Day: May 21, 2008

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, family, foster care, government, system failure
Checking In: Violations in Texas Foster Care

Below I have compiled a sample of real violations within the foster care system in Texas. These facilities are in major metropolitan areas (ie Dallas/Ft.Worth, Austin, San Antonio areas) and they are listed here exactly as they are reported here by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

While we talk about foster care abuse that goes on, there is a little bit of a difference between saying the words “child abuse” and actually seeing a description of what real adults are doing (or not doing) to these children…. in the name of ‘protection’… and using tax payers money to-boot.

I plan on doing lists like these every once in a while… keep us checking in on Texas Foster Care facilities… checkin’ in on the children.

Standard Number 749.1521(4)

Standard Description: Medication Storage-Store medication covered by Section II of the Texas Controlled Substances Act under double lock in a separate container

Technical Assistance Given: Yes

Narrative

Several medications covered by Section II of the Texas Controlled Substances Act were found in a locked box in an unlocked cabinet. The cabinet was in the foster mother’s office, which was also unlocked. These medications, therefore, were not kept under double lock at the time of inspection.

Standard Number: 749.2471(9)(D)

Standard Description:Verification Certificate specifies the ages and gender(s) of children for which the home is verified

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative The verification certificate at the home did not match the characteristics of the children placed. The certificate indicated the home was verified for children ages 10 to 17 even though a 7-year-old child was placed in the home.

Standard Number: 16102

Standard Description: Children must not be Abused or Neglected

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative A young foster child was sexually assaulted by an older child in the home. The older child was arrested for sexual assault.

Standard Number: AF22101

Standard Description: Children must not be Abused or Neglected

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative The evidence gathered supports that the foster mother abused the foster child by striking the child on the head and possibly causing a bruise.

Standard Number: AF23102b

Standard Description: Discipline – Not be Physically

Emotionally Damaging to Child

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

The evidence gathered supports that the foster parent struck the foster child on the head as an inappropriate form of discipline.

Standard Number: AF23102a

Standard Description: Discipline – Consistent with

Agency Policies

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

The evidence gathered supports that the foster mother used a restraint that is inconsistent with the PMB restraint system used by the CPA.

Standard Number: 749.1957(1)

Standard Description: Other Prohibited Discipline – Any harsh, cruel, unusual, unnecessary, demeaning, or humiliating discipline or punishment

Technical Assistance Given: Yes

Narrative

Two children reported foster mother threw a gas cap at one of them when the child rummaged through her purse.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(4)

Standard Description: Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for being able to intervene when necessary to ensure each child’s safety

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative There was an addendum to the safety plan that included the foster child not have access to pens and pencils. The addendum was discussed with the foster mother on 4/4/08 and then sent to her on 4/10/08; the foster mother signed and dated it. The safety plan states that the foster parent will ensure that the foster child does not have access to any sharp objects, including pencils and pens. The foster mother was aware that the foster child had a bag full of ballpoint pens and (unsharpened) pencils just prior to the child using a pen to hurt another child in the home. The foster mother stated she was not concerned about the foster child having the pens and pencils as he needs them for school. The foster mother did not take the necessary steps to ensure each child’s safety in the home.

Standard Number 749.1521(4)

Standard Description: Medication Storage-Store medication covered by Section II of the Texas Controlled Substances Act under double lock in a separate container

Technical Assistance Given: Yes

Narrative

Several medications covered by Section II of the Texas Controlled Substances Act were found in a locked box in an unlocked cabinet. The cabinet was in the foster mother’s office, which was also unlocked. These medications, therefore, were not kept under double lock at the time of inspection.

Standard Number: 749.2471(9)(D)

Standard Description: Verification Certificate specifies the ages and gender(s) of children for which the home is verified

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative The verification certificate at the home did not match the characteristics of the children placed. The certificate indicated the home was verified for children ages 10 to 17 even though a 7-year-old child was placed in the home.

Standard Number: 16102 Standard Description: Children must not be Abused or Neglected

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative A young foster child was sexually assaulted by an older child in the home. The older child was arrested for sexual assault.

