Another medical Kidnapping-Breastfed, Homebirthed Babies Taken Away From Parents For Not Using Hospital

The Rengo Family: Cleave, Erica, with 10 month old Levi, and newborn twins. - See more at:

The Rengo Family: Cleave, Erica, with 10 month old Levi, and newborn twins

UPDATE 2 – 12/3/2014

Peter Wagner of KGMI News and Talk Radio in Bellingham, Washington has also reported on the story, interviewing the family’s attorney, Stephen Pidgeon.

Attorney to court: Charge parents or give babies back

UPDATE 1 – 12/3/2014

King 5 News has reported on the Rengo family case:

Couple fights for custody of children after home birth

UPDATE 12/2/2014 – Hearing Extended to Wed.

Representative Jason Overstreet, representing the 42nd district in Washington, and who has taken an interest in this case, just posted an update on his Facebook Page:

The Rengo Family placement hearing was moved up this morning to 10 a.m. from the scheduled 4 p.m. hearing. I will withhold comment on that move.

Security was heavy. The courtroom was packed.

The allotted timeframe was 1 hour with an expected decision on placement either with the parents or a semi-permanent out of family placement. If your a poker player, this will be your “tell.”

The State Attorney General’s Office stood in place of the County legal team in the prosecution of this hearing. A rare move indeed. Attorney General Ferguson, the same AG who is persecuting Christian business owners for refusing to participate in weddings that conflict with their closely held religious beliefs, sent his legal team to take over in an attempt to spare the State embarrassment.

The Attorney General’s Office took the entire hour, discussing police reports where no arrests were made, save one, prior to the birth of the children. No mention of the babies’ health and welfare was even attempted by the State.

The court commissioner was frustrated at the State’s extended attempt to muddy the water, even commenting on the rare nature of such extended testimony on a case that should be cut and dried after a forcible taking of children from their parents.

The hearing was extended to tomorrow at 2:30 on the 4th floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse, where he demanded that the State rap up and allow the family’s legal team to present it’s case.

Constitutional Attorney Steven Pidgeon petitioned the court for a writ of habeus corpus, asking that the charges be laid or the children be released to the parents. The writ of habeus corpus, a fundamental tool of liberty guaranteed by both our State and Federal Constitutions, was ignored by the court, the clerk stating that they hadn’t even seen one in 20 years, with one judge refusing to even look at the writ.

There is much talk of “more to the story.” There certainly is. There always is. If you are tempted to make that statement, ask yourself where your information is coming from and what the validity of that information actually is. This is not a comfortable conversation, it’s true. I shudder the horror of your family, or mine, under a microscope of the bureaucracy that is CPS.

UPDATE 12/1/2014

Constitutional Attorney Stephen Pidgeon has agreed to represent the Rengo Family in an attempt to reunite babies Levi, Morna, and Daniel with their parents. He will accompany the family to the hearing tomorrow, and the public and the media are encouraged to show up at the:

Whatcom County Courthouse
311 Grand Avenue
Bellingham Washington
Tuesday December 2nd – @ 9:00 A.M.

More details to follow. A Facebook Page has also been setup for the family.

by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

All three of their babies have been taken away from them and placed in the care of strangers. Levi was 10 months old when his mother, local singer and songwriter Erica May Rengo, gave birth to his twin brother and sister, at their home in Bellingham, Washington.

“Our birth was glorious,” she said, and the twins were reportedly healthy, full-term babies, who had no problem quickly figuring out how to breastfeed. The little family was overjoyed until CPS stepped in to “help.”

It is another medical kidnapping according to the parents. The Rengos have chosen a wholesome, holistic lifestyle, based in their Christian faith. But CPS has stepped in to override the parents’ decisions. Now Erica and Cleave are living what they call a nightmare, separated from their children for reasons that don’t make any sense at all to them.

Decision to Home Birth

It was only natural for Erica to choose normal, family-centered birth. Erica herself was born at home, and says that her mother was a homebirth educator and La Leche League leader (a world-wide support and education group for breastfeeding mothers). She and Cleave chose a birth-center birth with their first baby, but decided to birth at home the second time. She knew that her body was perfectly designed to work for birth. She believed this was the direction God was showing them for the birth. Erica was very careful during her pregnancy to watch her diet and exercise, in preparation for the birth. She read, researched, and prepared.

