Friday, December 16, 2011

Teaching Children to Protect Themselves and Their Family

Readers can now get Knowing My Rules: Who Do I Trust for Nook and Kindle

This book teaches children how to recognize when it is unsafe to answer questions by police, caseworkers or school personnel, and what to do when faced with unsafe questioning.

We are living in an age where our children have become extremely vulnerable to influences that are destructive to the family unit. It is no secret that children are easily manipulated and even coerced into making false disclosures during child abuse investigations. The children are not to blame for this. The professionals charged with protecting America’s children have an extensive history of validating accusations with a blatant disregard for the truth and at the expense of the best interests of the child. The only way to protect your children is to teach them how to protect themselves when you are not present.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How Not to Spank Your Child. . . Unless You're a Judge?

The video of a judge allegedly beating his sixteen year old daughter in 2004 has gone viral, and has even garnered the attention of mainstream media.

The video was secretly recorded by the daughter and provides viewers with a sensational display. But what does it really represent? An abusive father? Perhaps. Permit me to draw some parallels from my extensive child welfare case files.

I'll start with my own case in 1991. My thirteen year-old son had willfully disobeyed an instruction to perform a certain, benign task. . . making his lunch for school. I discovered it the next morning just before he left for school. He wanted to partake of the school's hot lunch, again, which I would have to pay for. The school refused to let him go hungry as a consequence of not bringing his lunch. I couldn't afford the school lunches. He was manipulating the school to undermine my rules. When confronted with his disobedience, he yelled back. This defiance earned him eight, measured and deliberate swats.

He was told at the outset he would get eight swats. He bent over the bed as instructed. He didn't move, or cry or scream during the spanking. My husband was calm, not angry, and gave the swats without excess force and without striking any other part of the body except the boy's buttocks. Then my son went and made his lunch.

Then he told his counselor at school my husband had beaten him. My son was placed in foster care for the weekend. We were investigated by the child welfare agency for child abuse. They harassed me and repeatedly tried to impose services--despite their admission that I was a good parent--but never filed a dependency complaint. My husband was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. He went to trial(!!) and was acquitted.

How is it that a benign spanking that was not administered in anger, that caused no bruising, could be so harshly prosecuted?

Based on my observations, it has a lot to do with my husband and I not being a judge, or a caseworker, or a cop, or an elected official. . . a member of that privileged class that is such a (wink, wink) secret.

I previously posted about a Wisconsin mother who was charged with a felony for spanking her child with her hand and was charged with felony child abuse. Her case involves prosecutorial misconduct and more. . .because, like me, she isn't a member of the unspoken privileged class in this country.

Based on the reaction of law enforcement and child welfare agencies, the judge/father's spanking would be considered abuse. This is an illustration of the double standard that is institutionalized in this country.

This judge, according to reports, sits in judgement on other parents's parenting practices. Has he ever exercised his discretion to determine that a parent who spanked their child less vigorously than he repeatedly spanked his child was abusive? I sure would like to know.

Let's examine what this video and the news reports reveal: Surprise! This child is not the innocent victim she wants the world to believe.

The child was willfully disobedient. Repeatedly. She remains unrepentant for her disobedience, in fact, is boldly defiant to this day that her wrongdoing contributed in any way to the conduct she complains of. She has been empowered by the child welfare system and society to refuse to correct her disobedience just because daddy was too harsh with her. Her disobedience and unrepentance is, therefore, justified.

But was the spanking really that harsh? She wriggled and screamed during the swats, but the instant daddy was gone, she barely even sniffled and was able to move about without any indication that she was suffering any pain. I am not convinced she was suffering any severe pain. Still, one must concede that the intention of a spanking is to inflict pain, pain being a proven motivator to refrain from the conduct that caused the pain.

But Judge Daddy was wrong, too. Whacking away at whatever part of his child's body he could reach with the belt while she dodges the swats indicates his rage and a desire for retribution, not correction. It places his child at increased risk for injury, and injury is not the proper objective for a spanking. I know of one instance where a boy was dodging his dad's belt and the belt struck him in they eye, costing him his sight. Kids dodging spankings is dangerous for them.

The girl was wrong not to bend over the bed as instructed and take the punishment that her father was entitled to administer, regardless of whether or not she agreed with it. Kids don't get to tell mommy and daddy they can't correct them. Hillary's refusal to comply is another layer of willful disobedience by this (gag) poor little girl. She intended to push Judge Daddy's buttons and make him escalate.  Evidently, it worked.

Judge Daddy screaming threats and insults also serves more to feed his own rage than correct his child. This wasn't done out of loving concern to insure she grew up with the desired values and respect for authority.

Now, watch the video to see if you really missed the points I raised.

If there were bruises, they could, unless one is a judge, satisfy an element for criminal child abuse, but any statute of limitations has to have run out. And, if one were to apply the rationales espoused by the child welfare system, if a man beats his kid, he beats his wife and he is a violent offender.

I do agree with the daughter, that this is a shocking display of lack of control by the judge when provoked by a mere child, giving rise to legitimate concerns about his ability to set aside his emotions and be fair and impartial on he bench. This judge was caught on tape, being exactly who he really is, unaware that he was playing to the world. But I must also concede that the people you love the most can make you far more angry than anyone else can.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that the girl was also caught on tape. She was exposed to the astute observer for being the nasty brat she was, for the world to see. She knew she was being taped, and played to camera to create outrage and gain sympathy. The real offense, in my mind, is that she didn't think she was doing anything wrong when she defied her father's instructions.

