Mandatory Video Taping of All CPS Workers

qQxhAfhxVBWoQRD-580x326-noPad[1]I live in Phoenix Arizona. What has happened to my two daughters makes me beyond terror-stricken! My daughters, age 12 and 10 were snatched from their hospital beds by CPS under false allegations, (just 18 days after our family had dismissed their GI doctor for neglect.) Unjustly removed from their feeding tubes they have now lost over 25% and 17% of their body weight! Still stuck in the system 6 months later and suffering, many continue to speculate what happened. But one thing we know for sure is that the Hospital and CPS workers who removed them, could have had a camera or a body cam to record the incident -- a camera that could have prevented the incident or given us clear information about what happened.

I won't accept that my daughters are suffering in vain. That is why I am asking for the Maricopa County CPS/ DCSFS division be the first to require that all workers and visitation supervisors who come in any contact with the public, children and their families be required to wear body cameras at all times. I am asking that part of the 60 million dollars that was received from Obama, for that division, be used to fund this project. Within 6 months I am asking that every county with a CPS/ DCSFS division in Arizona be fitted and operational with such devices.

Requiring CPS workers/ visitation supervisors to wear cameras would come with many benefits. The cameras would cost a few hundreds dollars each and would:

-Provide greater transparency and a constant third party witness
-Enhance motivation to act lawfully and truthfully
-Reduce the number of lawsuits and increase dismissed lawsuits with digital evidence
-Increase citizen's trust of his/her CPS division thanks to recorded actions
- In addition to clarify allegations against the accused party(s) the initial tape must entail a verbal reading of the initial complaint even if redacted.

-Lawyers should also be able to subpoena these immediately with the client receiving them within 24 hours for the initial tape, and 3 business days thereafter, with a fee of no more than $2.

"Police departments nationwide are using or testing on-body cameras and they're reportedly reducing police misconduct. When the Rialto Police Department in California adopted cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent. Other municipalities that have employed these cameras have seen a sharp drop in complaints and misconduct." -Require Ferguson and St. Louis County and City police officers to wear body cameras (Petittion)

Vital Information from Attorney Vincent W. Davis

if-social-services-removed-your-children-ca-attorney-vincent-w-davis-explains-how-to-respond[1]THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PROVIDED BY ATTORNEY VINCENT W. DAVIS AND COPIED HEREIN WITH PERMISSION. PLEASE CONTACT ATTORNEY DAVIS

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 888-506-6810

The Most Important Thing You Must Know At the Beginning of Your Juvenile Dependency Case

by VINCENT DAVIS on NOVEMBER 3, 2014

I’ve been noticing a shift in the willingness of social workers, and sometimes judges to place foster children with family. It seems that all the political lobbying foster parents are doing in Sacramento and amongst the County social workers is paying off.

It is imperative that you know the following: YOU MUST FIGHT TO PLACE YOUR CHILDREN WITH FRIENDLY RELATIVES at the very beginning of the case; otherwise you risk losing them to adoption to the foster parent. This is rarely fought about during these juvenile dependency cases. And it should be something that should be raised by your attorney at each and every hearing; and if it is not completed (i.e., the child actually placed with a relative), your attorney should have a trial on this, and perhaps other issues, at the Disposition Hearing. Please read, read and re-read California Welfare and Institutions Code section 309. And if necessary have your attorney have a trial on these issues at the Dispositional Hearing.

Here are some actual recent case studies.

The first case from Riverside County. The relatives who wanted the child lived in Oklahoma. They were cousins of the mother. They contacted the social worker at the very beginning of the case, 3 days after the first hearing, the hearing commonly known as the arraignment detention hearing.   Short after that hearing, the child was placed with a local foster care family. Turns out, the foster parents were a young couple, who couldn’t have children and wanted to adopt this child. And under a concept in the law called Concurrent Planning, the county social worker supported the foster parents desire to adopt.

The social worker informed them of two important things; both of which were false. First, the social worker said that they could not have the child placed in their home in Oklahoma, at the beginning of the case, because the court would order Family Reunification Services for the parents. And that could not happen until the court terminated Reunification Services 6 to 12 months into the case. This is false, because the child can be placed with the relatives, despite the parents being given Family Reunification Services.

Second, the social worker informed the relatives that the child could not be placed in their home without an Interstate Compact Placement of Children (“ICPC”) approval from Oklahoma. An ICPC is a report prepared by the receiving state social worker approving the Oklahoma relatives. All of this is true. But, the social worker told the relatives that this could not even be requested or initiated until at or after the disposition hearing; which in this case, was months down the road. This was false. ICPC can be initiated at any time. And remember, the foster parents and the child are living and bonding during all this time.

