Child Collecting Foster Adopters Sentenced To Prison
February 16, 2007 11:43 AM EST (Updated: February 16, 2007 12:24 PM EST)
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Some might think a couple who adopted eleven children out of foster care were philanthropists, but when you realize they got adoption subsidy payments of $4256 per month, it is hard to see mere kindness as a motive. And with so many children, a Norwalk, Ohio couple apparently didn’t know what to do, like the old lady in the shoe. So they kept some of the kids in cages made of wire and wood.
Last March a judge decided to terminate their rights to all eleven children, ages 2 to 15, after he determined that at least eight of them had been abused in the Gravelle home.
According to an Associated Press article dated February 15, 2007, Michael Gravelle said, “What do you do with these kids?” He said he prayed for an answer and built cages at the suggestion of social workers. His wife, Susan Gravelle, said the children were never confined as punishment. She claimed the cages were there to protect them. She said one of the children wanted to jump from a second-story window.
Two of the eleven children wrote statements that were read in court. A boy wrote about how grateful he was for his new fosterers. “Because of them I don’t have to steal food,” he said. “I can use the bathroom whenever I want. Never again will I have to sleep in a box.”
A girl’s statement read, “Mom, you walked around like you were God, then whenever you did go places you were Mother Teresa taking in the poor black kids that no one wanted.” She also said that the Gravelles “are grown adults who know the difference between right and wrong. So I ask that they get as much time in jail for as long as my siblings had to be in cages.”
A social worker and others testifying for the Gravelles said the children’s behavior improved because of the cages, which were painted bright red and blue, but the sheriff said the cages were urine stained and lacked pillows and mattresses. One boy claimed to have lived confined to a bathroom for 81 days, and an expert for the defense claimed this imprisonment helped the child.
In any case, the decision has been made as of February 15, 2007. The Gravelles have been sentenced to two years in prison because they adopted so many “special needs” children, that even with $4256 in adoption subsidy payments every month, they didn’t know what to do. Michael Gravelle said when they got into foster-adopting they felt “led by the Lord”. Perhaps if they hadn’t adopted so many kids, it wouldn’t have led to this.
Manatee County, Florida has long made a business of stealing children. Families who settle there do not know that, however. They are attracted to the weather, the beauty of the area. If they knew they would never settle anyplace in Florida, which is arguably has the most corrupt CPS system in the nation. The County is run by a Board of Commissioners who meet at this well polished table.
Children are a commodity for which there is a steady and growing market both in the United States and across the world. Child sex-slaves arrive in Europe and elsewhere from unspecified locations; children taken from homes routinely end up in the porn industry. It has been going on for many years but since it did not impact most of us it was easy to ignore. But as counties across the country have cycled down into bankruptcy the need to pump harder for every buck to be made has become more compelling. Today it is not just the most vulnerable who are targeted but families that would before have been passed over as too well connected. In Manatee County the pumping is in fast forward.
Monday, June 2nd 2008
The two young sons of the Roberts were dropped off at the home of their babysitter, Christina Holbrook, residence11534 57th Street Circle East, Parrish, Florida. Both parents work. Michelle and James Roberts are both veterans of the US Navy who met while in service to their country. Both came from families with long and honorable histories of serving in the military.
Their oldest son, had been disciplined by his father the day before for jumping up and down on his baby brother, a potentially life-threatening activity. Spanking was the kind of discipline James himself experienced as a child growing up in Tennessee. The spanking had left a slight bruise.
CPS arrived at the babysitter’s home at 9:30am. They proceeded to strip the two boys and photograph them in the nude, questioning them for an hour. This was a bewildering and frightening experience for the boys.
The first James and Michelle heard of this was when Michelle received a phone call at 3:30pm from Alicia Habib. Habib presented herself as an agent for Child Protective Services, demanding that the couple present themselves for an ‘interview’. No criminal complaint was presented. But the process of intimidation and fear was launched.
Here, Michelle and James find out, to their shock, that the kids have been stripped and photographed. Left feeling as if the ground had been cut out from under them they endured with shock the moment when the deputy sheriff read James his Miranda rights. He was not charged; no criminal complaint was served. Michelle is interviewed. They are given orders. Michelle is to be present when James saw their children. CPS is moving towards building paperwork to take the children away from their parents.
During the interview they were shown the photos taken of their naked children by the deputy. The children’s faces were frozen in tears. He did not show them all the photos, keeping them under the paperwork. Michelle found his behavior intimidating. As the photos were shown he questioned her about their use of discipline.
Soon Michelle and James will realize that the CPS has no power unless they give it to them. CPS depends on the ignorance of ordinary people. The first phase had begun.
The system ground them out fine; dehumanizing them and working with fine-tuned intention to show them, by its actions, that they had no rights and no recourse. At the end of the week a hearing was set; they were now being launched into the second phase of the process that intended to wrest their children from them. But during those endless days they began to come out of the shock and consider their alternatives. They considered the Constitution and the rights they knew they had both sworn to defend as members of the armed forces of America.
Michelle loaded the two boys in their car and drove them hundreds of miles to the town where James had grown up. There, she left them with their great-grandparents. When you are seven months pregnant no long drive is comfortable, but for her children Michelle would risk anything.
In the car she prayed that she would not miscarry the baby held so close to her heart.
The two young parents are both veterans of the War in Iraq. Each had joined the Navy, after looking forward to serving their country from their early teems. She planned this as her career, since 7th Grade. He, since taking in ROTC in High School.
But they had joined a military that they believed cared for its own and kept its promises; after finding that their small son would be have to be left with someone else while both served in the war zone, they resigned. Their son, Lukas, was born the following October.
Now, they knew what the military is about. To them, they were just bodies to fill slots that civilians could fill at twice the pay. Never previously interested in politics they began to think about how the world was being run.
From the time you join you are told he is your commander and chief. She was not a Bush fan, but you cannot say it without fear of reprisal.
But Florida CPS was not finished with them. Although they did not know it, Habib stood to make nearly $10,000 as her bounty for taking the children, both very adoptable, from their home. They never could have imagined that the elderly great-grand-parents would be threatened with arrest, but that is what happened. They began studying the Constitution; This, they knew was the real law in America. If they understood it they could use it.
