will notify the family, in writing, of the date and location of the hearing. Hearings are usually held in the county of residence of the petitioner. Requests for an administrative hearing by telephone are possible. The request for a telephone hearing must be made in writing to the fair hearing officer identified in the hearing notice.
After the bureau of state hearings receives a request for a fair hearing, a notice giving the date, time, and place of the hearing is sent to adoptive parents. This notice will be sent at least ten days before the hearing. The notice also will tell parents what to do if they cannot come to the hearing as scheduled. Families may bring witnesses, friends, relatives, or a lawyer to help them present their case. The hearing officer will listen to both sides but will not make a decision at the hearing. Instead, parents will receive a written decision in the mail, issued by the hearing authority, a few weeks later. Parents should receive a hearing decision within ninety days of their hearing request. The hearing officer will record the hearing so that the facts are taken down correctly. After the hearing decision is issued, parents can get a free copy of the tape by contacting the hearings section. If parents disagree with the hearing decision, the written decision sent to them will explain how to ask for an administrative appeal of the decision.

See the Office of State Administrative Hearings regarding Procedural Rules and Legal Resources:

23. Families may request a subsidy after the finalization of an adoption under certain circumstances. Below is the process by which families access a subsidy after finalization.

In order to start the process, families should contact the county where they live or contact Adrian J. Owens at 404-657-3558.

Georgia DFCS, DHR county contact:

System Operation and Program Funding

24. How is the subsidy program operated and funded in Georgia?

The system is state supervised in terms of policy writing, consultation, and some training. Counties administer the adoption program. All adoption studies and life histories are registered with the state adoption exchange. Initial applications for adoption assistance and requests for non-recurring adoption expenses are approved at the State level and administered at the County level. All requests for special services adoption assistance are approved at the state level.

The federal contribution to Title IV-E-eligible children is 67.29% in Georgia. This is known as the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) rate. The remaining cost of the program is funded entirely with state funds.

25. Below are other programs that may differentiate Georgia’s adoption assistance program from others around the country.

Georgia does not pay college tuition for adopted children. However, State funded adoption assistance may be provided in certain circumstances for children ages 18-21 who are in college or technical school-see question 19 for criteria that must be met.

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114
phone: 651-644-3036
fax: 651-644-9848

CPS Worker Attempts to Cover Up Sexual Abuse of 6 year old Girl

November 21, 2009 4 comments

CPS worker attempts cover up of sexual abuse of 6 yr. old girl – Parents of victim face retribution (harrassment) by CPS
Sat, 2009-05-30 12:07 – Bizzi
Please pass this on to all your contacts – we need to expose the lies, injustice and brutality of CPS:; (copy and paste the website link to view the video – this message only has the text of the article)

Parents accuse CPS employee of covering up sexual assault

12:06 AM CDT on Saturday, May 30, 2009

By Rucks Russell / 11 News

PEARLAND, Texas — Parents coping with the sexual assault of their 6-year-old daughter are blaming a Child Protective Services employee for compounding their pain by trying to cover-up the assault.

CPS employee accused of covering up child’s sexual assault
May 29, 2009

I cant understand how someone in a position of trust could do something like this, said the victims mother. Its devastated our family and turned my world upside down.

The suspect is a 12-year-old boy and the alleged assault took place a year ago at the couples Pearland home.

The couple says neighborhood parents and children had been invited over for a graduation party. The boys mother, a CPS Supervisor, left her son unattended at the party even though she allegedly knew her son had a history of assaulting little girls.
According to the victims father, there was a scream upstairs and he found the boy molesting his daughter.
It makes me feel less of a father. It makes me feel I didnt do my job as a father, the victims father said.

Both parents say the suspects mother urged them not to call the police, because involving the authorities was not a good idea.
They say when police did become involved, CPS workers began showing up at their house without explaining why.
They were coming by without having any documentation to support that they should be coming by, the victims father said.
The 12-year-old boy will face a judge next week on charges of taking indecent liberties with a minor. The victims parents have filed a lawsuit alleging the suspects mother used her position at CPS to try to cover-up the crime.

We have material to support this claim and intend to prove it in court, said Fernando Valdes, the attorney representing the victims parents.
The suspects mother refused to comment, but CPS officials said they found no evidence she did anything wrong.
We conducted an investigation with her supervisor and found no wrong-doing on the employees part, CPS Spokesperson Gwen Carter said.
The victims parents fear their daughter has been irreparably harmed.
Shes changed and may never be the same little girl again, her father said.

