This is a precedent. Hope to see more!
No matter how absurd or unbelievable the CPS/DCFS social worker’s claim(s) may seem, please understand that the social worker is dead serious, and most likely presumes – no… most likely BELIEVES that you are guilty as accused. Even if the social worker doesn’t admit that s/he is at your home to take your children, often times that IS EXACTLY why they are there. It is our experience, over 20+ years, that the majority of CPS social workers develop a cynical view of life and assume that you are UTTERLY GUILTY until YOU PROVE that you are not: the opposite of the way the “justice system” is supposed to operate.
Most typically, the CPS/DCFS social worker wants to keep you from knowing exactly what you have been accused of — sort of keeping themselves on a “general fishing expedition” — but it is required by state and federal law to tell you the exact details of the accusations at first contact with you. Be wary! Do not settle for the vague and general charges called “neglect” or “abuse.” Neglect and abuse are broad categories – not the legally-required “details” of the accusations or charges! You are entitled to know the “details & specifics” of what you are accused of committing.
In criminal law it is ALWAYS strongly suggested that you talk to NO ONE but your attorney. Think about it. Virtually ALL CHARGES that CPS or DCFS levels against you are CRIMINAL CHARGES. And while CPS or DCFS is there ONLY to take your kids, the police can and often will show up later for the parents! In fact, open your mouth and tell the CPS investigator just enough to “make their case” and you can start packing an overnight case as the police will be called by CPS who will be at your door to take you away.
Sure, it is totally natural that innocent parents who have nothing to hide will want to explain everything to a CPS social worker because such parents would assume that ANY reasonable person would see that there is nothing wrong going on. But CPS and DCFS social workers are commonly ANYTHING BUT reasonable. They become entrenched in a culture that is uniformly cynical about ALL PARENTS. Frankly, you are presumed guilty by the majority of CPS and DCFS agents. The exhausted, over-worked social worker who just fought the crowded freeways to make it to your home is there on a mission. That mission is most often to find evidence to support what the social worker already believes to be true – that you abused your child just as the neighbor, relative or anonymous tipster claimed.
If you don’t talk to them –just as you are always told to never voluntarily talk with the police if they are accusing you of a crime– you take their power away. They will not be able to use your own admissions, statements, and your very words against you. For example” “Have you ever spanked your toddler?” Do you really think there is a good answer to that question? The majority of CPS and DCFS social workers abhor most any form of parental punishment.
An attorney EXPERIENCED in CPS and DCFS cases and courts is mandatory! Juvenile Dependency courts are worlds unto themselves. Your most seasoned and experienced lawyers when first stepping foot into a Juvenile Dependency courtroom are totally dumb struct as if they stepped into It’s a Small World at Disneyland. Most lawyers –even experienced Family Law attorneys– who are not experienced with CPS/DCFS mistakenly think that it is their job (as it would be in any other court setting) to find out what CPS or DCFS wants and then communicate all the details to their clients. Shockingly, doing exactly that often leads to total disaster and the loss of your children.
Let’s face it, when a “government investigator” –without any advanced notice– knocks insistently on your door, well-dressed, looking all official with a county badge; exuding the authority of the government; is well-prepared, PRIMED and READY to level accusations of child abuse or neglect against you: most people would be SHOCKED! If you’re human you’d also be scared too. As government is getting bigger and bigger every year they are getting more and more powerful and intrusive in the lives of ordinary citizens. We are all a bit nervous and threatened by the power of the state as we witness weekly examples of government power wielded unfairly on Investigative TV News programs and in the lives of our own families and friends.
What could your reaction possibly be to a surprise home-visit from a government agent? No one appreciates surprise visits by any one! Perhaps the dishes are unwashed; maybe you haven’t cleaned house for a day or two; say that there are a collection of beer bottles on the coffee table from the football game the day before; could be that you’re not dressed in appropriate attire as you would be IF EXPECTING guests… So when you are surprised and ACCUSED TO YOUR FACE of child neglect or child abuse it might be natural that you are shocked, defensive, upset, angry and a little hostile. As Homer Simpson would say: “Do’ah!”
Guess what? An angry demeanor toward the CPS social worker or DCFS investigator is considered evidence of your guilt. Your perfectly natural, upset and angry reaction to being accused of harming your child will very OFTEN BE USED as evidence of your violent and abusive personality.
