An 11 Year O.C. Custody Fight Stops Just Short of the U.S. Supreme Court
A long, bitter custody fight won’t go to the Supreme Court, but it’s not over yet anyway. Mom says her kids were wrongly taken away for years, and a jury agreed. But the Social Workers were never disciplined.
Tag Archives: adoption
An 11 Year O.C. Custody Fight Stops Just Short of the U.S. Supreme Court
An Orange County social worker who lied to a juvenile court commissioner in order to take away a woman’s two daughters — and cost the county $4.9 million in a court judgment — was later promoted to a supervisor, county officials confirmed.
She now trains other social workers.
It took Seal Beach mother Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick six-and-a-half years to regain custody of her children, who were 6 and 9 when they were taken from her in 2000.
Fogarty-Hardwick’s oldest daughter, Kendall, is now 20, and filed her own lawsuit against the county and three of its social workers for depriving her of a relationship with her mother.
Orange County Social Services social workers Marcie Vreeken and Helen Dwojak filed false reports and held back evidence which would have cleared Fogarty-Hardwick, an Orange County jury found in 2007. A third social worker was cleared of liability.
The jury awarded Fogarty-Hardwick $4.9 million in damages, with the county responsible for the bulk of the award. The county appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the county’s request to be heard last week.
Vreeken and Dwojak were never disciplined.
In fact, Vreeken was later promoted, according to county records. She earned $103,441.48 last year as a senior social services supervisor, according to county records.
Dwojak, who was Vreeken’s supervisor, retired from the county in 2006, according to county records.
“I am certain and I stand by my social workers that they did not fabricate, they did not suppress any information and they did not perjure themselves,” said Dr. Michael Riley, director of the Orange County Social Services Agency. “If they had I would have dismissed them.”
Social Services conducted an investigation into how the social workers handled the case and found no wrongdoing, Riley said. “This woman is the epitome of integrity,” Riley said of Dwojak. “They did nothing wrong.”
According to court papers, Vreeken threatened that if Fogarty-Hardwick did not “submit” to her will, she would never see her children again. The social workers also tried in 2000 to coerce Fogarty-Hardwick to sign a document saying she was a bad parent by threatening to take her daughters away, Fogarty-Hardwick alleged.
According to daughter Kendall Hardwick’s lawsuit, Vreeken “attempted to coerce Kendall into visiting her father by threatening that if Kendall did not visit with her father she would be taken away from her mother and ‘put in a home.’ ”
Kendall Hardiwick’s lawuit accuses Vreeken of lying in a Feb. 17, 2000 court report, including failing to disclose her threats against Kendall and her sister that left the two girls in tears and a subsequent argument between Vreeken and Fogarty-Hardwick.
A county commissioner ordered Fogarty-Hardwick’s daughters taken from their mother and put in Orangewood Children’s Home immediately. Vreeken and another social worker went with a uniformed police officer to to take Kendall’s younger sister, who was “screaming and crying for her mother as she hid under the principal’s desk,” according to Kendall’s lawsuit. Kendall was also forcibly removed, leaving her “devastated.”
The girls were later put in foster care.
Kendall Hardwick’s lawsuit also accuses Vreeken of repeatedly lying in court reports and on the stand to thwart Fogarty-Hardwick’s attempts to regain custody of her daughters.
In a March 31, 2000 letter, a therapist wrote to the agency that “Kendall … shows signs of emotional regression. She was tearful throughout the session, begging to go home. … She doesn’t know how much longer she can cope and visibly shook while relating this.”
“Defendants knew of Plaintiffs emotional collapse,” the suit reads. “Yet, while testifying in the juvenile court trial, Vreeken refused to acknowledge the children were mentally deteriorating.”
The social workers instead reported the children “were doing well,” according to the lawsuit.
Fogarty-Hardwick gave her ex-husband full custody in 2002, hoping to protect her daughters. She was then allowed two supervised visits a month for two years. She eventually won 50-50 custody in 2006.
Fogarty-Hardwick sued the county in 2002, arguing the Social Services Agency and its two social workers violated her civil rights. A jury ruled against her.
She sued again, arguing this time county’s policies violated her constitutional rights, including her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Fogarty-Hardwick’s accused the county of violating her constitutional rights by removing her children without making a finding of imminent danger or serious physical injury; interviewing her daughters without a parent present; holding her children without cause; fabricating evidence; and failing to properly train employees about parents’ constitutional rights.
The jury voted 10-2 in favor of Fogarty-Hardwick. The county appealed.
In the Fourth District Court of Appeal opinion, Justice William Bedsworth wrote, “the evidence adduced at trial obviously caused both the jury and the judge to conclude not only that something seriously wrong was done to Fogarty-Hardwick in this case, but also that the wrongful conduct was not an isolated incident.”
“Despite Fogarty-Hardwick’s complaints, and the concerns expressed by others about the handling of this dependency case, SSA did not investigate the situation or consider assigning different social workers to the matter. Neither of the social workers involved was disciplined. Instead, Vreeken was promoted to supervisor in 2001,” Bedsworth wrote.
Child Protective Services cases are not open to the public, a fact which Riley says prevents him from providing the whole picture.
“We have no agenda to disrupt families,” Riley said. “Our goal is to keep families together.”
By Sandra Ami
“… Law enforcement and CPS routinely use the law to hide their misconduct from the public. They cite “privacy concerns” as reasons to fail to release evidence that damns their conduct as corrupt and lawless. Even citizens who have been egregiously wronged have trouble getting to any of this evidence. Further, if they dare oppose the government, they risk retaliation. CPS and the police retaliate against “troublemaking parents” by taking away their children with no good cause and then turning what should be routine investigations that take a few weeks into many months or years of refusal to comply with the law, refusal to comply with judicial directions, and working relentlessly to build a cast of co-conspirators who will help defend each other from their misconduct and pin the blame for it all on the target parent.
San Diego’s children and their parents are not safe from government abuse at the hands of CPS and its allies until the agencies and people who engage in these unlawful and abusive activities are removed from their positions and punished or prosecuted for their misconduct.”
Click for full story: http://www.scribd.com/doc/33306169
** WARNGING ** HOW CHILDREN ARE PLACED FOR ADOPTION When they have GOOD parents and Families. IT HAPPENS EVERYDAY.
By Sandra Ami
Sadly, there is a huge cover up, there is a small (and I do mean SMALL) amount of personnel who are claiming to correct the problems; I do also believe that it’s only a front to show people they are trying to do something, this is partially why:
Over and Over we hear of “no funds available” yet if the dollars where truly accounted for, one would find just the Children alone bring in TRILLIONS of dollars.
Again, as I have said, as the REALITY goes (and there is even more)… :
1) First a Child’s name and address come up to Social Services. It could be by anyone, and more often by doctors these days. Once Social Services has a name and address, they then start the process of stealing the child(ren) from the home. Usually in the Public Schools, as it’s easier to get cooperation from the staff when taking children, especially because they too are Govt. Employees.
2) They attempt to interview the parents and EACH WORD THE PARENTS SAY is used in creating the reports AGAINST THEM (and I can give several examples).