Think of how much more sympathetically it could have played if she had meekly assumed the position across the bed and taken the swats obediently. Oh, I see, that would not have enraged Judge Daddy into a whipping frenzy like her outright and defiant disobedience did.

And she continues her masterful manipulation of the rest of the world. She has convinced the world she is the innocent victim. She's not innocent. If you think she is innocent, you're an idiot and you deserve several kids just like her.

And if she's a victim, so is her father. She's victimizing him for provoking him into being an imperfect parent and setting him up for public humiliation. Her premeditated public exposure is no less vicious than his spontaneous spanking. She has personally exposed him to danger. He has received threats against his life. This has happened to me, too, because of a news story. It is patently irresponsible to maliciously expose anyone, much less a family member, to suffer threats against their life and safety from the the increasing unstable members of the public who cannot moderate their own emotional responses, and feel a sense of entitlement to take out their anger on the target of their outrage.

 She was, and is, a self-absorbed brat who still cares for nothing but herself. Otherwise, why would she need to publicly humiliate her father seven years after the fact and be a public victim?

They are both in denial about any wrongdoing on their own part. They are both immature children unworthy of respect.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adopted Teens Beaten, Starved, and the Court Knew

One feature of courts taking jurisdiction over children has always shocked me. How many times judges, Guardians ad litem and child welfare professionals know the child is being abuse or neglected, and turns a blind eye, or even in some misplaced desire to prove the allegations wrong so that their personal agendas are protected, places the child with the abuser.

Okay, justice is supposed to be blind, but when the scales of justice are tipped by the weight of evidence, it is not justified to put your thumb on the other side and call the scales balanced.

Here is a story of teenage twins who had years of reports about their adoptive parents beating, abusing and starving them, and the professionals and the judge saw fit to place the children with the abusers. Just look at them in this Facebook photo, they look so nice, so loving. They MUST be good parents. Yeah, right.

After twenty years of observations into the child welfare system, this outrageous practice, this lack of discernment, this shocking blindness to facts still renders me speechless.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Babies Stolen and Sold for Adoption

A BBC documentary has exposed a baby trafficking ring in Spain, perpetrated by the Catholic church.

A similar child trafficking ring was exposed in Kansas recently. Children were taken by SRS (Social and Rehabilitative Services) from parents at birth. These were parents who had older children taken, allowing the agency to seize subsequent children as they were born. However, the removal of the infant was not included in the official records of the agency.

The birth certificates of the stolen newborns were filled in with the names of the adoptive parents, and the parents were told the infant either died, or parental rights were terminated. Parents report not having the benefit of court hearings. One mother reportedly had several children taken by this method.

The ignorance of the parents was exploited by unscrupulous professionals masquerading as state action, and newborns were redistributed without benefit of judicial review.

Funny how this never got any widespread media coverage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Foster children killed in car crash, not wearing seatbelts

Austyn Ackinson, 11; Tony Mitchell, 4; Tayla Mitchell, 10; Andy Dawson, 13; and Jeremy Franks, 17 were children in the home of Howard Mitchell in Kit Carson, Colorado. Three were foster children. Two were legal orphans that were adopted by Mitchell.
Now, they are dead. The Denver Post reports:
Howard Mitchell loaded 12 children into his van Thursday morning, preparing for the drive he made twice each weekday — three times during football season — from Kit Carson to the children's school in Eads.
Mitchell and five children, ranging in age from 4 to 17, were killed when the 15-passenger van he was driving slammed into the back of a semitrailer truck on U.S. 287 about 2 miles south of Kit Carson.
According to the article, the children were not wearing seat belts or in car seats. The father, who was the driver, was a sheriff's deputy. 

There is no mention in the article about the loss suffered by the parents of the killed children. Like they don't even count? Like they were bad parents and they deserved to lose their children?

As in any state, it is state law that children are in car seats or seat belts. But many parents across the country complain that the caseworker transports their children without putting the little ones in car seats and without buckling up the older ones. It enrages them that their children are removed for a dirty house, but that the state employees and service providers can place their children in danger by transporting them without restraining them. 

It makes one wonder why the state employees and service providers are not held to the same standard of care as the parents are.

This is not the first time that foster children have been killed during transport and not have been restrained. It is a common practice in child welfare agencies nationwide. 

This family was licensed to have eleven children, well above the number usually permitted to foster caregivers. One can conclude that this status was an indicator that they were excellent care givers, better than most parents and caregivers.

If this is an example of the best of foster caregivers in Colorado, we should be concerned. These caregivers evidently didn't care about other people's children enough to insure their safety in the car. 

There is no excuse for a sheriff's deputy transporting anyone's children without proper restraints. There is no excuse for a foster caregiver transporting children without proper restraints. 

There is no excuse. 

More news stories.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How it's done in Fremont County, Colorado

A reader posted a comment to my story about Aging Out in Foster Care. I didn't approve it for publication because it contained her phone number. Having been the victim of phone terrorism by abusive, opinionated jerks who made threats of violence and death against me and my family, I cannot allow this publication to expose anyone to potential abuse or threats. However, I take this opportunity to publish her comments as an illustration of how helpless family members are when confronted with a child welfare system:
Who is a good attorney in fremont county colorado that will fight the DHS to save my nephew. I tried to call around and find someone and no one wants to fight the welfare they say what ever the welfare wants to do they will do.
Fremont County Justice Center
Canon City, Colorado
I am very familiar with Fremont County, Colorado, it's child welfare practices, the business going on in the courts, and the players.

These two sentences should raise the concerns of anyone interested in the administration of child welfare and the fair administration of justice in the courts of Fremont County. As this blog reports, this reader confirms that local attorneys are unwilling to represent family members in dependency court because they cannot mount an effective case.