If a County CPS/DCFS social worker requests that you invite them into your home politely refuse. If he or she insists or suggests that not allowing entry will work against you or will ensure that your children are taken away from you HOLD YOUR GROUND. Politely ask to see their warrant or court order to come into your home. It the CPS social worker or investigator claims to have a warrant, insist on seeing it: in fact they owe you a copy! Why? Would a Social worker lie? YES. Police and government agents often suggest they have a warrant or outright lie and claim to have a warrant when they do not. It makes their task of finding needed evidence against you so much easier! If the CPS/DCFS government agent cannot produce a warrant, firmly but politely tell them that they will have to remain outside until a warrant is presented. They will be annoyed. But you will be far better off – legally. If the agent says it is an EMERGENCY call their bluff. Insist that they explain how it is an emergency and what constitutes an emergency. Typically, in so-called “emergency situations,” the police and the CPS social workers come together and even then it is not necessarily an emergency but a working relationship that some CPS agents have with associates on the police force.
Do not even open the door to allow the CPS agent look into your home to see your children: they can see something that creates an “emergency situation” even if it is not true.
Be FIRM. You should not waiver nor give in to thinking: “What’s the harm?” There is no compromise here: no exception. If you invite a County CPS investigator or a Los Angeles DCFS social worker into your home, you have just waived your Federally-protected fourth amendment constitutional protection. Just like a police detective intent on hauling you to the police station for questioning would love for you to willingly invite them into your home, a CPS social worker who is openly or secretly intent on taking your children from you WILL FIND SOMETHING IN YOUR HOME TO JUSTIFY THE REMOVAL OF YOUR KIDS.
This happens every day all over America and even more often in Southern California where CPS and DCFS agents are the most ruthless social workers anywhere. The bar for removal is “whatever it needs to be” as far as the social worker is concerned. A legal prescription in your bathroom cabinet, a beer bottle on the coffee table, a kitchen knife not in the drawer, a broken window, a back door without a deadbolt, a missing smoke detector, a swimming pool without its own secondary safety fence: whatever might be necessary to fill out the paperwork to justify removal. If this particular social worker set out to take your child, allowing them innocently into your house will ensure that your child is taken from you. You now have a year or a lifetime of HELL before you.
Subjective reports of what a child said or did not say is hardly ever adequate. Ask that any interrogation be recorded. You could produce your own recorder (as a back-up) just in case the CPS or DCFS investigator “loses” their tape between the interrogation and a subsequent court hearing where you might have “wished” that you had such a tape.
Ask your doctor to write a letter stating that there are no bruises or injuries observed, nor any other health-related issues that would raise any concern or suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Obviously go to a doctor whom you trust. If a CPS or DCFS social worker suggests a doctor for you, or suggests that they know where you can see a doctor at NO CHARGE (as attractive as that may be), NEVER visit with a doctor recommended by CPS. What you may not know is that these doctors are a regular part of the CPS system and they are commonly called as expert-testimony witnesses by CPS as a witness against the parents. They are paid handsomely for their testimony.
If your children are removed from your home, or the court is demanding that your children must soon leave your home for some period of time it is always better that your children are taken in by relatives or friends. Are you aware that children placed in foster care are sometimes abused or mistreated by people working the foster care system for a “pay check?” There is the flip side to that where some truly loving foster parents sometimes become smitten with your kids and start their own campaign with the court and petition for adoption! Having your kids in foster care is simply adding one more level of stress and complexity to your plate.
If you are innocent of neglect or abuse why would you buckle to the pressure of a CPS agent’s demands to have you admit to false accusations? If you are accused or charged with neglect because someone has informed the county CPS system that you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the social worker who is investigating those accusations may have good-reason to be concerned for your kids’ safety.
Even if you privately agree that maybe you drink too often or too much that does not mean that you have to incriminate yourself in this investigation. Bite your tongue. Admit NOTHING! Even if you recognize that you have a problem that needs to be addressed this is not your DOCTOR; this is not your PRIEST; this is not your LAWYER. Wrong person! Wrong time! This person is not here to HEP YOU. This person is here to collect evidence to support the accusations made against you and to TAKE YOUR KIDS. Period.
Do not admit guilt. Instead, work with your doctor, pastor or even your private CPS defense attorney to find the professional help you might need need (and professional help that the courts will recognize – no sense paying twice because a treatment program is not court-approved). By NOT ADMITTING GUILT, you can then honestly work on any issues you have and work with the court to keep your kids under your roof or to get your kids returned to you when appropriate.