Now they understand that they should never have talked to CPS. If they had not, CPS would have had to leave them alone. CPS uses fear and intimidation to force the appearance that there they have entered into a ‘contract’ with parents. But since a valid contract cannot exist without the elements of disclosure, consent, and equitable exchange this is a fraud. All parents get is bankruptcy, heartbreak, and too often death.
The Case Plan Ploy – Adam Umholtz
Adam comes from a family that lived in a log cabin in Pennsylvania. The cabin was 230 years old. Made of chestnut beams that are from a species that is not extinct the beams were hand hewed and rectangular and criss crossed. Adam’s dad was a pastor for the Southern Home Mission Board. Adam’s younger brother was born there, in the horseshoe shaped valley that was filled with berry bushes and food they grew themselves.
Adam went to school at the Advanced Training Institute of America, now the ATI. Now he is an entrepreneur, or was until his life and family was hijacked by the CPS. Adam’s children were taken from him and his wife on Monday, July 28th, 2007. They were given a case plan that it was impossible to fulfill.
As part of the 72 goals laid out in the plan was one requirement that Adam attend a class for sexual offenders who had served time in prison. This was impossible for Adam to do. Adam is attending a study on successful parents and couples, a study in which he and his wife were invited to participate. Both parents are strong Christians who take their faith seriously. Neither parent has ever been to prison for any cause, much less a sexual offense. The charges were falsified made by a neighbor who was later charged with having committed a sexual offense themselves.
Adam cannot attend the classes available because he has never been to prison and has never been a sexual offender. He is not eligible for the class in any case. So the court told Adam to confess to a crime he did not commit to get his kids back. The court has an agenda. If Adam confesses they have a clear track for severing his parental rights. The lack of justice does not bother the court or the attorney who has urged him to confess to a crime he did not commit. They are all paid through the process that steals children for resale.
Parents are routinely told that to ‘complete their case plan’ they must fulfill requirements that force them to leave jobs that prevent them from attending classes scheduled from 9 – 5 on work days. They are told they cannot be self employed. Every possible block is put in their paths to complete a ‘requirement’ that is pointless in any case. The same pattern is reported by parents across the United States. Angelina Alexander, a parent in California was told she must quit her job as a taxi driver because she was self employed. Yet she had taken the job, the only one she could find, to fulfill the requirements to attend classes. In her case the report that took her small son from her home was from a former boyfriend who had never seen the child. Complaints that the charge was false were ignored as her processing continued.
Mainstream Americans are at risk today and have no idea what is coming. In Adam’s case the CPS had targeted the kids because they were homeschooling and because they had building materials in the back yard. Then a malicious neighbor, made sexual allegations. The neighbor was later proven to have lied.
But the fact that all the ‘charges’ were illegal did not stop them from forcing you to undertake the ‘Case Plan.’ There were no charges but they had already taken their eight children out of the home. If the family had known they would have refused to talk to CPS.
Adam and his wife are now approaching bankruptcy although they are better off than many couples because at least they do not have to hide to keep the child still living with them. Most parents face the same problem. Attempts to fulfill the case plan make it impossible to earn a living or are impossible to fulfill. There are no charges. There have been no charges. There will be no charges. As with most couples, they force the father to leave so that they will have a clear shot at grabbing the children from the mother.
CPS has continuously made false allegations, added their youngest child, born after they took the original eight children, to the present case, and over and over ignored the orders of the court. One of their daughters in foster care is suffering from a wound on her foot, acquired in the foster home, for which she is receiving no treatment. The wound continues to fester and they can do nothing.
Although there are no charges Adam and his wife are allowed to see the kids only two hours a week with supervision. And the court continues to threaten to sever their parental rights. Adam does not intend to let that happen.
Adam and his wife are considering their options now that they understand the fraud that has been perpetrated. Those options are growing, along with their understanding of the Constitution and how the system in place has worked to negate their rights.
Phase Three – Severing Parental Rights
Greg Pound and his wife, Malissa, had their parental rights severed in November of 2007. The incident that brought CPS into their lives was a simple accident. A friend’s dog visiting their home bit their baby. It could have happened to anyone; the dog’s owner was desperately sorry, the dog had never harmed anyone before. Accidents happen. There was a time when an accident was treated with offers of assistance, not viewed as the means for grabbing children from their parents and their home. But that was before those in power noticed the opportunity PL 105-89 (HR 867) offered them.
For four years the Pounds saw their children for just two hours a month. Looking at the children, across the barriers built by CPS always reduced them to tears.
The last time the Pounds saw their children was at the YMCA in Pinellas County. That ‘not for profit’ is paid 125 million a year, just for that county, according to Pound who says he has researched the subject exhaustively, to ‘babysit’ kids as they meet their parents in a stark ten by twelve foot room for the two hours they are allowed to be together for those months when they still hoped to be reunited.
The system is intended to separate children, a valuable commodity, from their parents. Mandates to reunite children and parents are consistently ignored as children are processed further and further into the system. What then happens to the children varies, but is in all cases appalling.
Along with the system abuse of families parents attempting to work in the system report that FOIA requests on such routine matters as copies of the Oath of Office and bonds, required by the Constitution, for each judge or elected official or law enforcement officer, are not produced, despite repeated requests. Many ask, over and over again, why such requests should be met with silence and hostility. Parents continue to struggle to regain custody of their children and to exact accountability from those who claim sovereign immunity as government employees from the impact of their acts on ordinary Americans. The claim of sovereign immunity for those employed by government is, according to Constitutional experts such as not employed by government entirely without foundation.
The three families whose cases appear here each report that they will never stop fighting. Each family is presently filing a civil rights suit against those involved in their several cases. In light of yesterday’s revelation on child-sex rings, operating across the United States but very present in their own areas of Florida, their questions are ever more anguished as they deal with the echoing emptiness of homes that once held the laughter of children.
“My boss rarely cared about anyone’s welfare. If there was an empty bed, he complained about lost profits.”
Foster Care Abuse Survivors
Child Welfare System Needs Professional Accountability
Apr 29, 2009 Karen Stephenson
Child abuse happens in foster homes and it’s mostly the system that fails children and their foster parents. Tighter restrictions are needed to protect children-in-care.