3) The SW goes back to the office and (through a pre-formatted form), types ALL THEY CAN negative about the parents, in the reports they will have compiled a list of things the parents have told them that they can use against them, the shock only comes after you appear in court when you realize you have told them things which can include but most definitely not limited to: if the parents drink Soda or Coffee; if the parent(s) were verbally or physically abused (explaining a pattern of abuse in the family to substantiate any claims the SW conjures up); If you dropped out of College- that too can be used against you; They want to know if your parents were divorced, that will be used about your mental stress or inability to connect as you had/have issues with the divorce that you have never dealt with; do you EVER drink alcoholic beverages (you will be deemed a drinker PERIOD); do you work? if you are a mother that stays home, they will report that the ‘stress of being a full time mom’ even if you claim no stress; they will ask if you EVER argue with your spouse (if you are a single parent WATCH OUT) if you EVER argue, that will be held against you as STRESS giving you the INABILITY TO PARENT YOUR CHILD..The list goes on, and their lists in their reports go on. The idea is to put so many allegations against you that it is virtually impossible for you to defend. The things you find to be meaningless (which in actuality are) are in fact things they take advantage of and use against you. IF you take ANY prescription medications, you are automatically deemed, dependent or mentally ill. Therefore they then can recommend you for Mental Health Care, and Counseling which they get paid extra for (it’s all part of the payment plan from the govt.) It doesn’t matter if you have personal Health Care, because the do NOT allow you to use it, they put you on Govt. Health Care Plans so that they can control and monitor all your records, without you having access. Your children will ALSO be placed on these plans to prevent you from accessing your children’s records. AFTER the report is made against you, and the children have been taken, these children feed into the Mental Health (DHHS) industry as well, by placing them on drugs to calm them as they have been traumatized by their kidnapping from schools and are not able to see their parents or go home, but instead thrusted into a place with a group of strangers who, really don’t care about them, as they are just another kid being brought in for money. The child cries profusely, therefore it’s justified they need medication and Counseling (which is more funding, and deeming the child(ren) as “special needs” (more funding). They don’t tell you, that also one criteria for being a Special Needs child is simply being 6 yrs of age or older.
4) There is a TDM (Team Decision Meeting) with the parents to “determine where the children will be placed IF not with the parents” though they have NO INTENTION of placing the children with the parents OR any of those discussed in the TDM. The purpose of the TDM is basically to abide by the law in having one, there is absolutely no other purpose for it. Everything that is said in the TDM will NOT be placed in the reports as required by law. In fact, they can, do and have put into the report that, after the meeting “No FAMILY AVAILABLE” “REQUEST CONFIDENTIAL FOSTER CARE” even after you had discussed family and/or friends for placement, even if those family and friends were present in that meeting.
5) The case goes to court, and in ALMOST ALL cases, the parents are NEVER ALLOWED TO SPEAK, and in Orange County CA, the parents wait outside while the cases are being discussed, leaving NOTHING for the Court Record. The parents are SOMETIMES called in when the FINDINGS are decided upon outside of the parents presence. The parents are in that courtroom for a total of 20 seconds to state they were there and hear the findings read.
6) The parents are told “if you plea guilty, they will allow your children to come home (or with a family member) if you do not plead your child will go into a foster home where he/she is 10 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE”. Parents then substantiate all the claims, even though they are all false and grossly exaggerated, by pleading to protect their children from harm or death. Only to find.. they lied, and your child IS PLACED IN A FOSTER HOME, and NOT sent home with you. You can complain as much as you like, and tell anyone they lied to you, however it was all only words and not in writing, therefore none of what they said matters ((((( THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I TELL PARENTS TO ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN in a Journal.. RECORD EVERYTHING digital recorder if possible, and ALWAYS COMMUNICATE VIA EMAIL when you can )))
But remember, in these “secret courts” no one is allowed Cameras or any recording devices what so ever, UNLESS YOU ARE THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS adopting the child (your child).
7) Now that they have to show that they have TRIED to “RE-UNIFY” the parents, because it’s the law, they will then put the parents through a battery of “services” telling the parents “if you take (ie.) Parenting classes, abuse classes, counseling etc. AND TAKE MEDICATIONS (in most cases) WE WILL GIVE YOU YOUR CHILDREN BACK UPON COMPLETION” these services must be facilitated by the Social Worker, and they fail to tell you they WONT START THESE SERVICES in most cases until it’s too late for you to complete them in time for the TERMINATION of Parental Rights Hearing. They also fail to tell you that IF you should miss even ONE of your appointments that you have FAILED to comply with the Re-Unification process. AND YOUR CHILD IS ADOPTED..
They put the parents through these “services” because (and ONLY because) it brings their Organization more Federal Funding and PRIVATE Non Profit Grants.
The courts, in most cases, provide your child with their own attorney called The Guardian et Lidem or GAL, with whom generally never meet the child.
Each parent is given their own attorney (so they can not form an alliance, while they are being plotted against one another with accusations). Each parent is told they will be able to get the child(ren) if they side with the Social Worker against the other, which actually only to substantiates their case for ADOPTION, however the parents comply to protect their children. (IF you admit your wife/husband is ___ then you will be able to take the children home.. the same is told to the other parent). The parents are desperate to protect the child and get them out of the Children’s home or Foster Home. The parents are also told they are not allowed to discuss the case with ANYONE but their attorneys, not even each other. They are told this from the first day of court. THE SECRETS BEGIN to protect THE GUILTY.
Parents want to tell everyone, they want to scream at the top of their lungs for help.. yet.. even if they do mention it to anyone, the first responses are “you must have done something wrong, they are after all protecting children.. they are CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES” and no one will listen. While Social Services laughs knowing their marketing scheme has worked and people BELIEVE they are there to Protect children.. but little do people know, CPS is FOR REVENUE CORP. ((Many of the Judges, Social Workers and others involved, have started their own Foundations that get funds and Grants when children are taken.. Judges profit off the adoptions they order, Judges, DHHS workers and others involved in this process are on the Board of Directors for agencies such as United Way and other Foundations.
Child Protective Services does Fund Raisers for Untied Way and other Foundations, Untied Way then gives Grants to CASA (the child avocacy hired by the courts to be suposedly unbias on the Child’s behalf after they have been taken) CASA gives grants to Child Protective Services, and CASA (in CA) is in the State Building right next door to the head Child Protective Services office. )
Once 12 months has gone by, there is a REVIEW hearing, the children are STILL NOT HOME, as they have promised over and over and over each month that “if” you do ___, the children will most likely come home after the next hearing.. the next hearing has come and gone, and the parents are told they must do ___ now, all creating more services and more money prolonging the case as much as possible till the 18 mos has run out.. the 18 month hearing.. is THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS hearing.. The law states they must place the child in a PERMANENT HOME.. and you have a good chance betting it wont be that of the parents, or any other family member..
(In over 70% of the cases, the children should NEVER have been taken in the first place.. as said by former L.A. Director of Child and Family Services, as well as SOME honest Social Workers and others within the system brave enough to place their jobs in jeopardy to make such statements)
They also fail to tell the parents that it will be likely that the Gay/Lesbian social worker will be or has placed your child with a Gay/Lesbian couple who wishes to Adopt. ((YOUR CHILD)) (boys are often placed with Gay men, and girls with Lesbian couples)
Remember.. in “THE OC” (Orange County, CA) there are between 3000 and 5000 children taken each MONTH, those numbers are higher in San Diego County and Los Angeles County, I’ve been told by a head of the Appealate courts… So.. that’s Souther California alone.. it’s safe to say that an estimated amount of children is in the 10’s of thousands EACH MONTH.. One portion of one state. Other states are equally as bad and it’s argued could be even worse. States I know about that are horrible for these practices and make huge profits off the abduction of children are: CA, OR, FL, NH, CO, TX, TN, KS, KY, NY, NC, NJ, VA, GA; These are just a few, that I have personally found to be so brazen. If you live in another state, don’t think that you are immune from it.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, they can still take your child. Attorneys have had their own children taken, when they have tried to defend the parents in these courts. Neighbors and Family members have also been threatened by the Social Workers that their children will also be taken if they don’t give information to them about the ones in question.
The threats are in abundance. After all .. who are you going to plea to, for the safe return of your child(ren)? The only people you can, are those who Kidnapped them in the first place.
(Keep in mind.. that Doctors are contracted with Social Services, and will lose their contracts if they do not substantiate the claims made against a parent, MANY social workers and people in positions connected are even adopting children.