She describes her homebirth as “exquisite” and “empowering.” Morna Kai Grace and Daniel Clemente were born into their parents’ loving arms.

The birth was perfect. There were no complications with the birth or afterwards. But Erica and her husband Cleave agreed to allow the local paramedics in when someone called them, in an effort to appease concerned family members who were fearful of their decision to birth at home. That is where their problems began.

Erica May 1

The Medical System Gets Involved

Sometime after the babies arrived on October 2, paramedics arrived to find the twins nursing and everybody doing fine. The twins each weighed over 5 lbs, and the paramedics allegedly verified that everyone appeared healthy. The paramedics allegedly recommended that they go to the hospital for evaluation, which is standard procedure for EMTs.

The Rengos say they declined, telling them they didn’t want to expose their newborns to the dirty environment of the hospital. They were planning to follow recommendations they had found, which stated that newborn twins should stay home for the first six weeks of life, to give their immune systems the opportunity to build up.

CPS Shows Up

The parents’ believe that because they chose not to go to the hospital at that time, somebody called CPS. A couple of social workers showed up the next day, and wanted to see all of the children. CPS told Erica that they were “here to help.” But Erica says that is not at all what happened.

When the social worker found some eczema on Levi’s skin Erica told her that she was treating it with some herbal remedies, including comfrey and calendula, as well as applying coconut oil and giving probiotics. She was also doing an elimination diet to try to locate what could be causing the skin condition. Even though it was in the healing process, the social worker became critical that Erica wasn’t treating his eczema with steroids, a treatment option that Erica wanted to save as a last resort because of the side effects. The CPS agent would later testify to the judge that Erica had neglected to treat him completely.

Even so, the eczema was the only thing wrong. Erica says, “right away they found out that the children were not in danger.” The twins were completely healthy; the house was clean; and there are no drugs or alcohol involved.

The Rengos agreed to take the children to a pediatrician, who said the babies were doing fine.  The only concern was that the twins were slow to gain weight. At the time, Erica was trying to maintain a supply for three breastfeeding babies. She says she followed the pediatrician’s advice to supplement with formula, and the babies promptly got back on track with weight gain.

This was allegedly verified by a nurse sent out by CPS to check on them.

Erica May and Cleave are holistic in their approach to life and health, preferring natural alternatives, like herbs and diet changes, to medicinal treatments. Those things appear to be options only if CPS is not involved.

CPS Takes Custody of Children

On November 6, CPS showed up at the front door while Erica was softly singing and playing her guitar to her resting babies. When she checked the door, they told her that they were there to take her children, citing neglect for not giving Levi steroids for his eczema, and the home-birth without medical prenatal care with the twins, as well as the allegations of abuse, accusations which Erica had already assured them were completely unfounded. She also had prenatal care, just not with a doctor.

With one baby on her back, the frightened mother fled out the back door with her children to a neighbor’s house, but police and CPS “hunted her down,” and took these breastfed babies from their mothers’ arms. The twins were 5 weeks old.

Erica broke down into sobs as I spoke with her. “My children were safe and healthy with me.” Since they have been taken by CPS, Levi has reportedly had pneumonia, and has reportedly been diagnosed with “behavioral problems” because he screams and cries all the time.

He is screaming, Erica says, because he wants his mom and dad.

Why Are Children with No History of Abuse Being Taken Away from Loving Parents for Medical Reasons?

Children who have allegedly not been abused in any way have been taken by CPS from loving parents for reasons so flimsy that it has left the Rengos and their friends stunned. Several of their friends write that Erica is “a great mama.”

“This is not the right thing to do to mothers and children,” Erica emphasizes. “If they thought we needed help, they should have brought help in, not taken the children out. They have suffered and I have suffered since our separation.”

Erica feels that she and her children are being abused by the system. When they separate babies from their loving mothers, she says “they are dehumanizing people. The outcome of that is so much worse than any kind of dispute for medical reasons.”

Cleave and Erica were supposed to have their visitation with their children on Monday, but there wasn’t a social worker available to supervise the visit. Levi’s first birthday is on Black Friday. The day will be black for Erica and Cleave, but for very different reasons than the holiday retailers. They will miss their first child’s first birthday because CPS won’t have any workers available to supervise a visit that day either.

