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WA: CPS Removed Children

December 23, 2013 in Adoption, biological parents, Washington

Grays Harbor County:  CPS has taken both my babies from the hospital. I admit I needed help when they first got involved. Aug 1 2012 I gave birth to my son & tested positive for drugs.

A pregnant woman

The next day CPS came and said I HAD to sign my temporary rights away. They let me have the baby though day & night the 3 days I was in the hospital. I chose to be honest with them thinking it would help me with my case but all I did was give them what they wanted and they used everything against me.

But how was I suppose to know my rights. I’m a good person. And why would I study my parental rights with CPS. I admitted I needed the help with drug treatment and have accomplished the obstacles. I have done everything they have asked and more from day 1.

I found out I was pregnant (again) in December 2012 with 2nd baby. which sped up me getting in treatment faster to Harbor Crest that treats pregnant women. I graduated a 26 day in-patient Jan 7th 2013. I also did a nurturing parent class in treatment and completed that. I graduated Intensive Out Patient April 1,2012. I graduated Out Patient early July 5th 2013. I graduated the 18 week “The Incredible Years” parenting class in July 2013.

I started mental health counseling at BHR, when I was pregnant with first baby and got letters from my counselor saying I was fully invested with getting my children home & doing well. I am in Parent Protection Group since July & still attending. I started individual D.V./Anger classes and my instructor was an advocate at needed times.

I’m working with Dr. Shawn Andrews at Elma Family Medicine regarding my Suboxine medication. I meet with the Dr. frequently during the months and she has written me several letters to my caseworker and judge stating I was doing well and it was in the children’s best interest to be home w/me.

My second pregnancy the CPS worker made me feel like I had to choose between my unborn baby and my 1 year old.  But she didn’t bring up this baby I was carrying till May, the month before I had him. She gave me 2 options to adopt or she was filing for shelter care. Him coming home to me was not even an option.

She has threatened me, lied and so on. We had a meeting before I gave birth and she told me if I kept this baby also it would prolong my other baby coming home, which makes no sense because she has both my children. She also told me to write this baby a “good-bye letter”. And that I couldn’t take care of 2 baby’s. She was dead set on me adopting.

She had NO grounds on taking the new baby. Each reason she gave me I have documents resolving each of her decisions. Taking Kayden was premeditated. It was finalized before I gave birth. She told me the day before she was taking him, so obviously it wasn’t drugs because how could they determine if I was clean without having him born yet.

I even had a letter from my OBGYN saying I was in full compliance doing good. Something needs to happen. I want my boys home, I’ve never even gave the chance to be a mother to them so how can they judge me? How can they be for the family when you see your children once a week for 2 hours supervised.

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Kinship care vs Fostering

October 15, 2011 in California, DCF, DCFS, DHS, family rights, foster parents, grandparents rights, Idaho, Michigan

I’ve had several people in the past few weeks tell me that they wish to care for their own family members – as opposed to having them placed in foster care, with strangers. These grandparents, aunts, uncles and other close relatives are being told they must become certified foster parents.

Advocating for Children in Foster and Kinship Care: A Guide to Getting the Best out of the System for Caregivers and Practitioners Federal law requires that state social workers attempt to find suitable placement for “at risk” children, who are removed from their home. In many cases the state is merely paying lip-service and doesn’t actually follow the law.

This is a violation of federal law and the state can lose their federal funding. You should always report such violations of federal law to your U.S. House Representation. Call and request an investigation. You will need to provide them with a legal release form, along with the facts and any supporting documents.

Just today the Idaho Press-Tribune ran an interesting article:

In Idaho, more grandparents still in parental role

Many grandparents who take in grandchildren qualify for a $300 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant. The amount is the same regardless of the number of children in a family.

Grandparents also can become certified as foster parents, and take in their own grandchildren through the state system. That means more financial support. Monthly foster payments per child in Idaho range from $274 to $431 based on age; payments increase if children have special needs. Foster children get Medicaid cards and other benefits.

But many families don’t want to do that, Perry said. Some bristle at the idea of giving the state that much control over their families, even temporarily.

