“It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about” is probably the best quote I have heard when referring to CPS, and one of the reasons it has been able to expand to the monster it has become today.
How did CPS get to be the problem it is today?
Well intentioned laws resulting in unintended consequences is one of the reasons it has been permitted to grow to the extent it is. People thought the laws were good and would help protect children. They could never have imagined how a well intentioned law could result in the abuse we see today.
One examples is the law Bill Clinton signed giving money to states for adoption. Legislators thought this was important and necessary because of the number of children in foster care not getting adopted, especially the older children. They created the incentive to remove the children and put them up for adoption but provided no incentive to restore and preserve the family. This provided a mechanism for financial gain in legal child trafficking through CPS.
Like everything else in government, they keep throwing more money at it and expecting that to solve the problems. It doesn’t solve the problems, only makes it worse, and builds a bigger bureaucracy leading to more corruption, more spending, and more children being abused by the system.
Did you know that Child Help, CPS, is trying to raise money to expand their facilities in Phoenix? I saw their ad on Facebook recently so I went to check it out. They are using the tactics of child molesters to entice children, with murals on walls, stuffed animals all over the floors, bringing them in to the lion’s den before the snatch them from the parents and stick them in foster care. But it’s all to protect the children.
Why can and do they get away with this?
Because people are afraid to talk about it.
The family that is involved in a CPS case is afraid to discuss their involvement for fear of being judged by friends, neighbors and family. In fact, if they are involved with CPS they are told by their attorney NOT to talk about it because CPS will retaliate against them and adopt out their children.
Everyone in the community who is not informed about CPS has the perception that if CPS was involved “there had to be something wrong.” The general population doesn’t want to discuss it because people might think they do not care about the welfare and safety of children.
The foster families don’t want to honestly discuss it because then they might have to admit they are aiding and abetting this criminal activity. They are often lied to by CPS about the children they have in their care, falsely believing they are “saving” these children from a depraved, unsafe family.
Adoptive families don’t want to discuss it because they might not be able to adopt the child they want. Worse yet, if they have already adopted a child thru foster care, the child they have could have been taken illegally and should not be theirs. They aren’t willing to admit that so they remain ignorant and silent.
Attorneys don’t want to get involved because their license could be on the line. Besides, all the dependency battles with CPS provide them with a lucrative income!
Legislators are taking marching orders from those in higher positions in the government. They want to keep a low profile on this subject because as a former representative told us “it is the elephant in the room that no one wants to address.”
So talking about it starts opening up discussions and brings light to the problem. Since we started Arizona Family Rights Project, we have heard from many families willing to share their stories and experiences with the public. Many families who have been involved with CPS want to talk about it; they want to know they aren’t alone. They want to share their horrible experiences and the injustice they have felt at the hands of this agency. If they find people or an organization willing to speak with them without passing judgment they are willing to open up and tell their stories. That is what we hope to bring about. You can share your story on our site and we will not disclose personal information unless we obtain permission. In fact some of these personal stories are being picked up by larger news organizations to show the abuse happening in their state! We will also be putting together video interviews for people to share their stories.
The only way to fix the abusive and broken system is to expose the truth. Only then can real reform take place.
We read or hear about stories in the media about abusive parents. What about those stories?
Unfortunately there are abusive parents in our society. Statistics show that only about 20% of the children removed by CPS should actually be removed. But is it acceptable to remove an additional 80% and put those children through trauma and potential abuse at the hands of CPS and foster care to help the 20%? Would you want your child to be part of that 80%?
Have you noticed how many of these stories tell us that CPS had already been involved with the family, yet somehow even with CPS prior involvement they were unable to avoid an outcome that made the headlines?
Have you noticed that none of the stories are about the abuse that takes place in the foster home? Statistics also show that more children are neglected, abused, sexually abused and murdered in foster care. The agency meant to protect actually does more harm to more children.
- You don’t hear about the 4 year old who is missing from foster care because he ran away.
- You don’t hear about the 17 year old who is on the street because CPS refused to take the mother’s concerns seriously and he ran from a therapy session.
- You don’t hear about the infant who contracted MRSA at the hands of the foster parent.
- You don’t hear about the mother who lost 2 of her children because they were killed at the hands of foster care.
Because once CPS is involved the case becomes protected. Even the family and attorneys may have difficulty getting the information needed for their own case! It’s all masked under the need to protect the children.
But this allows for an agency to go unchecked. It breeds corruption and is easily hidden because there is no transparency and accountability.
Did you know that in 2010 Arizona ranked about 25th in the nation as far as CPS was concerned with just over 4,000 children in foster care. Today Arizona ranks 47th with just under 15,000 children in foster care. Are parents more abusive now than they were 4 years ago? What changed?
What changed in Arizona was the governor’s task force in 2011 which made recommendations resulting in more children being abducted under the authority of “protecting the children.” The one recommendation which probably facilitated the increase was that if one child in the family is at risk or in danger, they all are – and they remove all the children from the home.
So what can we do?
We wanted to discuss what families can do to protect their children. There may be families that have just received a call from CPS or are facing a home visit. If we can help prepare them prior to that visit then maybe we can prevent their children from being removed from the family.
A well educated population can help save these children.
