Year: 2013

child, children, cps, families, General, love
Taming the Mommy Tiger

This article from StepMom Magazine is too good to not re-post. In the arena of parental alienation, I have been doing my research into many areas, including blended families.

One of the most common issues I see presented is the battle between a stepparent and the natural parent.

This article has great insight, by Wednesday Martin, Ph.D. 

Taming the Mommy TigerOne of the most common questions I hear from women who marry or partner with men who have kids is,

What should they call me?”

While there’s no one right answer, I do concur with the overwhelming majority of experts and women in the trenches who know from first-hand experience that there is, in a broad sense, to which there are rare exceptions, a wrong one: Mom. Or mommy. Or mother. You get the idea.

I’m not big on oversimplified advice—there’s way too much of it out there for stepmothers in books, which tend to gloss over the point of view of the woman with stepchildren, as if she’s got no right to have one. That’s just wrong, and that’s why I wrote a book from a stepmother-centric perspective. But when it comes to this particular issue, unless the planets are aligned just so (and we’ll get to that, to the factors that might make it easy and OK for his kids to call you and think of you as mom), it is best for all parties if you acknowledge the specialness of your bond with his kids of any age by coming up with a word other than mom to define it.

“Hey!” you’re thinking, “That’s not fair! I’m just like a mom. I do lots of heavy lifting. I do X, Y and even Z for those kids!! And she’s (fill-in-the-blank with neglectful, or a terrible mother or unloving and selfish and disinterested in  her kids, or even an alcoholic/drug addict/liar).

So, why is she the only one to be called mom?

Does just giving birth to them make her the only mother?

Yep, it does.

Whether we like it or think it’s right or wrong, we will likely be able save ourselves a lot of grief and aggravation by acknowledging a simple truth. In our society, motherhood is romanticized and idealized, and mothers—no matter how bad—are put on a pedestal by the world in general and by their kids in particular.

Sometimes, you may have noticed, the more problems the mother has, the more fiercely protective of and attached and irrationally loyal to her the kids are. It can make your head spin, especially if you know you’re a better parent than she is. Whoa, there, Step-mom!

There’s a reason step-family experts—from the National Step-family Resource Center to the last book you picked up—are virtually unanimous in their advice,

“Don’t try to replace their mother, and don’t ask them to call you mom.”

While you’re at it, when they ask to call you mom, as flattering as it is, as much of a victory as it feels like, as much as you feel you earned it and deserve it, your life will probably be a whole lot easier in the long run if you point out,

“I love you very much, but let’s think of something else for you to call me, since you already have a mom.”

Again, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

Why are the experts and so many of the women who have been there such killjoys about the kids calling you mommy?

Because they know what they’re talking about. First, there’s the reality of the loyalty bind—a feeling that kids get, often because their moms
encourage it—that loving or even liking you is a betrayal of her. They
suspect that bonding with you will actually cause their bond with her to wither and die. What could be scarier for these kids than loving you and calling you mom, mommy or any variant of The Mother? Sometimes, kids feel and fear this even without their moms doing what too many moms do— badmouth you and your marriage.

If there’s anything that provokes a woman with stepchildren, it’s a mom who doesn’t want her kids to get too close to dad’s new wife—and tries to assure it won’t happen by telling lies or saying inappropriate and undermining things about their step-mom.

“If it weren’t for her, your dad and I would still be together,” such women might say to their kids. Or, “You don’t have to listen to her or be nice to her. She’s not in charge of you.”

If there is anything that provokes a mother, it’s the feeling that someone— someone married to her ex-husband in particular, whether she instigated the divorce or not—is competing with her for her child’s affection. “I love them like they’re my own,” you might say to her in a conversation, trying to set her at ease. But the words have the opposite effect, making mom feel encroached upon and threatened.

But why? As I researched my book, “Stepmonster,” I reviewed what sociologists and anthropologists had to say about stepmothering worldwide and about wife/ex-wife conflict across cultures. What quickly became clear was the following simple truth: In our society in particular, many women find the idea of sharing their children with another motherlike figure incredibly threatening to their core identity and their very sense of self. And when they have to do it, they lose it.

Many are the stories of crazy exes and vengeful biomoms (can we please just call them moms or mothers?) who undermine the stepmother/stepchild relationship as if their very lives depend upon it.

Why are these women so angry, so dead set on keeping their kids from bonding with stepmom? Sociologists Linda Nielsen of Wake Forest University, Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen University and the Council on Contemporary Families tell us that, unlike many Caribbean, Native American, and Pacific Island cultures—where children have a number of parent-like figures who care for them and may have several mother-like “aunties” who look after them in all senses, such as feeding, clothing and even disciplining them—middle and upper-middle class Caucasian American women are dramatically more likely to have been raised in a “one-mother only mentality.”

