Medical Marijuana Motivates CPS to Remove Child From Home

Medical Marijuana Motivates CPS to Remove Child From HomeAn eleven-month child was grabbed by social workers and placed into foster care because of legally prescribed medical marijuana. The child’s father was put into handcuffs while the young mother cried. No law had been broken, Child Protective Services (CPS) has the uncontrolled power to tear families in a moment without trial, judge or jury and it happens, somewhere in America, everyday.

The recent incident happened in California to Shawnee Anderson and Aaron Hillyer. A neighbor heard an argument between Anderson and Hillyer and called the police. When the cops arrived, they found medically prescribed marijuana.

The two tried explaining to the police that they had a state-issued Medical Marijuana ID Card. The police refused to examine the documents and called CPS to remove their son, Sage.

Hillyer told CNN that she pled with the police, but felt the police couldn’t understand that a person can be a wonderful parent and a decent human being and still have a prescription to medicate with marijuana.

When Hillyer asked the police why they were removing the child, she reported that the cops said her “…baby doesn’t need to be subjected to marijuana.” Hillyer played the recording, made on her cell phone, for CNN.

Medical marijuana appears to have become a target for CPS nationwide. The agency calls the presence of marijuana, in a home with small children, abusive and neglectful. It’s up to their discretion. The victims of CPS are punished first and they have to try to prove their innocence later. The idea of “innocent until proven guilty” is something that may be foreign to CPS.

Hillyer is not alone in her predicament. Many decent families face harassment and separation because of the perceptions surrounding medical marijuana.

Scott and Sara Rolick, also from California, lost their daughter when the child’s grandfather used cannabis as medicine. Often, just advocating for a political position on medical marijuana is enough to bring the weight of law enforcement down on a family as the Petro family in Florida is finding out.

Renee Petro is the mother of a child who has been diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy. The disease makes her son, Branden, 12, have uncontrollable seizures and can be fatal. After months of testing out a variety of treatments, the family doctor suggested trying medical marijuana. Its use has eased Branden’s symptoms.

Its use has also brought the state CPS down on the Petro family when Renee started advocating for wider use of medical marijuana. Social workers forced their way into Petro’s life and the case is currently under investigation.


Michigan Still Not Protecting Kids from Abuse and Neglect

Children’s Rights Calls Dangerous Foster Care Conditions ‘Unacceptable’

Report-Abuse-CPS_393030_7[1]DETROIT, MI — Five years after Michigan agreed to reform its child welfare system, the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is still struggling in its most critical mandate –to keep kids safe from abuse and neglect, according to a report released today by the federal monitors charged with tracking the reform.

The report (PDF), covering the first half of 2012, is the sixth to be issued since the state first reached a settlement with Children’s Rights in 2008, and the second since the parties signed off on an updated agreement in 2011 to put the stalled reform effort back on track.

“The basic mission of foster care is to protect kids, so no one can be content that so many children are still being harmed in state care,” said Sara Bartosz, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights.

According to the report, 241 kids were determined to have been abused or neglected in care during the monitoring period. And 1,805 of the 4,810 foster children residing with relatives at the end of the period were in homes that were not licensed, enrolled in the licensing process or waived from the licensure requirements.

“The number of kids in unlicensed kinship homes is deeply concerning, considering that 40 percent of all abuse in care occurred in these homes,” said Bartosz. “DHS has made strides to license more relative caregivers, but they must work harder to reach the finish line.”

The monitors also found that DHS failed to launch investigations on time for 35 percent of abuse and neglect allegations that required an immediate response, and failed to ensure caseworkers frequently visited with children. In June, 2012, just 73 percent of kids were visited monthly, and only 56 percent of kids were visited twice during their first month in foster care.

Michigan, however, has made progress in some other areas.

The number of legally free youth waiting to be adopted dropped from 4,237 in September, 2011 to 2,640 in January, 2013. The state has also exceeded its goal of finalizing juvenile guardianships. And it has expanded the support available to families after they adopt a child from foster care by awarding contracts to eight private adoption agencies to create post-adoption resource centers. The centers will provide services such as case management, in-home intervention, coordination of community services, education, training and advocacy.

“Michigan has shown that it is capable of implementing significant reforms,” said Bartosz. “It is now imperative for the state to focus on safeguarding children as it continues to repair its foster care system.”

Children’s Rights filed the child welfare reform class action known as Dwayne B. v. Granholm in August 2006, with Edward Leibensperger of the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery and Michigan-based law firm Kienbaum Opperwall Hardy & Pelton.


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