A recent report by Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate concluded that children in Saskatchewan’s foster care system are being subjected to many abuses. The report cites abuse is happening because of non-compliance with policy among staff at the Ministry of Social Service. It also cites how children have suffered because of overcrowding in foster homes.
Foster parents have trust in the child welfare system when children are placed in their home. They know the importance of matching an incoming child with everyone who resides in the home. It doesn’t take long for some foster families to realize, the system doesn’t care about appropriate matching. It’s about filling “available” beds and for private agencies – filling beds is profit.
“AAFG” is a former foster parent. She often caved under pressure in having children she felt were wrong for her home. Two days before AAFG was to attend her father’s funeral, she was pressured into having an autistic boy placed in her home with the promise it was only a brief emergency placement. AAFG recalls, “The days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months.” She believes, “ If they looked at who was best suited for my home instead of profits, there would have been much more success in helping the children.” AAFG no longer fosters as her frustration with a failing system was more stress than she could manage.
Marvin Bernstein who authored the Saskatchewan report says that ministry staff would use “manipulative methods” to coerce foster parents into taking another child into their care.
A former case manager in Ontario, Anne W., worked for a privately-run foster care agency. She said her boss would tell her to lie and “pressure” the foster parents into taking a child even though she felt it was setting everyone up for disaster. Anne W. says, “My boss rarely cared about anyone’s welfare. If there was an empty bed, he complained about lost profits.”
Read more at Suite101: Foster Care Abuse Survivors: Child Welfare System Needs Professional Accountability http://abuse.suite101.com/article.cfm/foster_care_abuse_survivors#ixzz0cB3aewIb
Dorothy’s Never Coming Home:
New Law Puts Families in Crisis
States Report They are Increasing Efforts to Take Children From Their Homes to Collect Federal Bounty
by TCB CHRONICLES Staff
Child protective agencies nationwide are forcibly removing more children from their homes even when the agencies’ own investigations establish that the children have not been abused or neglected, according to reports submitted by state agencies to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) during 1998. Once in foster care, state agencies further reported, children were much more likely to be maltreated than they are in their own homes.
Family advocates blame financial incentives offered through new federal legislation for the frightening trend that places increasing numbers of families at risk of losing their children and a national watchdog organization has pledged to use NCCAN’s statistics to alert parents.
According to statistics published in the recently released government publication, “Child Maltreatment 1998: Reports from the States to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect,” 18% of children placed in foster care were taken from homes with unsubstantiated reports of child maltreatment. Pennsylvania, Kansas and New Jersey led the 16 states reporting in this category. Nearly half (43%) of the foster care placements in those states were taken from families where child protective services (CPS) workers had unsubstantiated reports of child abuse or neglect. A complete breakdown of these statistics by state is shown in Table 1. While many states did not supply specific statistics for this category, there is no evidence to suggest that the percentages are different in non-reporting states.
Child protective agencies’ disclosures clearly challenge the public’s assumption that children are removed from their homes only under the most extreme of circumstances. However, further examination of the agencies’ own records discloses that the cure increasingly utilized by child protective services is worse than the problem.
Children are eleven times more likely to be sexually abused in state care than they are in their own homes, according to NCCAN. While 59 out of 100,000 children in the general population are alleged to be physically abused, 160 — more than twice as much — were physically abused in the foster care population. Neglect? The 32 states submitting data in this category reported that 490 per hundred thousand children were neglected in their homes and 760 per hundred thousand were neglected in state care. Tragically, 6.4 children per 100,000 were killed in foster care in 1998 compared to a rate of 1.5 per hundred thousand in the general population. (See Table 2).
Nationwide, states are reporting to the federal government that children are being abused by the very system mandated to protect them.
Federal law requires that each state submit statistics about its child protective operations to NCCAN, an agency under the umbrella of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Congress mandated that DHHS oversee state child protective agencies and monitor their conformance to federal guidelines. NCCAN attempts to accomplish this by sending out annual surveys to the states and compiling the results in its national clearinghouse on child abuse and neglect. After spending more than 18 months verifying and organizing the statistics, NCCAN publishes the results in its “Child Maltreatment” series. The 1998 report was just released.
This is the first in a series of articles that will examine and report on the significance of the NCCAN data.
“Our investigators will be reviewing and analyzing every number the states handed over to the federal government, ” said Cheryl Barnes, Director of CPS Watch, a national organization of families and professionals that monitors CPS activities. “Our members are going to get this information out to the families that need it. Unlike DHHS, these watchdogs have teeth,” she said.
One of the country’s highest priorities is supposed to be the safety of its youngest citizens. Parents nationwide agonize over their responsibility to protect their children from the perils that sprout from an increasingly complex and violent society. The biggest peril faced by contemporary children may well be their own government. Yet surprisingly few citizens have voiced their concerns over the threatening DHHS statistics pouring out of the nation’s capital.
“With a nationwide budget exceeding that of the National Defense Budget, more than a few eyebrows should be raised,” says Susan Jackson, a family advocate and member of CPS Watch. “No one dares risk being politically incorrect, even to save hundreds of thousands of children who are sentenced to a life of disassociation and despair in multiple foster homes, and then, if they are ‘lucky,’ into an adoptive home, never to see their parents or siblings again.”
Federal legislation passed in 1997 appears to have dramatically increased child removals during 1998, even though the states had only partially applied it. The majority of the states were still in the process of drafting state laws to implement new federal guidelines in 1998. CPS Watch members who have reviewed the 1998 data expressed grave concern that the 1999 rates of child incarceration will astound both child welfare experts and the public alike and the foster care population will almost double by the end of this year.
Families who suddenly find themselves subject to CPS investigations are unprepared for the ordeal, parents who have gone through the experience explained. They suggest that parents who harbor the thought that it cannot happen to their family consider the implications of numbers released in NCCAN’s report.
If the 1998 rates of governmental intrusion are simply replicated in 2000, children will have a 1 in 25 chance of being subject to a child abuse/neglect investigation this year. On the other hand, the chance of getting a flat tire on the family car this year is 1 in 70 — enough of a possibility for the car industry to equip new vehicles with spare tires. (See Table 3)
“No family has any spare children,” says Barnes. “We have to do better. We have to do a better job of warning parents what these statistics mean to their families. We have to get to them before the government knocks on their door.”