Third, the social worker had the opportunity to initiate and request and Expedited ICPC, which is completed in 30 days. For whatever reason, she did not. Had she done so, the child could have been placed with the relatives quicker and faster.

Instead, the social worker requested and ICPC, which took months and months. Apparently, and as usual, a regular ICPC takes months and months and months. And on top of that there was further delay because the County social worker delayed the process, the California ICPC office delayed processing the request, and then Oklahoma delayed the process because someone went on vacation.

While all of this was pending, the parents’ parental rights were terminated at the Welfare & Institutions Code section 366.26 hearing.

About a month later, the Oklahoma ICPC was approved, but the relatives were no longer legal relatives since the parents lost their parental rights. Relatives are relatives only through the parents; and if the parents lose their rights, the relatives in turn lose their relationship with the children as well.

The relatives did go to court and request that the child still be placed with them, but they were denied. The fact that they were no longer relatives, and the fact that the child had formed a loving bond with the child after all that time, were things used by the juvenile court to justify not giving the child to the Oklahoma relatives.

The next case is out of San Diego County. The child was taken from the parents based on the allegations that mother had mental and emotional deficits, and that the father was responsible for the death of a sibling. The child was placed in a single parent foster home.

As it turns out, the social worker claimed that she was never told of any relatives that wanted the child placed in their home. And as it turned out, there were 3 relative families in San Diego, one in Arizona, one in Colorado, one in Alabama and one in Korea. The Arizona and Korea families were stationed in that locale, as part of the United States Armed forces. It appears that the social worker either spoke to, or had the chance to speak to some of these relatives, but never inquired if they wanted the child; instead waiting for the relative to take some affirmative action to have the child placed in their homes.

This is not the law in California. California Welfare and Institutions Code section 309, requires the social worker to search out and find, and to use “due diligence” to find relatives. If you think about it, this is an onerous burden for the social workers, but it is the law. And the biggest problem is that most attorneys are not familiar with this particular law, or choose not to fight for it, or enforce it at every hearing, especially the disposition hearing. In this case, it was conceded that there was no due diligence filed with the court. And honestly, after 25 years of practice as an attorney in this area, I’ve never seen a due diligence for relatives filed with the court. I take that back, San Francisco uses an outside service to locate relatives, but I don’t think it was filed with the court. But there, one of the relatives informed me that she did get a call, but the caller basically called to talk her out of wanting to have the child placed in her home. And the relative went along with the recommendation that the child not be placed in the relative home.

Yet, despite these facts, the court left the child in the foster home because the child had formed a bond with the foster parent.

The third case is an interesting case out of San Bernardino County. The children were removed from the parents because of allegations of mutual domestic violence. At the beginning of the case, I provided 25 names of relatives to the social worker. After 2 months, the social worker refused to investigate and report to the court about any of the relatives. The children were in foster care, and the recommendation by the social worker, for concurrent planning, was adoption by the foster family.

Here’s the funny part. The number one relatives was the maternal grandparents, who were both medical surgeons from El Salvador. Both traveled to/from the United States frequently, visiting and working in the United States. Both came to the San Bernardino, and the court was informed that they would stay there as long as necessary to keep the children, and to get them out of foster care. Turns out the grandfather had a United States Visa that expired in 2021, and the grandmother had a Visa that expired in 2018.

WIC 309 states that the immigration status of the relative care takers cannot be considered. So if you are undocumented, that cannot be used against you in getting your relative children placed with you. Notwithstanding, the social worker told the grandparents after they arrived in California, that they could not have the children because they weren’t citizens. And the worker’s attorney argued in court that since they were not permanent residents, they children could not be placed with these grandparents. And initially, the court seemed to go along with that, but began reversing when I pressed the matter.

Now, on my recommendation, the grandparents I recommend these grandparents come from El Salvador, and I had section 309 on our side.

After a trial, the judge informed me that the children should be placed with the mother, my client, after her home was checked out, and after we filed a Restraining Order against the father. It seemed that I had pushed the relative placement issue so hard, the court decided just to place the children back with the mother. Maybe it was easier than investigating 25 relatives, and dealing with the Immigration issues.