MANDATED reporters ; nurses, teachers, doctors, councilors, school personnel etc. are all threated with their licenses if they do not substantiate claims, or turn parents in. Many of these professionals are using CPS to retaliate against parents who they do not get along with. Doctors are calling CPS if a parents gets a second opinion, teacher are calling if parents don’t like the teacher, nurses are if there are conflicts with the nurses.. these Mandated Reporters are nothing more than SCOUTS for CPS, to obtain children for Federal and State Funds and Grants from both as well as Non Profits, such as United Way and others. There is so much more..
I was personally told, by a government official, “CPS MUST obtain more and more children each month in order to justify their Budget”
I’ve been told that Social Workers have a quota to fill each month, for children being placed up for adoption. Where are all these children going to come from? Ask yourself, do you really believe there are THAT many parents who abuse or neglect their children?
Social Services (CPS, DCFS and by other names) claim most of their cases are “Neglect” cases. Neglect is defind broadly from a simple sunburn, to a missed doctor’s visit. Neglect can be an unbathed child, or toys left out in plain view. Neglect can be anything the Social Worker wants to define it as.
AND most Social Workers don’t even carry a license in any field of Social Work.
YOU NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH.. YOUR CHILD ”’CAN”’ BE TAKEN AT ANY TIME FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN FUNDING.
August 31, 2009
The state’s Department of Children and Families is under fire again, and rightly so.
Recently, a task force issued its final report documenting how weak oversight and lax compliance with guidelines fostered a culture where officials often blindly doled out powerful drugs as chemical pacifiers to help caregivers manage difficult children.
These troubling concerns aren’t new to DCF. But in the wake of the withering report, DCF Secretary George Sheldon concedes lapses and vows to heed and fund task-force proposals.
Such accountability is encouraging. But we expected reform before. In 2003, the Statewide Advocacy Council report made similar findings, and concluded, “…unnecessary dispensing of psychotropic medication remains a threat to [foster children]. Until there is more information regarding the safety and efficiency of these drugs, Florida’s foster care children should be monitored closely.”
That report’s proposals were largely ignored. Now, six years later, only swift reforms and a strong mandate to comply with existing rules that govern psychotropic drugs will shelve suspicions that this is déjà vu all over again.
Gabriel Myers becomes the latest Florida foster child whose tragic end led to familiar calls for DCF reform. The boy was removed from his drug-addled mother and turned over to state custody on June 29, 2008. Gabriel hopscotched between a relative and a foster home over the next 10 months. While in state care, he received several psychotropic drugs without valid parental or court consent, as state law requires. One of the drugs, Symbyax, an adult antidepressant, can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.
On April 16, Gabriel put a shower cord around his neck in the bathroom of his Margate foster home.
Shortly afterward, Mr. Sheldon convened the Gabriel Myers Work Group to investigate the tragedy. The group’s 26-page report outlined 148 systemic breakdowns in Gabriel’s death.
It notes the egregious disregard of safeguards for foster children that are well “articulated in statute, administrative rule, and operating procedures.” Breakdowns in communication, advocacy, supervision, monitoring and oversight only exacerbated matters.
Gabriel was repeatedly evaluated while in care, and often saw therapists, including one who noted, “It is clear that this child is overwhelmed with change and possibly re-experiencing trauma.” Somehow, though, caregivers missed the red flags.
And the report backs child advocates who long have insisted the state overmedicates kids: “Psychotropic medications are at times being used to help parents, teachers, and other caregivers calm and manage, rather than treat, children.”
In Florida, 15.2 percent of foster kids take at least one psychotropic drug, compared with a 5 percent rate among the general population.
DCF must junk the “fix-it with pharmaceuticals” mentality that, for the sake of expediency, often skirts safer avenues for taming disorderly behavior. Adopting the task force’s call for “a higher requirement for due diligence prior to seeking approval for administering these drugs” would be a step forward.
The task force outlines a raft of reforms that include beefing up therapeutic services, adding court-appointed guardians, and bringing on a medical director to direct the use of psychotropic drugs.
Mr. Sheldon says he’ll free up resources within DCF to act on the suggestions. And despite austere budgets, he vows to cajole the Legislature to fund such options as behavioral therapy as an alternative to drug therapy. But a will to change must follow words.
Mr. Sheldon told the Fort Myers News-Press that in the past, “Regrettably, I’m afraid people said, ‘We dodged a bullet’ and it [reforms] never got out into the field. That cannot be the case this time.”
It better not. Or DCF almost assuredly in the months to come will experience another tragic case of déjà vu.
Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel
San Francisco Chronicle
Persuasive Writing and Commentary
Entry: Why are these children dying?
A three-piece editorial package
Credit: Editorial Writer Caille Millner
Date: December 3, 2006
Pages: E4, E5
On Foster Care Reform
Why are these children dying?
THE STATE OF California cannot say how many foster children die each year, even though a state law that took effect in 2004 requires counties to release the names, dates of birth, and dates of death for these children. The new law is not being followed by all: The Children’s Advocacy Institute, a San Diego-based research and lobbying group that co-sponsored the 2004 law, requested the names for 2005 from all 58 counties. Nearly a year later, they’re still waiting for two counties to respond.
The names that they do have for 2005 — 48 so far — offer more questions than answers. What does it mean, for example, that nine of the deaths were children age 17 or older, five of whom were within six weeks of their 18th birthday? Are 17-year-olds simply more likely to get in car accidents? Suffer drug overdoses? Skateboard without helmets? Or does it mean the fulfillment of our worst fears — that some children, facing the harsh realities of homelessness and desperation when they “age out” of the system at 18, are taking their own lives instead?
“There’s no way to get more information without going to the courts,” said Christina Riehl, staff attorney for the Children’s Advocacy Institute.
There is absolutely no reason why an advocacy group, a newspaper, an elected official, or any other concerned member of the public should have to go to court to find out what happened when a foster youth dies.
But due to California’s baffling policies on disclosure, it’s extraordinarily difficult for the public to learn who in the system is dying and why. Nearly every bill that has come through the Legislature in the past several years has been stonewalled by the County Welfare Directors’ Association.
Take AB1817, a very modest bill sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, three years ago. Concerned about a wave of foster children’s deaths in his district, Maze simply wanted legislators to be allowed to review the case files of deceased children in the system. But he couldn’t get his bill out of the Judiciary Committee.
“They said that, as an elected official, I’d just use these cases as a political forum,” said Maze. “I think it’s just baloney. We need to know if there’s some kind of pattern or trend or lack of oversight in case management, because, until we know that, we won’t know how to fix the problem. But needless to say, I’ve been fought against on this issue tremendously by the welfare directors of this state.”
Maze is not the only one frustrated by the lack of information about child deaths from California’s social-services bureaucracies. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the state was violating federal law by failing to file reports about the deaths and near-deaths of children due to abuse or neglect. Threatened with the loss of $60 million in child-welfare funds, this summer the state began requiring counties to file these reports. But — and here’s the rub — the Department of Social Services keeps all names confidential, even in the case of foster children.
Imagine — our state’s most vulnerable children, betrayed by a state system that was supposed to protect them — and we have no idea who they are. A look at the questionnaires the state started providing this July offer only haunting glimpses of their fates:
— On July 30, a 15-year-old foster child died after either jumping or being pushed from a moving car in a suspected sexual assault.
— On Aug. 17, a 2-year-old foster child drowned after her foster parents left her alone in a bath tub.
— On Aug. 24, a 16-year-old committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after telling his sibling that he couldn’t take their legal guardian’s abuse anymore.
Confidentiality is important, especially when it comes to protecting the identities of family members and abuse reporters. We understand, as well, that it’s important to protect the names of abused children who suffer near-fatalities but are expected to recover. But there are no good reasons why the full case files — including names, counties and histories — for dead foster children shouldn’t be open to all of us. There can’t be any accountability without transparency.