In the worst states, Alaska, New York, Indiana and Missouri, a family is five times more likely to have a social worker knock on the door than they are to have a flat tire. “The idea that you don’t need to be concerned about CPS until they come to your door is about as ridiculous as thinking you don’t need a spare tire until you have a flat,” Barnes said. “We should protect our children from a government assault just as diligently as we protect against a flat tire or a house fire or any other threat to their well-being.”
Government statistics disclose that families are not only more likely to find themselves subject to CPS intrusion each year but that their children are far more likely to be removed after the investigation. States are reporting to NCCAN that they are increasingly choosing to remove children from their families as a solution, even when it appears there is no problem.
The state of Ohio reported to NCCAN that 22% of the children placed in state care were involved in reports that were ruled unfounded by child protective investigators. Ohio records indicated an additional 20% of the incarcerated children were “in need of services”, but not victims of substantiated abuse or neglect. An additional 4% were placed in foster care for “other reasons.” Ohio’s child protective agency said it did not know the reasons why 2% were taken into state care (Table 1).
Ten percent of the children incarcerated in Washington were placed as a result of unsubstantiated complaints of child abuse or neglect, according to NCCAN. An additional 26% placed in state care were cases “closed without a finding” and another 16% were placed for “other” reasons. These “other” reasons are not specifically named, but they were not based on founded charges of child abuse or neglect. In fact, only 48% of the children taken into state custody in 1998 were victims of child abuse or neglect.
New Mexico reported to NCCAN that 24% of the children it placed in state care were subjects of unsubstantiated complaints.
In Kansas, 41% of the children placed in foster care came from families where CPS investigators found complaints of child abuse or neglect to be unfounded. This, coupled with the fact that Kansas had the highest rate of termination of parental rights that year, could indicate a very serious problem in Kansas.
Twenty-five percent of the children placed in foster care in Wyoming came as the result of unsubstantiated complaints, state officials reported to NCCAN. An additional 1% of Wyoming children were incarcerated for “unknown” reasons.
Family advocates say that the reason states incarcerated children instead of providing the services they claim the children needed in their home has to do with money. State agencies do not receive nearly as much federal funding for family preservation as they do for foster care.
“As soon as I take a kid out of a home, I begin to earn federal money for the cost of caring for that child,” said Gary Stangler, who resigned as Director of Missouri’s Department of Social Services last month. “All of the federal incentives are in the institutional side,” Stangler told journalist Bill Moyer (Pellett, 1992).
In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). To qualify for federal funding, each state had to adopt legislation modifying its child welfare procedures to conform to ASFA’s guidelines. The new procedures place a premium on removing children from their homes and, once in foster care, accelerates substantially the time frame for severing their rights to be legally associated with their parents. ASFA provides what it literally refers to as a “bonus” for each child adopted in the state. The act continued the uncapped federal entitlements referred to by Stangler — states receive federal funds for each child held in foster care.
Family advocates claim that all the states have a powerful financial incentive to take children into custody and keep them there.
“These folks are fed by a child abuse industry to the tune of well over 12 billion dollars,” Jackson says. “Cash harvested by social workers, diagnosticians, attorneys, foster homes and group homes, to name a few. They are jumping on the abuse hysteria bandwagon like so many fleas to a dog.”
Federal funding not only encourages states to remove children from their homes, but provisions in ASFA make it far less likely that their children will ever be able to come home.
Throughout the 1990’s, children remained in foster care for an average of 2 1/2 years before being reunited with their families or put up for adoption. ASFA requires states to move to terminate parental rights when a child has been in foster care for 15 out of the previous 22 months. ASFA also authorizes additional money to states that place children with foster caretakers who want to adopt them immediately upon removing them from their families. The foster caretaker then actively participates in CPS meetings where the decision is made whether to return the child to her family.
“Your baby is torn from your arms, even though you have not been accused of abusing or neglecting him,” says one parent, “and they put him in a house with strangers. They don’t even tell you where he is. You worry yourself sick over how he is being treated. You get to visit him one hour a week in a social services office while you’re involved in a custody battle with a stranger who has him 24/7.”
“That’s child abuse,” says the parent, who asked not to be identified because of his/her involvement in an active case.
In 1998, states reported to NCCAN that CPS workers removed an estimated 238,000 children, 34,000 more than the number of children that left the system that year. The foster care population has skyrocketed during the past decade. Currently, more than 550,000 children are in state custody.
Drawing from data submitted by the states, NCCAN estimated that 2,806,453 total reports of child abuse and neglect were phoned in to hotlines across the country in 1998. Thirty-four percent of those (955,186) were immediately judged unfounded and “screened out” of the investigative process. Of the 1,851,267 that were investigated, 295,169 were substantiated for physical or sexual child abuse — about 11% of the 2.8 million reports.
“Can we justify a 4.3 billion dollar budget for 295 thousand cases of abuse,” Barnes asks. “This is presuming that all the substantiated cases are actual cases of abuse, which is highly questionable.”
States reported to NCCAN that a large percentage of reports phoned into child abuse and neglect hotlines are made by social service workers themselves. Employees of social service agencies, which include the same workers who investigate the claims, make 15 percent of the reports. School teachers and administrators report 15 percent of the cases while police officers phone in 13 percent. Disgruntled neighbors family members and friends are responsible for 17 percent of the reports, NCCAN data shows. (See Chart 1)
The public is generally aware that false allegations of child abuse are often made to gain advantage in acrimous custody disputes.
All 50 states have passed legislation that requires certain professionals to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters face criminal penalties if they fail to report and, like other reporters, are immune from civil liability for falsely reporting innocent parents. Child welfare workers have grown accustomed to “knee jerk” reports from hypersensitive mandated reporters interested in covering themselves and these reports are given low priority in many CPS agencies. Mandated reporters made 53 percent of the reports in 1998.
While the states break down reporters by category in their reports to NCCAN, parents under investigation by state CPS agencies are never told who reported them for mistreating their children. Family advocates point out that it is impossible to defend yourself against false charges made by anonymous people who may be using CPS to pursue a vindictive personal agenda.
Barnes pledges that CPS Watch advocates will continue to probe NCCAN data and report on its ongoing investigation.