We offer free initial consultations, and we can offer an extended case analysis and consultation for a nominal fee. Also we are available to represent you in your juvenile dependency matter as a parent, relative or foster parent. Check our website for news on the monthly Juvenile Dependency Law seminars in a city near you.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Why the explosion in child-snatching is big business

When fostering excites venture capitalists, the number of children taken into care rises

 The children's department of Norfolk council received the most damning report possible from Ofsted Photo: ALAMY


The children's department of Norfolk council received the most damning report possible from Ofsted Photo: ALAMY

A Norfolk reader sends me photographs of an advertisement placed on the back of local buses by Norfolk and Suffolk county councils. “New challenge,” it reads. “Have you thought of fostering? If so you can earn £590 a week.”

Two things are interesting about this, one general, one specific. For a start, it shows what mind-boggling sums are now available to councils whose social workers take children into care. I have quoted before advertisements offering foster carers £400 a week for each child. But £590 a week means that a foster home looking after three children taken from their parents, which is not uncommon, can now earn almost £100,000 a year. In addition are the lavish fees charged by fostering agencies to make the arrangements, almost invariably run by ex-social workers.

Most people have no idea what a big business fostering has become. When one such firm, National Fostering Agency, representing 175 local authorities after being launched by two ex-social workers in 1995, was placed on the market by Rothschilds in 2012, it was sold by its “venture capital” owners Sovereign to a “private equity” firm, Graphite Capital, for a staggering £130 million.

The more specific point, however, is that, of all the councils that feature in my files as seizing children from their parents for what seem like questionable reasons, Norfolk and Suffolk are high on the list. In one of the most controversial cases I have reported, it was Norfolk’s social workers who were eventually forced to hand back a baby to its parents, after they had twice travelled to France to take the child into foster care in England. Having been thwarted in their plans, when a judge ruled that they had no legal right to do so, they seized several more children from different members of the same family who, to justify their removal, now face many charges of criminal abuse.

Yet last year the children’s department of this same council, Norfolk, received the most damning report possible from Ofsted, failing it as “inadequate” (the lowest rating) on every one of the five counts on which social workers are judged, from “quality of provision” to “leadership and management”.

Rad More at: Why the explosion in child-snatching is big business

 

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Australia – 14,000 stolen children – today

The Prime Ministerial Apology to the Stolen Generations was delivered on February 13, 2008 but this photo was taken in October 2008 at Old Tent Embassy - Photo by Gerry Georgatos

The Prime Ministerial Apology to the Stolen Generations was delivered on February 13, 2008 but this photo was taken in October 2008 at Old Tent Embassy - Photo by Gerry Georgatos

Former Government worker for the NSW Department of Families and Communities, Debra Swan on National Sorry Day joined one of the 15 protests happening across the continent to not only remember the Stolen Generations but to point out that they are continuing. In NSW, one in 9 Aboriginal children is ripped from their families into “out of home care”.

Ms Swan said, “I have seen the injustice, and how unfair this system is, with my own eyes.”

According to Ms Swan, “Too often, removals happen without any consultation. Parents come into the office frustrated and angry, as anyone would be after having their children ripped away from them.”

“They are then written off even further, branded ‘non-compliant’ or ‘aggressive’.”

“The Children’s Court system is stacked against Aboriginal people. I have seen too many solicitors who have no idea what they are doing, or just push our people to go along with the demands of the Department.”

“Parents are told that unless they agree to orders, they will be denied any access to their children.”

“Justice Woods did his Royal Commission into Child Protection and he said that Aboriginal are removed from their families for much less than what are non-Aboriginal children.”

“I have seen the biases, the discrimination, the prejudices, the drive to assimilate Aboriginal people. Towards the end of my time there, my eyes opened up to them and especially after I left I realised how they assimilate us, the Aboriginal workers.”

“The Department may say it has cultural education of its staff but that is not true. What they really have is an ulterior white picket fence vision for everyone. They disregard the fact that Aboriginal cultures are not about white picket fences. They disregard our definitions of family. We are not into nuclear families with mum and dad alone at the top. In Aboriginal families there is the whole village, there are the mum and dad but also the aunties and uncles, the grannies and granddads.”

Audio news with Debra Swan here:

More audio news with Debra Swan here:

A Department of Child Protection worker in Perth, who is Aboriginal confided, “They do not even consult us as Aboriginal workers about Aboriginal families. They dismiss us, if we speak up we are shuffled out.”

“The Department is about their line, and their line is a about the White workers making all the calls. We, as Black workers are only in there to make up the numbers on the book, to cover their backs that there is equality, but there is not. Child Protection is racist, because it is all assimilation and doing as they say; you speak up as a worker and you’re out of line.”