Standard Number: AF22101

Standard Description: Children must not be Abused or Neglected

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative The evidence gathered supports that the foster mother abused the foster child by striking the child on the head and possibly causing a bruise.

Standard Number: AF23102b

Standard Description: Discipline – Not be Physically

Emotionally Damaging to Child

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

The evidence gathered supports that the foster parent struck the foster child on the head as an inappropriate form of discipline.

Standard Number: AF23102a

Standard Description: Discipline – Consistent with Agency Policies

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

The evidence gathered supports that the foster mother used a restraint that is inconsistent with the PMB restraint system used by the CPA.

Standard Number: 749.1957(1)

Standard Description: Other Prohibited Discipline – Any harsh, cruel, unusual, unnecessary, demeaning, or humiliating discipline or punishment

Technical Assistance Given: Yes

Narrative

Two children reported foster mother threw a gas cap at one of them when the child rummaged through her purse.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(4)

Standard Description: Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for being able to intervene when necessary to ensure each child’s safety

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative There was an addendum to the safety plan that included the foster child not have access to pens and pencils. The addendum was discussed with the foster mother on 4/4/08 and then sent to her on 4/10/08; the foster mother signed and dated it. The safety plan states that the foster parent will ensure that the foster child does not have access to any sharp objects, including pencils and pens. The foster mother was aware that the foster child had a bag full of ballpoint pens and (unsharpened) pencils just prior to the child using a pen to hurt another child in the home. The foster mother stated she was not concerned about the foster child having the pens and pencils as he needs them for school. The foster mother did not take the necessary steps to ensure each child’s safety in the home.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(5)

Standard Description: Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for not performing tasks that clearly impede the caregiver’s ability to supervise

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative Caregiver failed to supervise a child while they were playing with another child in a separate room. The service plan requires the child to have line of sight supervision while playing with other children.

Standard Number: 749.3041(4)

Standard Description: Physical Environment-foster home must

ensure that flammable or poisonous substances are stored out of the

reach of children

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

A box of matches was found in the hallway of the home by one of the children residing in the home. This child held on to the matches and did not alert the foster parents that the matches had been found. This box of matches was hidden back in the foster parents’ bedroom. Additionally the foster child in respite care over the Thanksgiving holiday was able to access another box of matches that she found in the dresser drawer of the room she was sleeping in. This child started a fire in the wastebasket of the bedroom with there matches. This box of matches was retrieved from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Standard Number: 749.503(a)(9)A(ii)

Standard Description:

Serious Incident-Report to Licensing no later than 24 hours after determining a child 13 years old or older is missing

Narrative

The operation waited more than 24 hours before reporting to licensing that a 17 year old had run away from his foster home.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(3)

Standard Description:

Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for ensuring each child’s safety and well being, including auditory and/or visual awareness of the child

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

Foster mother, Cozette, stated she had talked with her case manager about using a baby monitoring for one of the children in her care due to his seizure disorder. At the inspection of the foster home one of the receivers for the baby monitor was unplugged and under a kitchen cabinet. Cozette stated she had not used the baby monitor on the night that the child had a seizure.

Standard Number 749.1521(4)

Standard Description: Medication Storage-Store medication covered by Section II of the Texas Controlled Substances Act under double lock in a separate container

Technical Assistance Given: Yes

Narrative

Several medications covered by Section II of the Texas Controlled Substances Act were found in a locked box in an unlocked cabinet. The cabinet was in the foster mother’s office, which was also unlocked. These medications, therefore, were not kept under double lock at the time of inspection.

Standard Number: 749.2471(9)(D)

Standard Description:

Verification Certificate specifies the ages and gender(s) of children for which the home is verified

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative The verification certificate at the home did not match the characteristics of the children placed. The certificate indicated the home was verified for children ages 10 to 17 even though a 7-year-old child was placed in the home.

Standard Number: 16102

Standard Description: Children must not be Abused or Neglected

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative A young foster child was sexually assaulted by an older child in the home. The older child was arrested for sexual assault.

Standard Number: AF22101

Standard Description: Children must not be Abused or Neglected

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative The evidence gathered supports that the foster mother abused the foster child by striking the child on the head and possibly causing a bruise.