Family advocates suggest that citizens who are interested in protecting their families from governmental intrusion learn more about child welfare policy in their state. They say it is important for families who have not encountered CPS workers to be prepared. Citizens can write their Congresspersons and Senators to request they repeal the Adoption and Safe Families Act, the advocates suggested.
Child welfare experts and social workers have expressed concern over the effects of ASFA since it was passed in 1997. NCCAN’s 1998 data seems to confirm their worst suspicions.
In her commentary published in “Social Work” (March, 2000), Leslie Doty Hollingsworth warns of the ethical problems social workers face with the passage of ASFA. “Social workers should also advocate for policies that separate adoption incentives from child protection decisions and that are receptive to the well-being of children . . .”
“Because there are strong financial incentives to increase adoptions,” the professor of social work at the University of Michigan writes of ASFA, “practitioners may be compromised ethically if required to work for reunification and adoptive placement simultaneously.”
Hollingsworth objects to ASFA because the new federal law ignores systemic factors, such as poverty and single female parenthood. “Poor and single-parent families may be disadvantaged, whereas people desiring to adopt may be advantaged,” she points out.
“The comparative effects of terminating parental rights on children and their biological families are not addressed” in ASFA, Dr. Hollingsworth wrote. The law gives legal standing to strangers acting as foster caregivers to participate in court hearings and family planning meetings but denies grandparents and other relatives any standing.
ASFA allows state CPS agencies to make exceptions to making “reasonable efforts” to keep a family together. As Dr. Hollingsworth points out, CPS can avoid making any efforts to keep a child in her home “even if the health and safety of the child is not at risk” in her home.
Section 303 of ASFA requires the states to report to federal government any progress made in placing children with relatives — something that government agencies are strangely reluctant to do. Dr. Hollingsworth suggests to members of the social work profession that they abide by that ruling so that the data can be reviewed in the future.
Meanwhile, family advocates say, the child protective agencies continue to destroy families on the way to the bank.
“For every day that a parent has an open case against him or her, these agencies reap in the stipends, so there is no incentive to drop an innocent parent from the abuse registry or to finalize therapeutic intervention,” Jackson says.
“Government meddling is arbitrary and never-ending, and often ends up in termination of parental rights, yielding yet another cash windfall for Child Welfare.”
Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89). Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office.
Child Maltreatment 1998: Reports from the states to the National Clearinghouse for Child Abuse and Neglect, (2000). Washington, D.C.: US Department of Health and Human Services. US Government Printing Office.
Hollingworth, Leslie (2000). Adoption policy in the United States: A word of caution. Social Work, 45, (2), pgs. 183-185.
Pellett, Gail, Producer, “Families First.” Bill Moyer, Public Broadcasting Service. 1992: Public Affairs Television, Inc.
You can find out what information your state reported to the federal government here.
TABLES & CHARTS
Perpetrators of Maltreatment
Physical Abuse Sexual Abuse Neglect Medical Neglect Fatalities
Parents 59 13 241 12 1.5
State 160 112 410 14 6.4
Number of Cases per 100,000 Children
Children Removed from Their Homes
or Indicated Unsubstantiated In Need
of Services Closed Without
a Finding Other Unknown
Pennsylvania 38% 62%
Kansas 59% 41%
New Jersey 74% 26%
Wyoming 74% 25% 1%
New Mexico 74% 24% 2%
Ohio 51% 22% 20% 4% 2%
Connecticut 84% 16%
Virginia 84% 15%
Missouri 71% 14% 12% 3%
Washington 48% 10% 26% 16%
Illinois 89% 10% 1%
Michigan 94% 6%
Minnesota 94% 6%
Oklahoma 87% 6% 6%
Florida 89% 5% 6%
Texas 93% 1% 2% 3%
Percentage of Children Removed
Children Who Suffered
Number Rate per
Alaska 15,708 81.7 1 in 12
New York 334,094 74.2 1 in 13
Indiana 110,161 72.6 1 in 14
Missouri 97,197 69.1 1 in 14
Oklahoma 52,586 59.8 1 in 17
West Virginia 22,072 54.6 1 in 18
Idaho 18,717 53.3 1 in 18
Connecticut 41,354 52.3 1 in 19
Washington 76,569 52.0 1 in 19
Michigan 130,132 51.0 1 in 20
Rhode Island 11,920 50.1 1 in 20
Delaware 8,685 48.5 1 in 21
Maine 13,850 47.5 1 in 21
Colorado 46,514 44.7 1 in 22
Arkansas 28,371 43.4 1 in 23
New Mexico 21,479 42.6 1 in 23
Massachusetts 60,786 41.7 1 in 24
New Hampshire 12,392 41.5 1 in 24
Kansas 27,410 39.3 1 in 25
Oregon 31,521 38.2 1 in 26
Florida 125,314 35.4 1 in 28
Georgia 70,580 34.9 1 in 29
Utah 21,740 31.0 1 in 32
Texas 150,863 26.8 1 in 37
Wyoming 3,429 26.5 1 in 38
South Carolina 25,134 26.2 1 in 38
California 124,759 14.0 1 in 71
Total Children 1,683,337 39.9 1 in 25
Abusing Children for Profit
They abuse children and parents for the federal “fees”
There has been a regular controversy on several of the Internet Discussion Lists to which I subscribe about whether or not to report child abuse to Child Protective Services. In reality, there shouldn’t be any question about it. If children are being abused, CPS should be called in. But under today’s circumstances, there is a very definite question about it. According to Peter Houston on the Witch Hunt List, “There is probably no single institution that commits as much harm to children as the current CPS system. It is often underfunded, understaffed, overworked, overempowered, undermonitored, mistrained, and shielded from the responsibilities for its own actions.”
Many people say: “What choice have we? Should we just leave children to be beaten, maimed, sexually abused, and killed in their homes? But my question is this: Should we allow the child protectors to snatch them from their homes and put them into foster homes where they are beaten, maimed, sexually abused and killed? The fact is, according to the child protectors’ own figures, more children are apt to be abused in foster homes than in their own homes. So what do we do? CPS is our only option. There is nothing else. So maybe we should look into finding an “else.”
