Children being taken from Parents State Finds Innocent, CPS Watch Reports
Children are being forcibly taken from their homes even after state child protection workers determine they have not been mistreated, according to a report released by CPS Watch today.
Missouri 2000 Child Protective Services Data Report on the Division of Family Services Released by CPS Watch
11/19/2002 (MISSOURI) — Children are being forcibly taken from their homes even after state child protection workers determine they have not been mistreated, according to a report released by CPS Watch today.
Drawing upon data submitted to the federal government by the Division of Family Services (DFS), CPS Watch has found that a whopping 77% of the children placed in foster care during 2000 were taken from homes where investigators had determined allegations of child abuse or neglect were unsubstantiated.
“Parents will find the numbers reported by DFS alarming,” said Cheryl Barnes, Director of CPS Watch, Incorporated, an organization that monitors child welfare agencies like DFS. “The public is under the impression that children are removed from their families only in cases of severe and life-threatening abuse or neglect.”
The data report shows that 11,083 children were removed from their homes during 2000. Of those, 8,583 were labeled “non-victims” meaning that all allegations of abuse or neglect were unsubstantiated by DFS.
Missouri had the highest rate of non-victim removals in the nation according to the report.
“The national average rate of non-victim removals was only 27%,” Barnes said. “The Missouri rate is almost three times the national average, which is already too high.”
In cases where children have not been abused or neglected, removal from their homes can be very traumatic and leave lasting emotional scars, as such a thorough investigation should be conducted prior to separating any child from his or her parents; the report concluded.
“There are few abuses more vicious than abduction by strangers, coupled with teasing visits with grieving and tormented parents,” says Susan Jackson, a family advocate and member of CPS Watch.
Researchers for the report concluded that DFS is likely removing non-victim children to collect federal money. According to the report, DFS receives $1,091.62 per month per child in foster care from federal Title IV-E funds.
“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. “All of the federal incentives are in the institutional side.”
After the recent tragic death of two-year-old Dominic James at the hands of his state licensed caregiver, DFS has complained that they aren’t able to perform proper background checks due to the large number of caregivers and children in foster care.
“By their own data, three-fourths of the children removed from their homes were not victims of abuse or neglect,” Barnes said. “It may be easier to conduct thorough background checks on foster caregivers if DFS weren’t removing four times more children than they should be.”
Dominic’s caregiver was found to have a history of domestic violence, which ironically, was the reason Dominic was removed from his parents.
“That child should never have been in foster care.” Barnes said. “Domestic violence may not be ideal parent behavior, but it’s not abuse if it doesn’t directly affect the child. Dominic was sleeping when police arrived, indicating that the verbal dispute had no ill effect on him.”
Once in foster care, children are in greater danger of being abused or killed according to the report; children were abused four and a half times more often and murdered 5 times more often in state care than in their own homes.
“The last child killed in foster care was also not a victim of abuse or neglect,” Barnes stated.
Two-year-old Constance Porter was killed in a Kansas City foster home on February 12, 2001. She was placed in foster care after her mother became homeless. There was a previous hotline call, alleging abuse in the foster home before the child was placed there.
Another significant finding in the report included the fact that only 10% of investigations were substantiated.
On the Web:
Missouri 2000 Child Protective Services Data Report http://www.cpswatch.com/mo/missouri.pdf
Dominic James Supplement
For More Information Contact:
Cheryl Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CPS Watch Missouri
308 New Creation Rd.