“We have no choice but to tell our people to bow down, to keep quiet, to not piss off the White workers or they’ll be tarnished as ‘aggressive’.  That they will lose all hope of being with their children. And the Childrens Court doesn’t listen to families, only to the White workers and the DCP legal team who treat kids and families like they’re a dime a dozen.”

“Why are kids being removed at record rates? It’s not because of neglect, it’s not because of a lack of love, it’s because they are seen as not assimilating.”

But many First Peoples live culturally different lives to the rest of the Australian population. There are effectively two cultural systems on this continent – Western-based cultures and First Peoples-based cultures and they clash, that is where the majority Western-based cultures attempt to dominate them and demand assimilation.

Indigenous Social Justice Association President, Ray Jackson was himself a removed child during the Second World War. “My White father was killed on the Kokoda Trail and instead of my Aboriginal mother being supported with a war pension, her reward was to have me taken away from her.”

“The pain of being removed never leaves you, not for the child or the parent.”

Mr Jackson, like Ms Swan, argues that there are two different cultural systems on this continent that can coexist but that the Western-based cultural majority does not let this happen and instead pushes its assimilation.

“They push on us the white picket fence, well our culture does not care about a white picket fence. Child Protection workers do not look at whether there’s love in the family or respect for one another, or how to help a family that needs a helping hand.”

Child Protection workers come into homes and judge hygiene by how polished a home is, well it’s not our way to be slaves to how shiny a home should be.”

“They look at whether the children are wearing shoes, and if they’re not then they jot on their report sheets that they are not taken care of; well we may like to be barefoot as often as we can. But if they’ve got a problem with shoes, and we don’t have shoes, well don’t take away the children, just bloody well give them a pair of shoes,” said Mr Jackson.

University of Sydney Technology Jumbunna House senior researcher, Paddy Gibson, now living in the Northern Territory, is angry that more Aboriginal children have been removed from their families today than at any time in Australia’s history.

The Northern Territory Children Commissioner’s annual report showed that in the year to June 30, 2013, more than five times more Aboriginal children than non-Aboriginal children were removed from their families. Mr Gibson said that the predominant reason given for this was ‘neglect’, not physical or sexual abuse. But as a researcher myself, I have long argued that the ‘neglect’ has to be articulated. What do they mean by ‘neglect’?

Mr Gibson said that “too often we are seeing Aboriginal cultural practices themselves being classified as neglect.” In other words their Aboriginality is being held against them, their historical and cultural identities are liabilities.

Mr Gibson said that it costs up to $300 per night to keep a single child in care but that this is misspending when funds could have been diverted to families to relieve impoverishment.

Northern Territorian Elder Barbara Shaw said, “There are strong Aboriginal people in all communities who badly need resources and support to help deal with the issues facing our families and to keep our kids safe in their culture.”

“We are all part of extended kinship networks. There is always somewhere they can turn without removing children, but resources and support need to be on the table.”

In the Northern Territory, 70 per cent of the children removed from their families are placed with non-Aboriginal families, usually hundreds of kilometres away, making it near impossible for reunification. And there are those who have said that many of these children are being taken by families who they themselves do it for the quid on offer, and for the effective indenture of the children as domestics. These claims need to be investigated.

“People need to come forward and tell their stories, so australia at large can feel the effect of what is happening to the families that are being destroyed, the families that are disempowered. I urge everyone to come forward despite that they may feel they will be threatened further by the Department,” said Gunnedah Grandmother, Auntie Hazel Collins.

Audio news with Auntie Hazel Collins here:

More audio news with Auntie Hazel Collins here:

Some believe that a class action by thousands of families will be the only way forward, to shift our not so bright parliamentarians into action, to put in place legislation that restricts the Child Protection agencies from ripping children from their families other than for reasons of obvious physical violence and life-threatening neglect, not because of hearsay, or because parents were angry when confronted by Child Protection – not because of non-compliance, and not because they do not wear shoes. Poverty must never be used to condemn families as criminals nor should the rejection of a Western-based culture be judged as a crime.

The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuses by Churches and Orphanages is dealing with less victims than would a Royal Commission into Child Protection – which would be dealing with nearly 100,000 victims since 1930 to today, children ruthlessly stolen from their parents, many from the delivery table of hospital birth rooms. More children have been removed in the last year than there are victims before the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuses. The trauma of the Sexual Abuses victims is heart-wrenching and for far too many irreparable. Imagine then the numbers of victims, the children removed from families, today, the trauma, the multiple trauma, the irreparable damage. Who is responsible? The Australian Government is – and they should be indicted. But if the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuses is anything to go by, an effectively impotent exercise, then there is no light in sight at the end of the tunnel for the victims of this generation of stealing.