Standard Number: AF23102b

Standard Description: Discipline – Not be Physically or Emotionally Damaging to Child

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

The evidence gathered supports that the foster parent struck the foster child on the head as an inappropriate form of discipline.

Standard Number: AF23102a

Standard Description: Discipline -Consistent with Agency Policies

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

The evidence gathered supports that the foster mother used a restraint that is inconsistent with the PMB restraint system used by the CPA.

Standard Number: 749.1957(1)

Standard Description: Other Prohibited Discipline – Any harsh, cruel, unusual, unnecessary, demeaning, or humiliating discipline or punishment

Technical Assistance Given: Yes

Narrative

Two children reported foster mother threw a gas cap at one of them when the child rummaged through her purse.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(4)

Standard Description: Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for being able to intervene when necessary to

ensure each child’s safety

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative There was an addendum to the safety plan that included the foster child not have access to pens and pencils. The addendum was discussed with the foster mother on 4/4/08 and then sent to her on 4/10/08; the foster mother signed and dated it. The safety plan states that the foster parent will ensure that the foster child does not have access to any sharp objects, including pencils and pens. The foster mother was aware that the foster child had a bag full of ballpoint pens and (unsharpened) pencils just prior to the child using a pen to hurt another child in the home. The foster mother stated she was not concerned about the foster child having the pens and pencils as he needs them for school. The foster mother did not take the necessary steps to ensure each child’s safety in the home.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(5)

Standard Description:

Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for not performing tasks that clearly impede the caregiver’s ability to supervise

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

Caregiver failed to supervise a child while they were playing with another child in a separate room. The service plan requires the child to have line of sight supervision while playing with other children.

Standard Number: 749.3041(4)

Standard Description:Physical Environment-foster home must ensure

that flammable or poisonous substances are stored out of the reach of

children

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

A box of matches was found in the hallway of the home by one of the children residing in the home. This child held on to the matches and did not alert the foster parents that the matches had been found. This box of matches was hidden back in the foster parents’ bedroom. Additionally the foster child in respite care over the Thanksgiving holiday was able to access another box of matches that she found in the dresser drawer of the room she was sleeping in. This child started a fire in the wastebasket of the bedroom with there matches. This box of matches was retrieved from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Standard Number: 749.503(a)(9)A(ii)

Standard Description:

Serious Incident-Report to Licensing no later than 24 hours after determining a child 13 years old or older is missing

Narrative

The operation waited more than 24 hours before reporting to licensing that a 17 year old had run away from his foster home.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(3)

Standard Description:

Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for ensuring each child’s safety and well being, including auditory and/or visual awareness of the child

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

Foster mother, Cozette, stated she had talked with her case manager about using a baby monitoring for one of the children in her care due to his seizure disorder. At the inspection of the foster home one of the receivers for the baby monitor was unplugged and under a kitchen cabinet. Cozette stated she had not used the baby monitor on the night that the child had a seizure.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(5)

Standard Description:

Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for not performing tasks that clearly impede the caregiver’s ability to supervise

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

Caregiver failed to supervise a child while they were playing with another child in a separate room. The service plan requires the child to have line of sight supervision while playing with other children.

Standard Number: 749.3041(4)

Standard Description:

Physical Environment-foster home must ensure that flammable

or poisonous substances are stored out of the reach of children

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

A box of matches was found in the hallway of the home by one of the children residing in the home. This child held on to the matches and did not alert the foster parents that the matches had been found. This box of matches was hidden back in the foster parents’ bedroom. Additionally the foster child in respite care over the Thanksgiving holiday was able to access another box of matches that she found in the dresser drawer of the room she was sleeping in. This child started a fire in the wastebasket of the bedroom with there matches. This box of matches was retrieved from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Standard Number: 749.503(a)(9)A(ii)

Standard Description:

Serious Incident-Report to Licensing no later than 24 hours after determining a child 13 years old or older is missing

Narrative

The operation waited more than 24 hours before reporting to licensing that a 17 year old had run away from his foster home.