Implicit in this statement is the admission that the courts cannot be relied upon to rule fairly on the law and the merits against an agency out of control.

The Colorado Department of Human Services has repeatedly been informed of the multitude of questionable practices by Fremont County Department of Human Services. The Office of Attorney Regulation has repeatedly been informed that the representation of parents and children is severely compromised in Fremont County dependency cases, and why and how. The Colorado Supreme Court has been advised that the courts in Fremont County undermine public confidence in the judicial process by their refusal to conduct child welfare cases pursuant to the law and the merits.

They've known for over ten years.

Nothing has been done by any supervising agency to correct any of these issues. However, anyone complaining or working for reform of these wrongs has been targeted for retaliation by each of these government institutions. This retaliation includes the unjustified removal of children as a means to control adult political conduct and adverse court rulings without supporting evidence--complete with onerous fines--against offending political activists.

Re ipsa loquiter.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Arnold & Porter Files Pro Bono Lawsuit for Fathers Seeking Custody

Washington D.C. engages in a practice that is duplicated in every state across the country. . .when a custodial parent is investigated for child abuse or neglect and the child is removed from the custodial parent, the agency does not place the child with the non-custodial parent who was not accused of abuse or neglect.

Instead, the agencies will often make the non-custodial parent to prove their fitness before placing the child with his own parent. If the non-custodial, non-accused parent lives in the same state, they will conduct a home study and background check at the very least, which can take months. These are often nit-picky and require the non-custodial parent to prove adequate housing, child care, income, school, etc. If there is a new spouse or live-in partner, that person will also have to be background checked and undergo invasive questioning and intrusions.

Or, as D.C. does, they will often require an out-of-state non-custodial parent to complete the ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) an even more invasive process which can take six to twelve months.

The ICPC was not intended to be invoked when placing a child with his own parent, it was only designed for out-of-state foster care or adoption. I'm not a lawyer and I knew that this bureaucratic dragnet was not intended to be invoked when placing children with their own parent. One can only conclude that these legal experts intentionally misused the law to keep children in foster care longer and milk the system for the federal funds attached to warehousing children in foster care rather than sending them to the own parent.

This practice violates every protection written into the child welfare laws, that a parent is presumed fit, and absent proof of unfitness, cannot be deprived of the care, custody and control of his own child.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief  to force D.C. to stop this practice and monetary damages. While it purports to represent non-custodial fathers and their aggrieved children, I must observe that non-custodial mothers are not excluded from this egregious misuse of government power.

The law requires the agency to place the child with his parents. If one parent is unfit and the other is fit, it's a no-brainer. .  the law mandates the the child with the fit parent who wasn't accused of abuse or neglect. But it's not as profitable for the agency as placing the child in foster care and making a fit parent prove his fitness.

I applaud Arnold & Porter for taking on this important issue on behalf of aggrieved parents and children in Washington D.C.

Papa John's Pizza supports false child abuse reports?

A Denver Papa John's delivery driver smelled marijuana at a home where he made a delivery. So what does he do? He calls the police, reports the odor, and states there was child in the home. The police raid the home, naturally.

Denver Post reports that the Papa John's customer is an authorized medical marijuana user. I remind the reader that medical marijuana use is legal in Colorado. Additionally, most jurisdictions do not recognize that adult drug use automatically constitutes child abuse or neglect. . .there must be proof of harm to the child before state intervention is justified.

Papa John's reportedly stands behind their employee's actions.

Puh-leese. I say Papa John's needs to train it's employees about the presumption of innocence, and about the penalties for making a false report of child abuse, and about the effects of removing a child from the family home when the child is not in legitimate danger.

After all, that's what this was. . .a false report of child abuse. And Papa John's supports that.

So, how does this employee know what marijuana smells like. . .has he/she inhaled?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Institutionalized abuse of dependent children

Starting with New York City, where a woman used aliases to adopt a dozen legal orphans, and proceeded to abuse them for years, unreported. One child is even missing and presumed dead, yet she collected funds for this missing child for years. She's telling all, laying the blame on the agencies.  The kiddies are unable to function after years of her abuse, and are suing the agencies.

In another story, we have a toddler escaping from the foster home, unnoticed, and drowning. Authorities deem it to be a tragic accident. Funny, when kids get out of their biological parent's home, it's neglect, and all the surviving kiddies are seized to protect them from improper supervision, and are denied the comfort of their parents during their grief for their lost sibling. 

In Illinois, a child's death is ruled homicide, but nobody has been arrested yet. This was in a foster home. 

082211_sylvialee_dngso1.jpgIn New Jersey, a physician -- one of those trusted mandated reporters -- stabbed her adopted daughter over a hundred times for a childhood infraction. 

In Denver, an adopted child is brutally abused and malnourished by this couple.  The caregiver was frustrated with the child, "Marquez admitted she does feel overwhelmed with caring for the girl because she often cries for her mother. She said the 6-year-old girl, who should be completing first grade, wasn't going to school because she wasn't toilet trained."  

Yes. these children want their parents, which makes it very difficult when someone else is charged with caring for them. 

That the normal solutions aren't working for many foster children and legal orphans is so obvious, that any agency's failure to recognize it and alter their practices to cater to the child's best interests shows that they are not fulfilling their mandate to act in the best interests of the children. Their jobs don't suffer for that failure, the courts don't suffer for that failure, the attorneys representing the parties don't suffer for that failure. The children suffer, grievously. 

