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Waikiki Child in Danger!

January 24, 2012 in Hawaii, investigation, jail

To Whom it May Concern,

I would like to inform you of the current situation that myself and my boyfriend are going through.

My boyfriend has a two year old son named Joe who’s mother is a prostitute and drug addict. Her boyfriend is also a well know drug addict and dealer in Waikiki.

For the previous eight months they have shared Joe with us. My boyfriend (Joe’s father) and I both work full time, and I attend the UH Manoa full time. We have a 3 bedroom home in Ewa Beach that Joe is very comfortable and happy at.

When we have Joe on weekends, a typical weekend includes trips to the pool, beach, playground, and non stop fun. We love and adore him, and his father has been working extremely hard towards getting full custody of Joe. Unfortunately, Joe’s mother completely cut us off from him after Thanksgiving. We have tried to contact her and her boyfriend several times and they refused to respond.

Monday the 16th was Joe’s 2nd birthday and we found out that his mother was in jail. We called everyone we could to find out more information as to the whereabouts of Joe. We heard nothing. His mother jumped from different hotels for months but luckily recently moved into a Waikiki apartment. We knew where it was but not their apartment number.

We retrieved Joe’s birth certificate from the Department of Health and asked for police assistance. HPD arrived and said that they could not go knocking on every door and obviously the mother gave her boyfriend verbal permission to keep her son, and they sent us away. We then contacted the FBI and they stated the same. CPS was next, they said they would look into it.

We have yet to hear back from any of these agencies. Joe is in the hands of a heroin addict/dealer who has no blood relation to him. Joe is in danger and is being withheld from his father by this man and no one is helping! This is absurd! Why hasn’t anything been done?

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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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Jury found man Innocent: Financial Ruin

September 9, 2011 in False Allegations, justice, lawsuit, Michigan

My friend called me today, she is having the best day she has had in over two years because today her husband was finally found not guilty in a criminal trial by his a jury of his peers.

Fortunately, my friend has a strong marriage and a strong support system. It’s a good thing too because the courts have put her and her husband through the wringer.

Her husband was falsely accused of sexual molestation of his grandchild and her older siblings. Oakland County, Michigan prosecutors decided to file charges a second time, when the jury was unable to return a verdict in the first trial. So, they were forced to start all over again and prepare for a second trial.

My friend has a heart of gold and has been there for these children and their mother, providing babysitting assistance, groceries, transportation and anything else that was needed. It breaks my heart to know what she has endured as a thank you for her kindness.

During the second trial, one of the children claimed she was molested everytime she visited their house. One of the other children admitted that she had lied on the stand during the first trial. The mother was caught in several lies. After the second trial, the jury explained that the expert witness was what had convinced them. Well, for $25,000 — I would hope so.

Who has that kind of money to spend? Fortunately, this couple were able to come up with the resources to fight these false allegations, but what if they didnt?

In the end, it doesn’t matter one bit that the allegations were nothing more than lies and that this generous, loving couple is out more than $100,000 in court expenses, lawyer fees, expert witness expenses, etc… They can’t claim any of the expense on their income taxes, they can’t sue the mother, she lives on welfare benefits, the children are in foster care. The lawyer says they can’t sue the state to recoop the damages. The state is exempt from prosecution. They are just out the money and fortunate to still have a home to live in.

These false allegations cost her over $25,000 from her personal business – who wants to do business with a child molester? Where does a family go for relief? There is something very wrong with a court system that doesn’t provide any relief for people who have been wrongly accused. How can anyone expect justice?

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

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