The Stressful Separation of Infants from Parents

Erica is a brokenhearted postpartum mother who wants nothing more than to be at home with all of her children by her side. Research shows that infants do not comprehend separation from their mother; they feel abandoned when they aren’t with her. Has it really come to the point where CPS can justify the emotional trauma to the children simply because parents don’t choose to follow every recommendation of the medical associations?

In President Obama’s immigration speech last week, he asked, “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?”

Yet it is this very nation whose Child Protection Service agencies have ripped tiny babies from their parents’ arms simply for the crime of disagreeing with a medical decision. If this could happen to a family who has only sought the most natural of care, then whose children are safe from CPS? Should this type of apparent medical tyranny be tolerated?

Erica May and Cleave Rengo face a court date on December 2. They don’t know what they will face then. Supporters are hoping that their story will be shared far and wide, and their children can be returned home quickly.

The Governor of Washington is Jay Inslee. His office number is 360-902-4111. You can email him from here.

The parents next court date is December 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham Washington.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Group home counselor accused of drug possession with intent to sell

drug-possession-north-carolina[1]A group home counselor and driver for ChildFirst Services faces numerous drug and weapon-related charges after state troopers found suspected heroin, cocaine and raw marijuana at his home, the Wayne County district attorney’s office said Friday.

State troopers and the district attorney’s office drug task force detective also found drug paraphernalia, an electronic scale and two .22 caliber revolvers with obliterated serial numbers during the search of the home Abraham Nyanti was renting in Lake Twp.

District Attorney Janine Edwards said authorities were still investigating whether the 24-year-old sold or gave drugs to any youths but at this point was “thankful that the officers were able to make this arrest before a child who Mr. Nyanti supervised was hurt.”

Police went to Mr. Nyanti’s 107 Batzel Road home in Lake Ariel after neighbors had complained about “suspicious activities” and smelled burnt marijuana when they spoke with him at his door, authorities said.

Mr. Nyanti allowed police to search him and his home, during which police found, among numerous items, multiple bags of suspected heroin stamped with the word “Barbie” and one bag of what authorities believed was cocaine, prosecutors said.

Read More at: Group home counselor accused of drug possession with intent to sell


A version of this column originally appeared in:

Immunity for Guardian Ad Litem destroys Connecticut family – Part 2

Skipp_family_photo_s640x427WASHINGTON, DC, March 1, 2013 - In Connecticut, the phrase “for the sake of the children” is often thrown around on custody cases involving child victims of violent crimes.  However, cases like 9-year old Max Liberti’s suggest that some family court appointees are more likely to favor the opportunity to continue billing families for unnecessary, even fraudulent services, over what is best for the child.

After all, children living in safe environments do not need Guardian Ad Litems (GAL), evaluations, or therapy to protect and rehabilitate them.  When Max disclosed that his father raped him, the GAL and other professionals charged his family a whopping total of $1.5 million for their services. Yet most of the 40+ professionals assigned to his case spent little or no time with Max, or did not know him at all before making recommendations that forever severed his relationship with his mother.

Often the court appoints a GAL to advocate for the child’s “best interests” instead of asking the children for direct input. The GAL then bills the parents for asking other strangers appointed onto the case what’s best for the children.

In 2003, the Connecticut court decided that the GAL has the exclusive right to speak on the child’s behalf, yet there are no requirements as to how much time a GAL must spend with their ward.  To clarify the GAL’s role, the court drew the bright line rule that “Just as it is not normally the province of the attorney to testify, it is not the province of the guardian ad litem to file briefs with the court.” (In re Tayquon H., 821 A.2d 796 [Conn. Ct. App. 2003]).

While the Judicial Branch provides free certification trainings[1] for GAL’s, there is no central oversight process in place to review the quality of their work, yet they enjoy qualified immunity for their actions.[2]

What exactly is the Judicial Branch training GAL’s to do?


When Susan Skipp’s daughter Gabrielle truthfully disclosed[3] that her father assaulted her family, Susan was ordered to use the majority of her income to pay the fees of various court appointed professionals she could not afford. Attorney Mary Brigham was appointed as the children’s GAL, and Dr. Kreiger[4] and Dr. Horowitz [5] were appointed to assess the family and provide them with therapy. A court issued an order forbidding Susan from speaking to the children about the litigation, seeking domestic violence support for them, or “disparaging” the father who allegedly assaulted them.