Parents Harrassed by CPS

November 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Sacramento, CA – A married couple held a press conference today in front of the Sacramento County Juvenile Court building in order to make public the unnecessary and continued harassment inflicted upon their family by CPS. The Sacramento family was accused of having caused their daughter’s infection at a local hospital even though: 1) there was no evidence of any action by the parents which could have caused the infection; 2) three social workers assigned to the case gave favorable reports; 3) there were no reports that their daughter had ever been abused or harmed before or after her hospital stay; 4) A registered nurse, the girl’s principal and teachers, and every mental health professional involved with the family, except the one utilized by the court, has commended the family for its closeness and caring attitude; 5) the case was only based on the presence of a serious infection during hospitalization.

“This has resulted in months of trial, the expenditure of countless hours by social workers and of, presumably, significant County funds,” said Steve Burlingham, PJI affiliate attorney for the parents. “Perhaps instead of throwing more money at the problem of abuse, the County needs to better manage its cases and the Law should be strengthened to prevent intervention in unwarranted cases.”

“This is a classic example of how the CPS system has gone awry,” said attorney Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute. “In view of the clear, insurmountable evidence supporting this family, there is no justification for CPS’ continued harassment and traumatizing of these parents and their seven-year-old daughter.”

Pacific Justice Institute is an organization dedicated to the defense of religious freedom, parents’ rights and other basic constitutional civil liberties.
.Taken From

Your Tax Dollars are Paying for the Buying and Selling of Our Children By CPS

November 21, 2009 1 comment

The Adoption and Safe Families Act signed into law by Bill Clinton in the 1990’s states that when a child is placed for adoption the State Child Protective Services is given between 4,000 and 6,000.00 per child. This money is increased using a scale of certain criteria. Once the child is placed in a adopted home the families are paid by the government amounts beginning at 500.00 per child. CPS is told not to work on reunification but to immediatly start working on forcing the parents to sign over their children for adoption especially now with most states broke.

This amount increases when there are special needs and multiple siblings. This money is paid on a monthly basis to the family until the child is 18 years old. The adoptive family can make thousands of dollars a month on procurement of adopted children.

Now, the thing is. This money for the buying and selling of children from parents whose only crime is they are poor and uneducated comes out of the pocket of taxpayers. We are culpable in crime of buying and selling children under the umbrella of CPS.

We as taxpayers are just as guilty in the trama and life altering personalities of children literally ripped from their parents without due process. The parents are not given the discovery also know as evidence, they are not allowed witnesses in court, on in front of the kangaroo panel. This panel determines the so fitness of the parent.
The charges are not considered criminal so they appear in family court and not in a court of law. Child Protective Services hide behind the guise of “confidentality” to keep the so called evidence hidden. They harass, threaten and intimadate the parent so they will be afraid not sign over their children for adoption.

We as taxpayers are part of this abuse on the poor and uneducated. We pay the money to the States and the adoptive parents. We encourage this behavior simply by not standing up to them and saying we are tired of them abusing our children and grandchildren. None of us are safe. At any time CPS can walk in your home take your child and put it up for adoption with out a warrant, a trial by your peers or handing evidence over to you. None of us are safe from this abuse.
Any one can call CPS give a report and your life and the life of your family as you know ceases to exist.
You pay for this abuse when you pay taxes. Your hard earned money pays for you and your family and those you love to be abused by the CPS. IT is time to put a stop to this abuse. It is time to say enough. It is time to give the kids back to their parents.

Yvonne Masonm, Author

Speaking out

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Speaking Out
In Alaska, foster parents testified that the worst of the abuses endured by foster children is not the abuse and neglect allegedly suffered before the state takes them from their natural parents. Rather, the real abuse comes from the actions of the state itself. The foster parents sat with trembling hands as they told legislators of the treatment they and their young wards endured at the hands of child protective services. Fear of retaliation was reportedly a common theme throughout the meeting (Demer, 1997). To make matters worse, just as state officials were beginning ambitious efforts to deal with the severe failures in the state’s child protection system, a two-year-old in the care of Anchorage foster parents died (Campbell, 1997).

