Day: December 2, 2007

domestic violence, family, foster care, foster parent, healing, law, legal, missing child, murder, system failure
Schaefer: Trial by jury needed to remove child

Sunday, December 2, 2007
Last modified Thursday, November 29, 2007 9:03 AM EST

Schaefer: Trial by jury needed to remove child
By Tom Law

Source: The Toccoa Record

State Sen. Nancy Schaefer last week called for an overhaul of the state’s child protection services provided through the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS).

Among the recommendations by Schaefer, who represents the 50th District which includes Stephens County, was that a jury trial be held when a child is taken from their parents.

Schaefer also called for the requirement of a warrant signed by a judge before removing a child from their parents, except in an emergency situation such as a medical crisis.

“The Department of Family and Children’s Service, known as the Department of Child Protective Services in other states, has become a protected empire built on taking children and separating families,”

Schaefer said in a lengthy e-mail…

“This is not to say there are not children who do need to be removed from wretched situations and need protection,”

Schaefer said.

“This report is concerned with the children and parents caught in legal kidnapping, ineffective policies and DFCS that does not remove a child or children when a child is enduring torment and abuse.”

Schaefer offered as an example an unnamed county in her district where she met with 37 families to discuss the “gestapo” tactics of the DFCS.

“I witnessed the deceitful conditions under which children were taken in the middle of the night, out of hospitals and off school busses,”

Schaefer said.

“Having worked with probably 300 cases statewide, I am convinced there is no responsibility and no accountability in the system.”

Among Schaefer’s conclusions:

  • Poor parents are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the wherewithal to hire lawyers and fight the system.

“Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers,”

Schaefer said.

  • All parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean children should be removed from the home.
  • Parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes, etc. are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system while they are at work and while their children are separated from them.
  • Caseworkers and social workers are often guilty of fraud.
  • “They withhold evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights. However, when charges are made against them, the charges are ignored,” Schaefer said.
  • Separation of families is a growing business because local governments have grown accustomed to having taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets.
  • DFCS and juvenile court can always hide behind a confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions.
  • There are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep them together.
  • The incentive for social workers to return children to their parents quickly after taking them has disappeared.
  • The policy manual for DFCS is considered the last word.“The manual is too long, too confusing, poorly written and doesn’t take the law into consideration,” Schaefer said.
  • Children removed from homes may not be safer in foster care.“Children of whom I am aware have been raped and impregnated in foster care and the head of a foster parents association in my district was recently arrested because of child molestation,” Schaefer said.
  • Grandparents are not often contacted by DFCS when children are removed from homes.“Grandparents who lose their grandchildren to strangers have lost their own flesh and blood. The children lose their family heritage, and grandparents lose all connections to their heirs,” Schaefer said.Schaefer is calling for an independent audit of DFCS to expose possible “corruption and fraud.”She also called for immediate change. “Every day that passes means more families and children are subject to being held hostage.”Schaefer said any financial incentives to separate families should end, and parents should be given their rights in writing.She also called for a required search for family members to be given the opportunity to adopt their own relatives, and when someone fabricates or presents false evidence, a hearing should be held with the right to discovery of all evidence.
  • cps
    Letters from Foster Care

     

    “In total, I have been to at least five or six or even seven foster homes because my mother would not quit looking for me.” by Gabrielle, age 11

    Fostering Perspectives tries to reflect the voices of people involved in North Carolina’s child welfare system.

    kids-pages-nameplate.gif

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     Its All About Them – The Children –

    *Names changed to protect confidentiality.

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    My life turned upside down

    by Gabrielle, age 11

    My life turned upside down when I was taken away from my mother. I was at least eight or nine years old. It was painful and difficult, I did not know what to do. I was crying and screaming for my mother to help me, while she was crying and screaming for them to let me go. To this very day I still feel sad and emotional about the day I left.

    See, I did not know why they took me until they told me. The cops said that my mother had been shoplifting and I was confused. I said to myself, my mother would never do that, if she did it was to make me happy! The officer asked me if my mother had taken her medicine lately. I thought and remembered that my mother had illnesses. She had diseases that are too long to pronounce. When I was little I remember calling the ambulance for them to come and get her.

    All of a sudden BAAMM!!! It hit me. All this crying and screaming because of what my mother had done. I asked the policeman, “Where am I going?” The officer replied, “you are going to a place to stay for a while.” He said it was called a “foster home.” I was so scared. I thought I would never see her again. But I did and the more I saw her the more I moved, and the more I moved the worse I felt.

    In total, I have been to at least five or six or even seven foster homes because my mother would not quit looking for me. After awhile it got better. I went to live with my uncle. But then my mom came to the house and grabbed me and took me home with her. I was so happy to see my mommy. But the happiness only lasted two days. The cops came and again, so long Mommy.

    But then I lived with this new foster parent named Ms. Martha and I stay with her now. She has been super nice to me and I have been with her for two years. And now I am eleven years old. To me, that is a lot of years in the system. I am up for adoption and pray that it will be the last move.

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    Jimmicka, age 10

    Dear Mama,

    I don’t know where you are and sometimes I’m worried that you are dead. I wonder why you didn’t want to come to our good-bye visit, and why you don’t call our social worker. I feel scared that maybe something happened to you. I love you, Mama. Why did you do this? Why did you make us go into foster care? I wish you had kept us healthy by not giving us too much junk food. I wish you hadn’t let anything hurt us, like the way Anthony hurt Laitsha’s arm. When we were in the hospital for the doctors to fix Laitsha’s arm, I was feeling scared. When Anthony got arrested I was happy.

    Mama, I’m sad that we got taken away from you. I want you to be happy, but I don’t think you are happy about me being adopted. I wish you could understand that I am in a good place now with Brigitte and Phil, because they do stuff with us we’ve never done before, and they discipline us, and they love us. Mama I hope that you are in a safe place, not hurt, and not worried. I hope that you are happy. I hope that you know we love you.

    Love, Jimmicka

    Jimmicka’s letter took first prize, for which she was awarded $100

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    Lakeisha, age 13

    Mama:

    . . . . I’m living with this African lady just until the end of the school year, then I’m going back to this lady named Jane.* She is really nice, but don’t worry, she will never be as good as you. And just to let you know, every foster parent I have lived with, I called them by their name and not mama, because I only have one mama, and that is you. I am very proud to be your daughter. . . .Maybe one day me, you, Derrick, and Tony can go to Busch Gardens as a family. DSS is always telling me I am never going to see you again, but I don’t listen to them. They’re just trying to turn me against you, but it ain’t goin’ work. Cause when I turn 18, I’m coming to live with you. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m coming to live with my Mama. See Mama, now I’m 13 years old. I only got five more years until I get to see you. That’s not that long, is it?

    Lakeisha’s letter took second prize, for which she was awarded $50.
    *Name changed to protect confidentiality

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    Destiny, age 8

    Dear Momma,

    I feel very, very sad that I can’t see you anymore. I hope to see you one day. You are a very good person. I wish that I could toss a coin and I could wish for anything I want. I wish I could be rich and I wish I could have $100 and I wish I could have a butler. I’d give DSS $100 and then they could give me back to you and we could all live together again. I hope you will be able to see my brothers again. I miss you very much and I love you.

    I am a very healthy girl and John and Jane* take care of me. They would never hurt me. I am meeting some new friends at school.

    I hope I find a good home when I can be adopted.

    When I grow up I want to be a doctor or an author.

    Love, Destiny

    Destiny’s letter took third prize, for which she was awarded $25.

     

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