As GAL, Brigham billed the children’s home at a rate of $300 per hour to represent the children’s wishes and best interests. Billing records show that between September 2010 and November 2011, she billed over 196 hours, including only five meetings with the children.[6] It’s impossible to tell whether the children met with Brigham alone, how long these meetings were, or what was said.

Invoices show during this period, Brigham’s time was largely spent talking to other providers who barely knew the children or recently met them, emailing unnamed parties, speaking to Dr. Tittle and his attorney, and talking about billing matters. Susan was also charged for the time Brigham spent drafting, filing, and successfully prosecuting motions, including as many as three motions she personally filed seeking to hold Susan in contempt for nonpayment of GAL fees. Susan says that last July, Judge Robert Resha held her in contempt, then threatened to incarcerate her if she refused to immediately liquidate her teacher’s retirement pension to pay Brigham $20,000 in fees.

Susan also saw Horowitz and Kreiger’s unorthodox billing practices as red flags that made her doubt the legitimacy of the appointments.

My divorce agreement states that the parents will see Dr. Krieger for parent counseling. Instead, Dr. Krieger drafted up an agreement for co-parent mediation,” says Susan. This was improper she says, because “Mediation is a legal service that is not covered by health insurance and must be court ordered.”

Susan says that Kreiger charged Aetna for treatment, despite the fact that she was required to provide him with a $2,500 retainer and pay expenses out of pocket.  She questioned whether Dr. Kreiger was billing for treatments that were unnecessary or improperly performed.

Dr. Krieger also performed psychological evaluations on the family,” Susan says. “Those need to be ordered by the court too, and were outside the scope of his appointment as a counselor.” Susan adds that one such evaluation had flawed results because it was done against medical advice immediately after her car exploded, leaving her hospitalized with head injuries.

When Susan requested copies of the records and bills, then questioned Dr. Horowitz and Dr. Krieger’s refusal to address the assaults or the father’s struggles with addiction and the law with the children, both providers recused themselves from the case.[7] [8]  However, Brigham then asserted privilege on the children’s behalf, thereby prohibiting Susan from obtaining documentation from either provider.[9]

“While Kreiger and Horowitz testified in trial that there was no domestic abuse, they both used domestic violence codes when billing Aetna,” says Susan.  Dr. Horowitz testified that he used one medical chart for 2 children, used the wrong billing codes with the insurance company, then failed to inform the parents and the GAL that he had diagnosed the children with serious mental disorders.[10]

Brigham decided it was “not in the children’s best interests” to have them testify at trial.


Once when their father refused to pick his children up for three days of parenting time, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan’s children. The children seemed traumatized not only by the violent crimes perpetrated against them, but also by the fickle will of the courts to intervene on a moment’s notice and upend their lives without including them in these decisions. Given their isolation and the infrequent, yet intensely hostile interactions between Brigham and the children, it was no wonder they sought answers from me the moment their mother left the room.

“Are you here to save us?” Gabby asked. “Someone has got to help mom stop my father. We are afraid because he hurts us.”

“No honey,” I told them, “I’m just a journalist, I can’t save anyone.”

They begged me “Please write something to make Mary Brigham listen so the court will not make us live with my father.”

My heart was heavy because they too felt the inevitable, that darkness was coming for them, and they knew they were helpless to stop it.

With Judge Munro’s trial decision not yet issued, in September 2012 Dr. Tittle sought to permanently sever all of Susan’s parenting rights and access to the children. Judge Gerard Adelman heard testimony that the children refused to visit with Dr. Tittle for the stated reason that they feared for their safety. When Brigham refused to talk to them about these concerns, the children refused to get in the car with her. Brigham told the children she was unconcerned, then demanded they get in the car so she could bring them to Dr. Tittle’s [which they did not do.]  Consequently, Judge Adelman granted Dr. Tittle’s motion for sole custody with the caveat that the court would permanently terminate all of Susan’s parenting rights if she were even 5 minutes late for any future visits.