When we asked Sue Diedrich, assistant general counsel for the state Department of Social Services, why they couldn’t tell us more, she said that the state could risk its federal funding.
That’s simply not true, according to a federal official who tracks the issue.
“Federal law doesn’t require that a state release (those details), but it doesn’t prohibit those disclosures either,” said Susan Orr, associate commissioner of the children’s bureau in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Indeed, there are at least two states, Georgia and South Carolina, which offer up just the sort of connect-the-dots information that an informed public needs — and unlike California, they haven’t had any threats of a funding cut-off.
There is a solution to this, and this year Assembly members Sharon Runner and Karen Bass even tried to offer it. It was AB2938, which required the release of juvenile court records, and county and state files, in the case of a child death pertaining to abuse or neglect. AB2938 should be expanded to include the deaths of foster children, regardless of whether or not they died as a result of abuse or neglect.
Unfortunately, although the governor and Legislature worked together to pass many important pieces of child-welfare legislation this year, AB2938 wasn’t one of them. The county welfare directors’ association voiced its opposition again, and it didn’t go past its first committee.
For some reason, there are still people who seem to believe that if we don’t get the information, we won’t pay attention to the fact that our children are dying.
They’re wrong. It’s time to resurrect — and expand — AB2938. What we don’t know can hurt us. It’s unconscionable to let children pay the price.
Foster Care Reform
These deaths drew news coverage.
But we need to know what happened
whenever a foster youth dies.
When Conrad Morales’ relatives sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in the mountainside town of Randle, Wash., they thought they were providing him with a better life.
After spending his first 11 years in Los Angeles motels with his mother or relatives’ homes in La Puente, the idea was that the boy might benefit from forests, meadows, fresh air, animals — from the concept of an innocent childhood that his parents, both of whom had spent time in jail on drug and assault charges, hadn’t been able to provide for him.
Two years later, the police pulled Conrad’s body out of a trash can.
The suspects in his murder case are the very same aunt and uncle who were supposed to shelter and protect him. The boy — a high-spirited, popular student and avid birdwatcher — told his best friend weeks before his death during the summer of 2005 that he was being sexually abused and beaten. Now that best friend — and the entire town of Randle — is still wondering how they could have failed to miss the warning signs: the filthy house, the erratic school attendance, Conrad’s requests for make-up to cover the bruises on his face and neck.
Months before his death, Conrad began making desperate calls to his older sister, Vanessa Gallardo, in the Los Angeles area. Gallardo, who had already fought unsuccessfully for custody with Los Angeles County Child Protective Services, was perhaps the only one who called social workers and asked that someone check on the boy. She never found out about that check, but the police estimate he was killed weeks before they received a missing person’s report.
Kayla Lorrain Wood
The life of Kayla Lorrain Wood has a made-for-after-school-TV-special quality to it: She was sexually abused, schizophrenic and depressed. She bounced around in Child Protective Services while her mother racked up drug charges. She was suspected of prostitution. And she died a terrible death — this September, the Moreno Valley police discovered her stabbed and abandoned body after firefighters came to put out a fire in a building where transients gathered.
But beneath this tale of woe lies a 16-year-old girl who loved art, music and animals. Tall and thin, she dreamed of becoming a model — an appropriate choice, perhaps, for a young woman who her mother describes as girly, pretty and frilly. In her foster-care placements, she ran away frequently — to find her family.
Eventually, the police found her body instead.
Could anyone have saved her? In 2005, after an evaluation showed that Kayla was suffering from a mental disorder, Child Protective Services recommended that she be committed to a secure psychiatric facility. She ran away from her group home four days later. Though she later returned, no one followed up on the recommendation.
Although Kayla went missing at least 10 times during her two years in the foster-care system, social services admitted to losing contact with her parents. They didn’t know she was missing until she was already dead.
The life and death of Jerry Hulsey shows how difficult it is for social workers to make the right calls when it comes to protecting children — and how important it is that they do.
Jerry’s biological mother and father were habitual drug users. His first brush with the Department of Social Services came at the age of nine months, when his biological mother passed out from a heroin overdose with him in the car. She was charged with child endangerment and ordered into drug treatment, where she met Vicki Lynn Hulsey, Jerry’s future foster mother.
Though his biological mother couldn’t stay out of trouble — she didn’t complete her treatment program and left her son in the care of anyone who would take him — she did notice that Hulsey treated the boy well. So when she went to prison in 1996, she asked that he be left in Hulsey’s care in Monterey.
Hulsey acted quickly to be certified as Jerry’s foster parent, and by the accounts of friends and neighbors, treated him with love. When she petitioned for adoption, social workers weighed that more heavily than Hulsey’s other problems — namely, her background as a child-abuse survivor, her struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, and her bipolar disorder. In the end, Hulsey’s past caught up with her — she beat 10-year-old Jerry to death this year. An autopsy showed that he had cocaine in his system and that, at 4 feet 9 inches, he weighed 60 pounds.
Hulsey’s deterioration and Jerry’s tragic death shows how difficult it is to predict what will happen in an adoption. But it also shows how important it is for the public to understand social workers’ choices.
Foster Care Reform
It works in South Carolina
FOR MORE than 10 years, South Carolina has had one of the nation’s strongest policies about public disclosure for the deaths of foster children. South Carolina’s clear and succinct policies stand in stark contrast to California’s confusing and disjointed disclosure system.
“We review all the records and talk about what the agency did or didn’t do in a specific case — was there a failure to make a home visit? Did someone not follow a policy concerning documentation?” said Virginia Williamson, general counsel for South Carolina’s Department of Social Services. “The reports talk about agency activities instead of laying out the family’s dynamics or revealing information about siblings or other relatives.”
A public request yields plenty of information. They sent us a document containing summary information about the circumstances of death for children who died in 2004. The document included not just children who had died of suspected abuse or neglect while in active protection, but also children whose deaths were the result of accidents or natural causes and received no public attention. By listing this last group without names, their privacy is protected — but the public can still do comparisons.
Composed in a simple, clear format, each entry is easy to read and analyze. For example, we learned that in 2004, there were nine child deaths due to abuse and neglect while in active protection, one well-publicized child death due to homicide, and 28 accident- and natural cause-deaths. Of the nine abuse and neglect deaths, one was a foster child — Lakeysha Tharp, a 10-year-old in Richland County, of probable asphyxiation. We learn that the foster mother has been charged with homicide by child abuse, and that the foster mother’s son (unnamed, because he is a minor) has been charged with the murder as well.
It’s all there: the case, the lost child, and what’s being done to ensure that her death was not in vain. And the sky hasn’t fallen in South Carolina as a result of such disclosure. If they’re worried about “privacy,” or “liability” or “politics,” the excuses that certain authorities offer in California, it hasn’t stopped law enforcement from serving or social services from protecting. Nor has it stopped the public from carrying on with their private lives. The only difference is that the public also has the knowledge to ask questions and push for improvement.
“It’s always a delicate balance between being accountable to the public for how we do business, the privacy interests of families, and protecting the state from lawsuits,” said Williamson. “But ultimately we feel that transparency and accountability are important.”
So do we.
About the series
California legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made progress this year by approving a series of measures to upgrade the level of consistency and oversight in the state’s troubled foster-care system — but there is much work to be done.
Today’s editorials were researched and written by editorial writer Caille Millner. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read earlier editorials on this topic, go to SFGate.com
— John Diaz, editorial page editor email@example.com
False allegations are nothing new to these brasen criminals. Many Social Workers are encouraged to lie on reports in order to take your children and are backed by their Supervisors. You have no way of complaining; who would you complain to anyway? The kidnappers are the ones parents have to negotiate with. The children have a bounty and the parents pay with their lives and still lose in court, as there is no one to defend them.
