When the state becomes parent - Child protection services agencies accused of abuse

 

When the state becomes parent
Child protection services agencies accused of abuse


By Mollie Martin
© 1999 WorldNetDaily.com

 

 

This article was previously published in WorldNetDaily.com, July 6, 1999.

 

 

Five-year-old Deborah Hasson was pulled out of her kindergarten class and
taken to the nurse's office. Her ears were bright red, and the child
constantly complained of an intense pain. The school, required by law to
report anything of this nature, called Child Protective Services in
Fromberg, Mont.

CPS immediately concluded that the child was being abused at home, and so
that same hour picked her up from school and arranged to place her into a
foster-care situation. Deborah's mother, Grace, was horrified upon hearing
this and immediately produced a doctor's report, which explained that
Deborah had an ear infection. CPS chose to ignore this information and
insisted that Deborah was being abused. That was the fall of 1992. The
incident launched a violent custody battle that lasted for two and a half
years.

In 1995, the very night Deborah came home, Grace, a single mother, was
awakened at 2 a.m. by a harsh rapping at the door. Through the window she
could see four police officers and a social worker. In a state of panic she
called her friend Betty for help.

When Betty arrived she found a hysterical Grace handcuffed downstairs with
a police officer, and the male social worker upstairs with the three
frantic, young girls. The social worker said nothing more than that he had
received an anonymous report of abuse. Grace was arrested and the children
were put into foster homes. It was to be another four and a half years of
bitter court battles before Grace would clear her name and regain custody
of her daughters.

Too outrageous to be true? According to Dr. Marc Einhorn, a forensic
psychologist in Atlanta, Ga., these types of cases are prevalent throughout
child protection agency suits across the country. Einhorn has been involved
in several hundred cases across five states.

Einhorn said that Child Protective Services started in 1974 with the best
of intentions. Back then the definition of child abuse was narrow --
consisting of what reasonable people thought of as abuse. Over time,
however, that definition has broadened to include anything and everything
you can imagine -- whatever the state deems appropriate.

Many states now have very broad definitions of abuse. For example Utah's is
simply "actual or non-accidental harm." This leaves grounds for the removal
of children up to the discretion of the social worker.

Einhorn recalls a case he worked on involving a family in Salt Lake City.
The family had four handicapped children, one being severely autistic. The
parents decided to apply for Social Security benefits for the autistic
child, and had him examined as a part of the standard application process.
The child protection agency of Utah got wind of the application and removed
all four children from their home. The grounds? The parents were exploiting
the handicapped children for money.

Matthew Hilton, the family's attorney commented, "It's not the happiest
area to deal with ... these are real fights, some are black and white, but
most are in the gray." The guidelines are very vague. Juvenile court has
its own set of rules and laws, which are very informal. A lot of
"protections" are put up around the children.

"The problem with the system is that Child Protective Services has quotas
to fill," Einhorn said. "If a certain number of children are not removed
from their homes each year, the agency will lose status and funding --
causing people to lose their jobs." He said that this causes children to be
removed on the flimsiest of terms.

Suzanne Shell, author of "Profane Justice" and president of the Family
Advocacy Center, affirms the idea of a quota. Shell said for the agency to
receive the amount of money it does, each social worker must complete a
certain number of cases. Therefore, social workers are pushed to remove
children from their homes on very questionable grounds. For example, Shell
cited several instances where children are removed for "safety reasons" --
the house was not clean, or instances of "neglect" because there was not
enough food in the refrigerator. The reports neglected to show that it was
spring cleaning day or it was the end of the month when the food supply was
low.

In response to the question of a quota, Patricia Montoya, commissioner for
Children, Youth and Families in Washington, D.C., said that "child
protective services are the responsibility of the state. Funding is
provided by the federal government ... but the system itself is designed
and operated by the states." She went on to say "the quota is not the goal
-- the goal of CPS is to protect the child, make sure they are safe, and
help provide intervention. That's what the laws that are in place are all
about."

Dianne Warner-Kearney, a Utah child protection specialist, says, "A quota
for children to be removed from their parents into foster care is absurd.
In fact, if at a multidisciplinary staffing which occurs within 24 hours
after the child is removed from the parents, should it be determined at
that point that there were no legal grounds for removal, the child would be
returned immediately."

Einhorn recalled many social workers he worked with in the past who left
CPS in sheer disgust of the corruption of the system. According to the
caseworkers, executives would "sit back and lick their chops" while
deciding which family to harass next. One caseworker quit after working
with the agency for 12 years. He said 95 percent of the children should
never have been removed from their homes.

Many of these "atrocities" are done in the name of "the best interests of
the child," a term abundant throughout several states' CPS websites.
Einhorn said that ironically the agencies are seriously disturbing and
frightening the very children whose interests they are trying to protect.

Shell is very skeptical of whether the state should be given the benefit of
the doubt when the child's well being is at stake. She says that social
workers would not be willing to do their job without pay or give their
lives for the children, whereas parents would -- "So, who has the child's
best interests in mind?"

According to the FAC web site, "Children in foster care numbered more than
520,000 in March 1998, up from 340,000 in 1988." Montoya accounts for the
increase in foster care as "a combination of different things ... an
increase in child abuse and neglect due to the added stresses of the
changing world we're in -- with better reporting systems we've brought the
issue to a higher limelight: kids are often self-reporting if they are
being abused or neglected at home ... family and neighbors have also
started reporting. ..."

Pamela and Wilbur Gaston, of Mount Angel, Ore., have been fighting the
courts for nearly four years in an effort to regain custody of their
daughter, Melissa. Melissa was taken at the age of five on the false report
that her 72-year-old father had inappropriately "touched" her. The Gastons,
who have meticulously documented evidence refuting the charges, are
outraged at the lack of due process in the justice system. At a hearing in
May 1998, the Gastons claim that the presiding judge stated twice on the
record that "I will not allow you to make an offer of proof because facts
are not an issue."

Einhorn commented that in CPS cases, the accused are most often guilty
until proven innocent. "There is a serious accountability problem in the
Child Protective Services ... CPS answers to no one."

According to a statement by the office of Oregon Attorney General Hardy
Meyers, "claims against defendant judges, district attorneys and assistant
attorney generals are barred by judicial and prosecutorial immunity ...
this immunity applies even when a judge is accused of acting maliciously
and corruptly."

"Parents have no legal right to stand in the court for the protection of
their children when the children are being knowingly abused in state
custody, even though their parental rights have not been terminated,"
Gaston claims.

Betty Asplin of Laurel, Mont., who was the eyewitness in the Hasson case,
counsels people in these types of situations. "This is allowed to go on
because people don't know their rights, if they understood the law this
would be over, it wouldn't happen ... people see the law at their door and
they assume they have to abide by whatever the officer says -- but they
don't."

"This is a child stealing business," Asplin told WorldNetDaily. "They don't
keep families together, they pull them apart."

The State replacing parents in Sweden and North Carolina

How to protect your family from social workers

The attitude of social professions involved in the child protection sector

Smoke without fire

Demand for compensation for the victims of care orders

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