Speaking out against the system can have its price, state representative Marie Parente, chairwoman of the Massachusetts House Foster Care Committee told Boston Globe reporters. Foster parents are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals-the ultimate threat being that DSS will take away their foster children. After Lynn Sanborn-a long-term foster mother with a flawless record-rendered testimony critical of the department’s removal of a foster child from her home before the House Foster Care Committee, she suddenly found herself the subject of two child abuse reports. “After 14 years of being a foster parent and three months ago I was an exemplary home, I get two complaints in a week,” Sanborn said. “Doesn’t that sound odd to you?” So, too, did another foster mother who testified during the hearings find herself the subject of an allegedly anonymous report, sparking charges from both women that the agency was retaliating against them for speaking out against the department. The anonymous charges were filed against them within days of their testimony. “I feel hurt and I feel sad,” said Sanborn. “If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody” (Delgado, 1992).

Similar narratives are everywhere to be found, as parents, foster parents and others who would advocate on behalf of the children in their care report the fear of retaliation from child welfare agencies seeking to silence them. The price to be paid for speaking out against the system can be particularly high for parents. Elizabeth Sayers-by her own admission in need of support services-said in an on-air radio interview that she was not being offered the help she required from the Massachusetts department to keep her children. Ninety minutes after she complained on the air to a radio talk show host about the lack of services, her children were taken away and placed in foster homes in an “emergency removal” (Matchan, 1992). Prior to a 1994 hearing held in Illinois, several parents were told by Department of Children and Family Services caseworkers “if you ever want to see your children again, don’t go to the hearing,” according to Champaign County Board member Robert Naiman (1995).

Turning once again to the matter of the treatment of foster parents by child protection agencies, ACLU attorney Benjamin Wolf asserts:

Foster parents are mistreated. They are told they’ll be reimbursed for expenses. They aren’t. They ask for respite, a break, a vacation. They don’t get help. Those not trained to deal with troubled children need support, skills training. It doesn’t happen. Emergency foster care families are treated as a bed for the night. They are given virtually no information about the child’s health needs, etc. They are lost without info, back-up services (Golden, 1997).

As a result of all this, many of the most dedicated of foster parents-those who would dare to vigorously advocate on behalf of the children in their care-are pushed out of the system, hence the abuse of children in state care continues to mount as the overall quality of the foster care pool diminishes – even as the number of children in state care continues ever to increase.

The number of conventional foster homes in the public sector has dropped from 125,000 in 1988 to 100,000 as of 1991 – and the “exodus continues,” says Gordon Evans, information director for the National Foster Parent Association in Houston. Evans explains that the average number of children per home is 3.7 – up from about 1.4 in 1983-and he estimates that “tens of thousands” care for six, seven, and eight youngsters at a time (Cohen, 1991).

The results are tragic, as even a cursory review of recent press accounts reveals. In Peoria, Illinois, the state’s child welfare agency “rescues” Donte May from a neglectful and possibly abusive mother, only to place him in a foster home where he dies suspiciously from bleeding in the brain (Associated Press, 1997c); a Pennsylvania foster mother is charged with fatally beating a six-year-old girl in her care (O’Dowd & Frisby, 1998); New Jersey officials announce they are awaiting autopsy results on an infant who suffered rib fractures and a broken leg in foster care (Van Doren & May, 1998); Oklahoma prosecutors file murder charges against a foster father who allegedly beat to death his five-year-old ward (Smith, 1998); a Wisconsin man is charged with injuring a foster child in his care so severely that doctors have to use bone grafts to repair his damaged skull (Ostrander, 1998); a two-year-old Brooklyn boy is beaten to death by his foster mother, who viciously battered the child with her fists – then took him to an all-night card game. He had been beaten with such force that his heart split, one of his lungs was punctured, his liver ripped and his ribs cracked (Cauvin, McQuillan & Hutchinson, 1998).

Needless Suffering

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Needless Suffering
One of the most tragic aspects of many of these cases is that the children suffer needlessly, for in their zeal to protect them against the perceived shortcomings of their natural parents, child protective services caseworkers placed them into dangerous homes that inflicted upon them precisely the injury they had hoped to prevent. In the District of Columbia, social workers removed four of Debra Hampton’s children from her home placing them in foster care. According to the testimony of a social worker, the children were removed because Mrs. Hampton had left them alone and was not properly supervising them, and her home was “generally uninhabitable.” Three months later, the foster mother left two-year-old Mykeeda Hampton at home for over ten hours. While she was out running errands, Mykeeda was beaten to death by the foster mother’s 12-year-old son. An autopsy later established that the two-year-old died of “blunt force injuries to the head, abdomen, and back, with internal hemorrhaging.” As of September 1995, several years after the incident, the case was still under litigation (District of Columbia v. Debra Ali Hampton).

