Friday, May 23, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and case plans

According to the following AP Texas News article, the case plans for the FLDS families do not outline a specific allegation of abuse involving a particular child but only repeats broad accusations made previously of the entire sect.

FLDS spokesman Rod Parker says the Child Protective Services plans listing what the parents must do to get their children returned are identical except for the case number.

"CPS is still trying to treat them as a group," said Parker. "They really aren't focused on the individual needs."

CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner acknowledged the state is using a "template" for the plans but insists they'll be individualized in coming weeks.

"The issues in these plans are very similar which is why we were able to use a template as a starting point," she said.

In a sample provided to The Associated Press, the plan does not outline a specific allegation of abuse involving a particular child and only repeats broad accusations made previously of the entire sect.

The template calls for parents to do things like "establish safe living arrangements" and "follow the recommendations of professionals who will be working with you to develop the skills necessary to work with your child."

This Salt Lake Tribune article reveals:

The plans lay out a year-long process for being reunited with their children, identifying dozens of issues the parents must address. The plans warn that failure to cooperate could result in their children being placed in permanent state custody or put up for adoption.

Well, I have obtained a copy of the 'plan' and have conducted an analysis on it based on the existing law governing case plans. The basic plan with pop- up window comments can be downloaded here
and another variation with indexed comments (a printable version) can be downloaded here.

After looking at the plan, it was shocking to see what wholesale violations were being perpetrated upon the parent and children, and that the lawyers for both the parents and the children had no clue --NO CLUE -- how to fight these lazy, incompetent excuse for services offered by CPS.

They were arguing that the plans were vague. How stupid is that? If you don't understand an element, call the caseworker and get more detail. sheesh. An explanation of some appropriate challenges to a case plan are included in my analysis of the case plans. Come on- you legal professionals. . .make the proper arguments in court to preserve the rights of your clients and to make the record for appeal.

Case planning requires training, creativity, a clear definition of the issues to be corrected, and an understanding of the family for whom the plan is created. There are a plethora of resources which give guidance on how to prepare an appropriate case plan. Why is it critical to be appropriate? Because,while the state can Terminate Parental Rights if the parents fail to comply with the plan, the state cannot Terminate Parental Rights if the case plan inappropriate. Naturally, it falls to the parent and child's attorney to prove the case plan was inappropriate, because CPS is never going to admit they created an inappropriate case plan. That challenge must be done on the record at the time of the dispositional hearing when the case plan is presented to the court or immediately when anything in the case plan becomes inappropriate or proves to be ineffective . Based on what I've seen across the country, most case plans are inappropriate and can be effectively challenged.

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Leave the emotions, propaganda and rhetoric at the door. This blogger is only interested in intelligent, logical, well-thought out, factually based comments which are on-topic, indicating the writer has an open mind and a mature ability to reason.