On Sorry Day, many gathered around the nation to protest and call for an end to the stealing of children. In Brisbane, the Department of Child Protection closed its offices for the day because of the protest on its steps. In Sydney, the Department of Families and Communities kept its workers inside, not a whimper as the rally lasted more than two hours on its steps. In the capital of Australia’s backwater of racism, Perth, a protest took place outside the Department of Child Protection. A delegation from the rally met with the Department of Child Protection. Police were called in when the protesters ceremonially danced out the front – unbelievably police arrested three of the protesters, who included organisers of the rally, Vanessa Culbong and Len Culbong. How sickening to arrest people calling for an end to child removals. The police did not have to do this, but they did. It does not wash that “I was only doing my job.”

The racism that is Australian born and bred cannot be allowed to continue – a racism that now sees one in every two Aboriginal children in Queensland known to the Department of Child Protection. More Queensland Aboriginal children are in the custody of the State today than were removed between 1908 to 1971.

One protester said, “My grandmother and her sisters were taken in the 1930s, her daughter, my mother was taken, then they took me from my mum, now they have taken my children. I never did anything wrong. I love my children. They screamed when they took them.”

Video of the rally and the arrests of Len and Vanessa Culbong

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Arizona CPS Exposed discusses the CARE Team, will Arizona make CPS better or worse?

We are continuing our discuss on the CARE Team’s recommendation and the need for our audience to take action now.

Gov. Jan Brewer called the special session specifically to address the problems with CPS. It will start on Tuesday.

Our voices must be heard!

Recap of where we are today

We got involved in CPS reforms when 9 of our grandchildren were taken by CPS. Over the 14 ½ months that it took to get the family fully restored we observed and took notes of the problems and issues we experienced within the CPS system. We decided not to become victims of the system and instead chose to take action to help families when they become involved with CPS. We hope we can help families avoid a CPS encounter and know actions to take from the beginning if CPS comes knocking on their door.

The current state of Arizona’s CPS system stems from the over 6,500 uninvestigated CPS calls that hit media attention. The governor put together a task force to investigation the situation. This was the CARE team, which stands for Child Advocate Response Examination.

The CARE Team solicited input from community organizations and 1,700 CPS employees. From this input the team has made recommendations to the governor to reform CPS. Some of the people Arizona Family Rights Project is hearing from today have become victims once again because of this problem.

The Attorney General’s office believes it is their duty to defend the CPS position in removing the children from the family. It doesn’t seem to matter if the allegations are true or false. The Attorney General’s office is only there to support the government agencies and no longer supports the people.

The legislature unanimously passed SB1386 for an independent review of CPS at a cost of $250,000 just before they adjourned. Gov Brewer vetoed the bill on April 30th. At the end of the session this year the reforms to CPS were not addressed.

Gov Brewer called this special session, which begins tomorrow, May 27th, to address CPS reforms. This means that all legislators are called back into session. Since the session does not start until tomorrow there is nothing on the legislative calendar at this time. Once they are officially back in session the committees and sessions should be posted on the legislative calendar, which can be found on azleg.gov under Calendar/News.

On Saturday we covered recommendations such as:

  • Hire more staff to reduce the overwhelming workload the Case Workers carry (include regional boundaries as criteria).
  • Raise salaries to market levels
  • Modernize technology

You can read about these and other issues in our article posted on Saturday’s radio show.

But the one recommendation we did not cover, which we believe is also important is community involvement and prevention. The committee recommended:

Community Contacts and Partnerships

While this sounds great and is needed the state has to be sure this doesn’t just create another mechanism to fuel the kidnapping for profit scheme. How many for-profit businesses benefit from the removal of children from the family?

A number of people recommended certain programs – all with nice sounding names. But dig in to what they do and I found a number of them were actually adoption focused agencies!

Others commented on providing services to families to prevent them from getting involved with CPS. Some even recommended providing parenting classes in school. While I agree with providing services to help those in need, another government controlled class to deal with social issues provided by public schools is not the answer! Many of the issues parents face with CPS is not because they aren’t parenting correctly, it’s because they aren’t parenting in the ways the government believes they should.