In August of 1995, San Francisco officials took custody of Selena Hill a few days after her birth because of concerns that her parents, Stacey and Claudia Hill, had physically abused each other and didn’t seem capable of caring for their newborn. In September, seven-week-old Selena Hill was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Oakland with a fractured skull and other injuries that almost killed her. In their efforts to protect her from her actual parents, child welfare workers placed Selena into a foster home with a history of domestic violence. In the nine months before the infant was injured, Berkeley police had visited the residence three times after receiving reports about violent disturbances in the foster home (Ferriss, 1995).

The state of Georgia placed Clayton and Kelly Miracle in foster care with Betty and Joe Wilkins in June of 1993. Two months later paramedics would arrive at the foster home in response to a 911 call, finding Clayton barely breathing, with two large knots on his head, one in the front and one in back. Clayton died as a result of blunt force trauma to his head. The doctor who performed the autopsy testified that Clayton’s fatal injuries could not have been caused by an accidental fall and that injuries and bruising found all over Clayton’s body were consistent with battered child syndrome. Doctors also examined his sister Kelly and found the same pattern of bruising (Wilkins v State).

CPS Makes Matter Worse

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Making Matters Worse
The reporting crusade wrought other unintended consequences as well, among them an increase in the abuse and neglect of children by the very system designed to protect them. Stein and Rzepnicki (1983) explain that the possibility state action could have negative consequences for youngsters and their families was not seriously entertained, nor had the effects of state action been systematically monitored during earlier years. While courts and child-caring agencies have historically been considered as benevolent, and acting to protect children and further their best interests: “Evidence gathered in recent years has shown that intervention by child welfare agencies may exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, family difficulties” (p. 284). This growing body of evidence, they argue, “forces a reconsideration of the previously unquestioned assumption that actions taken by state agencies are ipso facto beneficial.”

As Lindsey (1994) explains, with the shifting emphasis placed on child abuse investigation, “the [caseworker] was unmistakably cast in the role of inquisitor prying into and judging the affairs of the family, with predictably adverse effects on the family” (p. 98). Dysfunctional families “may experience considerable stress with the occurrence of seemingly minor events,” notes the Reference Manual for the Pennsylvania Model of Risk Assessment (Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, undated). “The mere presence of the social worker can trigger a family crisis.”

If the mere presence of a social worker can trigger a family crisis, imagine what a full-blown child abuse investigation may do. Besharov (1985) explains that even the determination that a report is unfounded can only be made after an unavoidably traumatic investigation that is, inherently, a breach of parental and family privacy. Dana Mack (1997) notes that caseworkers will typically enter a home for the first time at an odd hour, with no previous announcement, giving no information about the nature of the charge held against the family, nor who has made it. The homes of accused families are always checked, with refrigerators opened and the bathrooms inspected. Neighbors and school personnel are questioned about the family, particularly about the reputation, behavior and habits of the parents. Nor is it unusual in some jurisdictions for child welfare workers to enter homes in the middle of the night, stripping children naked and probing their genitals for evidence of abuse. Investigations may involve repeated and relentless interrogations of children, and a battery of psychological testing for both the parents and their children. These tests are often conducted by a parade of court-appointed psychologists and therapists.

Thomas Sowell (1995) observes that, by the time an investigation has run its course, children have been strip-searched, interrogated by a stream of social workers, police officers, and prosecutors, psychologically tested, and sometimes placed in foster care. Such actions usually occur without search warrants, parental consent, court hearings, or official charges-and often solely on the basis of the anonymous telephone call. Even in the event that a report is ultimately unfounded, a family has been subjected to enormous stress factors. As Elizabeth Hutchinson (1990) explains:

Investigation of a report of child maltreatment is not an innocuous intrusion into family life. By the time an investigation is complete, the family has had to cope with anxieties in both their formal and informal support systems alerted to state suspicion of their parenting. Even if the report is expunged from the central registry due to lack of substantiation, it is seldom expunged from the mind of the family-or from the memories of persons in the support system.

Child development experts Goldstein, Solnit, Goldstein, and Freud (1996) note that, “by its intervention, the state may make a bad situation worse: indeed it may even turn a tolerable situation or even a good situation into a bad one” (Besharov, 1987; see also Goldstein et al., 1996, p. 92).