By mistakenly thinking that admitting guilt to a social worker is justified is often a fast trip to jail – removing many of the options that you need right now to get your life in order. In any potentially-criminal situation NEVER voluntarily do anything until you contact an attorney: preferably a compassionate and understanding attorney who works with parents, kids and the Juvenile Dependency Courts on a daily basis. They will offer you frank advice that will be better than unnecessarily sitting locked behind bars. CPS social workers and investigators are not above lying to you to encourage you to confess or admit to something that you might not even be guilty of – just to get you arrested and your kids in their control.
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U.S. federal laws that govern CPS agencies include:
In 1690, in what is now the United States, there were criminal court cases involving child abuse. In 1692, states and municipalities identified care for abused and neglected children as the responsibility of local government and private institutions.In 1696, The Kingdom of England first used the legal principle of parens patriae, which gave the royal crown care of “charities, infants, idiots, and lunatics returned to the chancery.” This principal of parens patriae has been identified as the statutory basis for U.S. governmental intervention in families’ child rearing practices.
In 1825, states enacted laws giving social-welfare agencies the right to remove neglected children from their parents and from the streets. These children were placed in almshouses, in orphanages and with other families. In 1835, the Humane Society founded the National Federation of Child Rescue agencies to investigate child maltreatment. In the late-19th century, private child protection agencies – modeled after existing animal protection organizations – developed to investigate reports of child maltreatment, present cases in court and advocate for child welfare legislation.
In 1853, the Children’s Aid Society was founded in response to the problem of orphaned or abandoned children living in New York. Rather than allow these children to become institutionalized or continue to live on the streets, the children were placed in the first “foster” homes, typically with the intention of helping these families work their farms.
In 1874, the first case of child abuse was criminally prosecuted in what has come to be known as the “case of Mary Ellen.” Outrage over this case started an organized effort against child maltreatment In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt convened the White House Conference on Child Dependency, which created a publicly funded volunteer organization to “establish and publicize standards of child care.” By 1926, 18 states had some version of county child welfare boards whose purpose was to coordinate public and private child related work. Issues of abuse and neglect were addressed in the Social Security Act in 1930, which provided funding for intervention for “neglected and dependent children in danger of becoming delinquent.” 
In 1912, the federal Children’s Bureau was established to manage federal child welfare efforts, including services related to child maltreatment. In 1958, amendments to the Social Security Act mandated that states fund child protection efforts. In 1962, professional and media interest in child maltreatment was sparked by the publication of C. Henry Kempe and associates’ “The battered child syndrome” in JAMA. By the mid-1960s, in response to public concern that resulted from this article, 49 U.S. states passed child-abuse reporting laws. In 1974, these efforts by the states culminated in the passage of the federal “Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act” (CAPTA; Public Law 93-247) providing federal funding for wide-ranging federal and state child-maltreatment research and services. In 1980, Congress passed the first comprehensive federal child protective services act, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-272), which focused on state economic incentives to substantially decrease the length and number of foster care placements.
Partly funded by the federal government, Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies were first established in response to the 1974CAPTA which mandated that all states establish procedures to investigate suspected incidents of child maltreatment.
In the 1940s and 1950s, due to improved technology in diagnostic radiology, the medical profession began to take notice of what they believed to be intentional injuries. In 1961, C. Henry Kempe began to further research this issue, eventually identifying and coining the term battered child syndrome. At this same time, there were also changing views about the role of the child in society, fueled in part by the civil rights movement.
In 1973, Congress took the first steps toward enacting federal legislature to address the issue of child abuse. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was passed in 1974, which required states “to prevent, identify and treat child abuse and neglect.”
Shortly thereafter, in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed in response to concerns that large numbers of Native American children were being separated from their tribes and placed in foster care. This legislation not only opened the door for consideration of cultural issues while stressing ideas that children should be with their families, leading to the beginnings offamily preservation programs. In 1980, the Adoption Assistance Act was introduced as a way to manage the high numbers of children in placement. Although this legislation addressed some of the complaints from earlier pieces of legislation around ensuring due process for parents, these changes did not alleviate the high numbers of children in placement or continuing delays in permanence. This led to the introduction of the home visitation models, which provided funding to private agencies to provide intensive family preservation services.