I have interviewed many caseworkers over the years. I always ask some of the same questions. One of these questions is, "Do you make your recommendations based on the best interests of children in general, or on the best interests of each individual child." Every single one has responded that it is too much work, too involved to make recommendations based on the best interests of each individual child, that they are acting according to the best interests of children in general.

Which is a major reason why children are harmed more than they are helped by child welfare intervention. 

There are better solutions that can be implemented in the current child welfare scheme. But they require more effort on the part of case workers. They cost less, and they have better outcomes, but they are just too darned labor intensive. Which is why so many children are simply warehoused in foster care and redistributed to state-approved parents, who are left to deal with children who want their real mommy and daddy and never stop wanting them. 

This is never going to change, no matter how hard the child welfare professionals try to make it change. 

I tell the parents I work with that there are certain practices and inequities in the child welfare system that are not going to change, and they must learn to work within those parameters, because we cannot change them. Working within the system's flaws is more productive and successful than fighting the system. The state has deep pockets, unlimited resources and unassailable credibility.  No one can defeat that and it is foolish to try. 

But child welfare professionals also have certain obstacles presented by the inherent nature of childhood attachments to their parents, and no matter how hard they try, they cannot overcome those bonds. Yet they foolishly continue to try.

I had one case where a six year-old little girl was refusing to bond with the foster care giver, so the agency (Greely County, Colorado) and psychologist attempted to force the child to bond by regressing her to infancy.

They put her into diapers, fed her only bottled milk, forced her to crawl on her hands and knees and wouldn't let her walk or talk, except to call the foster caregiver "mommy." They forced the child to engage in eye contact with the care giver. They traumatized the child, and the child never bonded with the care giver. 

This child had been removed from a mother who had had abdominal surgery and whose request for respite care during her recovery was denied by the Greeley agency. Mom was on pain killer, and fell asleep. The child got into her purse and took some Tylenol. Mom rushed the child to the emergency room. The child's stomach was never purged by the staff, but they reported mom to child welfare. 

Children want their mommy and daddy. You can't change that. It's about time child welfare agencies conceded to that fact and changed their practices to work within those parameters. Until they do, the kiddies will always defeat their agenda and undermine any positive outcomes simply by doing what comes most naturally to them. . .loving mommy and daddy. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Criminal charges dismissed against Maryanne Godboldo

According to wxyz[dot]com, a judge has dismissed the charges against Maryanne Godboldo arising out of her standoff with police when they arrived with child welfare and a S.W.A.T. team to take her child into custody.

The reason cited was that the removal order was illegal. And it was, according to Federal law and state law.

Like that's a surprise? This is a typical shortcut taken by child welfare agencies nationwide, one that is easily proven and challenged by competent counsel for the parents and children. However, finding a courageous and competent attorney to challenge this kind of legal shortcut is virtually impossible, and the practice continues, unchallenged, in dependency court.

Hyper-vigilant child welfare agencies, their counsel and judges purposely err, citing that it is necessary to err on the side of the child rather than striving not to err. The practice of ignoring constitutional and procedural protections associated with child welfare seizures is institutionalized nationwide, all in the name of protecting children.

And, it would seem most people don't have a problem with this kind of rights violations. After all, we need to protect the kiddies from their abusive parents, even if we have to do violence to the constitution in the process, don't we?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Parents: Breeders for the State

A Detroit mother who resisted child welfare attempts to place her teenage daughter on a psychotropic drug that is not approved for children has been found by a jury to have neglected the child. Another story here.

According to reports, the Maryanne Godboldo had removed her daughter from Rispardal under medical supervision, and was proceeding with alternative treatment for the child's medical issues. Ms. Godboldo stated her daughter was suffering severe side effects from the powerful drug.

Michigan child welfare objected, and sent a SWAT team to take custody of the child, then placed her in a residential treatment facility and put her back on the drug.

There is plenty of online commentary and articles about all the wrongs being perpetrated upon this family in the name of protecting the child. Just do a search to read all about the service providers connections to big Pharma, and other conflicts of interest surrounding the administration of child welfare in Wayne County, Michigan. There is also the unfortunate incident of mom facing down the SWAT team when they attempted to seize the child, and mom is facing felony charges.

I see this case as an outstanding example showing that parents are nothing more than breeders for the state, and that despite the clearly established rights of parents to make decisions for their children, that if you make the subjective "wrong" decision, you will lose your child.

According to all accounts, Ms. Godboldo was a conscientious mother, very involved in her daughter's life. Nothing indicated that this child was neglected, she was under a doctor's care. Certainly, Ms. Godboldo is not the kind of parent intended to be rehabilitated with a child welfare intervention. Yet, this Michigan agency expends extensive government resources in their efforts to control this parent's decisions regarding the care and upbringing of her child.

Just another day in child welfare.

ClickonDetroit[dot]com has a video of this child welfare court proceeding.

CBS New reports here

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Flash Mobs Prompt Curfews and Invoke Child Welfare

I remember the campaign when I was much younger, at 10 p.m. on television, "Parents, do you know where your children are?" In this child-centric society we don't even dare ask that, until it gets violent.

In a schizophrenic response to unsupervised children causing public mayhem at night, committing assaults and roaming the streets in flash mobs, Philadelphia has instituted a curfew for children under 18, complete with fines and penalties upon the parents and threats of putting the naughty kiddies into foster care.

This response is schizophrenic because parents are afraid to discipline their children for fear of child welfare agencies intruding into the privacy of the family after the brat hotlines his parents for exercising parental responsibility by daring to discipline or correct their child. Now, parents are going to be punished for doing as the child welfare agencies have demanded for decades, not spanking the brats.

