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,”
“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,”
“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,”
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.