Sunday, May 18, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and Business as Usual

At the end of this blog, I have included links to letters written by staff members from Hill Country Community Mental Health who observed CPS and the FLDS mothers during their incarceration immediately after the children were seized from YFZ ranch. These are mental health professionals, presumably objective expert observers.

The conduct of CPS reported in these letter does not surprise me. I have seen this same abuse committed by CPS caseworkers in every state and every county of this country since I began my advocacy for family rights in 1991. And I have seen state governors stand behind these abuses the same as Texas Governor Rick Perry does.

I have spoken and written about the way CPS handles cases for years, only to have my outcry fall on deaf public ears. "You must be exaggerating," people say. "They can't do that in America," people pontificate. "CPS workers are professionals, the parents deserve it," the more arrogance and pious justify. "They never take kids who aren't abused," is the mantra.

Because the public was in such abject denial about CPS abuses, the child abuse industry has become a monster which nobody can control. CPS has institutionalized the dehumanization process to a fine art. Let us not forget that each time a child is removed from his parents, the psychological effects suffered by the affected family members is identical to a kidnapping. It doesn't matter that it is our benevolent government doing the kidnapping. All that matters is that for all intents and purposes, it is a cruel and inhuman kidnapping. CPS exploits that terror quite effectively to control the parents and the children. Yes, the children are held hostage to CPS ransom demands.

CPS workers are the worst batterers I have ever seen. Texas CPS claims the FLDS men are too controlling and abusive, yet CPS employees exactly the same tactics they condemn so loudly against their clients. They use force of law and threats of the most appalling terror to a parent--the loss of a child. If the parents question anything, they are threatened with termination of parental rights, negative reports to the court and impossible case plans. The are belittled, their rights to control their children's education, medical care, religious training and more are stripped from them because they are unfit. Only if they admit they are unfit does CPS reward them with the return of their children. I've been battered by men, and by CPS, and CPS is the more brutal in my experience. There is no provision that CPS ever makes a mistake.

Dehumanizing conduct starts with a lack of basic respect, ". . .the women and children were being treated discourteously and disrespectfully at best, with some observations of verbal abuse and emotional threats." Clients are accused of lying. Their parenting is judged and condemned based on false assumptions and lies. They make parents wait for them, and punish the parents if they are five minutes late for a visitation. They allow fosters to expose their children to foods, music, anything that violates the culture or family practices. The parents are marginalized and the children treated as case folders with no interest in their individual needs or strengths.

Dignity is callously stripped from the "clients" of CPS, "It was frightening to watch women and children being herded and separated like cattle with no regard for human rights or the needs of the group or individuals." They are treated as objects and subjected to restrictions which are not intended to recognize their right to self-determination or dignity, but to serve the convenience of CPS and designed to elicit as much information about the clients as possible. This information is taken out of context and compiled with a bias against the family and parents. Parents are denied the right to document interactions with their children, yet CPS has unlimited access to taint the child's statements. They have no say in their case planning, and can be accused of failing any element at any CPS worker whim.

Parents and children are isolated from their support networks, families, advocates. They are punished if they trust anyone except CPS or if they question CPS. They are punished if they insist they did nothing wrong, if they fail to kiss the CPS ass correctly and gratefully.

The degradation continues with callous invasions into the privacy and dignity of the client, such as not allowing FLDS mothers privacy for sleeping, or changing clothing or taking showers. This is to be expected in prison environment, not in a child protection case. CPS spin doctored this by calling the mothers "guests," subject to eviction for any pretended violation. Men were allowed to watch the mothers, day and night. Their sleep was rudely interrupted by workers with flashlights.

Invasion of privacy is part of the assessment process by CPS, where they pry into the private family practices, whether or not they have anything to do with child rearing practices. Failure to comply brings out threats and emotional abuse, intended to coerce cooperation that they cannot achieve by less insulting methods. They cannot gain the client's trust because--duh--they lie about the client and to the client.