Face it, far more children are placed in foster care for purported abuse allegedly arising out of discipline than for not being disciplined. Child welfare agencies have tied mommy and daddy's hands, and now the kids are running amok.

Contrary to popular, bleeding heart liberalism, this issue  is much less about poverty or lack of education than it is about the well-intentioned nanny state punishing parents for controlling their kiddies, for  instilling a sense of responsibility and a work ethic, for building character, and for punishing bad behavior. Kids are protected by child welfare agencies from having chores, family responsibilities, structure to guide them and are insured parents impose no consequences for wrongdoing.

Now, we are reaping what the child savers have sowed.

Flash mobs of kids who have no sense of right and wrong, only a sense of entitlement. Kids hooked in to social media to coordinate their violence. Kids who have been taught by the schools and the government that the world revolves around them and owes them a living, unfettered happiness and no consequences, complete with child welfare agencies to insure that none of these ideals are infringed by their parents.

This is not to say the all of the parents are blameless. Some of these parents are lousy parents. They don't supervise their kids because they don't want to, because their priorities place these kiddies lower than their own desires.

And haven't we as a society been conditioned to that? Schools are free day care for working parents. Having abdicated responsibility for the care of the kiddies during the day, it's only reasonable to extend that into the night. Or, parents have been convinced by the "experts" of the cop-out fallacy that by the teenage years, a child is going to do what he wants and there is nothing mommy and daddy can do to stop them, we may as well resign ourselves to that fact. As long as the law give parents permission to abdicate their parental duties under threat of a child welfare intervention, you will have kids running amok.

Before social media, it was pretty much one kid and a few friends who ran amok. Social media connected youths are now more powerful, much like collective bargaining, have become a force to be reckoned with. An undisciplined, narcissistic, immature, emotionally charged force, with raging hormones, unreasoned anger, and rebellious of authority. These are the predictable fruits of thirty years of child welfare laws.

Mr. Mayor, unless the legislature ties the hands of child welfare when they intrude into families who are at least trying to control their kiddies, your sanctions against the parents of bratty teens and threats of foster care are futile. Child welfare agencies are far scarier than your puny little sanctions. As for the threats of foster care, any attorney who represents responsible parents who get lassoed into this dragnet can simply argue that the parents are damned if they do discipline and damned if they don't.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Social Worker Charged with Faking Records

It is rare we see a criminal prosecution of any child welfare professional for any reason. Kentucky, as every state, has laws against tampering with public records, but no matter how many complaints are made, there is almost never a prosecution. In El Paso County, Colorado, several years ago, we held a press conference and presented the DA with proof of the crimes. She declined to prosecute, referring us to the impotent Citizen's Review Panel.

That's not to say caseworkers conduct themselves with the utmost integrity, because, for whatever reason, they often don't.

The most common complaint by parents who are involved with child welfare agencies is that case workers falsify reports to the court, that the child welfare files are full of false information.

My investigation into the accuracy of child welfare records is consistent with the complaints by parents. The records, for whatever reason, are inaccurate in varying degrees. Okay, fine, the caseworkers are overworked, and they get things wrong. I've seen them mix up facts between cases, surely an honest mistake. I've seen case records from one case misfiled in the record of another case. I've seen case files "disappear" and get lost.

And, as this story so clearly describes, they deliberately falsify records and reports to the court. It is very easy to falsify subjective evidence, like visitation reports or interviews with parents, children and collateral witnesse or in their conversations with service providers. In this kind of "he said, she said" situation, the judges always believe the caseworker.

But I've also seen caseworkers deliberately tamper with objective evidence, including the results of drug tests.

In this instance, as often happens with unscrupulous child welfare caseworkers, they misrepresent the visits they made to the family, or to the child, or discussion they had with service providers, or making referrals.

This is egregiously harmful to parents and children, because these records follow the parents AND THE CHILDREN for the rest of their lives, wherever they go. Any child welfare agency in any state has access to these records. And because there is absolutely no provision under any state law whereby errors in these records can be corrected. In fact, in many states, the parents suffer retribution when they try to have the errors corrected, up to and including termination of parental rights.

 But there is more involved with falsifying records. When caseworkers falsify that the child was in danger in the home, fraud against the federal government comes into play under Title IV E of the Social Security Act. This is presented to the court, which is perjury. This is much bigger than tampering with public records.

Hats off to Kentucky. I've seen plenty of bad child welfare practices in Kentucky, hopefully they won't back out of this prosecution. Hopefully, this is only the beginning of reigning in these abuses.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Adoptive Parents. . .and Another Missing Adopted Child

Kansas. Again.

Kansas SRS terminated parental rights to the biological parents of a certain child and created a legal orphan. Then allowed these people to adopt him, and paid them a monthly stipend to be his parents. I wonder if family poverty played into Kansas SRS's reasons to seek termination of parental rights?

Doug and Valerie Herrman. Parents-for-Pay.

These parents collected that money for over ten years for a child that had gone ??? . . . missing. In fact, he's still missing. They never reported that he was missing. Yet, these are state-approved parents! They passed a background check, they passed the interview and home study. They are licensed to be parents based on the discretion, judgement and recommendation of a child welfare worker, indeed an entire child welfare team. Yet, nobody got an ooky feeling about them.  

So much for the state's seal of approval.

They got caught, and were convicted of fraud. For taking the money for an adopted child they no longer had, but the state believed they had. The boy, Adam, has been missing since 1999.

This raises an issue that most people are not aware of. Who cares about what happens to child after parental rights are terminated?