In addition to family preservation services, the focus of federal child welfare policy changed to try to address permanence for the large numbers of foster children care. Several pieces of federal legislation attempted to ease the process of adoption including Adoption Assistance Act; the 1988 Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption, and Family Services Act; and the 1992 Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act. The 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which was revised in 1996 to add the Interethnic Placement Provisions, also attempted to promote permanency through adoption, creating regulations that adoptions could not be delayed or denied due to issues of race, color, or national origin of the child or the adoptive parent.
All of these policies led up to the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), much of which guides current practice. Changes in the Adoptions and Safe Families Act showed an interest in both protecting children’s safety and developing permanency.This law requires counties to provide “reasonable efforts” (treatment) to preserve or reunify families, but also shortened time lines required for permanence, leading to termination of parental rights should these efforts fail. ASFA introduced the idea of “concurrent planning” which demonstrated attempts to reunify families as the first plan, but to have a back-up plan so as not to delay permanency for children.
The United Kingdom has a comprehensive child welfare system under which Local Authorities have duties and responsibilities towards children in need in their area. This covers provision of advice and services, accommodation and care of children who become uncared for, and also the capacity to initiate proceedings for the removal of children from their parents care/care proceedings. The criteria for the latter is ‘significant harm’ which covers physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. In appropriate cases the Care Plan before the Court will be for adoption. The Local Authorities also run adoption services both for children put up for adoption voluntarily and those becoming available for adoption through Court proceedings. The basic legal principle in all public and private proceedings concerning children, under the Children Act 1989, is that the welfare of the child is paramount. In recognition of attachment issues, social work good practice requires a minimal number of moves and the 1989 Children Act enshrines the principle that delay is inimical to a child’s welfare. Care proceedings have a time frame of 40 weeks and concurrent planning is required. The final Care Plan put forward by the Local Authority is required to provide a plan for permanence, whether with parents, family members, long-term foster parents or adopters. Nevertheless, ‘drift’ and multiple placements still occur as many older children are difficult to place or maintain in placements. The role of Independent Visitor, a voluntary post, was created in the United Kingdom under the 1989 Children Act to befriend and assist children and young people in care.
In England, Wales and Scotland, there never has been a statutory obligation to report alleged child abuse to the Police. However both the Children Act 1989 and 2004 makes clear a statutory obligation on all professionals to report suspected child abuse.
The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 created the role of Local Authority Designated Officer, This officer is responsible for managing allegations of abuse against adults who work with children (Teachers, Social Workers,Church leaders, Youth Workers etc.).
Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB’s) are responsible ensuring agencies and professionals,in their area,effectively safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In the event of the death or serious injury of a child, LSCB’s can initiate a ‘Serious Case Review’ aimed at identifying agency failings and improving future practice.
The planned ContactPoint database, under which information on children is shared between professionals, has been halted by the newly elected coalition government (May 2010). The database was aimed at improving information sharing across agencies. Lack of information sharing had been identified as a failing in numerous high profile child death cases. Critics of the scheme claimed it was evidence of a ‘big brother state’ and too expensive to introduce.
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 (updated in 2010) and the subsequent ‘The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report’ (Laming, 2009) continue to promote the sharing of data between those working with vulnerable children.
A child in suitable cases can be made a ward of court and no decisions about the child or changes in its life can be made without the leave of the High Court.
In England the Murder of Victoria Climbié was largely responsible for various changes in child protection in England, including the formation of the Every Child Matters programme in 2003. A similar programme – Getting it Right for Every Child – GIRFEC was established in Scotland in 2008.
In Ontario, services are provided by independent Children’s Aid Societies. The societies receive funding from, and are under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. However, they are regarded as a Non-governmental organization (NGO) which allows the CAS a large degree of autonomy from interference or direction in the day to day running of CAS by the Ministry. The Child and Family Services Review Board exists to investigate complaints against CAS and maintains authority to act against the societies.
The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (PANI) is responsible for Child Protection in Costa Rica.
The agency was founded in 1930 by Dr. Luis Felipe Gonzalez Flores, a Costa Rican magnate at the time. It was founded to combat infant mortality, that at the time, was rampant in Costa Rica. The idea was to put infants up for adoption that the mother could not afford to support (abortion is a crime in Costa Rica).
Today the focus is on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The agency still favors adoption, since abortion is illegal in Costa Rica.
Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, are at risk of developing psychiatric problems. Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms, as well as depressive, anxiety, and acting-out symptoms.
Generally speaking, a report must be made when an individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect. These standards guide mandatory reporters in deciding whether to make a report to child protective services.