Yes, Virginia, they can and DO do that in America, to 3 million families a year. And they--CPS--do it in the most demeaning, degrading, dehumanizing manner they know how. Some of the more common complaints reported by the mental health professionals during their brief exposure to business a usual are listed along with my discussion on the facts of CPS intervention nationwide.
  1. CPS lies. CPS lied to these professionals about the mother's and children's demeanors, beliefs, level of threat or danger presented by the parents, and more. "By day three, it became obvious that both the mothers and the mental health workers were being lied to and/or ignored." In my CLE classes I teach, "He who controls the flow of information controls the outcome of the case." By lying, CPS controls the flow of information, covers up their own wrongdoing, or puts their thumb on the scale of justice for the grand altruistic goal--to WIN the case. FACT: They lie
    1. To the parents: The news is full of accounts where the mothers were promised they would not be separated from their children. CPS lied to the parents to get their involuntary cooperation for their fishing expeditions against the parents. They lied about what they were permitted to do to the parents and children. Consequently they did not earn the trust of the parents and children, or the public. "The most difficult aspect of the entire experience was the apparent lies being told to the mothers. I myself felt the inconsistency in information when we had been told that Special Needs children were to be allowed to stay with their mothers and, yet, by that afternoon, that was no longer the case."
    2. About the parents. CPS falsley claimed that the parents allegedly abused children, or allowed abuse. This claim was not demonstrated in the shelter nor observed by any witness who made statements like, "The mothers were patient, attentive, and sweet with their children, working within the crowded and difficult environments to keep some control over the behavior or their children." AND "The children were-sweet and well mannered . . . They obeyed their mothers and appeared to be healthy and well nourished." Here's a nasty lie: "At one point I headed toward the public restroom and was immediately grabbed by the arm by a CPS worker who told me to use the port·a·potties outside the rock wall, "'because we don't know what )kind of diseases these people might have and we don't want to catch anything from them". I was later told that it had been determined that STDs were rampant among the women because of their promiscuous lifestyle."
  2. CPS commits child abuse and neglect in the name of protecting children. For example: The YFZ children were taken because CPS claimed the mothers "fail to protect" them from abuse. But, in these letters we see ample evidence of the mothers attempting to protect the children from CPS sponsored neglect and abuse. I will cite the kinds of abuse/neglect claims used by CPS to seize children around the country:
    1. Medical neglect: "At one time a mother told me she wished she had some peppermint or chamomile tea to give to her toddler daughter- for her runny nose. I approached the shelter supervisor with the request. Later his supervisor came to me and told me that herbal teas were medication and could only bc approved by a physician. The request was denied."
    2. Improper and unhealthy diet (and medical neglect): The mothers complained about the food and snacks provided for them. "One mother told me that her children were accustomed to nuts and fruits for snacks, not commercial fried pies. Chicken was served almost every meal with little or no seasoning and no flavor. Vegetables were scarce and everything was highly processed - very different from the women and children's typical diet of homegrown organic and unprocessed foods. Very quickly, many of the children developed diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems."
    3. Improper/inadequate Housing (and medical neglect): "The cots were close, allowing infections to spread rapidly. Quickly many children became sick with upper respiratory illnesses." AND . . .Showers were few in number," and the mothers couldn't shower unless supervised. AND "The boys and women and girls had to share a bathroom and there were no showers available for several days."
    4. Improper beds, no bedding, no clean clothes (No kidding, folks, they take kids if mom is washing their sheets on the day they invade the house): "I was told that on one night the laundry failed to return the washed sheets and blankets to one of the barracks, and the group had to sleep on bare cots on a very cool evening." AND ." . .dirty laundry was a constant problem, and again the facilities were meager."
    5. Dirty house: "One broom. one mop, and one bucket were finally provided and were shared by neighboring shelters", when the mothers requested cleaning supplies.
    6. Emotional abuse of the children: "On the last day at the coliseum (April 24), the mothers had been removed with the exception of those who were minors or suspected of being minors. The children had cried bitterly on the removal of the mothers, and they were now with strangers. The noise level went up several decibels as crying and running and screaming took over. Children were grabbing toys from others and using the toys as play weapons against each other and their "captors." In my estimation they were acting out their fear and anger. One
      little boy of about four was frantically running from the CPS workers, avoiding capture in every way he could. Once caught, I held him firmly in my arms while he wept that he didn't want them to take his mother." AND "I also know the research on long term cooscquences of removing children from loving
      parents. I do believe that the emotional abuse of all460+ children must be weighed in the equation."
      AND "Crying, begging children were ripped away from their devastated mothers and the mothers were put on buses to either return to the ranch or to go to shelters."
    7. Indadequate supervision and care: "A baby was left in a stroller without food and water for 24 hours and ended up in the hospital. A 4 year old boy was so terrified that he snuck away and hid and was only found after the coliseum had been emptied the next day."
I can't go on any more. I can only say I have seen this scenario acted out all over the country for years. I knew this would happen and I know how to respond to it. It breaks my heart to see these parents and children manipulated, abused and controlled by CPS in the name of child protection. All because America believed the CPS propaganda machine about child abuse.

Here are links to letters written by staff members from the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center, which provided assistance to FLDS women and children in San Angelo shelters in April. They are critical of conditions in the shelters and how child welfare workers treated the women and children.
  • "This was a travesty."
  • "This situation was a tragedy."
  • "It was heartwrenching."
  • "Our roles bacame... confidant and a broker."
  • "That is a very good question."
  • "Ashamed of being a Texan."
  • "I often felt helpless."
  • "Vast amounts of hypocrisy."
  • "Even to be an observer was difficult."
  • "This incident... is not what America or Texas stands for."
  • "Even the simplest request was discounted."
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