“They feel taking care of their own family is their responsibility,” he said.

Tracee Crawford, one of the leaders of the Grandparents as Parents of the Treasure Valley, a Southwest Idaho support group, said grandparents sometimes hesitate to ask for help of any kind, afraid that if they make trouble, their children will take the grandchildren away.

Becoming a legal guardian, another option, comes with its own complications, including steep legal costs, said Crawford.

She became part of a kin-care family when her daughter had cancer. Crawford cared for her and her grandson until her daughter died. She’s been in long legal battles with her former son-in-law over visitation rights with her grandson.

“To become a legal guardian, you have to prove a parent — your child — is unfit,” she said. “That’s really hard to do” — factually and emotionally.

Each state is different, which makes it difficult to know exactly what the law is your own state.

In my own case, I was shocked to find that while I was getting monthly kinship care checks from the State of California of ($357 – back in 2002), at the same time, another relative had a sibling to my grandson. The only difference was that they lived in Michigan; her checks from the State of Michigan – $123.  I felt bad for her because this child has autism and even in Michigan $123. doesn’t go far.

Be sure you check into your own states law, make a few phone calls, talk to an attorney and check out a few state websites before you sign anything. The choice you make could make a big difference in just how much help you are entitled to.

On that note, let me just remind you that if you accept money from the state, you accept all the strings that go along with that money, but it’s better than starving — maybe. We didn’t like giving up so much of our privacy, so we stopped received state funds many years ago – as soon as we could stand on our own two feet.

Knowledge is Power! Exercise your brain.

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Mississippi Therapist Requires Assistance

May 20, 2011 in Adoption, Child Protective Services, corruption, DFCS, Mississippi

I have been working with the C. family, a lovely young couple who are risk of losing their only son. These parents are in imminent danger of the loss of their parental rights.  As always, I suppose, the story is complicated but also very unusual and compelling.  They have had to fire their lawyer this week due to multiple failures to adequately represent their interests.  I have promised to do what I could to help them locate another lawyer.

The child’s father is deploying to the Middle East on Thursday of next week (May 26th, 2011).  The parents thought that there would be no legal action taken in the case until his return in February of 2012, but we have learned that the DFCS caseworkers are pressing for a quick hearing.  They are terrified to be without adequate counsel at this time.

I have just read Nancy Schaefer’s letter on your website.  We need information about whether the dollars available to the states through the Adoption and the Safe Families Act are currently available to this DFCS.  The youth court and DFCS county in which the parents reside has the worst reputation in Mississippi. 

We are working with an investigative reporter with a national reputation who is interested in doing the story.  We need documentary evidence or even good stories about loss of parental rights for cash from mississippi.  There is a new youth court judge who is a huge adoption advocate. We need the names of helpful contacts.  Would sure appreciate your help.  I have attached a letter to the judge which summarizes the case and explains my involvement briefly.

(Note: This letter has been edited to protect the families identity.)

This letter was received from an Occupational Therapist, who writes in part.

Dear Judge, 

I have written to you this morning regarding the case of the C. family whose case you were going to hear today.  I am an early intervention therapist helping children age 0-3 with developmental problems.  Last summer, while in the course of my duties, I stumbled into a situation that has struck me as so blatantly unjust that I could not dismiss it as being out of the scope of my professional practice and as such not my concern. 

I met toddler C. (now 27 months old) and his parents in mid August while responding to a request for an oral motor and sensory processing skills assessment.  This request was made by toddler C.’s Service Coordinator for the First Steps Early Intervention Program, a service of the MS State Department of Health. I met briefly with them in their home to observe the child’s play and feeding skills which were significantly delayed.  During the course of my initial interview I learned that he had been in foster care and was being supervised by a case manager with the Department of Human Services.

The following week Mrs. C., called to cancel our appointment saying that his doctor had admitted him directly from his clinic appointment to the hospital.   Mom then called to tell me that the child would miss his second appointment because a hearing had been called to determine if he was unsafe in their custody and needed to be removed from their home for his safety.  She was clearly distraught, had recently moved into the area, and had no local family support besides that of her husband.  I felt a moral obligation knowing the circumstances to respond to her request for my presence at the hearing.