The issue I have seen is one that was also reported; the lack of a centralized database of agencies that can provide services. But we have to be careful because once the agency gets government money then government wants to control the discussion. That is when we ran into agencies that stated “no CPS bashing allowed.” Often times that is just what the families wanted and needed – an open discussion on the frustrations in dealing with CPS. But because of government funding free speech was being prohibited.

You also have to keep in mind that making a referral for services does not necessarily result in services being provided. So if community resources and partnerships are part of the reform, safeguards need to be in place to ensure services are actually provided. This cannot result in simply the CPS case worker making a referral to a community agency and then checking off the box that services are complete.

We know from past experience that these community agencies do not follow through with the referrals and never provide any services. Some of these agencies are just as corrupt or inept as CPS. In our own situation an agency worker lied to us and her supervisor about trying to make contact with the family, she claimed she did but had not (her number never showed up on our caller ID either). Then later she closed the case without anyone’s knowledge and claimed she had attempted to contact the family as well as sent a letter regarding the case. She did known of those things.

So while community resources and partnerships can provide a much needed service, they too must have clear expectations and the means to be held accountable when they fail to follow through with their obligations.

Further, there are already waiting lists to obtain services. Unless there are more agencies available for services reaching out to the community that doesn’t have the resources isn’t going to solve the problem.

  • We could not find parenting classes readily in the community. Most of those listed no longer provided the classes.
  • When the referral was made for a mentor for our grandson it never materialized. Seven months into the case and he still did not have a mentor. The resources just weren’t available.
  • When referrals were made for high needs case managers and behavioral health services we found the waiting lists were 3 months or longer. These are children that are at the most risk, often suicidal, yet once the referral was made it would take 3 months or more just to get the process started!

All of these services are provided by community resources yet every one of them failed.

Comments for community partnerships, prevention and support programs included:

  • Reinvest in prevention and community support, so fewer families ever reach the breaking point.
  • Work towards realigning state funds to support programming such as intensive in-home services rather than foster care.
  • The foster parent community wants addressed the fact that there are 40% more kids in care and that they languish longer, we are spending so much money to put kids in group homes – FUND PREVENTION.
  • CPS must become more pro-active at keeping children in their homes by (1) offering intensive in home services (2) focus on Family Preservation.

We agree that in-home services would be beneficial to families, especially when they keep the children in the family rather than removing them and placing them in foster care. We just need to be sure that those community services are available and provide programs necessary for family preservation and that they too can be held accountable.

CPS workers want more money and bonuses. What if their bonuses were based on the number of cases that resulted in successful reunification for the family and an additional bonus if the family stayed CPS call free for a period of years afterward. What if the goal of the agency was to truly work with families to prevent problems, resolve issues before the situation became abusive, and when it really becomes necessary to remove the children to work with the families to be successful in the reunification process and make the changes to be stronger families while helping them overcome the problems or circumstances that brought them to CPS’s attention in the first place.

What should our listeners do?

Ask for the independent review of CPS. While the governor claims they reached out to different groups, the voices of the parents and families affected by CPS were not heard. If the state wants to make real reforms they MUST listen to those people who have had to endure the abuse FROM CPS!

Is it really that much to ask of our legislators to spend even just a day listening to the testimony of the families experiences and what recommendations they would have in reforming the system?

Then ask a question about how the new legislation is going to accomplish a specific goal or ensure certain safeguards. You can base this on your own case, if you have one. What one thing really stuck out that caused your case to end up in the removal of your children, to end up with reunification delayed, or even what ended up in a severance and adoption outcome?

We have several questions at the end of this article if you can’t think of one. This may help you get started. Or just ask one of ours.

Action Steps to Take:

  1. Read our proposal and recommendations on the issues we experienced or observed. This will get you informed on the problems with CPS from the family side.

    You may also want to read the CARE Team Report and the CARE Team Summary of Comments.

    Read the article on the Saturday, May 24th’s show.

    Watch the Uncle Tom Horne’s Cabin video on YouTube.

  2. Sign up for ALIS to make your voice heard.

    This can be done on-line and you can track and submit comments on legislation right from your home computer. The link is posted on our website under the tab “Understanding the Issue,” under the topic “Arizona Legislation.”

    Then watch our site at azproject.org, our facebook page at facebook.com/arizonaproject, or the legislative session on azleg.gov for information and updates on how to take action.

  3. Call or email Sen. Andy Biggs and Rep. Andy Tobin asking for the independent review of CPS before making any changes and spending more money. Tell them they had it right when they passed SB1386. Ask them to over-ride the governor’s veto of this bill, or put the legislation back on the floor and pass it again.