The biological parents care, but they are barred by law from seeing, contacting or even knowing about their child. The rest of the people who purport to care a just government bureaucrats doing a job. The child is a case file, not a person. Evidently, not one of these sterling professionals cared enough to see if the child was even there. Alive. Well. Safe.

Why should they care? If it turns out he's not alive, well or safe, it reflects badly on the agency and the caseworker. here is too much risk to their credibility, their job, their funding if they check on these kids in adoptive parent-for-paty homes.

The child can be "disappeared" and nobody will even question where the child is. They'll just keep paying out the subsidies to the adoptive parents-for-pay.

Meanwhile, a living, breathing person, a vulnerable child who was protected by the agency is missing. Where do these kids go? What happens to them?

It is actually simpler to make a child without parents disappear than an adopted child. But we are seeing a rash of stories being published where children have gone missing from adoptive parents-for-pay and never been missed. I want the reader to consider what happens to the legal orphans who have nobody to report them missing.

All a caseworker has to do is appear at the door of the foster care giver and say the child is being moved.  The child then is not placed with another foster family, but transferred to someone else. Someone who isn't interested in raising this child, but who has another use in mind for this child.

I have received calls from people who have seen airplane loads of legal orphans being flown overseas. The adults accompanying these children have reportedly identified them as children in the custody of child welfare.  These informers risked a lot to tell me, and were threatened with their lives for their disclosures, some even disappeared. Why are American children being shipped overseas by the planeload on flights that are listed in the flight records as being empty ferry flights intended to transfer an airplane from one location to another?

Isn't it convenient that there isn't even a record of the legal orphans leaving the country or traveling on commercial aircraft? The flight is "officially" empty. And isn't it more convenient that nobody who cares can even report the child as missing? The people who care, parents and family, are cut off and never know what happens to their child once parental rights are terminated. The only people who know are those transferring the children, and the airline employees who see what is going on but are warned to be silent.

Are American child being adopted in other countries? Perhaps. That would be the best scenario.

But my investigation into these events indicates something far more sinister. One of the known destinations is the Middle East. Among the known reasons is that these children are being used for domestic labor, sex, and body parts.

My investigation also reveals that the appropriate government agencies know about this practice.

It seems that legal orphans, damaged children, are not important enough to warrant protection from the child welfare agencies by the Federal government or the state government.

That seems to be a contradiction. And an abomination.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jordan Cardella, Product of Child Welfare System

Odd twist on Cupid turns simply stupid

In a story that has gone viral, Jordan Cardella is being touted on the world wide web as stupid. He asked a friend to shoot him so that his ex-girlfriend would feel sorry for him and take him back. 

This isn't the first time Cardella asked a friend to injure him in order to obtain sympathy and to manipulate someone.

About ten years ago, Cardella was a child who was the subject of a child welfare case in Walworth County, Wisconsin. I worked on this case. I have observed the outcomes of Jordan's experiences as a direct result of that intervention. The outcomes for Jordan Cardella aren't pretty, but they are typical outcomes that children who are "protected" by the state experience. 

Walworth County touted the outcome of their intervention for Jordan Cardella as positive. I disagreed. Readers will note that Jordan is a felon. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Not credible proof of a job well done when one is bragging about the outcomes of child welfare interventions being positive. 

This is where I get to say I was right. Again. 

Jordan's mother was accused by the father--her ex-husband--of physically abusing Jordan. This was a transparent attempt to have a child support/custody dispute resolved in dad's favor by using child welfare to report mom for abuse and have the children placed with him, and then collect child support from mom. This happens all the time, and one would expect that the professionals who administer these cases could discern when they are being manipulated by parents. . . and children. The professionals in Walworth County demonstrated they do not posses the most basic discernment skills. That includes the bonehead judge, Carlson. 

Mom gave Jordan a spanking because he was threatening his older sister with a butcher knife when he was ten years old. Mom was charged with felony child abuse for that spanking. The story garnered international attention. Now, here's the rest of the story. . .

Mom gave the boy twelve swats with her left hand on his bare bottom, one for each year of his age and two to reinforce the lesson. There was no bruising at the time of the spanking. There were half a dozen adult witnesses to the spanking, and none reported that it was excessive or unreasonable. 

Left image filtered to make bruising look worse.
The district attorney, Phil Koss, insisted that mom caused serious bruising, and even took photos of the boy's bottom. Then he enhanced. . .aw, let's not pull punches, he tampered with the photographic images to make the bruising appear worse. See for yourself. These images come directly from the district attorney's file. The original photos were hidden in the back of the file and fell out right into my lap. (Incidentally, immediately after I filmed this tampered photographic evidence, I was approached by courthouse security officer Hausner who demanded I surrender my video tape. I refused and was arrested. I got the charges (disorderly conduct and obstruction) dropped, sued for false arrest, excessive use of force and more. . . and won.  Oh, and I got my tape back. We discovered the tampered evidence several years after the incident.) 

Back to the case. . .mom didn't cause that bruising. If you haven't already guessed, I conducted an investigation into this spanking incident and the administration of the child welfare civil case and the criminal case that arose out of that event.

The child welfare agency sided with dad, and recommended that Jordan be taken away from mom and placed with dad. Guardian ad litem, Frank Lettenburger, also sided with placing Jordan with dad, and went to great lengths to have mom convicted. It was a vendetta. But Lettenberger and the caseworker were adamant that the child's best interests were served by placing Jordan with dad, despite the record showing and multiple reports from reliable sources showing dad was a drug user and batterer. 