In addition to defining acts or omissions that constitute child abuse or neglect, several states’ statutes provide specific definitions of persons who can get reported to child protective services as perpetrators of abuse or neglect. These are persons who have some relationship or regular responsibility for the child. This generally includes parents, guardians, foster parents, relatives, or legal guardians. Once taken away from home, the stated goal of CPS is to reunite the child with their family. In some cases, due to the nature of abuse children are not able to see or converse with the abusers. If parents fail to complete Court Ordered terms and conditions, the children in care may never return home.
The United States government’s Administration for Children and Families reported that in 2004 approximately 3.5 million children were involved in investigations of alleged abuse or neglect in the US, while an estimated 872,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected, and an estimated 1,490 children died that year because of abuse or neglect. In 2007, 1,760 children died as the result of child abuse and neglect. Child abuse impacts the most vulnerable populations, with children under age five years accounting for 76% of fatalities. In 2008, 8.3 children per 1000 were victims of child abuse and neglect and 10.2 children per 1000 were in out of home placement.
On September 30, 2010, there were approximately 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. of which 36% percent were ages 5 and under. During that same period, almost 120,000 birth to five year-olds entered foster care and a little under 100,000 exited foster care. U.S. Child Protective Services (CPS) received a little over 2.5 million reports of child maltreatment in 2009 of which 61.9% were assigned to an investigation. Research using national data on recidivism indicates that 22% of children were rereported within a 2-year period and that 7% of these rereports were substantiated.
In order to understand CPS recidivism in the U.S., there are several terms that readers must familiarize themselves with. Two often-used terms in CPS recidivism are rereport (also known as rereferral) and recurrence. Either of the two can occur after an initial report of child abuse or neglect called an index report. Although the definition of rereport and recurrence is not consistent, the general difference is that a rereport is a subsequent report of child abuse or neglect after an initial report (also known as an index report) whereas recurrence refers to a confirmed (also known as substantiated) rereport after an initial report of child abuse and neglect. Borrowing from the definition used by Pecora et al. (2000), recidivism is defined as, “Recurring child abuse and neglect, the subsequent or repeated maltreatment of a child after identification to public authorities.” It is important to highlight that this definition is not all-inclusive because it does not include abused children who are not reported to authorities.
There are three main sources of recidivism data in the U.S.—the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), and the National Incidence Study (NIS)—and they all have their own respective strengths and weaknesses. NCANDS was established in 1974, and it consists of administrative data of all reports of suspected child abuse and neglect investigated by CPS. NSCAW was established in 1996 and is similar to NCANDS in that it only includes reports of child abuse and neglect investigated by CPS, but it adds clinical measures related to child and family well-being that NCANDS is lacking. NIS was established in 1974, and it consists of data collected from CPS as well. However, it attempts to gather a more comprehensive picture of the incidence of child abuse and neglect by collecting data from other reporting sources called community sentinels.
Brenda Scott, in her 1994 book Out of Control: Who’s Watching Our Child Protection Agencies, criticizes CPS, stating, “Child Protective Services is out of control. The system, as it operates today, should be scrapped. If children are to be protected in their homes and in the system, radical new guidelines must be adopted. At the core of the problem is the antifamily mindset of CPS. Removal is the first resort, not the last. With insufficient checks and balances, the system that was designed to protect children has become the greatest perpetrator of harm.”
An ongoing case about the Nastić family living in U.S. has received an intervention from the Serbian government. Children were taken away from their parents after their naked photos were found on the father’s computer. Such photos are common in Serbia culture. Furthermore, parents claim that their ethnic and religious rights have been violated – children are not permitted to speak Serbian, nor to meet with their parents for orthodox Christmas. They can meet only mother once a week. Children have suffered psychological traumas due to their separation from parents. Polygraph showed that father did not abuse children. Trial is set for January 26. Psychologists from Serbia stated that few hours of conversation with children are enough to see whether they have been abused. Children were taken from their family 7 months ago. FBI started an investigation against the CPS.
Senator Nancy Schaefer stated “The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times :as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to :suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!”
|Maltreatment per 100,000 US children||CPS||Parents|
Senator Schaefer also stated
There are state employees, lawyers, court investigators, guardian ad litems, court personnel, and judges. There are psychologists, and psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, therapists, foster parents, adoptive parents, and on and on. All are looking to the children in state custody to provide job security. Parents do not realize that the social workers are the glue that hold “the system” together that funds the court, funds the court appointed attorneys, and the multiple other jobs including the “system’s” psychiatrists, therapists, their own attorneys and others.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had itself been an object of reports of unusual numbers of poisonings, death, rapes and pregnancies of children under its care since 2004. The Texas Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team was created by executive order after the critical report Forgotten Children of 2004.