One week later, I attended the hearing on Dr. Tittle’s second motion to terminate Susan’s parental rights.  Judge Munro called Judge Adelman’s orders “draconian,” then criticized Brigham’s role in instigating the proceedings by acting outside the scope of her appointment as Dr. Tittle’s “taxi driver.” As we left the courtroom, Brigham informed me that she had filed her affidavit of fees a month ago. Subsequently, neither I nor the court staff were able to locate Brigham’s affidavit.

Ultimately, Judge Munro awarded Dr. Tittle sole custody of the children, then constructed a “set-up-to fail” parenting plan that effectively terminated Susan’s access to the children. Susan retains the right [on paper] to purchase a few hours per week with her children at Visitation Solutions, Inc.,[11] which is affiliated[12] with Horowitz and Krieger, and located over an hour away from the home she and her children once shared.

Judge Munro denied Susan’s request for alimony, then awarded Brigham $70,000 in fees, despite the fact that Brigham never filed an affidavit disclosing her billing. After Judge Munro recused herself from hearing Susan’s case, Brigham’s subsequent motions to garnish Susan’s wages were denied pending the outcome of Susan’s appeal.[13]

Since October 2012, Susan filed for bankruptcy and has not been able to afford to purchase time with her children. Dr. Tittle[14] has refused to allow the children any contact with their mother, and remains on criminal probation for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and evading responsibility (leaving the scene of an accident.)[15]

Brigham has scheduled a status conference for April 4th to discuss payment of her fees, garnishment of Susan’s assets and tax returns.

Who’s best interests have been served?


Horowitz and Dr. Kenneth Robson often conduct the court’s “free” GAL certification trainings together with Judge Munro.  Court records show that when Dr. Kenneth Robson[16] and Horowitz[17] are involved and the State is paying, the parents are often ordered not to communicate with their children about the trauma they experience. The GAL exclusively communicates directly with Horowitz about the children’s care, and only the GAL will speak to the children about the litigation.

“One of the core issues is the qualified immunity GAL’s enjoy, which results in much of the judicial outsourcing to them,” says advocate Peter Szymonik. He points out that a major reason why parents cannot even find relief from excessive GAL fees in bankruptcy is that the court categorizes it as child support, which is nondischargable. “This leads to excessive and unnecessarily billings which permanently financially devastate parents.”

While Szymonik says the system is biased against parents, Journalist Keith Harmon Snow has documented over 70 CT cases[18] where fathers who committed legal offenses, have gained custody of child victims. The mothers were often required to purchase parenting time through outrageously expensive, even corrupt supervised visitation providers, who extorted them out of relationships with their children. Now permanently destroyed and bankrupted by abusive, often deadly State sponsored litigation, these families have no recourse.

“GALs are, in fact, paid by judges even ahead of child support,” says Szymonik. This translates into a multi-million dollar fraud and state sponsored corruption which is financial devastating families and parents, harming children, and fleecing taxpayers.”

To additional documentation related this journalist’s investigative report on the Connecticut courts:


(1)        2-22-2011 Transcript re: Liberti v. Liberti:

(2)        CT Resource Group Contract With CT Judiciary re: Court Staff Education:

(3)        CT Resource Group Court Invoices Part 1:

(4)        CT Resources Group Court Invoices Part 2:

(5)        Dr. Horowitz’s Testimony re: Medical Billing Irregularities (Tittle v. Tittle):

(6)        Dr. Horowitz’s Bills re: Boyne v. Boyne:

(7)        Dr. Kreiger’s Documentation re: Tittle v. Tittle:

(8)        GAL Mary Brigham’s Invoices re: Tittle v. Tittle:

(9)        Maureen Murphy’s billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

(10)      N.J. Sarno’s Billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Court Invoices:

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Billing re Liberti v. Liberti:




















Foster youth was Tased five times at Good Samaritan Hospital

A city police officer used his Taser five times to subdue a heavily medicated 19-year-old man who was fighting staff at Good Samaritan Hospital and later died, according to his family's attorney and an account from a law enforcement source.

State social services officials identified the teen Monday as George V. King, a Charles County foster youth living in a Baltimore residential facility. King was in a coma for a week after the altercation, then died May 14.

Police disclosed the incident a day later, saying they had opened a criminal and administrative investigation. Officials say they have not determined what role, if any, the officers' actions played in King's death.

The teen's mother appeared Monday with her attorney, Granville Templeton III, at a rally outside Good Samaritan. Georgette King said her son had been hospitalized overnight for a reaction to medication after a dental procedure. The fight took place the day after hospital staff tried to administer a medical procedure, she said.