I received reliable reports that dad had coached Jordan to get mom to spank him, Jordan even bragged about it, taunting his mom. Then, out of the blue several years later, one of Jordan's little friends confessed to me that Jordan had told him to spank Jordan with a board to cause bruising. The friend did it, brutally beating Jordan's willing bottom with a board until it was bruised. And plucky little Jordan took the beating like a man. He then told dad mom spanked him, and dad reported it to the police. Mom was arrested and all her children placed in foster care. 

Koss used the tampered photographic evidence to coerce a misdemeanor plea bargain out of mom. She never saw the unaltered photos until I went to the courthouse several years later. But, Dad was ultimately charged with perjury arising out of his testimony about this event, and accepted a plea bargain to a lesser charge. Phill Koss was immune from liability for his prosecutorial misconduct. Mom got probation, but Jordan--and society--are the biggest losers. 

The dependency court, accepting the recommendations of child welfare and GAL Lettenberger, placed Jordan and his sister with dad. Lettenberger reported to the court that the children "are thriving in their father's home. . .doing well in school. . .have a number of friends, and are working through issue in counseling." The case was closed and nobody ever bothered to follow up on the welfare of the children. 

Jordan had learned his lessons well. Oh no, not the lessons his mom tried to teach him about proper conduct, responsibility and obedience, but the lessons his father and the professionals who administer child welfare taught him. 

He learned how to use the system to protect him from being corrected. He learned that even when the child lies, the professionals believe the child. His defiance escalated, and he became uncontrollable, engaging in bizarre, violent and dangerous conduct. Why not? He learned that he could tattle to the state if his parents tried to discipline him or correct him. He succeeded in having his way and having his mom thrown in jail when she tried to raise him to be a responsible adult. 

When Jordan turned fifteen, dad kicked the little monster he and Walworth County had created out of the house. Under Wisconsin child welfare laws, this constituted abuse and neglect, yet teflon dad never came under the scrutiny of child welfare. 

In order to survive on the streets of South Milwaukee, Jordan sold drugs, a skill he had reportedly learned from his dad. His felony conviction was for drugs. I won't even go into the rest of the illegal conduct that surround young Cardella's teenage years, but it was substantial. 

This begs the question. . .was that spanking a fork in the road? Would Jordan have turned out differently if Walworth County had not removed him from his mother because she spanked him? What if, instead of punishing mom for correcting Jordan, the state had supported mom? 

Certainly, if mom hadn't spanked him, he wouldn't have learned any lesson about not engaging in felony menacing and mom wouldn't have had her children removed and been thrown in jail. 

So, spank him and risk being arrested, don't spank him and be held responsible for his crimes because you didn't correct him? Does this sound fair or reasonable? Yet it is so. Parents are responsible for their minor children's criminal and tortious conduct, yet their hands are tied by the state from correcting them effectively. 

And what about dad? He is reportedly the laughing stock at work. I say, it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. 

You see, he also falsely reported me for kidnapping his daughter when he had seen into my car and saw she wasn't there. He chased me through the streets of South Milwaukee while I was on the phone to the police. They police--complete with a damned paddy wagon--surrounded me, detained me, stated he had accused me of kidnapping his daughter, and questioned me before letting me leave the scene. So make fun of dad, he deserves it. 

But let's not forget those incredible professionals who insured a willfully disobedient boy had no chance to grow up with the proper values and lessons: Judge Carlson, Frank Lettenberger and Walworth County case worker Leslie Mollet--I won't even go into the offensive naked butt checks she did on the kiddies.

All these professionals who walked away patting themselves on the back for a job well done need to know just what they did, don't you think? Make them the same laughing stock that dad is, after all, Jordan is the fruit of their labors. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Should Parents Lose Custody of Obese Kids?

Again we have experts advocating the micromanagement of families by recommending that obese children should be removed from their parents (see article)  for no other reason than the child is fat. Fox News [dot]com reports:
Should parents of extremely obese children lose custody for not controlling their kids' weight? A provocative commentary in one of the nation's most distinguished medical journals argues yes, and its authors are joining a quiet chorus of advocates who say the government should be allowed to intervene in extreme cases.
These experts actually believe that removing a child from his non-abusive parents is far less damaging to him than the child being obese. Talk about denial. 
State intervention "ideally will support not just the child but the whole family, with the goal of reuniting child and family as soon as possible. That may require instruction on parenting," said Ludwig, who wrote the article with Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and a researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health.
Ideally state intervention will support the whole family? Since when is any government agency operated according to the ideals? Ideally, in all child welfare cases, the families would be allowed more than one supervised visit a week or month, and case plan that is not onerous, irrelevant and punitive, and a caseworker who isn't overworked, underpaid and making her recommendations based on a quotas rather than the best interests of the child. Hoping for the ideal administration of a child welfare case is not reasonable or rational.
"Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to protect a child," Murtagh said.
Discomfort?!!!  Forced separation from each other is much more than mere discomfort, it is sheer terror for most. Such an intervention holds the very real risk that the child will be abused in foster care, not to mention the psychological trauma caused by being torn from his parents. Then, there is the very real potential that parental rights will be terminated, presumably if the child doesn't lose the weight. These consequences are considered benign by these experts? Hello-oo? Losing your child to the state forever is far from benign.

Their proposed solution? Stranger foster care. A parent-for-pay who gets money to feed the child, money that--oh, I don't know--his biological parents could use to buy the right kind of food for him.
Ludwig said he starting thinking about the issue after a 90-pound 3-year-old girl came to his obesity clinic several years ago. Her parents had physical disabilities, little money and difficulty controlling her weight. Last year, at age 12, she weighed 400 pounds and had developed diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

"Out of medical concern, the state placed this girl in foster care, where she simply received three balanced meals a day and a snack or two and moderate physical activity," he said. After a year, she lost 130 pounds. Though she is still obese, her diabetes and apnea disappeared; she remains in foster care, he said.
A year in foster care?!!!  Because mommy and daddy were too poor to buy healthy food?