Texas Child Protective Services was hit with a rare if not unprecedented legal sanction for a “groundless cause of action” and ordered to pay $32,000 of the Spring family’s attorney fees. Judge Schneider wrote in a 13-page order, “The offensive conduct by (CPS) has significantly interfered with the legitimate exercise of the traditional core functions of this court.”
In April 2008, the largest child protection action in American history raised questions as the CPS in Texas removed hundreds of minor children, infants, and women incorrectly believed to be children from the YFZ Ranch polygamist community, with the assistance of heavily armed police with an armored personnel carrier. Investigators, including supervisor Angie Voss convinced a judge that all of the children were at risk of child abuse because they were all being groomed for under-age marriage. The state supreme court disagreed, releasing most children back to their families. Investigations would result in criminal charges against some men in the community.
Gene Grounds of Victim Relief Ministries commended CPS workers in the Texas operation as exhibiting compassion, professionalism and caring concern. However, CPS performance was questioned by workers from the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center. One wrote “I have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner” after assisting at the emergency shelter. Others who were previously forbidden to discuss conditions working with CPS later produced unsigned written reports expressed anger at the CPS traumatizing the children, and disregarding rights of mothers who appeared to be good parents of healthy, well-behaved children. CPS threatened some MHMR workers with arrest, and the entire mental health support was dismissed the second week due to being “too compassionate.” Workers believed poor sanitary conditions at the shelter allowed respiratory infections and chicken pox to spread.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, as with other states, had itself been an object of reports of unusual numbers of poisonings, death, rapes and pregnancies of children under its care since 2004. The Texas Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team was created by executive order after the critical report Forgotten Children of 2004. Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn made a statement in 2006 about the Texas foster care system. In Fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively 30, 38 and 48 foster children died in the state’s care. The number of foster children in the state’s care increased 24 percent to 32,474 in Fiscal 2005, while the number of deaths increased 60 percent. Compared to the general population, a child is four times more likely to die in the Texas foster care system. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning from medications; 63 were treated for rape that occurred while under state care including four-year old twin boys, and 142 children gave birth, though others believe Ms. Strayhorn’s report was not scientifically researched, and that major reforms need to be put in place to assure that children in the conservatorship of the state get as much attention as those at risk in their homes.
In the United States, data suggests that a disproportionate number of minority children, particularly African American and Native American children, enter the foster care system. National data in the United States provides evidence that disproportionality may vary throughout the course of a child’s involvement with the child welfare system. Differing rates of disproportionality are seen at key decision points including the reporting of abuse, substantiation of abuse, and placement into foster care. Additionally, once they enter foster care, research suggests that they are likely to remain in care longer. Research has shown that there is no difference in the rate of abuse and neglect among minority populations when compared to Caucasian children that would account for the disparity. The Juvenile Justice system has also been challenged by disproportionate negative contact of minority children. Because of the overlap in these systems, it is likely that this phenomenon within multiple systems may be related.
In May 2007, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found in Rogers v. County of San Joaquin, No. 05-16071 that a CPS social worker who removed children from their natural parents into foster care without obtaining judicial authorization was acting without due process and without exigency (emergency conditions) violated the 14th Amendment and Title 42 United State Code Section 1983. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that a state may not make a law that abridges “… the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” and no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Title 42 United States Code Section 1983 states that citizens can sue in federal courts any person who acting under a color of law to deprive the citizens of their civil rights under the pretext of a regulation of a state, See.
In case of Santosky v. Kramer, 455 US 745, Supreme Court reviewed a case when Department of Social Services removed two younger children from their natural parents only because the parents had been previously found negligent toward their oldest daughter. When the third child was only three days old, DSS transferred him to a foster home on the ground that immediate removal was necessary to avoid imminent danger to his life or health. The Supreme Court vacated previous judgment and stated: “Before a State may sever completely and irrevocably the rights of parents in their natural child, due process requires that the State support its allegations by at least clear and convincing evidence. But until the State proves parental unfitness, the child and his parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship”.