Unfortunately, parents believe their Public Defenders are going to “take care of them”, little do they know….. it will rarely if ever happen.
Social Workers (CPS) are “hardened to these cases, and don’t care about the parents” as I personally was told by a Social Worker.
They are given bonus’ and have Quotas to take children. Yours COULD be next!
These are the people making life decisions for you and your children!
“… laws, according to state documents, encourage counties and their private contractors to earn money by placing and keeping children in foster care. The county receives $30,000 to $150,000 in state and federal revenues annually for each child placed.”
[While reading this, please keep in mind the age of the story. The statistics have not decreased in the past 9 years, but on the contrary have increased.
Although the beginning doesn’t give the full impact of the article, please do read on as you will find it increasingly interesting and somewhat enlightening. ]
December 28, 2003
Children committing suicide at younger age
Los Angeles County’s child protective system is one of the most
violent and dangerous in the nation, and its foster children are up
to 10 times more likely to die from abuse or neglect than elsewhere
in the country, a two-year investigation by the Daily News has found.
In 2001 in the United States, 1.5 percent of the 1,225 children who
died from abuse and neglect were in foster care, but in the county
14.3 percent of the 35 children who died of mistreatment that year
were in foster care, government statistics show. The percentage in
the county from 1991 to 2001 averaged 4.23 percent.
The taxpayer-funded county and state systems are so overwhelmed with
false allegations – four out of every five mistreatment reports are
ruled unfounded or inconclusive – and filled with so many children
who shouldn’t even be in the system, experts say, that social workers
are failing in their basic mission to protect youngsters. Nationally,
two out of three reports of mistreatment are false.
Since 1991, the county Coroner’s Office has referred more than 2,300
child deaths to the county’s child death review team – and more than
660 of those dead children were involved in the child protective
system, including nearly 160 who were homicide victims.
In many of these deaths, county Children’s Services Inspector General
Michael Watrobski made recommendations to the Department of Children
and Family Services to conduct in-house investigations to determine
if disciplinary action was warranted against those workers involved
in the cases.
Of 191 child deaths Watrobski investigated since 2001, he made a
total of 63 recommendations to address systemic problems to improve
the way the system works in an effort to reduce the number of child
Despite spending more than $36 million on foster care lawsuit
settlements, judgments and legal expenses since 1990, DCFS
disciplined less than a third of the social workers responsible for
the lawsuits, most of which involved families who alleged social
workers’ negligence contributed to the deaths and mistreatment of
their children in foster care.
“That’s pathetic,” county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said.
“When you have a department that is responsible for the health and
safety of children there is no excuse to have a dismal record of
accountability like this.”
Meanwhile, in the various facilities that make up the county’s foster
care system, between 6 percent and 28 percent of the children are
abused or neglected – figures comparable to the rate in New Jersey,
which many experts have long called the state with the most dangerous
child welfare system in the nation.
In the general population, only 1 percent of children suffer such
“When I stepped into this job, I said that too many kids are hurt in
foster care,” said DCFS Director David Sanders, who started in March
after the forced resignations of the previous four directors. “That
is absolutely glaring and the fact this department has never been
willing to say that is a huge problem.
“It is clear when you compare us to other systems, we have more kids
being hurt in our care than in other systems. That is absolutely
inexcusable. I can’t say that more strongly. If is a reflection of a
system that isn’t working.”
Despite the staggering number of child deaths and mistreatment of
thousands of children, Sanders said the department’s efforts have
saved the lives of hundreds of children over the years. He also noted
that the vast majority of foster parents don’t mistreat children.
And child advocates say for the first time in the county’s history
the DCFS director is taking unprecedented steps to reduce the number
of deaths and percentage of foster children who are mistreated.
“In the past, the system has failed to protect children in its
care,” said Andrew Bridge, managing director of child welfare reform
programs at the private Broad Foundation. “The new leadership at the
department has been left with that legacy and is taking aggressive
steps to fix it and protect children.”
DCFS statistics show the percentage of foster children abused and
neglected averages about 6 percent, but in the foster homes
supervised by private foster family agencies, an average of 10
percent of children are mistreated. However, the rates range up to 28
percent in some homes, Sanders said.
Statewide, the rate averages close to 1 percent.
In New Jersey, the foster care mistreatment rate ranges from 7
percent to 28 percent in different parts of the state, said Marcia
Lowry, executive director of the New York City-based Children’s
Rights advocacy organization.
Of 20 states surveyed in 1999, the percentage of children mistreated
by foster parents averaged a half percent. The rate of abuse ranged
from one-tenth of a percent in Arizona, Delaware and Wyoming to 1.6
percent in Illinois to 2.3 percent in Rhode Island, according to
Susan Lambiase, associate director of Children’s Rights, was
surprised to learn of the percentage in Los Angeles County, calling
it “absolutely horrendous.”
“(Los Angeles County is) a child welfare system in crisis because
the children are getting pulled from their homes to keep them safe
and the system cannot assure that they are being kept safe,” said
Lambiase, whose organization has filed about 10 class-action lawsuits
to place state child welfare systems under federal consent decrees
and is considering what action it might take in Los Angeles County.
“It’s unacceptable,” she said. “This is a malfunctioning foster
care system given that its role in society is to protect children
from abuse and neglect.”
Critics say social workers are so busy filling out paperwork and
investigating false reports that they are overlooking the warning
signs of many children in the community in real danger and are not
able to properly ensure the safety of children in foster care.
“When you overload your system with children who don’t need to be in
foster care, workers have less time to find the children in real
danger,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National
Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Va.
The Daily News investigation found that up to half of the 75,000
children in the system and adoptive homes were needlessly placed in a
system that is often more dangerous than their own homes because of
financial incentives in state and federal laws. These laws, according
to state documents, encourage counties and their private contractors
to earn money by placing and keeping children in foster care. The
county receives $30,000 to $150,000 in state and federal revenues
annually for each child placed.
Some examples of settled cases involving the deaths of foster
–Long Beach resident Jacquelyn Bishop, whose twins were taken away
because she hadn’t gotten her son an immunization. Kameron Demery, 2,
was later beaten to death by his foster mother.
The foster mother was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced
to prison. In 2000, the county settled a wrongful death case with
Bishop for $200,000.
–Gardena resident Debra Reid was awarded a $1 million settlement
last year for the death of her 9-year-old son Jonathan Reid, who had
been in foster homes in El Monte and Pomona. He died of an asthma
attack in 1997 after social workers didn’t notify the foster mother
of his severe asthma and diabetes conditions – a tragic irony,
because the boy was placed in foster care after county social workers
alleged Reid was neglecting her son by not providing appropriate
medical care for his diabetes and asthma.
Reid’s other son, 10-year-old Debvin Mitchell, who received $100,000
as part of the settlement after he was wrongfully detained, said his
foster parents were “brutal” to him during his one-and-a-half years
in multiple foster homes.
“I thought that it was cruel and unusual for being beaten like that
for no reason,” said Mitchell. “When I came home, I had bruises
everywhere. I feel good to be back with my family where I don’t get
beaten for silly things for no reason and most of all I’m glad to be
back with my mom.”
Anthony Cavuoti, who has worked as a DCFS social worker for 14 years,
said the department does a poor job of protecting children.
“The nominal goal is to protect children, but the real goal is to
make money,” he said. “A caseworker used to have 80 to 100 cases.
Now we have 30, but we have to file five times as much paperwork. If
the workers put kids before paperwork and administration, they are
going to be forced out or harassed. With such a mentality, children
are always in danger.”
In a historic step to address the problem at the root of the system’s
failures, Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash recently called
for a historic reevaluation of half of the 30,000 cases of children
in foster homes to determine who could be safely returned to their
families or relatives.
If properly done by providing the services families need, experts say
this step combined with the DCFS request for a federal waiver to use
$250 million of its $1.4 billion budget on services to help keep
families together could ultimately reduce the number of children in
foster care and social workers’ large caseloads, giving them more
time to help protect children in truly dangerous situations.