A year in foster care? Just to give a child three balanced meals and exercise? This is horrendously overreaching and intrusive, not to mention unnecessarily expensive to taxpayers.

See how easily the experts find it to redistribute other people's children willy nilly, just to forward their own personal agendas? They have no qualms about taking control where they don't belong.

These doctors want to shirk their own responsibility for their patients and pawn the problem off to the state as a feel-good solution, rather than put their money where their mouth is and provide a professional or community solution that would prevent the family from being put through the horror of state intervention.

It is obvious these experts have no concept of the hurdles faced by working poor and middle class families to provide the necessities of life, especially in this economy. Good, healthy food is expensive! Most families simply cannot afford good, healthy food. Fruit and nuts are far more expensive than chips and cookies and white bread, all of which are poor choices for anyone, much less anyone on a diet. Yet, if they spend the money on wholesome food, then there won't be nearly as much food in the house, which is often used to as grounds to remove a child from the family home. Now, even if there is enough food, if it's the wrong kind, snatch the kiddies and pay the foster care givers to feed them.

Many of the targeted families get food stamps, and cannot make ends meet without buying groceries that are heavy on the processed foods, pasta, cereals and high-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar ingredients--those oh-so-bad "fluffy white" foods that cause so many health problems. Lean meat, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy are simply not as affordable.  And the schools aren't any better than those dastardly family homes with their Federally funded cheap, high-fat, high-starch, high sugar content menus they offer for school lunches. How can the parents be held accountable for what their child eats outside of the home?

The law already has a better solution. If a child is obese and the state is considering removing the child, the agency must first provide the parents with services to prevent the child's removal, as mandated by reasonable efforts.

This means the agency must provide the family with the means to purchase the expensive low-fat, low calorie wholesome food.  They must provide a nutritionist to help the parents plan appropriate menus and a cook to teach those who don't know how to cook how to prepare the meals according to that menu. They must provide the child with an exercise program or participation in sports, and provide the transportation, access or equipment for the child to participate daily in the sports or exercise. And if they hope to succeed in slimming this child down, they must provide some sort of peer support group to help the child stay on a healthy diet and exercise program.
US Navy 100519-N-7498L-053 Children from the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Youth Sports Program at Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, participate in a 1.5-mile fun run
Only after the parents fail to insure the child eats right and exercises should the state consider removing the child, and then, only if the child is on the brink of death.

Advocating yet another reason to burden an already overburdened, underfunded, understaffed and incompetent agency with more child welfare cases is not only a heartless solution from the perspective of the child and family, it's poorly thought out, lazy and profoundly irresponsible.

Little League Size, Big League Swing by D.F. Shapinsky (pingnews) (493970671)Definitions of abuse or neglect change with the current social fads (satanic ritual abuse, shaken baby syndrome, child sex rings and other debunked past hysterias come to mind) and cannot be relied upon from one case to the next. This is just another fad. I entered foster care as a child of normal weight and height. When I left a year later, I had gained one hundred pounds. The foster care givers ate a high-fat, high-starch, high-sugar diet. They were very obese, even their children were fat.  This was deemed to be an appropriate placement at the time. Even today, foster care givers are fat, feed the foster kids cheap fluffy white food which is identical to what the child's parents fed him. Unless foster care givers are mandated to provide good, wholesome food to all foster children, this idea isn't even worthy of consideration.

Too fat, too thin, too smart, too stupid, breastfed or not breastfed, too affectionate (enmeshed) or not affectionate enough (emotionally distant), too involved in athletics or a couch potato . . . no matter what the issue, child welfare agencies can make it legal to take a child. That doctors advocate child removals  rather than providing competent medical care to help the child eat better and become more active in the family home is the height of hypocrisy.  Who better than the pediatrician to get his own patient on the right track to a healthy lifestyle?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Alabama Supreme Court Decision Discusses the Best Interests of the Child

While this decision is not a child welfare case, it is exceptionally instructive into the legal principle known as the "bests interests of the child" and the improper application of that standard in the context of the presumption of parental fitness.

In this case, the parents decided that their children should not be permitted to see their grandparents. The grandparents petitioned the court for visitation under an Alabama statute which gives grandparents the right to petition the court for visitation rights with their grandchildren. The trial court granted visitation pursuant to the statute. The appeals court overturned, citing the grandparents did not prove that the children would be harmed by being denied contact with their grandparents. The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court decision but for different reason.

The Alabama Supreme Court found the statute to be unconstitutional in its entirety.

The law on parental rights is exhaustively discussed in this decision, detailing the lineage of the law from the beginning to the current status of the rights of parents to make decisions regarding their children.

It emphasizes that the law clearly states a parent is presumed fit, and under that presumption, the state cannot even reach a decision regarding the best interests of the child. Because the Alabama grandparent visitation statute ignored the presumption of parental fitness and ignored the fact that the state has no right to second guess a parent's decisions or to substitute stated decisions for the parent's decisions absent a finding of parental unfitness, the statute was found to be unconstitutional.

This principle applies equally to child welfare agencies during a child abuse/neglect investigation and case. If one were to substitute "child welfare agency" for "grandparents," the case would read like a user manual for the proper administration of child welfare cases.

I particularly found the concurring discussion about how the institution of the family predates government to be encouraging. AFAC has been making this argument for nearly twenty years, and it is heartening to see a jurist who gets it.

Ex Parte Erg and Dwg Al