But is it an option? Should we allow children to be abused either at their own homes or in foster care? The Child Protection system is not working. It is out of control and routinely victimizes parents and children without cause. It has put numerous people in prison for many years until “wiser heads” prevail and they’re found not guilty and released. They routinely accuse parents, and anybody else they can of abuse and sexual abuse without proof. Courts allow the unsupported opinion of a child protection worker to be considered the same as proof. Prosecutors all over the world falsify cases to put people wrongly accused in prison for a long time. And when it is found that they were innocent after spending many long years in prison, do they apologize? Not even. When this happens the prosecutors claim they “got out on a technicality.”
They take children on the slightest suspicion of abuse, then they subject them (and their parents) to months, even years of “star-chamber” questioning in order to get them to confess, even when they’re clearly not guilty. And after that much questioning of small children particularly, before long they’re parroting what the child savers want them to say, just to make it stop.
Calling CPS when children are abused is a “crap shoot” at best. Some CPS workers are good people who just want to help. But all too many are as conditioned as are the rest of the population. They’re taught that all parents are “potential” abusers and “where there’s smoke, there must be fire.” That they should “err on the side of the child” and take the children as a first option and sort it out later. That this is, in itself, child abuse, doesn’t seem to bother them.
Professor Susan Sarnoff, assistant professor of social work at Ohio University blithely comments: “Children in foster care are often more difficult to deal with.” I wonder why. Could it be that children who are forcibly removed from their loving families and placed with strangers without cause (in a majority of cases) are going to “act out?” When you rip a child from his family he or she is not going to be a “normal child” for a long time afterward. And the longer the children are kept away from their families, the more difficult they will become to handle. You’d think someone who teaches “social work” would know that.
What they’re actually doing is manipulating children and parents for money. Each child who is put into foster care brings hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars to the child protectors. Jobs are created and power is gained. “Counselors” go into business with no customers besides the people CPS forces to go to them (Granted, as with the workers themselves, there are those who only want to do good for these children. Unfortunately, they’re in the minority). People go into the “foster care business,” both as foster parents and as foster parent agencies that hire foster parents (with literally no controls on them). Many foster parents blatantly consider being a foster parent as a lucrative business where they can make thousands of dollars a month. A lot more than they could make working outside the home. Many foster homes care for five to fifteen children at a time. They make more money than most people could ever dream of making.
And when the inevitable happens and a child is abused, sexually abused, or even killed in foster care, they use the old excuse that they “don’t have enough money or enough people” to do the job right.
You don’t think this is happening? How about a few case histories?
THE PAMELA GASTON CASE in Oregon where it is alleged that foster parents actually took pornographic pictures of their child, Melissa. Where her child has been (at this writing) in no less that seventeen foster homes. Where the courts routinely rule against these parents in writ after writ or dismiss without hearing. Where Ms. Gaston was charged with trespass just for entering the courthouse, which is, in part, her property. Where the police and the courts apparently are engaging in a vendetta against her for having the temerity to actually name a judge in a suit.
THE “JANE DOE” CASE in Aiken, South Carolina, where a child (under 14) was taken from her family on “suspicion” of abuse, only to be abused while in foster care at the “Helping Hands” facility where she had been placed by the South Carolina Department of Social Services. While there, she was, according to her suit against Helping Hands, forced into a closet and repeatedly sexually assaulted by two adolescent boys. The Aiken Department of Public Safety arrested two boys, then ages 14 and 15, and charged them with the crime. The case has not yet been heard in Aiken County Family Court (when this file was received), said Capt. Tom Galardi of the Aiken Department of Public Safety. The girl is asking the court for an unspecified amount of money for mental and physical injuries from the sexual assault and costs for the birth and upbringing of her child, which she claims was conceived as a result of the attack.
ALBUQUERQUE FOSTER CARE MURDER: In February, 1999, Williette Ulmer, a foster mother, was arrested in the death of a baby in her care and another four-year-old was taken from her home, according to an Albuquerque Journal article by Jeff Jones. The foster mother was arrested on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death, according to police Deputy Chief Sal Baragiola. He also noted that the Medical Investigator had determined that the baby, Alexander Ganadonegro, died as a result of blunt trauma that ruptured his stomach. In the criminal complaint it was noted that Ulmer, 29, was “…the only adult caring for Alexander” about the time of his death and that the ruptured stomach was the result of a “forceful blow” that “would have to be done by someone other than a child.”
THE “ANDY” CASE: A report in the “Arizona Republic” by Karina Bland on December 3, 1998, “Thirteen-year-old Andy wore two or three pairs of underwear under his jeans and slept fully dressed during the months after he got home from spending half a year in foster care. Now 14, Andy averts his eyes when he talks about what happened to him at that Mesa shelter in late 1996 and 1997. ‘Basically,’ he says, sinking down in a cushioned chair in his mother’s office, ‘I was raped.’ Andy had been taken from his mother because child welfare officials said their house was too filthy. Now he is in the middle of a battle over how many Arizona children have suffered sexual abuse after being placed in foster care.
“A court-appointed team of Arizona State University researchers has estimated that Andy may be among as many as 210 Arizona children who experienced abuse in foster homes since the mid-1980s. The team was appointed after a lawsuit was filed in Pima County Superior Court by Tucson attorney Larry Berlin in 1994 on behalf of four children reportedly subjected to abuse. “The state maintains that the claim of so many children being abused in foster care is ludicrous. ‘The numbers being quoted in that lawsuit are totally outrageous,’ says Sally Ordini, spokeswoman for state Child Protective Services. ‘Incidents of sexual abuse in foster care are extremely rare.’ [Yeah, right. Then why do I get two or three new reports of it every day? Why do I have five megs of case reports on abuse in foster care? -RT]
“So far, no one has specifically identified the 210 children who may have been abused in foster homes. The team of researchers based its estimate on its review of a random sample of 287 CPS cases filed over two six-month periods; 7.3 percent suggested that sexual abuse had occurred while the child was in state custody. The researchers concluded that, based on the random sample and using the same methods, there would be a total of 210 children who had been sexually abused in foster care over a decade. They issued a preliminary report concluding that the state’s computer system should be able to identify the children. The state contends that such incidents of abuse occurred before the children lived in foster homes and that it would be almost impossible to review the half-million case files in search of such allegations [They planned it that way. Anybody wonder why they don't keep statistics about children who are abused, sexually abused, and killed in foster care? -RT]. “The researchers were appointed by Pima County Presiding Judge Michael Brown to look into complaints contained in the 1994 lawsuit. Brown is considering whether to declare the case a class action suit, which ultimately could cost the state millions in restitution. Attorneys predict a decision before the end of the year.
