By Donna Westfall – April 5, 2017 – Child Protection Services (CPS) was established in 1912. For the past 100 years, incidences of abuse and neglect were handled by government agencies called a variety of names, Social Services, Child Welfare Services, but in essence, they were all supposed to do one thing. Protect children. Reunify families. Not steal or legally kidnap children on trumped up charges of abuse and neglect. And not put them in foster homes and adopt them out as a money making industry.
So, what happened?
BRIEF CONDENSED HISTORY:
The legal principle of parens patriae, originated in England which gave the royal crown care of “charities, infants, idiots, and lunatics returned to the chancery.” In 1692, states and municipalities identified care for abused and neglected children as the responsibility of local government and private institutions. For 325 years, government has had a foothold in families supposedly for the protection of children. But it didn’t start there.
English Poor Laws in the 1500s allowed for the placement of poor children into indentured service until they became adults. This practice was imported to the United States and marked the beginning of placing children into foster homes. Even though indentured service permitted exploitation, it was an improvement over almshouses where children didn’t learn a trade and were exposed to unsanitary conditions and abusive caretakers. The first “foster” families in the United States took children and put them to work on farms as slave labor. In 1636, less than thirty years after the founding of the Jamestown Colony, at the age of seven, Benjamin Eaton became this nation’s first foster child.
Foster homes in New York City in the 1800s were often abusive. In 1807, an 8-year-old orphan named Mary Ellen Wilson received daily whippings and beatings at her foster home. There was no organization to protect abused children, so the attorneys for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) took on her case. Her attorneys argued that laws protecting animals from abuse shouldn’t be greater than laws protecting children. Mary Ellen Wilson’s case went to court and the foster mom was convicted of assault and battery and given a 1 year sentence.
In the early 1900s, social agencies began to pay and supervise foster parents. The government began state inspections of foster homes. Records were kept to increase accountability and children’s needs were considered when placements were made. In addition, services were provided to birth families to enable the child to reunify or return home.
According to Del Norte County Executive Director of Health and Human Services (HHS) , Heather Snow, “Potential foster homes go through a rigorous screening, application and training process before they are approved to received children for placement. The process includes fingerprinting for a background check. We would not place children in a home that we thought could be abusive and do our absolute best to screen out applicants based on existing law and good reason. If we were to discover that the foster home was suspected of being abusive, we would immediately investigate and insure the safety of the children even if that meant they needed to be placed in another home. We take any and all reports of neglect or abuse seriously and investigate them.”
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Sounds good. But, there’s a flaw. No one goes and investigates these homes after placement UNLESS there is a complaint. If a child makes a complaint, generally no one listens to them.
One case, years ago, involved Social Worker, Susan Wilson. For some reason, she yanked one young boy out of foster home after foster home until he turned 16 years old and finally he said, “NO MORE.” He had been in 33 different foster homes. He had been abused at the hands of foster parents and other foster children. He nearly died when medication was prescribed to him that put him in a coma.
At this time, he wishes to remain anonymous, but cannot believe that Susan Wilson is now a supervisor and collecting paycheck after paycheck for 20 or 30 years. He said he’d like to get a hold of his records for review.
His story is not the only one. Children suffering psychological trauma from being ripped out of their homes stays with them for their lifetime. Many who are counted as homeless today went through the foster care system. They are not being taught or shown that they are valued. They are not being taught about healthy relationships. Many are medicated and labeled “special needs” so that it looks like more money goes to that foster or adoptive family.
You see, CPS can hide behind confidentiality and secrecy laws. There is NO CITIZEN OVERSIGHT committee.
What can you do if you suspect CPS is abusing their power and accusing you of abuse or neglect?
- WRITE – write everything down with dates and names. Make a log. Be consistent.
- ASK WHAT THE CHARGES ARE – Most of the time, the caseworker wants to keep you in the dark as to what you have been accused of, despite being required by federal and state law to tell you details of the accusation at her first contact with you. Don’t settle for the answer of “abuse” or “neglect”. Those are categories, not details. You are entitled to know what specific acts you are accused of committing.
- SHUT YOUR MOUTH UP NOW! – It is imperative that you NOT submit to a CPS interrogation before talking to your attorney. It is natural that innocent parents who have nothing to hide want to explain everything so that a reasonable person can see that there’s no problem here. But CPS agents are not reasonable. To them, the accusation IS the evidence against you. That caseworker is there to find evidence to support what she already believes to be true – that you abused your child.If you say nothing to them, you have taken away their greatest weapon, which is their ability to twist your words.
- FIND AN ATTORNEY WHO HAS EXPERIENCE FIGHTING CPS – this may be difficult in Del Norte County, if not impossible. You’ll probably have to go out of the area. Unfortunately, if things turn bad and you’re assigned a Public Defender, don’t expect much in the way of defense.
- BE POLITE, ALWAYS BE POLITE – While it’s natural to be angry, if you express your anger, they will only use it against you claiming you have an abusive personality. NEVER use profanity.
- NEVER LET THEM IN YOUR HOME – Watch WWII movies about Nazi’s so you understand what constitutes a true enemy. CPS employees are not your friend!
- COMPLAIN –complain to their immediate supervisor, as well as the Executive Director, along with the entire Board of Supervisors because they are the ones that control the money that get’s disbursed to CPS. If law enforcement is involved and have over stepped their authority or treated you inappropriately. complain to our Sheriff Erik Apperson. DO IT IN WRITING. Always have a written record.
- GET FAMILY, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS INVOLVED – Better to have family or friends you trust put in charge of your child than some unknown foster care situation.
- GET YOUR CHILD EXAMINED BY A DOCTOR – In one case, a teenage daughter charged her father with rape while keeping secret her sexual activity with a neighbor. The Court NEVER had her examined. Have the doctor take pictures and give you a written record of your child’s overall health.
- RECORD EVERYTHING – Demand that CPS record everything including a tape recorder and even better, video recording. There are too many parents complaining that CPS has indoctrinated or brainwashed their children against them.
- LAWSUIT – Until recently, employees had immunity, but not anymore. If our governing board will not do anything, then seek help in initiating a lawsuit against them and then try to get the offending CPS employee convicted, thrown into prison and their pension/retirement attached. There is a public law library in the County Court House. There is a very helpful law librarian. Once employees get charged with and convicted of lying, cover-up and unconstitutional removal of children from their homes, lose their jobs, lose their pensions, then maybe the CPS agency will re-examine their policies and procedures.
- WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN – The faintest ink is better than the best memory!
HOW IS CPS FUNDED IN THE US?
In 1958, amendments to the Social Security Act mandated that states fund child protection efforts.