Standard Number: 749.2593(a)(3)

Standard Description:

Supervision-The caregiver is responsible for ensuring each child’s safety and well being, including auditory and/or visual awareness of the child

Technical Assistance Given: No

Narrative

Foster mother, Cozette, stated she had talked with her case manager about using a baby monitoring for one of the children in her care due to his seizure disorder. At the inspection of the foster home one of the receivers for the baby monitor was unplugged and under a kitchen cabinet. Cozette stated she had not used the baby monitor on the night that the child had a seizure.

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, family, foster care, government, system failure
Texas foster care system struggling

Some, but not enough, experience the challenges and joys of opening homes and hearts.


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Monday, May 07, 2007Yolanda and Michael Gobert tell friends, business associates and fellow members of Little Zion Baptist Church about something they’ve been doing for four years, something they think others should consider: foster parenting.

It’s not an easy sell, and there have been no takers. But, Yolanda Gobert said, “we’re planting that seed.”

Deborah Cannon/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Michael and Yolanda Gobert, center, initially wanted to foster a baby but have discovered the joys of helping teenagers, and now they talk up the foster program every chance they get. Justin, 16, wants to be a politician; Amber, 15, has set her sights on nursing.

The Goberts, who have two teenage foster children, know that there aren’t nearly enough foster parents in Texas. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that some of the children the state has removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect are sleeping in state offices and sometimes hotels because there is nowhere else for them to go.

The Goberts have heard the reasons people say no. People are scared of what an abused or neglected child might be like. They’ve heard the horror stories of children dying in foster homes in Texas. They don’t like the idea of Child Protective Services workers poking around their homes.

And they’re turned off by all the regulations — including a batch added this year.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Gee, I don’t know if I want to go through that,’ ” said Roy Block of San Antonio, president of the Texas Foster Family Association.

Perhaps worst of all is the risk foster parents take when they open their hearts to a child whose legal guardian is the State of Texas.

“You always, constantly live with the fear that if you say something wrong or do something wrong with the children, they have the right to step in and take the children from you, and you have nothing to say or do about it,” Michael Gobert said.

Still, he urges people to do it.

“If you want to make an impact on society, on the world, I don’t see a better place than through foster care,” he said.

Running scared

In January, the state put in place a series of new rules, the first major overhaul of minimum standards in several years.

No smoking in foster homes. No firearms in certain foster homes (the Legislature is considering reversing that one). Must have a fence or a wall at least 4 feet high around an in-ground swimming pool area.

There are 474 rules for foster homes and the agencies that place children in the homes. They range from how often bed linens must be changed (at least once a week) to whether trampolines may be used as play equipment (no) to how a child may be disciplined.

Officials say the rules are for children’s safety. And state lawmakers are moving to increase oversight of the foster care system in the wake of the deaths of three children in foster homes in North Texas. The Senate passed a bill — expected to come up soon in a House hearing — that would require annual, unannounced inspections of foster homes.

“The state’s running a little scared,” Block said of the January rules. “I’m all for heading these things off so we never have a child injured. But we need homes; we need good homes; we need to not chase away our current homes by making things more cumbersome for them.”

The changes come at a time when there are about 20,000 children in foster care, an increase of about 45 percent since 2001. That’s due to general population growth as well as a recent infusion of money into improving abuse and neglect investigations, which has led to more children being removed from their homes.

The number of foster homes has increased 26 percent in that same period.

“I don’t think you raise treatment standards in the midst of a capacity crisis,” said Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which is an advocate for low- and middle-income Texans. “I think the rules that went into effect in January did just that.”

But state officials say there’s always a shortage of foster parents.

“This is not a new development,” said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees CPS.

This part is new: In April, 92 children spent at least one night in a state office. That’s up from 32 in January, the first month the state started documenting the practice.

It has put rules into place governing the practice, including a requirement that at least two adults supervise them. Last week, CPS found a placement for a teenager who’d been staying in a state office in Round Rock for seven days.

On Tuesday, a state worker sent an e-mail with the subject line “Critical Help Needed for CPS Children.” She was trying to get the word out to civic and church groups that CPS needed community assistance feeding seven children staying in an office in Fort Worth.

“Finding placement for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and/or neglect has become quite a challenge for our agency,” she wrote. “You may have heard that we have children sleeping in offices due to a delay or inability in locating placement for them. This can be very uncomfortable (for) the children we serve.”

