Reporting to CPS
The biggest issue we saw with reporting is the ability of people to make reports anonymously.
Currently in the state of Arizona people do not have to identify themselves when reporting to CPS. This violates the constitutional rights of the accused because they cannot and are not given the opportunity to face their accuser.
When you are faced with a dependency case and have to appear in court you cannot question anonymous in a court hearing. So it is assumed that everything anonymous said must be true.
If you are involved in a CPS custody battle be prepared to have anonymous involved in your case. We were told by a number of sources that anonymous can actually be CPS employees creating their own evidence or may be from foster families wishing to launch a complaint against the bio-family so they have a better chance of adopting the child.
In our family’s case CPS started receiving anonymous letters just after the father’s rights were severed. The letters claimed the mother was violating a court no contact order . This order didn’t start until after the father’s rights were severed, several months into the case. Whoever wrote the letters was aware of the case, was aware there was a no contact order by the court, and further was aware of who the mother-in-law in the case was. These letters were not done by some random outsider! They had intimate details about the case.
Further, CPS claimed the letters were written by two different people. But the fronts, margins, and language used in the letters were identical. The phrasing they used in the letters was so similar that it was apparent they were written by the same person.
Each letter was anonymous. When asked about how they were delivered, CPS claimed they had been received by mail. Yet neither letter had been folded as no creases could be seen on the paper. No copy of the envelope was provided. Each letter was received just prior to a court hearing. Since CPS only picks up their mail on a weekly basis, it was amazing how both these letters arrived just prior to the hearings.
Because of these letters the judge was concerned. During the court trial when the issue came up the family was unable to rebut the accusations in the letters because anonymous could not take the stand and be questioned. The family could only deny the statements. Fortunately the judge did not use the letters to press the issue further and just restated his order of no contact.
The initial call takers can do the most damage to the case. Their inaccurate coding of the call can either escalate it into something it wasn’t or could cause the call to go uninvestigated.
After 5 months into our family’s case we were finally able to get the initial report from CPS for our family. Most of it was redacted – many pages were nothing but black.
What we discovered in our case is that CPS coded all of the children as “high risk” when in fact they should have been coded “low risk” (there is no code for no risk), and one child coded “moderate risk.” CPS escalated the risk factor on the case, not by factual information received, but by someone taking the call.
What is “mandatory reporting”?
This is where the system really gets messed up.
Certain professions are mandatory reporters, such as teachers, doctors, psychologists, and even pastors under certain circumstances.
Parents and guardians are also mandatory reporters. If you fail to report an incident as a parent you may be charged with a felony.
So now we have the “snitch squad” – a government created reporting law that makes it mandatory for you to snitch on your own family. You have to report without concrete evidence, but only if you “think” something might have happened.
Doctors have used CPS to report on families when they don’t agree with the parent’s decision of medical treatment, including vaccinations. One such case has made national news – the Justine Pelletier case in Massachusetts.
In our family’s case a doctor had previously reported the family to CPS because the mother gave birth to twins at home with no anesthetic. The babies were both fine. However, this didn’t stop a doctor from making an invalid report to CPS resulting in a home visit to the family. The report was unsubstantiated but remains on the family CPS record.
Teachers or school officials are often the reporters on cases. Once again they make a report without all the details, resulting in the family having an unsubstantiated case on file.
Again, in our family’s case there was a report made by the school for an incident that happened on school grounds! The family was not even aware this report had been made as no contact by CPS to the family was ever done. But once again another unsubstantiated report was logged onto the family’s CPS file.
What is even more concerning is that teachers often don’t understand the law. At a teacher’s conference in Arizona the group of over 100 teachers were asked if spanking was permitted in Arizona. Almost all teachers believed, by their show of hands, that spanking a child in Arizona is against the law! This is not true, as spanking under certain restraints is permitted in the state. But with the vast majority of teachers believing it is illegal, how many of them would report a spanking to CPS?
So now that CPS has a report they need to investigate, which first starts with speaking to ALL of the children in your home or in your custody.
They will most often contact your children at school. This is a safe place for CPS because they don’t have to deal with parents trying to assert their constitutional rights and the school will cooperate. Your children will be removed from class and will be asked questions by CPS. The child may have no knowledge of what has happened, but they will still pull them in for questioning.
CPS has even been known to pull 18 year olds out for question – these “children” are legal adults and CPS should not have any jurisdiction over them, but they do it anyway.
They do not have to inform parents or get prior consent when they are speaking to your children. Often the first time the parent hears of this is when the child returns home from school and informs the parent! This is why it is so important for our children to understand their rights. It will be up to them to exercise their rights and not bend to intimation by the agency.
What can you do to protect your child from this abuse?
According to an attorney we spoke with recently – nothing.
- CPS can do anything they want – they have been given so much power that parents are helpless when it comes to protecting their children from the agency.
- CPS can ask your child questions without your knowledge or your prior consent.
- If the child requests to have their parent present when questioned, CPS does not have to comply.
- If the child requests to have their attorney present when questioned, CPS does not have to comply.
- The only recourse the child has is to refuse to answer their questions. This may end up with CPS removing the child from school and taking them in to custody.
- The schools are an accomplice to this abuse of the system. Counselors or psychologists will encourage the child to talk. If CPS wants to take custody of the child, the school will tell the child “that these people are their friends and it’s okay if they go with them.”
We teach our child about stranger danger and the school encourages the child to go with strangers! Then the children find out later that the parent was correct, the school was wrong because now they are taken from family and put with even more strangers.
This affects the children even after CPS is out of the picture because now school is no longer safe for the child and they start to fear even going to school.
Next week we will do some catching up on how our constitutional rights are violated and what our Arizona legislators are doing about this problem.
A good movie to watch that shows the abuse of the child welfare system is “Just Ask My Children.” It is a movie based on the true story of a family’s battle with CPS in California. It shows how fast a case can escalate and how a corrupt system can be used to manipulate children to further their case.
After our children were back home the older children watched this movie. They stated they could relate to many of the things presented in the movie to what had happened to them.
The adults in the family watched this movie near the beginning of our case. It invoked some strong emotions and I don’t think one person that watched it wasn’t in tears at some point during the movie. We could absolutely relate to this movie! Just replace the district attorney’s office in the movie with the attorney general’s office in Arizona.