That means these women have been taught from an early age that mothering means one woman and one woman only doing the heavy lifting mostly, if not entirely, on her own. They are less likely, in a broad statistical sense, to have had fictive kin, aunties and even extended family involved in their upbringing. In their view, mothering comes from one person, and one person alone—period.

This exclusive, exclusionary view of mothering is deeply ingrained for many of us and results in a mindset that there can be only one mother. Further implied is that if one mother isn’t doing it all on her own, she’s a bad one. And being a bad mother, in our culture, makes you a bad woman and a bad person. There’s no separating those categories in our thinking.

Coontz, Nielsen and other sociologists point out that Caribbean, Pacific Island, Native American and African American children are more likely to have “allomaternal” and “allopaternal” figures in their lives—“aunties” and “uncles” who contribute to their well-being in numerous ways. They also tell us this is likely to be the case in immigrant and lower-income groups, where extended family living arrangements and a belief that “it takes a village” prevail. In contrast, for many of us in the U.S., it’s nuclear family bonds uber-alles.

Why do so many ex-wives go nuts when their exes remarry and their kids get a stepmother? In large part, it may be because they are programmed to do this.

Understanding this might help those of us with stepchildren understand how an otherwise sane-seeming, high-functioning woman is capable of demonizing us in irrational ways. It takes hard work and commitment to overcome this social programming, and our collective hats should be off to the mothers who manage it. As for those who don’t, we will do everyone a good turn, perhaps most especially ourselves and our step kids, if we use this knowledge to avoid provoking the mommy tiger by insisting on our “right” to be called mom and to share what she considers to be her exclusive mom privileges.

These often include parent-teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments and conversations with kids about topics like reproduction, sex and drugs. In all of these areas, ask yourself just how dreadful it really is to have to concede to her irrational-seeming wishes you just stay away or remain uninvolved.

As many therapists and stepfamily coaches ask their clients,

“Do you really want to go to every parent-teacher conference? If it provokes your husband’s ex so tremendously, might it be wise to sit back?”

Sadly,our well-intentioned impulses to be involved in his children’s lives might be read by mom, owing to her social programming, as territorial and aggressive.

Does that mean you have to skip the Winter Sing, the graduation or the gymnastics meet every time, be excluded and shut out? No way. But if there is a high conflict situation with a Mommy Tiger, it makes sense to ask yourself exactly which battles are worth having and when it might be more fun to skip the science fair and go out for a night with friends.

And then there are those rare exceptions. I know a few—and perhaps you do, too—women whose step kids call them mom and who have a highly involved, maternal relationship with the kids. Here’s the planetary alignment that might favor a kid calling you mom and thinking of you as one or another one, without blowback:

1. His or her mother is out of the picture. Not as in deceased. A child whose mother has passed away will likely need to preserve her memory and her name—mother—just for her, no matter how badly that child may want and need mothering from you. But out of touch and out of sight for almost all of the time might make it easier and less
fraught for you to take on a mom role and name. Remember, though, although she may be out of sight and out of touch, she may not be out of mind.

2. He or she is young enough and open enough to forming an attachment so the mommy thing will not inspire tremendous ambivalence or confusion.

3. His or her mother actually encourages a warm, closer relationship between you and her child—and means it.

One woman I interviewed—I’ll call her Sarah—was nine months pregnant when her husband, never reliable, left her. He came back when the baby was 3 months old and left again three months later.

Sarah knew her ex, given his yearslong pattern of abandoning her and others, would never be part of her child’s life. She also found out that
a court was very likely to support her barring contact should it come to that. So, when Sarah eventually decided to remarry, she and her partner thought long and hard about what her 2-year-old girl should call her stepfather. Given all of the factors, they settled on daddy.

However, they decided her new husband’s son Zach—whose mom was
sufficiently unreliable and irresponsible to have lost custody of him—had a mom, however imperfect. Having and being a mommy, Sarah and her husband knew, is uniquely fraught in our culture. And they suspected that letting Zach call Sarah mommy might cause problems—resentments, confusion or ambivalence—down the line. They were probably right.

And five years later, Zach and Sarah, whom he calls Sarry—a variation on mommy that is different enough from it to set everyone at ease—are doing just fine.

“In our society in particular, many women find the idea of sharing their children with  another  mother-like figure incredibly threatening to their core identity and their very sense of self. And when they have to do it, they lose it.”