Crimmins said it’s not just a lack of capacity that’s leading to children sleeping in offices. Frequently, he said, providers refuse to accept children with certain emotional or physical needs, even if the provider is licensed to take a child with those needs.

Over time, the number of foster children with special needs has increased, McCown said.

“Whether kids are more troubled or whether we do more about it is kind of irrelevant for the parent,” McCown said. “You’re still expecting them to do a more complex job.”

More help?

The Goberts decided to become foster parents nearly a decade ago. They wanted to be matched with a baby. But they changed their minds after learning at an informational meeting that they’d more likely be matched with an older child.

A few years later, they came around to the idea of older children. The day after they became certified, Amber moved in. Now 15, Amber is an aspiring nurse who spends a lot of time on MySpace.com. Later came Justin, 16, a 400-meter sprinter who’d like to be a politician.

Foster care is, by definition, a temporary arrangement. It lasts only until the children can be safely returned to their homes or adopted.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that Texas foster parents were actively encouraged to adopt their foster children, but the change reduced the number of foster parents in the system. Once people adopted, they tended to stop being foster parents.

Another factor affecting the number of foster parents, McCown said, is the reimbursements foster parents receive: $20 to $80 a day, depending on the child’s needs. That’s not enough to cover the cost of raising a child, he said.

The Legislature is considering increasing those rates.

When asked what Texas is doing to recruit foster families, Crimmins pointed out that the state handles placements of just 20 percent of foster children. The rest are placed by private agencies overseen by the state. One private agency in Austin, the Casey Family Programs Austin Field Office, has several recruiting events scheduled in May, which is National Foster Care Month. They set up booths at community fairs. They go on radio shows.

Ann Stanley, director of the Casey field office, said some of the best recruiters are foster families such as the Goberts.

“They don’t sugarcoat it,” she said of experienced families. “They tell you, ‘This is when it’s hard. These are the joys.’

“We tell our foster parents this: ‘Your life becomes an open book. You are going to get questions that are really personal.’ ”

Under a microscope

When a CPS caseworker goes into a home of a potential foster family, he or she may ask about everything from the applicants’ work history to their sexual relationships.

Once approved, the foster home must get fire and health inspections. And CPS workers periodically inspect the homes.

Round Rock foster parent Kelvin Austin said he doesn’t mind the oversight.

“You get used to it,” he said.

But some say the inspections go too far.

Lori Hendley, a foster mother in McKinney, said her placement agency warned families that one home in its network was reported for having expired horseradish in the refrigerator, which could be a violation of standards for food quality and storage.

“You’re really under a microscope,” Hendley said. “You basically open up your home to Big Brother.”

Hendley said she’s seen the worst side of the CPS system. In 2004, she and her husband became foster parents for a baby boy they planned to adopt. But the CPS caseworker decided to place the boy with a friend of the child’s birth mother, she said.

“They pulled him out of our home, and they said, ‘That’s the last you’ll ever know about this child, ever,’ ” she said.

She said friends of hers who were considering being foster parents changed their minds after hearing about the Hendleys’ experience.

But the Hendleys didn’t give up. They now have a 3-year-old foster son. They are adopting him and expect the process to be complete this month.

“We hung in,” Hendley said as the boy chattered in the background, “and the reward is in my lap.”

cmaclaggan@statesman.com; 445-3548

child custody, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, el dorado, Eldorado, family, foster care, General, government, law, legal, religion, system failure
FLDS parents complain of vague custody plans
0520 Polygamist Retreat_BW
Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints make their way towards the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo, Texas for the first round of hearings regarding the family plans on Monday, May 19, 2008. (AP Photo/San Angelo Standard-Times, Brian Connelly)
Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Michelle Roberts – THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Children from a polygamist sect were the only subjects on the docket Monday at a west Texas courthouse where five judges began handling hundreds of hearings that attorneys for the children’s parents decried for their cookie-cutter approach.

State child welfare officials gave each of the more than 460 children in state custody the same template plan for parents to follow, and judges made few changes. But parents remained without answers to important questions, including whether a requirement that the children live in a “safe” environment means they can’t return to the Yearning For Zion Ranch.