A District of Columbia Court of Appeals concluded that the lower trial court erred in rejecting the relative custodial arrangement selected by the natural mother who tried to preserve her relationship with the child. The previous judgment granting the foster mother’s adoption petition was reversed, the case remanded to the trial court to vacate the orders granting adoption and denying custody, and to enter an order granting custody to the child’s relative.
In 2010 an ex-foster child was awarded $30 million by jury trial in California (Santa Clara County) for sexual abuse damages that happened to him in foster home from 1995 to 1999. The foster parent, John Jackson, was licensed by state despite the fact that he abused his own wife and son, overdosed on drugs and was arrested for drunken driving. In 2006, Jackson was convicted in Santa Clara County of nine counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child by force, violence, duress, menace and fear and seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. The sex acts he forced the children in his foster care to perform sent him to prison for 220 years. Later in 2010, Giarretto Institute, the private foster family agency responsible for licensing and monitoring Jackson’s foster home and others, also was found to be negligent and liable for 75 percent of the abuse that was inflicted on the victim, and Jackson was liable for the rest.
In 2009 Oregon Department of Human Services has agreed to pay $2 million into a fund for the future care of twins who were allegedly abused by their foster parents; it was the largest such settlement in the agency’s history. According to the civil rightssuit filed on request of twins’ adoptive mother in December 2007 in U.S. Federal Court, kids were kept in makeshift cages—cribs covered with chicken wire secured by duct tape—in a darkened bedroom known as “the dungeon.” The brother and sister often went without food, water or human touch. The boy, who had a shunt put into his head at birth to drain fluid, didn’t receive medical attention, so when police rescued the twins he was nearly comatose. The same foster family previously took in their care hundreds of other children over nearly four decades. DHS said the foster parents deceived child welfare workers during the checkup visits.
Several lawsuits were brought in 2008 against the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF), accusing it of mishandling reports that Thomas Ferrara, 79, a foster parent, was molesting girls. The suits claimed that though there were records of sexual misconduct allegations against Ferrara in 1992, 1996, and 1999, the DCF continued to place foster children with Ferrara and his then-wife until 2000. Ferrara was arrested in 2001 after a 9-year-old girl told detectives he regularly molested her over two years and threatened to hurt her mother if she told anyone. Records show that Ferrara had as many as 400 children go through his home during his 16 years as a licensed foster parent from 1984 to 2000. Officials stated that the lawsuits over Ferrara end up costing the DCF almost $2.26 million. Similarly, in 2007 Florida‘s DCF paid $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged DCF ignored complaints that another mentally challenged Immokalee girl was being raped by her foster father, Bonifacio Velazquez, until the 15-year-old gave birth to a child.
In a class action lawsuit Charlie and Nadine H. v. McGreevey was filed in federal court by “Children’s Rights” New York organization on behalf of children in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The complaint alleged violations of the children’s constitutional rights and their rights under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, theChild Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, theAmericans with Disabilities Act, and the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA). In July 2002, the federal court granted plaintiffs’ experts access to 500 children’s case files, allowing plaintiffs to collect information concerning harm to children in foster care through a case record review. These files revealed numerous cases in which foster children were abused, and DYFS failed to take proper action. On June 9, 2004, the child welfare panel appointed by the parties approved the NJ State’s Reform Plan. The court accepted the plan on June 17, 2004. The same organization filed similar lawsuits against other states in recent years that caused some of the states to start child welfare reforms.
In 2007 Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick obtained a jury verdict against Orange County (California) and two of its social workers for violating her Fourteenth Amendment rights to familial association. The $4.9 million verdict grew to a $9.5 million judgment as the County lost each of its successive appeals. The case finally ended in 2011 when the United States Supreme Court denied Orange County’s request to overturn the verdict.
In April 2013, Child Protective Services in Sacramento sent in police to forcibly remove a 5-month-old baby from the care of parents.
Alex and Anna Nikolayev took their baby Sammy out of Sutter Memorial Hospital and sought a second opinion at Kaiser Permanente, a competing hospital, for Sammy’s flu-like symptoms. Police arrived at Kaiser and questioned the couple and doctors. Once Sammy had been fully cleared to leave the hospital, the couple went home, but the following day police arrived and took Sammy. On June 25, 2013 the case against the family was dismissed adn the family filed a lawsuit against CPS and the Sacramento Police Department.
In a nationwide study, researchers examined children in 595 families over a period of 9 years. They discovered that in the households where child abuse was substantiated by evidence, risk factors remained unchanged during interviews with the families.