The clientele primarily “serviced” by child protection agencies may be particularly vulnerable to having a bad situation worsen. Empirical research corroborates the association between social class and the physical abuse and neglect of children (Hagedorn, 1995; Lindsey, 1994; Pelton, 1978). Child abuse has always been concentrated in areas of greatest poverty, where stress is more common. Family income is among the best predictors for both investigation and child removal (Fein & Maluccio, 1992; Lindsey, 1994). The families which become known to public child welfare agencies through the reporting of child abuse and neglect are largely the poorest of the poor, and the children in foster care come predominantly from such families (Horowitz & Wolock, 1981; Pelton, 1992; Testa & Goerge, 1988). The reasons for this are clear, as Van Hooris and Gilbert (1998) explain: “The frustration and stresses that accompany unemployment, poverty, inadequate housing, and continual insecurities of lower-socio-economic status contribute to a volatile environment in which children are at risk of abuse and neglect.”

Add to this already volatile mix a child abuse or neglect investigation with the possibility of child removal looming as imminent and the results are predictable. The mere presence of a social worker or other authority may exacerbate an already dysfunctional or stressful family situation, tipping the marginalized parent toward an act of physical violence which may not have otherwise occurred absent the anger, fear or frustration imposed by the investigation itself. Yale Professor Edward Zigler, testifying before Congress during the 1970s, addressed this issue, saying that he was “beginning to see some people who we are driving to the brink of psychosis because of these [reporting] laws.” Zigler found these early trends to be both troubling and potentially counterproductive, for even during this early period we were already reaching a phenomenon of the sort in which: “Somebody reports a parent; then the parent abuses the child again for getting her in trouble.” Zigler explained that this was “clinically occurring everywhere” at the time (Committee on Education and Labor, 1977).

Research into this area is problematic. After all, who would believe the word of an accused child abuser claiming to have been pushed toward such action by the stresses imposed by an investigation? The situation poses something of a classic chicken or the egg dilemma for the researcher, as an act of violence, or worse, a child fatality following an investigation seemingly provides the “proof” that the family was being properly investigated to begin with, and that the caseworker “missed something.”

Consider the case of an Iraqi family who became refugees in 1991 after their home was bombed during the Persian Gulf War. They reportedly lived in tents in Saudi Arabia for more than three years before the United Nations brought them to Nebraska in 1994. A year later, the family moved to Detroit, drawn by the area’s large Arab-American and Muslim communities. A teacher from Nebraska had kept in touch with one of the daughters, a former student, and called Detroit authorities to report suspicions that the parents might be abusing some of their children. Detroit police went to the home to interview the children and the parents. Finding nothing wrong, the police left. The Detroit Free Press (Krodel, 1998) describes what happened next:

After they were gone, the father — angry, frightened and insulted by the visit — said he wanted to know who said what to the teacher in Nebraska. An argument erupted. Two of the teenage daughters started pointing fingers at each other, and eventually the 16-year-old tried to leave the house, the family’s attorney said. Her parents and an older brother tried to stop her.

Neighbors heard screams and saw the girl in the street with her clothes torn and called police.

Police then took four daughters — ages 3, 12, 14 and 16 — into protective custody. Ten days later, three more children-sons ages 5, 8 and 10-were taken into custody. The four children over age 18 remained in the home. The situation has been especially difficult because neither parent speaks English.

In this instance, the vague concerns of a former teacher many miles distant first brought the family to the attention of Detroit authorities. While it may be argued that the case raises some valid concerns about the family’s functioning, it may also be argued that it was the mere presence of the authorities in the home which exacerbated the family’s functioning to the extent that further intervention became a consideration. Moreover, once removal of the children became a consideration, the authorities may have been negligent by virtue of having failed to adequately weigh the consequences of removal against the alternative of leaving the family intact in terms of which option provided the least detrimental alternative for the children.

Consider the results of this intervention: The children were spread out over four foster homes. While in foster care, a 3-year-old girl was burned with an iron, her depressed 16-year-old sister mutilated her own arm, and their 12-year-old sister was seen with a 16-year-old boy who had his pants down, prompting concerns that the girl had been raped. To make matters worse, a non-Muslim foster parent gave the older girls crosses, which was interpreted by the Muslim and Arab communities — which had over time become involved in the case — as a sign that the children were being deprived of their Muslim faith.

Compounding the difficulties of research into this area of inquiry is the industry’s continued reliance on what Hagedorn (1995, p. 63) euphemistically refers to as “medical model gimmicks” drawn as a consequence of its continued reliance on Freudian models of psychopathology (Billingsley & Giovannoni, 1972; Johnson, 1991). The relation between social work and popular psychotherapy “is the most significant issue facing the profession today.” Social services, both public and private, are organized to make individualized psychotherapeutic forms of helping the most significant service they have to offer, hence: “Whether we are dealing with child abuse and neglect, addictions, loneliness, anxiety, economic dependency, or other physical and mental disabilities, it is psychotherapeutically oriented work with individuals that is considered to be the key” (Specht, 1990).