    Sen. Andy Biggs: (602) 926-4372 email: abiggs@azleg.gov

    Rep. Andy Tobin: (602) 926-5172 email: atobin@azleg.gov

  4. When calling or emailing Sen. Andy Biggs and Rep. Andy Tobin also ask them one question on how the new legislation is going to help protect the children and support families. Use your own situation or you can use one of the questions we have posted below.

    If you are using your own situation include a BRIEF statement on how this issue affected your case and why this is an important reform.

  5. Call your senator and representatives and ask them to do the same. You have one senator and two representatives for your district. If you don’t know your district go to http://azredistricting.org/districtlocator/azleg.gov. Look for your Legislative District, which is your state representation.

    The phone numbers for all legislators are posted on our website under the tab “Understanding the Issues,” under the topic “Arizona State Reform,” titled “Arizona State Legislators.” Look for your Legislative District.

  6. Email Arizona Family Rights Project with who you have contacted and when. If you get a response you can include that in the email. Send emails to: familyrights@azproject.org.

We discussed this on Saturday but it is important. When we talk with legislators and candidates, the most common questions is “what three things can be done to improve the CPS system?”

Our recommendation would be:

  1. No anonymous reporting at any point, including the first call or report to CPS
  2. Oversight agency to ensure CPS policies and laws are being followed and a source for parents involved in CPS to file complaints that will be investigated by an independent agency, not referred back to CPS
  3. Raising the level of evidence required to remove children from the family, hearsay or just accusations from the CPS case worker or investigation cannot be the sole justification for removal

Next week’s show

Next week we will continue to discuss the CARE team’s reports and the concerns raised that weren’t addressed in the recommendations. We will also do an update on what is happening in the Arizona legislature.

Sources and Links:

Arizona State Legislators – contact list

ALIS Link – to sign up and become an active member of the legislative process from your home

Uncle Tom Horne’s Cabin

question_mark_naught101_0111[1]Questions to address with proposed legislation:

  • How will the new legislation hold CPS workers and the AAG’s office accountable to the people and families when the agency violates the law?
  • What safeguards are in the legislation to ensure CPS case workers and the AAG present true and accurate statements to the courts, and what penalties will there be in place when they violate that trust?
  • What reforms are being made to prevent CPS from removing children with no proof of abuse but only a “we think” or “we believe” accusation from a case worker, community social worker, or even medical professional?
  • What reforms are being proposed to help parents or families who may have been involved in drugs but have no other valid allegations against them? What protections are proposed to help mothers on prescription medication, including medical marijuana, not in violation of the law from having her children removed?
  • What proposals for reform are being made to ensure police investigations are completed in a timely manner and aren’t left open just to delay the case? Shouldn’t all children be interviewed prior to placement in foster care to ensure investigative integrity?
  • What safeguards are being added to ensure the child’s rights are protected? What protections are being implemented to prevent CPS from “holding the children hostage” in order to force disclosure before determining the direction of the case?
  • What reforms are being proposed to ensure the extended family is being considered for placement or as safety monitors first? What will be done to ensure case workers aren’t just throwing extended family to the wind in order to place the children in adoptable foster care?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure ICPC’s are filed? What tracking mechanisms are being implemented for family, attorney’s or even legislators the ability of tracking the process to ensure it is being accomplished?
  • When a child confesses their allegations are false, what in the legislation will ensure that not only the criminal charges are dropped but CPS drops their dependency also? What additional procedures are being proposed to make sure this false allegation does not remain on the parent’s record?
  • Is there anything in the legislation to mandate the removal of unsubstantiated calls against parents within a specified period of time (say 3-5 years) and to prevent unsubstantiated information from being used in court and against parents to justify the removal of the children?
  • Children aren’t always truthful. Teens today are using CPS as a means of retaliation against parents when the teen has been caught at doing something they know they shouldn’t. Are there any safeguards being proposed to check the validity of a teen’s call, especially when there is no physical or other proof of the allegations, other than the child’s statements? Could the child, especially teens, be required to give statements under a polygraph to determine the validity of their statements?
  • What safeguards are being proposed to give families the ability to file complaints against CPS for an independent review or audit of their case? What in the legislation would give families the ability to file a complaint that wouldn’t just end up back at CPS?
  • What audit process is being proposed to ensure calls aren’t neglected and the laws are being followed?
  • What recommendations and changes are being made to ensure CPS and the AAG aren’t rushing to severance and adoption before giving parents a chance?
  • What reforms are being made so parents are evaluated separately? What reforms are being proposed so the dependency and/or severance petitions are filed separately and determined independently of the other parent? (One parent might be guilty but the other parent isn’t even aware. Making them one case does not protect the rights of each independently.)
  • What recommendations are being made to require CPS actually listen to parents and family in the Team Decision Making meeting (TDM) and consider their recommendations?
  • Is there anything in the proposed legislation that requires all interviews to be video recorded and those recordings released to the parent’s attorney?
  • Is there anything in the proposed legislation to abolish anonymous complaints or reporting?
  • What changes are being recommended to permit parents the opportunity to get an independent psychological evaluation instead of only ones recommended by CPS to a biased provider?
  • What provisions are being made to ensure visitation takes place as court ordered and that any child not attending visitation must have a doctor’s note documenting the absence or a valid reason? What are the consequences when they don’t?
  • What changes are being made to ensure foster families comply with court orders, including visitations and permitting parents to attend the child’s medical appointments? If the foster family refuses, what steps are being made to remove the child from their home and revoke their foster license?
  • What safeguards are being implemented to ensure children aren’t placed in at risk homes or homes with communicable diseases that could be passed on to foster children? Are disclosure requirements being implemented to mandate foster families disclose health issues prior to licensing and to disclose after licensing if a medical issue arises? (Especially important for AIDS and MRSA diseases)
  • What changes to the legal system are being made to remove the 6-month limit on filing a lawsuit against the state or foster family when neglect, abuse or death occurs by their hand?
  • Are there any proposed changes to require the foster care review board to shorten the length of time required to meet when the case involves children 3 and under to ensure their case gets reviewed? (Baby cases are supposed to be completed in 6 months and if the foster care review board only meets after 6 months these cases are never heard by the foster care review board.)
  • What changes are being proposed to ensure the foster care review board actually meets every 6-months, especially in the first 6 months, after children are removed? What consequences will be imposed if they delay meeting until 7 or 8 months.?
  • What reforms are being made to the Young Adult Program/Independent Living to ensure it is being used for children that need it and not as a tool to bribe children in order to keep them in state custody? Are steps being taken to remove this option for children placed with family or kinship, which is a means to circumvent the foster care licensing process?
  • What bonus incentives are being offered to case workers for helping a family complete a successful reunification?
  • What protections are there to help families who have been through and completed a successful reunification to obtain quality therapy and behavioral health services without fear of being reported again for past incidents or actions? (Probation for juveniles permits them to “confess” their actions without being charged again, unless their action is after adjudication. Can something similar be implemented to help families process their own case?)
  • What changes are being made to remove the “except weekends and holidays” clauses from the requirements, especially on holding meetings and hearings at the beginning of the case? If children are abused daily and that doesn’t take a holiday, why should CPS?
  • What reforms are being proposed to ensure service providers actually provide the services contracted for and in a timely manner? What penalties are being imposed when they don’t?
  • What changes are being made to the transportation services that transport children to visitations and services to ensure they are reliable and on time? What safeguards are being proposed to ensure they are not violating personal information – such as when they take children from different families in the same vehicle and drop them off at the family home for visitation?
  • What is being recommended to ensure the CPS case managers provide accurate and up-to-date information to the courts and on parental progress reports to the court? What consequences will be implemented when they fail to do so?
  • What recommendations are being proposed to actually hold CPS case workers or the AAG in contempt of court for failure to follow the judge’s orders?
  • What process is being created so parents can report abuse in the foster homes without fear of retaliation and severance?
  • What procedures are being proposed to ensure CPS listens to the child? If the child states they feel safe and want to go home, what right does CPS have to keep the child from the parent/home in which they feel safe?
  • What changes are being proposed to ensure the parent has the right to interact with police and attorney when a child is arrested while in foster care? What safeguards are being put in place to ensure the state doesn’t represent all sides of the case? (Prosecutor, defense, and guardian of child)
  • What is being done to ensure CPS acts within the timeframes set by law? What penalties are being proposed when they fail to do so?
  • What protections are being implemented to ensure CPS isn’t severing the parental rights of a child and deporting the parent when they are in the country illegally?
  • What changes are being made to ensure services in the reunification process can take place concurrently? What is being done to prevent services or to withhold services contingent on a CPS case workers desires and not court orders? Can’t drug issues be address while also participating in therapy and even parenting classes?
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