What occurred at the hearing in the Harrison County Youth Courtroom both shocked me and offended my sense of justice.  The conduct of the guardian ad litem struck me as deeply inappropriate and insensitive in relationship to the removal of a child from his parents.

Many accusations were leveled at the parents with no attempt to support them with any evidence. I heard that the same attitude and hearsay was displayed by the DHS supervisor at the follow up hearing a few days later.  

At this hearing neither the parents nor their lawyer were permitted to say anything in their defense.   Their lawyer unsuccessfully attempted to introduce a report completed by a pediatric gastroenterologist who had diagnosed the child with digestive problems. This report challenged the opinion of the physician that had admitted him into the hospital and had pressed for protective custody in the belief that his weight loss was due to his parents’ failure to feed him adequately.  

It is my understanding that this physician denied the parents a referral to a gastroenterologist and in fact the parents were accused in the courtroom of “doctor shopping” for seeking any other medical advice regarding their son’s condition. According to the boy’s mother, threats were made by DHS caseworkers and supervisors that if they sought alternative medical advice this would decrease their chances that they would be given custody of their son.

The reasons for the refusal of the pediatrician to pursue gastroenterological evaluation are unknown.  To our knowledge she has not yet provided a detailed rationale for this either verbally or through medical documentation. 

Other troubling aspects of this case which I know only through the parents, include advising the parents to plead no contest prior to the first hearing, conflicting messages and inadequate information from case managers and their supervisors, the repeated removal of case managers who indicated their support for the reunification of the family, and the lack of information and advocacy with the goal of family preservation. 

I did witness a statement made by a case manager supervisor following the August hearing in which, while refusing to answer the parent’s questions, she stated, “I am glad that you have a good lawyer” and “this is bull-it”.  Multiple efforts to engage high level staff at DHS through phone calls and e mails have either not been returned or not followed up. 

The parents have completed a detailed chronology of the events that have led to each of their losses of custody.  This includes an exhaustive body of data in support of their contention that the child’s removal from their custody is based on unwarranted assumptions, hearsay, misinterpretation, and a failure to investigate the reasons for his weight loss.  There is a lot of detail in their chronology about weight loss incidents that has been correlated with the physicians’ documentation.  

This young but resourceful family has experienced such isolation throughout this period, now over a year long.  Great psychological harm has been done to them.  The parents have received thorough and ongoing psychological evaluation and they are found to be normal for people under great stress.  There are indications that the boy has experienced psychological harm, but this has not been investigated by a credentialed mental health professional. 

This crisis has served to reunite and strengthen the parent’s relationship with one another. They have benefitted from the parent education experiences in which they have participated. They live for the weekly visitations with their child, which have on several occasions, been denied.  Their perception is that no one in the Department of Human Services supports their goal of  reunification.

It is my opinion that the relationship between the department and the family has been characterized by ignorance, withholding of information, and use of manipulation through threats of the permanent loss of custody.  These parents are two loving and competent parents that are at this time beside themselves over this last postponement, only one of many.  I ask that you do what you can to end the victimization of this child and his parents at the hands of the Department of Human Services.

Sincerely, 
Mississippi Occupational Therapist

Kids Thrive With Family

January 26, 2009 in CPS, family court, foster care, Texas

Terri Trice, kinship development at Child Protective Services’ Waco office advocates Kinship Care first, to the benefit of the child…

Every parent facing off in court with Child Protective Services, in which no effort was made to place children with family members, should print and keep this article, which ran in the Waco Herald-Tribune, Monday, January 26, 2009

Terri Trice, who works in kinship development at Child Protective Services’ Waco office, said family members and close friends typically are looked to first when the agency must remove children from their home.

Any parents in Waco know differently? Is there really an agency that is following the law as it is written? Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

“It’s just a lot better for children if we can place them with a relative,” she said, citing less emotional trauma for the children, easier transition regarding cultures and religion, and placing less of a burden on foster facilities.

Print off the entire article and make it part of your evidence in court. What have you got to lose?

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