The philosophical underpinning of psychotherapeutic intervention in the field of social work, however, may itself be a significant part of the equation. Epstien (1997), in commenting on recent tinkering with family preservation services, notes:

Family preservation services, intrusive and possibly irritating, may actually exacerbate bad situations, producing harmful effects. Although the deterioration of subjects as a result of care may appear to be theoretically remote, it remains a live possibility of psychotherapy, and therefore cannot be summarily dismissed in any service involving counseling.

The psychotherapeutic orientation of social work aside, Epstien observes that the “intrusiveness” of one family preservation effort under review “may have exacerbated family tensions in a number of cases.” Matters can only be worse in the event that a child is actually removed from the home. As Besharov (1987) explains:

Long-term foster care can leave lasting psychological scars. For the parents, removing a child is psychologically devastating, and can do irreparable damage to their bond of affection and commitment. In addition, many forms of maltreatment stem from how the parent and child relate to each other. Separation obviously cannot aid in the resolution of such problems. The period of separation may so completely tear the already weak family fabric that the parents have no chance of coping with the children when they are returned.

The true extent of the problem is potentially far more significant than one might care to imagine. Roughly 45% of child abuse related fatalities have already come to the attention of child protective services agencies (Wiese & Daro, 1994) with some estimates ranging as high as 55% (Besharov, 1987). While the precise number of such cases actually accepted into the system and passed on for investigation is unknown, conventional wisdom would dictate that had the screening operator or investigating caseworker conducted a more competent or thorough inquiry, or had a reliable risk assessment device — one more capable of better “predicting” the course of events — been made available, nearly half of all child fatalities could have been prevented and these children could have been “rescued” from their tragic fates.

For example, Barth (1994) claims that unwarranted intrusions are not as deleterious to families as is often assumed while others, such as Finkelhor (1990, 1993) and Gelles (1996), argue in support of casting a more expansive net, positing that the problem of unsubstantiated reports is not serious enough to warrant any changes to or restrictions on current reporting trends. Gelles maintains not only that child abuse and neglect are underreported, but that the solution to the problems attributed to overreporting “is a better and more accurate means of risk assessment for reported cases” (p. 47). Reduced to its essence, they, along with many other advocates, argue for what Pelton (1997) describes as “more of the same” so that more children may be “rescued” from their homes.

But will casting a wider net, i.e., significant increases in financial resources expended on child welfare agencies, coupled with a marked increase in the number of available caseworkers truly have an impact on child fatalities? Apparently not, if recent developments in Sacramento, California, are to be taken as an indication. After several high-profile deaths of young children who had reportedly “fallen through the cracks of the county’s notoriously porous Child Protective Services,” Sacramento beefed up its child protective services programs and budgets. The county hired 116 additional social workers, and began removing children from “dangerous homes” more quickly, particularly those homes where drug abuse was present (Sacramento Bee, 1998). As previously noted, the removals of children from their homes increased from a rate of approximately 200 per month to 400 per month, with police assisting child protection workers in conducting unannounced late-night home visits. The results are in, as the Sacramento Bee explains:

Sadly, increased vigilance did not have an appreciable impact. The number of children who died of abuse and neglect last year in the county was among the highest ever, 14 such child deaths in 1998, compared to nine in 1996. At the same time, the number of children in foster homes has soared, up 1,400 from last year, a 45% increase.

While the increase in fatalities may well be attributable in part to some yet-to-be-described outside factors, one may well have imagined that even such a “notoriously porous” safety net would have fared better in protecting children from harm with the addition of 116 caseworkers to its ranks. The best argument that could be raised is that increases in budgets and staffing for child protection agencies are largely ineffective at reducing child abuse- and neglect-related fatalities. An alternative explanation is that such increases in staffing and budgets are somehow responsible for an increase in child fatalities.

Further compounding the difficulties of research in this arena is the fact that there has been little research on the possibility that child welfare services reduce child mortality (Barth & Blackwell, 1998). Pelton (1990) and Lindsey (1991, 1994) argue that there is no empirical evidence to support frequent claims by professionals that child protection services have impacted positively in terms of reducing child fatalities. Indeed, Lindsey (1994, pp. 100-118) devotes considerable attention to an argument which asserts that the tremendous increases in reporting and investigations of the recent decades have failed to produce anticipated reductions in child abuse- and neglect-related fatalities.