Georgette King faulted hospital officials and said police "brutalized" her son.

"He's my only child that God has given me," she said. "Police are supposed to protect and serve, and this is not protect and serve."

Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman, said that while police "clearly had an interaction" with King, investigators were looking at "everything that transpired and trying to put together all of the pieces to see what happened here." He said the autopsy was pending, and the officer who used the Taser remains on duty.

The death comes as city police are moving — at a cost of $1.5 million — to equip the entire force with the electronic stun devices, which proponents credit with saving lives because officers can avoid using lethal firearms.

Critics have pointed to deaths associated with the electronic shock from the devices, and some say officers are too quick to reach for them.

City Councilman Robert Curran attended a meeting Monday between hospital executives, police and members of the faith-based community to discuss the hospital's protocols. He said police couldn't discuss specifics due to the ongoing case.

But standing with King's mother, the Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon Sr., a Baltimore activist who organized the Monday rally, said police should release more information about what happened.

"There are a lot of assumptions taking place because the Baltimore Police Department has created an environment where there are a lot of unanswered questions," Witherspoon said.

A hospital spokeswoman said she could not comment, citing health privacy laws.

According to an account provided by a law enforcement source, the officers, Thomas Hodas and James Wynne, saw eight to 10 staff members trying to hold down King, who is listed in police records as 5-foot-9 and about 190 pounds.


A version of this column originally appeared in:

Arizona CPS Exposed discusses the disclosure of documents – fact or fiction

Last week we discussed the Team Decision-Making Meeting and the first court hearing. This week we will discuss what might happen next.

So you’ve had your preliminary hearing and the judge has signed their first set of orders. What happens next?

Typically this is where the orders from the judge would kick in. If services were ordered then referrals would be made to get those started. If visitation is ordered then the services to get those set up would be started. Parents would begin to resolve the issues that brought them to CPS in the first place.

A dependency hearing is supposed to be set for 21 days after the dependency petition was filed.

“An Initial Dependency Hearing will be set within 21 days after the petition is filed. At this hearing the court can declare the child “dependent” or set other conferences or mediation. When a child is declared “dependent”, it basically means the court has ruled that child is in need of parental care and control and that the state of Arizona is legally responsible to provide that. At the same time, a CPS case is now filed in the courts (called a dependency) and CPS will work with the family providing services to address the issues of concern so that the family can reunify if possible.” from the AZDES website

Also during this time the evidence will be disclosed. BE PREPARED. What you read about your case will anger you. Sometimes you even question if they are talking about your family or children.

Is this what happened in your case?

No, in our case there was nothing. No services had been ordered. We had no direction or goals. The case plan was severance and adoption.

There were a number of hearings scheduled at the beginning of the case, including one filed for a change of judge. The one thing we heard over and over was “Will you wave time.” Of course all parties generally agreed so the time restrictions set forth by law can be ignored if the parties agree.

As we reported before, CPS and the AAG were using an “open police investigation” as the excuse to prohibit contact with the children by all family members, as well as placement with grandparents or family. At the first hearing the police investigator told the judge he had not yet spoken to some of the children and were granted an additional week in order to complete this investigation.

But once the police reports were released we found they had lied in court. All of the interviews had been completed with all verbal children prior to that first hearing!

What we find disturbing is that the CPS case worker’s report of his initial interview with the mother did not actually get documented in the computer until 12 days later. This would have been AFTER he had spoken with everyone. When we read his summary, our daughter stated that she had never said many of the things he documented. So after 12 days did he report what was actually said in the interview, or did he create a summary of what he believed was true based on all the information he had? This is why it is so important to have EVERY interview videotaped and released to the parties, including the parent’s attorney.

Your case was severance and adoption from the start. Can you share with us the allegations they were making against the parents?