© 2011 StepMom Magazine
Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., is a social researcher and the author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do (2009).
She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today
and blogs for the Huffington Post and on her own web site
She has appeared as a stepparenting expert on NPR, the BBC Newshour, Fox News and NBC Weekend Today, and was a regular contributor to the New York Post’s parenting page.
Stepmonster was a finalist in the parenting category of the 2010 “Books for a Better Life” award.
A stepmother for a decade, Wednesday lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
Her stepdaughters are young adults.
A few things you should know about CPS litigation

Because knowledge is power –

This article is from the Texas District and County Attorneys Association at

By Pamela Kemp Parker
Special Projects Attorney with the Office of General Counsel, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Austin

If you are new to CPS cases, the learning curve is steep.
What follows is a roadmap for this important but often disorienting legal terrain.

A growing awareness of the unique legal, social, and psychological issues confronting abused and neglected children and their families in recent decades has produced an army of judges, lawyers, child advocates, and social workers better equipped than ever to handle the unique landscape of child protective services (CPS) litigation. For attorneys new to this area of practice, however, the field’s increasing complexity makes getting up to speed a daunting task.

Any attorney who has been in the trenches knows why the learning curve is so steep: a maze of constantly changing federal and state laws, an alphabet soup of acronyms, a variable cast of parties in every lawsuit, and myriad special laws governing everything from paternity, to Native American children, to interstate and international placements. It isn’t possible to produce an exhaustive compilation of what an attorney representing the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) needs to know in a brief article, but what follows is intended as a roadmap for this important but often disorienting legal terrain, with citations and resources for further research. Although this is only a fraction of what a successful practitioner needs to know, I hope that a close look at the infrastructure underlying this field of practice will make it easier to build the necessary expertise.

The big picture

In 1997 Congress enacted a fundamental truism of child welfare litigation into law: Child safety is paramount in every decision at every juncture.1 Although it almost seems unnecessary to say out loud, the reality of child welfare litigation—the frenetic pace, heavy caseloads, high stakes and limited resources—makes the mantra of child safety a useful touchstone for practitioners.

Another pillar of child welfare policy is the concept that every child needs the most permanent living arrangement possible, as quickly as possible. Ideally, permanency means services that prevent a child from being removed from her home or allow a child to be returned home as quickly as possible. When a child cannot be returned home, however, her need for permanency requires timely decisions to afford her a safe and stable placement. After too many years of children languishing in foster care, both the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress enacted statutory mandates that compel timely progress and review of cases and, most importantly, impose strict time limits for reaching a final determination in a child welfare case.2

Another significant concept, reflected in both policy and law, is a renewed emphasis on the role of the extended family and friends in resolving abuse and neglect issues.3 This philosophy takes many forms, but the Family Group Conferencing model is a prime example.4 In this model the first effort to aid a family in crisis is to provide a forum for the family to craft its own solution. A facilitator convenes relatives, friends and other members of the community important to the family, but the focus is on encouraging the family to draw on its own strengths and create a uniquely appropriate plan to address child safety.

With the increased focus on families, greater emphasis is also placed on an aggressive search to find any and all possible relatives or family friends who are potential caretakers when it’s determined that a child can no longer be safe in her home. To this end, DFPS provides a parent with a Child Placement Resources Form at the time of removal and must evaluate each person on the form and complete a home study of the most appropriate substitute caregiver before the adversary hearing.5

A hearing for every occasion

The rhythm and progress of a child protection lawsuit is dictated by federal and state laws that require a series of hearings that begin when a child is removed from a family’s home. The following are broad descriptions of the purpose and timing of these standard hearings. For details about the statutory requirements, issues and procedural prerequisites, consult the resources cited below. In addition, the Office of General Counsel for DFPS anticipates releasing the Practice Guide for DFPS Attorneys in the fall of 2008. Attorneys who represent the agency also currently have access to HOTDOCS, a software program with standard pleadings for DFPS litigation.6

Emergency removal. If a child has been removed with no prior court order, the agency must appear in court no later than the next business day (usually this is an ex parte hearing/order) and provide sufficient evidence of “a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child if returned to the home or evidence that the child has been sexually abused and is at substantial risk of future sexual abuse.”7

Alternatively, DFPS may seek an ex parte order prior to a removal and in that instance must provide sufficient evidence of “either an immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the child, or that the child has been a victim of neglect or sexual abuse.”8

In addition, in either of these circumstances the agency must also provide sufficient evidence:

•    that there is not sufficient time, consistent with the child’s physical health or safety, to hold an adversary hearing;

•    that it would be contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the home; and

•    that reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal.9

Non-emergency hearing. If there is no urgent need for removal but the child’s safety is at risk if left in the parent’s care, DFPS can seek a court order authorizing removal following a noticed hearing. This type of order requires sufficient evidence to prove:

•    that it would be contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the home; and

•    that reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal.10

In every removal, the original petition in the Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (SAPCR) is verified by the caseworker’s supporting affidavit, which must detail specific facts about household conditions, medical findings, allegations of sexual abuse or physical abuse, or other circumstances that make removal of a child necessary, as well as the efforts made to obviate the need for a removal.