“The court system itself should only be for those cases that reflect
serious cases of abuse and neglect,” Nash said. “We have to have
more of a talk first, shoot later mentality rather than a shoot
first, talk later mentality. We can do a much better job.”
Sanders said more than 25 percent of those children will probably be
able to return home. Concerned that two-thirds of his 6,500-employees
are working behind desks, Sanders said he plans to move 1,000 staff
promoted to office jobs by previous directors back to the streets as
social workers, which will reduce caseloads and give workers more
time to spend with families, a critical element to assure the safety
Keywords: LOS ANGELES COUNTY – FOSTER CARE – CHILD – DAILY NEWS –
VIOLENCE – DEATH – MURDER – US – STATISTIC – COMPARISON – REPORT –
CHILDREN FAMILY SERVICES – DCFS – REACTION – ABUSE – ISSUE – LIST –
CALIFORNIA – REFORM
All content © 2003- Daily News of Los Angeles (CA) and may not be
republished without permission.
If you think this can’t happen to you, you better start doing some homework.. this is the exact same thing that’s happening where you life. Yes even in America!
Province’s child protection system operates in absolute secrecy
A mother who’s had her children seized cannot speak to them and will not be informed if they die
It was her son’s birthday, but Brenda was having a horrible day.
“My son will be six today, which is normally a very good thing, but I am worried sick about him,” the 26-year-old single mom explained last week.
Brenda, whose real name can’t be used because it would identify children in care, lost her children three years ago when they were seized by the province.
She says she is not allowed to contact them — even a birthday card is forbidden — and would not be informed if they died.
“If I saw them on the street, I would have to go the other way,” she says.
The province seizes hundreds of children annually and if their birth homes can’t be made safe, they are raised in foster homes or awarded for permanent adoption. It all happens quietly because the system is shrouded in secrecy.
Recently, a foster mother killed a foster child and neither the name of the killer nor the victim has been made public, which seems astonishing in a democratic society.
Some Albertans, like NDP MLA Rachel Notley, argue there should be more openness and transparency in the system to ensure it is taking all the necessary steps to protect children.
Brenda says she made “a mistake” that led to her son and daughter being seized, but they were never abused in the home. She says even court officials noted it was evident she loved her children and they loved her, but the court deemed she couldn’t care for them. Brenda, who suffers from agoraphobia or a fear of crowds, says she has since done everything she can to change that, cleaning up her life and taking parenting courses.
Brenda’s world came crashing down after she took in a homeless relative and his family.
“I was really naive,” she says. “I had my cousin and his wife and their three kids and dog show up to my house one night. They said they needed to stay only one or two nights.
“It ended up being six weeks. I was stupid and let them stay. It was an absolute nightmare. I wound up looking after their three kids as well as my own and I got completely overwhelmed and my house went to hell. It was awful.”
Brenda says she finally kicked them out and the next day, child welfare showed up. She believes her cousin reported her to child protection officials out of spite.
“They came and seized both kids,” she says. “I had a bit of a breakdown and it took me a long time to get the house cleaned up. It was really bad. I just couldn’t deal with it. My doctor had me on Valium because all I could do was cry all the time.”
When she finally snapped out of it and cleaned her house, Brenda was given permission to have her son and daughter come for supervised visits. But Brenda and her mother became alarmed at the condition of the children.
They say the little boy and girl “didn’t smell clean” and appeared to have developed skin conditions from not being bathed routinely.
Her two-year-old daughter had bite marks and scratches on her shoulder, back and neck.
“When questioned about it, they said it was from the dog,” says the children’s grandmother, Jenny.
Jenny says during one visit she noticed her grandson had blistering burns on his neck, ear and chest. When her daughter questioned child services about it, she was told the little boy, then three, had “pulled a cup of coffee off a tray in a food court.”
Brenda says she filed formal complaints, but is not aware of anything being done about it.
After a four-day trial in 2007, the children were placed in permanent custody.
Brenda was given a “termination visit” to say goodbye to them. She says it was painful beyond words. “How do you tell your kids that you can’t see them anymore?”
Brenda has a steady job and plans to get married this year. It is her mission in life to get her children back. “I am much more stable now. I am not on my own and I am not vulnerable.” She is saving money to hire a lawyer.
“My daughter is a wreck,” says Jenny. “She loved those children. Nobody has ever loved her children more than she loved those two. She is an awesome mother.”
Under current provincial child protection legislation, reporters can’t look at the files and can’t get details from department officials, since they are not allowed to comment on specific cases. Court documents are sealed.
So who is scrutinizing the system? The NDP says the province’s watchdog, the child advocate, has been leashed, if not muzzled. That’s because he reports not to the legislature like in other provinces, but to the minister of Child and Youth Services, who is his boss.
Hopefully that, at least, will change soon.
By: Sandra Ami
How would you feel to see a child’s face terrified with fear, with tears flooding their cheeks, arms reaching out for help “MOMMY! MOMMY! DADDY! DADDY!” The child is being pulled away by strangers, the pain and pure agony of fear. The screams so piercing they draw a crowd. It not only breaks your heart but makes one think.
Where is the compassion and where was the law?
I’ve seen this far more often that I would have ever liked, more often than I would have ever chosen, far more often than I could have ever imagined possible. But it happens every day. Each day thousands of children and parents are going through this same painful torture.
It all starts with a report made to Children and Family Services. Perhaps a neighbor that you’ve gotten into an argument with over a barking dog, or the methods of a teacher you challenged or you showing your disapproval of the teacher locking the children in the classrooms during school hours. Maybe it’s because of your husband’s new wife who doesn’t like you or doesn’t like having to pay child support to your children. Or even a mother who files a complaint against the father out of anger or jealousy. The reasons are endless but the results are the same.
When a mother calls in to report the father (or visa-versa), she’s cutting her nose off to spite her face. She doesn’t realize that not only are they writing up reasons to alienate the father, but they are also writing up reasons to take the children from the mother for “Neglecting to protect the children.”
CPS, DHS, DCFS, DYFS, whatever name they go by in a particular county, they are still one in the same. Their only intention upon any report is to put children up for adoption. When a call comes in it is handled just as a sales call. If any one of you have ever worked as a sales person, or owned a business, you know how valuable a call in to place an order is. The “department” is no different. Each call that is made into their offices is a valuable financial, incoming call.
The Social Workers are not interested if there was any actual abuse or neglect, they get a bonus to place children up for adoption. They use the calls as their guideline, on how the reports will be written up. But, those reports will also have added allegations, accusations and almost always the SW will put in the report that one or both of the parents have “mental issues that prevent the mom (or dad) from parenting their child(ren).” The mental statements on the reports are to cause the parents more obstacles to prevent them from getting their children back and are rarely ever mentioned by anyone. The parent may never have seen a psychiatrist or therapist, and may never have been diagnosed with such conditions.
This is how it works.
A call comes into Social Services; you are completely unaware there is even a complaint. You get a knock on the door within a few days, or it could even be as simple as a phone call, with a Social Worker asking you a few questions. You know there is nothing you have done to justify any reporting, and the Social Worker tells you “don’t worry it’s just routine, we have to investigate each report we get.” So, you don’t worry.