While we agree the father should have been prohibited contact with the children until the investigation was completed, we did not agree with CPS keeping the children from the mother, the family or each other. The initial allegations against the mother to justify removing the children were bogus. They claimed:

  • Inadequate housing, even though the family lived in a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom home.
  • Afraid the mother was home schooling, even though they removed the 5 school aged children from public school.
  • Inadequate food and clothing for the children, even though they had plenty of food and clothing in the home and none of the children were undernourished. In fact the foster family for the baby thought he weighed too much so they put him on a diet!
  • Failure to vaccinate the children, which is not illegal in Arizona.
  • Failure to protect, even though CPS was informed of the alleged abuse PRIOR TO the mother being told by the daughter and even then the daughter refused to disclose the information. CPS had far more knowledge of the allegations than the mother. To this date the daughter still refuses to tell the mother what happened.
  • And all of this was due to an underlying issue of drug abuse. Yet the drug test taken the day the children were removed was negative.

As we read through the documents we felt we were reading fiction. These CPS workers must hold a degree in creative writing! They certainly weren’t reporting the truth or facts.

Can you give us some examples of the fiction they were reporting?

The AAG was trying to paint a picture of the family based on lies and twisted half-truths. Every disclosure brought a new set of allegations. For instance:

  • They used prior unsubstantiated CPS calls to claim a history of abuse. You may not even be aware you have prior calls. You may have had one or more calls because of a ticked off neighbor or relative which was unsubstantiated. Keep in mind, unsubstantiated calls/reports are those calls or reports that have come in to CPS, where a case worker has investigated the case, which could include a home visit, and they could NOT prove the allegations against the parent. So the AAG and CPS are using these unproven calls against the parent in such a way to imply these allegations were true.
  • They used one referral, which never materialized, to claim that CPS had previously provided the family with all the services they could and therefore they were under no obligation to provide any more. The AAG even listed numerous classes that supposedly CPS had provided to the family, yet this documentation was never in any of their previous reports nor had they provided them with any of these classes.
  • They were using the mother’s learning disability as a reason to justify their claim that she could not parent. The AAG even had the nerve to state that the mother “after all these years failed to fix her disability.”

If learning disabilities are somehow “fixable” then you would think the child’s education and school district would somehow play an important role in fixing the disability. Ironically, the superintendent of schools at the time our daughter was in school was Tom Horne. And it is now Tom Horne’s office that is claiming our daughter didn’t “fix” her disability.

  • They used the children’s learning disabilities against the parents and claimed it was the school that had to initiate services when in fact it was the parents that requested testing and services.
  • They claimed snakes and rats/mice were living under the house and CPS was concerned about them getting in the home. The family at the time was living in the country in a mobile home, and I don’t think people can control nature. Maybe they expected the family to put up “No snakes, rats or mice” signs! However, apparently they have no understanding of nature because snakes, rats and mice won’t live together, not if you understand what snakes eat.
  • They claimed the parents had “fled the county” during a previous CPS encounter. Yet it was in their own records that the parents informed the CPS case worker they were moving and where they were going. “Fleeing” implies you do so without informing anyone, not announcing it to everyone.
But here is one prime example of how the AAG used the information in a previous CPS call and exaggerated it.

The oldest son had gotten on his father’s motorcycle even though he had been told not to. In the process he received a small burn from the hot exhaust pipe. Around this time the son also received a spanking with a belt intended for his clothed behind. But the son moved and the belt hit is leg, leaving a small red mark. The son decided to report the incident to the school nurse. This resulted in a CPS call and the referral for services that never took place.

So now 8 years later this incident is being reported by the AAG as “an on-going history of severe beating and burning” by the father against two of the children, while the mother was aware and did nothing to protect the children.

Their own reports didn’t justify these accusations by the AAG, but they still wrote them anyway. And for anyone interested, this incident was brought up in court during a hearing and the AAG and CPS had to admit in court that based on the legal definition of abuse in the state of Arizona, this incident was NOT abuse! Yet it continued to appear in the AAG’s court motions, even after it was determined in court not to be abuse.

So is there anything the family can do to dispute these false claims?

Yes, but you have to be willing to put in the effort.

Every time we read another report, motion or disclosure was another reminder of how out of control the agency really is. They kept stating the same lies over and over as if by putting them in documents it would somehow make it true. But NO ONE would listen to us! They all assumed that because CPS put it in writing it had to be true. We just wanted someone to listen and actually read the documents, someone who would be unbiased, and someone that might be able to see how the lies were being perpetuated to meet the agenda of CPS. But we could find no one. So we knew we had to prove it ourselves.