“Laura Knaperek, R-Tempe and co-chairwoman of a joint legislative committee studying child welfare reform, worries that kids taken from their parents by the state are being hurt. ‘Can the state guarantee the safety of the child?’ Knaperek asked. ‘I don’t know that we can.’ Berlin’s lawsuit originally asked for compensation for counseling and other services for four children he says were sexually abused while in state care from 1986 through 1994. ‘These are children who the state removes from their homes because they say they are not safe there, and they put them in places where much more terrible things happen to them,’ Berlin said.
“Andy, for example, was 12 when he was removed from his home and taken to the shelter, which was licensed for boys ages 13 to 18. The next day, he said, a 17-year-old resident shoved a broomstick into his rectum. That boy was arrested and sent to juvenile detention for a year. But, in the months that would follow, another boy would forcibly perform oral sex on Andy. ‘I thought the first time would be the only time, but he did it again and again and again,’ Andy said. ‘I was scared.’
“In the almost six months Andy was in foster care, he said he saw his CPS caseworker face to face just once.”
I could go on and on, clipping from the hundreds of files I have, but I think I’d bore you. It is possible to become inured (bored by) to such stories, even considering the violence to the children, just by the sheer numbers of cases of violence and sexual abuse done to them while they’re “being protected” in foster care. So I’ll let these cases speak for the volumes of files I have from all over the world.
When I set out to help my son get his children back from the “child protectors” so he wouldn’t suffer the same fate I did thirty years ago when they snatched my other two sons from my second wife and used every scam and scheme possible to keep from giving them to me I didn’t know about the “crawling can of worms” I would be opening. I haven’t seen them since. I believed, at the time, that my children and I had been the victims of am adoption ring within the Indianapolis-Marion County social services department. Little did I know that it was more likely an adoption ring run by the social services department to gain the thousands of dollars available from the federal government for each child snatched, for each parent forced to go to “counseling” and “parenting classes,” and for every child they can put up for adoption (One of the doctors involved in my son’s case has said that it is the worst case of child protector abuse he has ever seen.).
There is such a glut of children in foster care now that they’re desperately advertising for adoptive parents. Many of the “cute pictures” I see on the web sites advertising children available for adoption are labeled: “Not yet Available,” since they haven’t yet been able to terminate parental rights with that particular child. But they’ll “do the paperwork” and let you have them as soon as they’re “available.
That they do this completely out in the open and no one but people they’ve victimized notice amazes me. One of the most difficult things to do is to convince someone they have not yet gotten to that they could easily be next, and no amount of “Constitutional rights” will help them. They’ve got the world so well conditioned that it is all but impossible to do so. But people are beginning to wake up. Many child protection services around the world are beginning to have legal problems from their actions (as witness above, and many other files I have). And this “old warrior” is going to be helping in every way I can, as long as I can, to “pop their balloon” so they can’t abuse any more children…or parents. I don’t want to do away with what they do, only do away with the way they do it so that children can reallybe protected instead of being further abused “by the system.”
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DFCS probe: Violations rampant
By Blake Spurney Editor
Thursday, June 8, 2006 9:32 AM EDT
Stories of overzealous Department of Family and Children Services employees prowling for referrals and using people’s children as tools of extortion were true, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources investigative report.
Such stories had been circulating for months before the watershed moment nearly a year ago when Melinda “Mindy” McCoy was charged with reckless conduct for not removing children from a home.
Her downfall, brought about by co-workers seemingly targeting her for reporting questionable practices to the state, shed light on a rogue outfit operating behind a cloak of confidentiality.
After McCoy was suspended, her case and mileage documents were found in a shredding container at the DFCS office.
Some of the more shocking revelations listed in the 64-page report compiled by DHR investigators and obtained by The Clayton Tribune include:
� According to Rabun County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Carnes, “deputies were sent by DFCS to schools to pick up children from schools; no reason was ever given for the directives and no court orders were ever issued.”
� Police Chief Tony Free told DHR in January that he heard Cpl. Donna Terry, and a former sheriff’s DFCS liaison, “bragging that she broke the record last month by picking up” 28 or 38 children.
� Former DFCS employee Sabrina Ritchie “knew there were times when staff discussed a case plan for a family and included everything they could to make the plan nearly impossible to complete,” the report said.
� Children were removed from the FAITH shelter, and clients said they were forced by DFCS to get a temporary protective order or risk losing their children, according to FAITH executive director Caroline White. Furthermore, her shelter held women “hostage” at times to help them keep their children.
“This is DFCS’ investigation,” said lawyer Brian Rickman. “This is their investigation and this is what they found, and it appears to verify virtually all of the allegations.”
The report alleges improprieties against the four employees terminated by DFCS since the investigation began in December, and the transfer of a fifth to another office. Findings substantiated by DHR investigators include children removed from homes without just cause, excessive drug screening, lack of proper supervision and a culture of violations that were permitted in a day-to-day environment.
Former director Linda Gragg, former social services supervisor Lynn Justus, Nicole Allen and Ritchie made false statements to investigators, among other violations of department policy, the report said. Most notably, the office was guilty of numerous conflicts of interest that violated DHR’s policy for Standards of Conduct and Ethics in Government.
Gragg declined to comment on the report until she had a chance to speak with her lawyer. Allen and state DFCS Director Mary Dean Harvey did not return phone calls seeking comment. Regional director Sid Jessup, who also is acting director of the local office, referred all questions to a DHR spokesman.
Rickman, the first person to publicly raise questions about the conflict involving DFCS and its drug testing contractor, was asked for a possible motive in the scandal.
“You can’t help but think there was some type of financial motive in all of this,” he said.
Creative Consulting Services of Northeast Georgia Inc., conducted drug screens for DFCS from October 2003-January 2006. The company is owned by Judith Mendoza, whose daughter, Allen, started working for DFCS in March 2004.