Donna Guion, an attorney for the mother of a 6-year-old son of the sect’s jailed prophet, Warren Jeffs, complained the plans were so vague they would be impossible to satisfy and were contingent on psychological evaluations likely to take weeks more to complete.

“This plan is so vague and so broad that my client has no idea what she can do now,” Guion said of the boy’s mother.

Dozens of mothers in prairie dresses and fathers in button-down shirts, flanked by pro bono lawyers from the state’s most prestigious firms as well as Legal Aid, arrived at the Tom Green County courthouse hoping to learn how to regain custody of their children.

“What the parents are trying to find out here is what they need to do to get their children back, and there’s no clear answer to that,” said Rod Parker, spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which runs the ranch in Eldorado.

The FLDS parents say they are being persecuted for their religion, which includes beliefs that polygamy brings glorification in heaven.

In one hearing, attorneys complained that the Book of Mormon was confiscated from some of the children at a foster facility.

“If they can openly admit they can take away the Book of Mormon from us today, it’ll be the Bible tomorrow, and it’s outrageous,” said FLDS elder Willie Jessop.

State Child Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said officials have not been able to confirm whether the members’ holy text was taken from them, but they have removed photos, sermons and books of Jeffs, who is a convicted sex offender.

The hearings in San Angelo, 40 miles north of the ranch, are scheduled to run for the next three weeks, and none of the judges would humor any discussion about whether the initial grounds for removing the children in a raid of the ranch last month were valid. It probably will be months before the cases are reviewed again in court.

The state also acknowledged Monday that two more sect members they listed as minors are actually adults. The state has made that mistake at least four times; child welfare officials have complained that church members have not cooperated with their efforts to determine ages and family relationships.

Texas child welfare authorities argued that all the children, ranging from newborns to teenagers, should be removed from the ranch because the sect pushes underage girls into marriage and sex and encourages boys to become future perpetrators.

Church members insist there was no abuse. They say the one-size-fits-all action plan devised by CPS doesn’t take into account specific marriage arrangements or living circumstances.

Some members of the renegade Mormon sect lived in a communal setting in large log houses they built themselves. Others lived as traditional nuclear families in their own housing on the ranch.

CPS spokeswoman Shari Pulliam said the plans look similar now but will be customized as officials get more information.

“It’s logical they all look the same. All the children were removed from the same address at the same time for the same reason,” she said. But “it’s an evolving plan.”

All the plans call for parenting classes, vocational training for the parents and require the parents to prove they can support their children. They also call for safe living environments, though they offer no specifics.

CPS supervisor Karrie Emerson said the parenting classes will be tailored to explain Texas laws regarding underage sex. “The goal isn’t to change any of their religious beliefs per se but just to educate them what might be a problem under Texas law,” she said.

CPS has said that reunification of the families by next April is the goal.

Jessop, however, said the state has made it impossible for parents comply with vague plans and to visit their children, many of whom are scattered to facilities up to 650 miles apart.

“Every parent is accused of being bad, and there’s no cure,” Jessop said.

The unwieldy custody case has been unusual from the beginning. All the children of the ranch were treated as if they belonged to a single household, so the chaotic initial hearing involved hundreds of attorneys for children and parents and broad allegations from the department about the risk of abuse.

So far, 168 mothers and 69 fathers have been identified in court documents; more than 100 other children had unknown parents as the hearings got under way. DNA samples have been taken, but the first results are at least two weeks away.

The children were removed from the ranch during an April 3 raid that began after someone called a domestic abuse hot line claiming to be a pregnant 16-year-old abused by a much older husband. The girl has never been found and authorities are investigating whether the calls were a hoax.

The FLDS is a renegade breakaway of the Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Sect leader Jeffs, who is revered as a prophet, has been sentenced to prison in Utah for being an accomplice to rape in arranging a marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin. He is awaiting trial in Arizona, where he is charged as an accomplice with four counts each of incest and sexual conduct.

Court documents listed 10 children of Jeffs living at the ranch. If DNA tests confirm that any of the children are his, the children will be allowed to keep a photo, said Meisner, the CPS spokeswoman.