While it is not suggested that broad conclusions should necessarily be drawn from the anecdotal accounts recounted herein, further inquiry is essential if we are to devise a meaningful solution to the problem of child abuse while minimizing the possibility of exacerbating it in the very process of investigating whether or not it has occurred. Research in this area of inquiry is scant, at best, and I would find myself gratified if credible research efforts were to be undertaken as a result of my having outlined my hypothesis in these pages.

Termination of Parental Rights

November 20, 2009 2 comments

Termination of Parental Rights
In Kentucky, an “explosion” in the number of children removed from their homes by court order has resulted in more children in need of care-yet the number of people willing to step forward as foster parents has failed to keep pace. “And its going to get worse,” says Rudi Megowan, Northern Kentucky family services supervisor for the state Department for Social Services. “They just passed legislation that will make it easier to terminate parental rights, which means more and more kids will be coming into care” (Vance, 1998).

This legislation, sweeping the states as of this writing, is the Adoption and Safe Families Act. It was the disparity between the number of children in foster care who need homes and the number who were adopted that spurred President Clinton in 1996 to ask for new legislation aimed at doubling the number of public adoptions by 2002 and giving foster children “what should be their fundamental right-a chance at a decent, safe home.” In response, Congress passed the Act in November of 1997 (Spake, 1998).

Before children may be adopted, their ties to their natural parents must first be permanently severed. Permanent termination of parental rights has been described as “the family law equivalent of the death penalty in a criminal case” (In re Smith). The power to terminate parental rights is an “awesome power” (Champagne v. Welfare). “It is tantamount to a civil death penalty” (Drury v. Lang).

In Michigan, terminations of parental rights increased by 55% in 1996 when referenced against the previous year (Kresnak, 1996). This was before the Adoption and Safe Families Act was even on the drawing board. From Wisconsin: “Petitions to terminate parental rights are on the rise in Waukesha County, fueled by changes in state law that cut the time parents have to shape up.” Over the past four years, the number of petitions filed by the county had increased sevenfold (Sink, 1998).

It apparently has become a cruel fashion of our times to systematically target primarily poor families for permanent severance of their family ties. To this end, the state of Arizona established a “Severance Project,” while Kentucky has established a “Termination of Parental Rights Project.” To implement the Kentucky initiative successfully, program officials believed that it was necessary to have the long-term and active involvement of “key officials at all levels, including the governor, legislators, and agency officials as well as caseworkers, service providers, attorneys, and judges.” This participation was deemed “essential to define the problem and reach consensus,” and accomplishing this end “required considerable coordination [of] efforts and an extended commitment of resources” (General Accounting Office, 1997).

Such a relentless onslaught against the family was bound to engender resistance. In Nevada, there is mounting anger and demand for change reportedly coming from parents whose rights have been terminated. They, too, say losing a child to protective custody is akin to a civil “death penalty” (Kanigher, 1997). Indeed, Chief Justice Charles Springer of the Nevada Supreme Court has observed that there is a “recent epidemic of terminations of parental rights of poor and handicapped parents” (Kanigher, 1997b). “As I have indicated in my dissents to other termination cases, the state seems to be running amok, spouting pop psychology and terminating parental rights in cases where it is clearly not necessary to do, particularly in cases of poor and otherwise handicapped parents,” Springer wrote in another dissent, while in another still, he explained:

The state’s modus operandi appears to be to go into the homes of handicapped, powerless and usually very poor parents, remove their children (almost always without the parents having counsel) and put the children into the home of substitute parents who are more affluent than the natural parents and more pleasing to social service agents than the natural parents.

After the children are taken out of the home of their natural parents, the state imposes upon the natural parents a “reunification plan” that is frequently beyond the capacity of the parents to deal with.

Springer has written of what he describes as the “state’s child-devouring juggernaut” to take children away from their parents only because they are poor. When child-rearing problems arise, Springer notes the problem of poverty is “rarely addressed,” rather the state seeks to assign blame to the parents thus “permanently depriving the children of their natural parents” (Ryan, 1998).