Allen’s friend and roommate, Officer Terry, and sister, Andrea Phelps, also worked for the company. Between January 2005 and this past January, DFCS paid the company $83,510 for 742 drug screens. Lumpkin County, with a population 50 percent larger than Rabun’s, paid out less than a third of that amount for 733 screens.
Gragg signed the agreements with Mendoza even though she was required to solicit a bid for anything costing more than $5,000. Gragg told investigators it was the only place in the county that could perform the screens.
But Mountain Lakes Medical Center Administrator Ben Busbee refuted that assertion and said he knew of no reason why the hospital would refuse to do screening for DFCS.
The drug screening process has elicited the most criticism since clients, lawyers and law enforcement started coming forward with their complaints last year. Investigators determined that people were continually tested even if they had repeated clean screens.
Justus, among others, gave Juvenile Court Judge Joanna Temple credit for the aggressive drug screening that ran afoul of state policy because of Rabun’s methamphetamine “epidemic.” Temple, a former DFCS lawyer, “wanted them to take it seriously,” the report said.
Sonya Neely, who was transferred to the Towns County office amid the investigation, told investigators Temple considered a refusal a positive test, and that the judge wanted children removed immediately if a parent tested positive. The state manual requires a court order to get a urine sample if a parent refuses a screen.
Neely also said, “Temple wanted her verbal orders complied with the same as her written orders.” The so-called verbal orders led to case workers, while accompanied by officers, picking up children based on one’s word of mouth.
Carnes and Free blamed Temple for much of the problems with the office. According to the report, Free “thought Judge Temple was responsible for much of the trouble because she was power hungry and out of line.” Carnes also thought “Temple was the problem. He did not understand what verbal orders were and how they were legal.”
Neither Temple, nor the person who appointed her, Chief Judge Ernest “Bucky” Woods, returned phone calls seeking comment.
To help pay for the excessive screening, Gragg approved pulling money from Prevent Unnecessary Placement funds, typically used to help people clean or repair their homes.
Several other conflicts were revealed during the investigation. Mendoza and Phelps got paid $20 an hour to do paperwork for DFCS and Terry was paid for respite care by DFCS. Respite care typically is when an officer stays with a child in a hotel room when the child can’t be placed with a foster parent.
According to DFCS receptionist Linda Brown, Mendoza had an office at DFCS where she conducted drug screens. Phelps previously had a day care in her home and received referrals from DFCS, some of which were from Allen, according to Terry Salemi, a former DFCS worker.
Justus’ husband, Cory, owned a vending machine in the DFCS lobby. It was removed Jan. 16. Gragg gave him a soft drink machine because RC Cola never came to pick it up.
According to Neely, Justus was “closer than friends” with Ritchie and let her go on home visits even though she wasn’t qualified to do so.
Terry went on most calls with Allen while Terry was the sheriff’s liaison. Terry also performed drug screens while on duty as a Clayton police officer, according to the report. Ritchie told investigators the conflict wasn’t discussed around Allen because she was “protective” of her family. Terry, who was considered part of her family, told investigators she went inside homes to make decisions; “she didn’t just sit in the car and let them make the decisions.”
Some DFCS employees had covered for each other, at least until the investigation got under way. A DFCS investigator was going to look into a referral concerning Neely, but Justus screened out the referral on Gragg’s instruction.
When previously questioned by The Tribune about her office, Gragg routinely brought up how she was short staffed and that her employees were overburdened with a heavy caseload. Justus told investigators that Gragg “went through the newspaper to look for situations in which DFCS had not received a referral, but she would not call it shopping for referrals. Director Gragg was making sure that all the cases were being addressed.”
DFCS workers also went through reports at the sheriff’s office to make sure nothing was missed. Dispatchers complained that Terry questioned every call that came to the 911 center.
Neely acknowledged that people in Rabun knew the best way to get even with someone was to make an anonymous call to DFCS accusing someone of using drugs. Even when no evidence of drug use existed, “she knew the policy was to do a drug screen.”
Even people without children were not immune from running afoul from an apparent culture of vindictiveness at DFCS.
A review of one case file showed Cory Justus, a sheriff’s office employee, reported to his wife, Lynn, that someone had a filthy house, possibly abused drugs and had an unsupervised child. Neighbors, including Lynn’s ex-husband, also made allegations to DFCS about the person.
Case worker Steve Gates found the reports unfounded because no child was living in the residence.
Police often went to the house on barking dog complaints. Cory Justus told an officer that his wife “wanted to get something” on the family and suggested that the officer report a dirty house. Gates did not turn in a report regarding his conversation with the officer because he feared retaliation from Lynn Justus, his supervisor.
One of the most telling signs of how out of control the situation became comes from the small number of referrals DFCS has seen since January. Jessup said no child had been placed in state custody since mid-January. He said DFCS had worked hard with family members in cases where it appeared a child might have to be removed. In the worst cases, children have been left with a relative or neighbor.
Case manager Kim Bell reported in January that the number of referrals had declined in recent months. She had heard schools were afraid to make referrals because of the media coverage.
White said FAITH had seen a decline in the number of calls it received on its crisis line and in the number of people coming to its shelter for assistance.
“That’s what we were hearing from people who walked through the door, that they would never call 911 again or FAITH because they didn’t want to lose their children,” White said last week.
In her six years at FAITH, White had never before had a child removed from a shelter. “I wouldn’t ask for help either,” she said. “We have a lot of healing to do.”
When asked who the victims were, she said it was the community at large. “It’s every social service agency in this community, but it’s also those workers who were fired because they were misguided and mismanaged. All those people were dedicated to social services.”
Allen and Ritchie told investigators Gragg and Justus signed off on every decision they made.
“Nicole truly cared about children and was just misguided and mismanaged. I don’t think she tried to hurt anybody, personally,” White said.
Rickman said a bigger issue than the financial motives needed to be addressed.
“It was a crusade. That’s a more complicated thing to address. People who honestly thought they were the only ones who know what’s best for kids … and were going to do whatever it takes,” he said. “I don’t think it was just about money. I think they truly believe nothing wrong has been done.”
Rickman also said no objective person could come to a conclusion other than that some serious instances of wrongdoing occurred. The real tragedy, he added, would be if nobody learned from it.