When the disclosure were made, the first motion/report CPS disclosed about the case had numerous falsehoods in it, and many of them could be proven with additional documentation or information within their own CPS files. We went to work to disprove the allegations against the mother.

  • Taking each statement we knew was false, we found the supporting documents, research, or information in CPS reports to discredit their claims.
  • We organized it and referenced each page and line on the CPS motion to make it clear what allegations we were disputing.
  • We then submitted this research to the attorney.
  • It took us about 9 hours to complete the 12 page report, but it helped save the attorney time and the majority of the report was submitted to the court in the attorney’s rebuttal.

We separated the mother’s allegations from the fathers. The abuse allegations were against the father only. They alleged “failure to protect” against the mother. This is why it is important to try each parent separately as they may not be equally at fault in the case, especially when the case plan is severance and adoption.

The father’s attorney wanted to do the same for his case but he never took the time or effort to get it done. The father and his resources also didn’t get it done. So it is important for you to put in the time and effort to get things done to help YOUR case.

This is also where your prior documentation of the case as you went along comes in handy. CPS may claim you failed to show for meetings, visits, testing…whatever suits their case. But your documentation will be important to disprove their allegations.

You have a right to see the motions and documents from CPS and the AAG. Many attorney’s are reluctant to share these with their clients, but we found by being able to actually read the motions and allegations (even though it may make you frustrated or angry) we were better equipped to assist our attorney in the defense. I would especially recommend getting these documents if you have a court appointed attorney.

What else can the family do?

If the extended family does not have custody of the children then file the appeals. If you cannot get your interview on the appeal, contact your legislators. Document everyone you speak with, when you talked to them and the results of those conversations.

Remember, there is no guarantee how the case is going to turn out. If you can get your children with family they will be more likely able to adopt them if severance is the final outcome. Depending on what the recommendations and court orders are in your case at this time will determine what you need to do.

  • If visitation with your children is ordered make sure you show up for each and every visit and be prepared with appropriate snacks/food, supplies and activities for the children. Far too many parents lose custody because they don’t even show up for visitation!
  • If therapy is ordered make sure you attend all the evaluations, intakes and therapy sessions and be engaged. You have to prove to the therapist that you want your children and can care for them.
  • If there are other issues in the case that need to be addressed don’t wait for a court order. Seek community resources.
  • If there are housing issues, take care of them.
  • If there is a substance abuse issue, find treatment. The court will order treatment at some time during a reunification case, but if you can get started and show you are serious you increase your chances of getting your children back.
  • Parenting classes are generally a given in most cases. We had an extremely difficult time finding classes that were free to the public without a court order. However, we did find two resources that offered classes and other services – Family Resource Center and Family Involvement Center. Both of these are listed on our website under “Listings”.
  • If you have a no contact order take it seriously. They can and will at some point subpoena phone records, emails, or other records to attempt to show you have violated this order.
  • Keep contact with your attorney and do not miss any hearings! Dress appropriately for court, be on time, sign in when you get there, and listen to your attorney. Court is not the time to argue with your attorney about the case.

Can you share with us one thing you did that you think made a difference in your case?

Get yourself organized! Far too many of us are dealing with every day issues that we don’t have time to get ourselves organized. Organization will help your case.

I’m putting together an article “Organizing for CPS Success” which will be posted under “Parental Resources” on our website. These are suggestions and if you have organizational skills put them to use. Other families we met who were involved in a CPS case shared their organizational ideas with us. They are included in the article.

Remember, you will be required to attend meetings, therapy sessions, educational classes, court hearings and other appointments. Anything you miss will be used against you in the case. You are also required to understand and be engaged in these activities. Your attorney will need information from you in order to prove your case. CPS will be asking you for information about your children and their education, especially if they have been identified as special education. By having this information organized you will be able to provide it quickly.

Our CPS case manager got a little ticked off when we could actually produce the information requested at different meetings. At first I think they believed they could trip the mother up, but after a short period of time when they saw the notebook they knew we would be ready to answer questions or provide documentation. In fact we were able to provide the document needed when CPS couldn’t. Eventually they had to admit the mother was organized and we believe this also helped the case.

We may be able to cover this in a future radio show, but we wanted to make sure the listeners had this information to help them immediately, especially if they are involved in a current case. It is never too late to get organized!

Next week’s show

Next week we will discuss placement options for the children and the children’s rights while in foster care.