A day or so later, at 6:30am, time to get ready for school. You tickle the children out of bed, and if that doesn’t work, tell them you will “sprinkle them with LOVE KISSES” to which they know a cup of water is coming that you will dip your fingers in and flick them with it to wake them up, as you’ve done before.. “LOVE KISSES.. LOOOVE KISSES” the giggles are just enough to wake them up. Now that the children are awake and sitting up, you give them the option.. “Do you want to dress yourself today? Or do you want ME TO??” They know that if you do it, you will dress them in that nice green, stripped, button down shirt with the green Levis you love them in, but if they dress themselves, they will get to wear their cool Black Dickies and the Black shirt with the cool skateboarder on it. So, just the mere mention of Mom dressing the children is just enough to get their butts in gear. In the kitchen, you fix sausage, eggs and toast and while the children are eating breakfast you jump in the shower. After breakfast, there’s no time to do the dishes, so you save it for your return. Just before you drive them off to school, there’s Teeth Inspection Time where you play Dentist after they’ve brushed, and as you comb their hair, creating several different hair styles, the Mohawk look, then the bangs, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, just before making them presentable for their teacher. One last thing before they walk out the door, you squirt them with some Smell Pretties, a man’s cologne you bought them for their last birthday or Christmas time. Now all the homework’s in order, their lunch has been made, and you’re off to school. Kiss them good bye and tell them to “Have a great day, I love you” as you hear the little voices “I love you too”.
Driving back up your driveway, you see a strange car and someone standing in the driveway. You approach the stranger as she identifies herself as Kim the Social Worker, she’s dressed casually and looks rather harmless, in fact, she looks like she could be one of your nice new neighbors from down the street. She says “hello, how are you doing? I love your flowers, you have a nice house. Did you plant that flower bed yourself?” As you engage in a casual conversation, she sounds rather normal, you then invite her in. She looks around, but not so much as to inspect the home or look suspicious. “You have a very nice home” she says. You show her the family pet Duck you have (in diapers) who is quite friendly and as docile as a well tamed cat. She then proceeds to ask questions after explaining why she is there. “I just want you to know, I’m here to help you, I know this all sounds so silly, but I just have to make sure I have the paperwork done right, in order to close the case” She asks you if you have been under any doctors care, or if the children have. Puzzled you think to yourself “is this a loaded question?” Searching for the best answer for this question, you think if you say “yes”, they may perceive that the children have a problem, however if you say “no”, they may think you don’t take them when needed. So you answer the question, “yes, I take the children or myself whenever we need to go”. You also inform the Social Worker that you have insurance, and the children have been seeing the same doctor all their lives, pretty much. The Social Worker isn’t at your house for very long, maybe a matter of 3 or 4 minutes. She thanks you as a friend would do as she gets in her car. Again, you don’t worry.
A week later, the same routine, 6:30am, breakfast, shower, comb the hair, lunch and off to school. “I love you honey, have a great day” “You too mommy, I love you too.”
This time, you come home, you start the dishes, take something out for dinner, moping the floors, bathing the duck; it’s the regular routine.
THEN A KNOCK ON THE DOOR.
“Oh Hello Kim, don’t tell me, let me guess, you took my kids” in an extremely naive and friendly voice you say to the woman, jokingly.
“Yes, I did”
”WHAT? You’re kidding me right?”
”No, we took your son from School”
”Where is he now? Where did you take him, OH MY GOD! He knows never to get in the car with strangers, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD” as the tears bellow down your face.
”WHY? WHY? Why did you take him?”
”Well, we called a Doctor who said to detain the child”
”But he only saw my son once when my son was a few months old??!! He knows nothing about my son”
”Here’s the address, you will need to attend a TDM (Team Decision Meeting) meeting tomorrow, and you will have a court date the following day”
Now, you pick up your phone, you call your husband, even though you are not living together (thank goodness your still very close friends), where he shows up within minutes from across town; he speaks with the SW and tells her the “mother is a good mom”, a call to your attorney who speaks with the SW for a few seconds only to return back to you with “She’s a BITCH”. A frantic call out to your mother, sister, brother, friends anyone and everyone you know. CRYING, feeling like someone has just taken a hatchet to your knees. You feel the blood draining out of your body as though they clipped off your extremities. Tight wrenching pains from the middle of your torso with one single laceration from the tip of your chin to the farthest end of your body. As if you were dissected like a fish. Even these words are not harsh enough to express the feeling. It is beyond one’s self, a painful death in a living state.
The next day you go to this “TDM” (which stands for Team Decision Meeting) where you take your adult son, your teenage son, your mother, sister, husband, and his brother who are all willing to take the child home with them “just in case”. The purpose of the meeting, as they tell you, is to “agree on a placement for the child”. Well everyone in the meeting agrees that the child should go home, everyone except the Social Worker that is. The Social Worker says she will do an “investigation” on the relatives, asking if any of them have ever been arrested, asks what they all do for a living, what their lifestyles are like, and then constructs a list of Strong Points and Weak Points.
It is actually about 3 days after that that you go to court where you meet your Public Defender for the first time and get handed a “report”. The Public Defender after handing the report, gives you a few moments to read it over before he speaks with you. You read the report where you learn you are just about to be “raped”.
The report reads: “Mother is under a doctor’s care for Mental Conditions that prevent her from parenting her child… Mother neglected to take the child to the doctor for over 3 years, placing the child in immediate or immanent danger” “NO FAMILY AVAILABLE REQUEST CONFIDENTIAL FOSTER HOME” “father has agreed with the child’s mother, despite knowledge that such actions could have potential negative effects on his well-being” “several dirty dishes were in the sink, and the children were living in dirty conditions” (never mind the fact that you took him to the doctor 3 months before for a cold, and even as soon as 2 ½ weeks ago he was released from the hospital where you took him for Strep Throat). Never mind the fact that your son has been to the doctor every time he was sick, and/or anytime there was even the slightest possibility of danger. The report makes allegations that the Social Worker pulled out of her butt, and got from nowhere else. YOU’RE SHOCKED! And looking up at the court room doors where you are going to be entering to answer for such allegations. No problem you think, I’ll just tell the
attorney to fight for me. Right?
Your Public Defender (Bob) comes back to speak to you, he tells you to “plea in the case”,, “WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING?? NO! I WILL NOT! I’M NOT GUILTY OF ANY OF THIS” you tell him. Bob then says to you “Yeah, yeah I’ve hear that all the time, I’m telling you, you will lose your children to adoption if you do not plea”. “ADOPTION?? WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT ADOPTION?” “But Bob, I’m not guilty and I can PROVE every bit of it.” “Well, let’s just push the hearing up a few weeks and give you some time to think about it”.
You go home and spend every waking moment researching what is going on, how this all works, why this is happening, and how can they get away with this. You give up your business for the chase to get your child back from the clutches of such evil people, to protect him! Your business suffers, therefore your house payment suffers and soon it will be all gone! You learn some statistics like a child in Foster Care is 7-10 times more likely to DIE than if kept with the parents. You learn that Child Protective Services gets anywhere from $12,000 to upwards of $20,000 “PER CHILD” “PER MONTH”, and only has to pay out approximately 10% to the caregivers. You learn that in your county alone more than 3000 children are taken away EVERY MONTH. You become scared, very scared.
(oh and I forgot to mention, when the Social Worker took your child they placed him immediately into the hospital, putting him on I.V.s and giving him all kinds of other medications.. with NO PARENT allowed there, no familiar person to your frightened child.)
Afraid? You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t do anything but research, investigate, think of some kind of strategy, but.. you’re not an attorney. What to do?
You try to make sense of it all, speaking to as many people as you can, only to find out that the mere mention of your children being taken away, feeds an immediate judgment that YOU ARE GUILTY “what did YOU do WRONG?”. The conversation ends there, as no one will listen. They all believe you are guilty. No one will help. You start to speak with other parents, moms and dads who have also been put into the same situation. Parents fighting for their children, parents who also were lied about in court, and many were “FORCED” to give their children up for adoption.
Two weeks later, you go back to court. Bob tells you to “the Social Worker has agreed to let the child go home with his father if you plea in this case, if not he WILL go into a Foster Home TODAY!” You then ask him “is it true that a child is 7-10 times more likely to DIE in a foster home?” He answers “YES!”