In a California case of recent vintage, a mother had her parental rights terminated on the basis of the testimony of a therapist who opined that she had a “narcissistic” personality. Her troubles began when social workers visited her home, removing the children because they found the home to be in generally “an unsanitary condition.” Orange County Counsel Laurence H. Watson and Deputy County Counsel Mark R. Howe argued the case on behalf of the Department of Social Services (Orange County Social Services Agency v Doris F.). In yet another California case, parental rights were terminated on the basis of a psychologist’s opinion that the parent had failed to “internalize” general parenting skills. Once again, Watson and Howe argued the case in the appellate court on behalf of the Department (Blanca P. v Superior Court). Dana Mack points to a case in which San Diego prosecutor E. Jane Via, whom she describes as a radical feminist, had sought to arrange for the adoption of an infant girl on grounds no more substantial than her Mormon father’s “patriarchal” religious beliefs might someday inspire him toward abusive behavior.

Perhaps more typical of national trends is a North Carolina case in which the Court of Appeals upheld termination of parental rights based on Moore County District Court Judge Michael E. Beale having found “clear, cogent and convincing evidence” that neglect had occurred based on a friend of the defendant testifying to having “observed a roach on the child’s face on one occasion,” and having seen “roaches on the car seat, diaper bag, and dirty clothes.” Dirty dishes were said to be accumulating, and dirty clothes were said to have been piled up around the apartment. This “evidence” of unfitness was not uncontroverted. A family therapist employed by the court to conduct a home study stated in his report that the house was neat and clean, and that the mother had “shown a good aesthetic sense in arranging flowers and art work to create a warm ambiance.” He also testified about the mother’s apparent willingness to become a better parent. The primary witness against the mother, Alvina Street, had legal custody of the child at the time she testified against the mother (In re Eric Young).

When in modern times it became fashionable for the courts of appeal to uphold the termination of parental rights for reasons of poverty is difficult to determine with precision. In Texas, however, the date was February of 1987, and the venue was the Court Of Appeals, Fifth District Of Texas. In his dissent in In the interest of S.H.A., a child, Justice Devany observed:

[W]hen we are faced with an economic depression and parents cannot provide adequate food for their children, under the majority holding, termination will be justified. The majority has enacted law that in a time of poverty parental rights will be terminated. The majority will have the state become a “big brother” form of government of such supremacy that it can destroy the very base of freedom and democracy in this country by destroying the family.

A more comprehensive review of appellate cases involving termination of parental rights is beyond the scope of this text. Suffice it to say that to the extent a very few children find themselves fortunate enough to wind their way out of the labyrinth of foster care toward the promise of permanence offered by adoption, a majority of these children appear to have had their rights to their parents terminated for largely the same reasons they entered foster care to begin with. In a majority of cases the reason is related to their poverty status. Among the majority of the remainder of these cases factors such as cultural bias or insensitivity, decision making and other skill deficits at all levels of administration, an all-pervasive anti-family bias, and corruption motivated either by financial gain or personal aggrandizement frequently manifest themselves. Allegations involving instances of life-threatening child abuse or neglect appear to be raised among the minority of TPR cases based on my personal review of something approaching some several hundred such cases.

And now, along comes the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Already the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a Program Announcement detailing how the legislation is to work once implemented on the state level. States are affirmatively required to proceed with the termination of parental rights when a child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months. There are only three exceptions to the rule: 1) the child is placed with a relative (at the option of the State); 2) the State documents a compelling reason not to file a petition for TPR; 3) the State has not provided the services, identified in the case plan, necessary to make the home safe for the child’s return within the time frame specified in the case plan. The Act is “to be treated as a Title IV-E State plan requirement” and failure to obtain the necessary State legislation required to implement these new procedures during the first legislative session following the enactment of the Act “will result in a State plan compliance issue” (Administration for Children, Youth and Families, 1998).

Former New Hampshire State Senator and Chairman of the Human Services Committee David Wheeler argues that the Adoption and Safe Families Act will allow juvenile court judges to proceed with terminations of parental rights based solely on a child’s length of stay in foster care absent so much as an adjudication of abuse or neglect. The law comes with new funding streams, including incentives to maintain a child in state care until such time as termination of parental rights triggers financial incentives to child protection agencies. To my knowledge, his was the only state to reject the bill when it was first introduced in the House. A subsequent effort to attach it to another bill was discovered and derailed. The former Senator explains that as of this writing, efforts are still under way “to slip it under the door” (personal communication). While on its face, the legislation offers the promise of quicker exit from a system historically known for maintaining children in care for countless years of time, the Congress failed to ask one crucial question when it passed the legislation: Why are so many children in the foster care system to begin with?


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