Some of these suggestions may sound elementary, but far too often people just don’t understand the seriousness of CPS. Because people don’t usually talk about it, the family is totally unprepared when it hits them.
We have a self-evaluation on our website that can help you. You can access this under the Family Rights Project, Understanding the Issue. Look for “Parental Resources” and you will find the “Are You At Risk – A Self Evaluation.”
The self-evaluation is for your use only. It is a tool for you to use to evaluate your own family situation. It is not intended to be judgmental. Many of the items on the list are not illegal, but if CPS becomes involved with your family they will become a concern and may be used against you in court to justify removing your children. So be honest if you take the evaluation. Taking corrective steps early on may help save your children and family.
- Know your rights when it comes to CPS. Legal advice from an attorney is your best resource if you encounter CPS. Don’t assume that because you are innocent or have nothing to hide that you don’t need legal advice. The advice you get up front may save your children. You need to know how to act, how to respond, what your rights are, and what obligations CPS needs to meet to legally remove your children or speak to you.
- Take the call or home visit SERIOUSLY! Take each and every call or visit seriously. Do not think because you got passed this visit that you will get passed the next. All calls stay on your record and CPS will use prior unsubstantiated calls to claim a history of abuse in order to remove your children.
- If there is a problem in the home correct it. Many families find they are confronting a CPS report because of financial difficulties. Financial issues are not supposed to be a reason to remove children, but they do it anyway. Once removed financial issues will continue to haunt your case until the court decides you can financially care for your children. Knowing where and how to get community resources can be part of your ability to provide financially for your family.
While resources are in the community, sometimes they are difficult to find. We found it amazing how if there are so many problems with families and raising children that there are not the resources out in the community to help. I cannot tell you how many times help wasn’t available because there are so many waiting lists – often 2-5 years out! Often times services aren’t available to help parents before they get involved with CPS, but only after there is a court order for services.
- Your CHILDREN need to be aware of their rights. Educate your children on how to respond if CPS comes to the school to ask them questions. CPS will engaged the children at school, and often the school nurse, counselor or psychologist will encourage the child to speak to CPS telling them that “this is their friend and it is okay.”
- Teach your children that the words they use must clearly convey the message they want to say. Something simple said by a child in the hands of a CPS case worker with an agenda can turn into disaster.
One such instance making its way around the internet is the young girl who said “my daddy went pee pee in my pee pee. This resulted in a CPS investigation. It turns out the girl didn’t flush the toilet after using the bathroom and her father used that toilet after her. Something innocent turned into an accusation of something perverted.
In my own family one of my grandchildren told me when I picked her up from school one day that “she didn’t get to eat lunch that day.” In the hands of CPS this could turn into the parent did not provide the child a lunch and wasn’t feeding her. They would jump to conclusions and decide that removing the child from the home was in the child’s best interest. Concerned, but understanding that there must be something more to this statement I asked the child a few specific questions:
- Did your mom forget to pack you a lunch today? (Child was to eat hot lunch)
- Did your mom not have enough money left on your lunch card to buy you lunch? (There was enough money on the card)
- Did you not have enough time during lunch to eat your lunch? – ANSWER: No, she had enough time, but she wanted to play on the playground instead so she didn’t eat her lunch.
Teach your children to be specific in what they say.
- Your children need to understand and be prepared to answer the question “who would you like to live with.” If CPS removes your children, the sooner you can get the children with family the better. Be sure you know who the safe family members are and who are not. If severance and adoption are the end result, which happens in 50% of the cases in Arizona, family is supposed to be considered first. However, if the children are in foster care and doing well, those foster parents will have a better chance of adopting the children because they now have a “relationship” with them and CPS and the courts will find that placement “in the child’s best interest.” So if you can get the children with family first you reduce the risk.
Unless the child is truly afraid of a family member, they should be willing to go with anyone in the family. A seemingly innocent remark made by one child can keep all children from being placed with that family member. They need to understand the alternative is being placed with strangers. When and if they start asking children about who in the family they might like to live with it is because they are looking for a foster situation for the child.
- If you are Native America make sure CPS knows this. Native American children are better protected than the general population.
- Have your children carry the Reverse Miranda Rights with them at all times and know how to use it. This is a link on our website that parents can print out with the appropriate information. Some parents have the card laminated so the child can carry it around without being destroyed.
- Have an attorney available that you can contact immediately if CPS becomes involved. You don’t want to have to find an attorney at 5pm on a Friday evening during a 3-day holiday weekend, which is what happened to our family. Spending a few hundred dollars at the beginning can save you tens of thousands later.
It cost our family approximately $60,000 to get the children back. That does not include the other legal fees and expenses involved with the case. It is estimated that most cases in which a private attorney is hired, the costs range from $50,000-$150,000. The faster you can resolve a CPS investigation the better.
While you will be assigned a court appointed attorney if dependency is sought, you will not be able to meet with this attorney until your first court hearing. This takes place approximately 2 weeks after they have removed your children.
We are working on a membership program that would give parents access to an attorney. There would be a fee attached and the services under the program would be limited – but it would give parents access to legal advice immediately if they encounter an issue with CPS.
You can visit our website for tips and other resources on dealing with CPS, “Understand the Issue.”
Next week’s show
Next week we will be discussing reporting to CPS, mandatory reporting laws, and how you can protect your children.