Oh my god, Oh MY God! You are given no other choice, you must plea guilty.
Your attorney, along with the father’s attorney, the child’s (appointed attorney), the Social Worker’s attorney, clerk and judge are in the courtroom, where, YOU are not allowed. After they discuss your case, they sometimes call you into the courtroom, they read their agreement, and ask you if you agree. Then, 30 seconds later, it’s over and you are walking out.
Only, as agreed in court, they DO NOT return your child, as the judge ordered. They make excuses not to. You call your attorney, and he says he’ll talk to the SW, and call you back. He may, and he may not for a few days. (and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have an attorney that actually takes your calls, or calls you back)
During the time your son is in the hospital, you are allowed to see him the next day. You ask the doctor there; “why is my son in here?” the doctor replies “Oh it’s just routine maintenance, your child is NOT SICK”.
After asking the doctors several questions, and staying with your son, every day and every night while he’s in the hospital, the Social Worker gets nervous, this does not look good for her case against you, so she must get rid of you. One day, a security guard comes to your child’s room and tells you “you must leave”. WHAT? Why? You later learn that someone somewhere said you “want to slay the doctor and take your child out of state” (that in later reports turns into “slay the doctor and his family”) NONE OF WHICH IS TRUE (but you aren’t so surprised by now, because none of it is true, NONE OF IT!)
There is another court hearing to put you on “monitored visitations” for such allegations, and you are now only allowed to see your son 2 times per week for 2 hours at a time, only there is NO ONE to monitor your visits, so you are lucky if you get them.
Monitored Visitations: The Social Worker will set up a schedule they have no intention of keeping. Say your schedule is Tuesday and Thursday from 10am – 12pm. Well they will call you at 9 on Tues. and tell you they have to go to a meeting and need to reschedule. So they will ask you if Wednesday at 9am is ok. Being one of the lucky one’s that doesn’t actually work for someone else, you are able to accommodate any time schedule, only that makes them change it up even more, to find out what WILL BE the most inconvenient schedule they can come up with. (the purpose is to get you to say “no” so they can write up in their report “mother missed scheduled visit” or “mother unable to make visitation schedule” or “mother canceled visitation” (even if the Social Worker was the one to cancel)
The day you walked out of court (a Wednesday) the SW (a new one, because they have already changed Social Worker’s 3 times by now) tells the father “you can not take your child home, until you meet with the doctor (the same one that told the social worker “if you take the child I will get him a room at the hospital”. You know the one that only saw your child ONCE?!) You along with the father and your adult son go over to this doctors office to get “education on the medical needs of the child” (which there ARE NONE) per the Social Worker. They tell you you can not get an appointment for a month. The father fights and fights for several days to get a sooner appointment, so he can bring his baby home.
On Friday, two days after the court ordered your child to his father, you decide to move your other two boys into their father’s as well, so that when your little guy comes home he will have his entire family back, minus you. While moving your other children in, a Second and Third Social Worker show up to check on your one son that is has not been released by the social worker yet. You inform them that you know you are not supposed to be there after he comes home, however he’s still in the Orphanage. The very nice lady says “I’ll check with the first Social Worker to find out why they didn’t tell me” The next day, the first Social Worker leaves a message on the father’s voice mail stating “the mother is to be OUT OF THE PICTURE COMPLETELY.. I CAN HAVE HIM PULLED AND THERE WOULD BE NO CHANCE OF RETURN” threatening yet again, for approximately the 30th time by now “ADOPTION”.
Once the father does bring the child home, the following day, the Social Worker calls and says that now the adult son needs such training or the child will be taken again, she also demands the adult brother take CPR training. (Though you research and the WIC codes state 362.04 (a),(e),(f) that they can not demand such training (paraphrased).
You call the Social Worker’s Supervisor and ask that he look into what the Social Worker is doing, and explain there was NO INVESTIGATION made, and the allegations are all false. He says back to you” I will not investigate the case, that is her job, I will not check to see what she is doing” You learn that he too is aware, as though this is common practice.
You know, you have this gut feeling, they are going to take your child again. You just know.
Two weeks after your son went home with his father, there is a doctor’s appointment where the second Social Worker and your adult son and the father attend, you have been banned from all appointments. During this time, the father asks the doctor attending, “we are here to give my adult son ‘training’. The doctor says “do you know how to read a prescription bottle?” “yes” your son says. “that’s all the training you need”.
The following day, the first Social Worker comes to take you son again, stating “the adult son didn’t have training”. (Oh but now.. we know this is not true, and there was even a Social Worker there, unbeknown to the first Social Worker) Your child is put back into the Orphanage. While you are on your monitored visits, you are told “don’t kiss your son, don’t hug him for any amount of time, and don’t let him (though very despondent, depressed, confused, crying, and scared) sleep on your lap. If you do it will not look good in the reports to the court. (you later learn, through more research, that this is how they try to separate the “bond” between you and your child.
Each statement by Social Workers, each report, each action is to set the ground work for Adoption.
The process goes on. You are told if you accept “services” you will get your son back within 6 months, however the court hearings are continued each time, to extend the process out longer. You are NEVER allowed to defend yourself, your child’s attorney never even meets the child. AND KNOW THIS: after 12-18 months (no longer than 18 months) the child MUST BE ORDERED TO A PERMANENT PLACEMENT and you can pretty much guarantee it will NOT be with you!
The services they tell you to go to, are not even ordered for several months, so you will not be able to complete them by the time the case must be decided on. The hours of the “classes” and the “therapy” and the visitations, make it almost impossible for you to complete. The visits are sometimes scheduled during your other appointments they put you through, and if you can not do ‘both’ at the same time, then it is written up that you are either missing them, or “refused”. You know this is not true. But this is what the reports say. Upon the 6 month review, they tell you they will ‘drop the monitor and allow you to be with your child, if you agree that all reports against you are correct” now, you haven’t seen your child much in the past 6 months, so you are at the mercy of these evil people. You make another coerced decision, for the sake your son, your family, yourself. Only to, yet again find you were lied to. They took off the monitor, that is also a Social Worker, but placed you on monitored visits with the father being the monitor (remember you are very good friends, so this is not the worst thing that could happen). The Social Worker tells you, they will lift the monitor completely if “you attend a doctor’s appointment to be trained”. Two months go by, and you attend the doctors appointment (by now you have realized to take a digital tape recorder with you were ever you go, and tape the entire time.. thankfully). During that doctor’s appointment, your Social Worker says “your monitor is now lifted completely, aren’t you happy? I will send it to the courts so that it will be reflected on the record”. Great! Now you are able to see your son (after 8 months) any time! The next hearing, 2 weeks later, you get the report (they are always handed out minutes before your hearing … that again you are not allowed to be a physical party to). The report states “16 hours per week of liberal unmonitored visits”.
ANGER?? Can you say ANGER?
The above events are true, don’t think this can’t happen to you, because this is exactly what happened to me.
In my next post I will uncover the truths of Charities and Foundations involved in this corruption. I’ll discuss how the Judges are on the Board of Directors to the Adoption Agencies. How Social Services does Fund raisers for United Way, where the money comes back to Social Services. I’ll tell about how the Social Workers get bonuses for each adoption they force, and how Federal taxes are are being used to take children from their homes.
This is only ONE story of the horrors families and children all over are facing each day. In Orange County California alone, over 3000 children are taken each month. I’ve been told that number is conservative, and is more like 4700, though I haven’t verified that as of yet.
I was also told by a CPS (Social Worker) that over 50% of the children come from average, good homes. That means these children could be yours. At the rate this is happening… It is only a matter of time, and it will be your child too. Imagine for one moment, your child being traumatized, kidnapped by strangers, not being able to call you, then being told YOU did something wrong and are “UNABLE TO CARE FOR THEM”.
I will tell more about how this happens in a later blog.
This CAN happen to you.. No one is immune!