Adversary hearing. Within 14 days after DFPS takes a child into custody in an ex parte proceeding, the court must revisit the issue of removal and either enter temporary orders or return the child to the family.11 At this hearing, if the court appoints DFPS as the child’s temporary managing conservator, the court must enter temporary orders and find:

•    danger to the child’s physical health or safety and that it is contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the home;

•    the urgent need for protection required immediate removal; and

•    that despite reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal and to return the child home, there is a substantial risk of continuing danger to the child in the home.12

At this juncture the agency attorney also typically seeks any necessary orders for visitation, child support, paternity testing, psychological testing, drug assessment or testing, physical examinations, discovery, or other orders needed to protect the child, facilitate the child’s return, or find optimum placement for a child.

Status hearing. No later than 60 days after a temporary order is entered, a status hearing must be held.13 Its focus is:

•    the contents of the service plan;

•    designation of the person authorized to give medical consent for the child;

•    the status of diligent search efforts for any missing parents; and

•    a warning to parents that unless the parent can offer the child a safe environment, termination of parental rights is an option.14

Permanency hearings. The first permanency hearing must be held no later than 180 days after DFPS is named as temporary conservator.15 Notice is required and all parties must be given a copy of the permanency plan at least 10 days prior to the hearing.16

At the hearing, the court must:

•    thoroughly assess all facets of the case;

•    return the child to the home if it is safe to do so;

•    enter necessary orders to ensure progress toward permanency; and

•    set a dismissal date.17

A subsequent permanency hearing must be held within 120 days of the last permanency hearing.18

Final hearing. The driving force that dictates timely resolution of a child welfare case is the requirement that no later than one year after DFPS is named conservator (or at most an additional 180 days later if the court finds that extraordinary circumstances necessitate an extension), the court must either enter a final order or dismiss the lawsuit.19 DFPS may seek termination of parental rights and appointment of DFPS or another caretaker as permanent managing conservator. Although it is sometimes necessary, naming DFPS or another caretaker as a child’s managing conservator without termination of the child’s parental rights is only appropriate if no other, more permanent option is available. Without question, this stage of the litigation requires the most careful preparation, adherence to procedural requirements, and close coordination between DFPS staff and attorneys representing the agency.

Evidence of DFPS’ efforts to locate a missing parent, a parent’s compliance with the service plan, and the child’s adoptability may all be crucial at this juncture. If termination of parental rights is requested, there must be clear and convincing evidence of at least one statutory ground for termination of parental rights and that termination is in the child’s best interests.20

Placement reviews

If the final order names DFPS as managing conservator, the court must review the child’s placement at least every six months until the child ages out of foster care.21

DFPS must submit a placement review report addressing all aspects of the child’s status at least 10 days in advance, and the court must make findings as to the appropriateness of the placement, the efforts made to meet the child’s needs, and any additional services the child needs.22

Who qualifies as a parent?

In child protection litigation, sometimes half the battle is figuring out who is a party to the action. If a child is born to a married woman, her husband is the presumed father and must be named in a suit seeking to restrict or terminate parental rights.23 Similarly, if a man has lived continuously with a child during her first two years of life and has held himself out to be the child’s father, he may also qualify as a presumed father.24

A presumption of paternity can be rebutted only by an adjudication of paternity or a valid denial of paternity filed by a presumed father with a valid acknowledgement by another person.25

If the mother is not married when a child is born (and wasn’t married within 301 days before birth) and no man has been adjudicated to be the father, the legal ramifications of alleged father status become important. Texas maintains a paternity registry, which allows an alleged father to protect his rights by registering; if he fails to do so, he allows a child to be legally freed for adoption without service of process.26

The process of checking the registry and terminating parental rights of a man who fails to register is not difficult, but getting accurate information as to potential fathers, obtaining paternity testing where possible, and handling new information that may not surface until the eve of a final hearing can be tricky. The best strategy is to make every effort to resolve the paternity question as early in the litigation as possible to streamline the litigation and make the best use of limited resources.27

Search and serve

When parental rights are at stake, due process requires that a parent be served with the lawsuit or, at a minimum, the agency must exercise due diligence in an effort to locate a missing parent before a court can authorize substitute service, usually by publication. Generally, DFPS pleads for termination of parental rights in the alternative in the initial petition. This strategy avoids the necessity of serving parties again when and if the decision is made to pursue termination of parental rights. If a default judgment is taken, compliance with the Service-members Civil Relief Act requires proof that a parent is not an active member of the military.28

Acronyms and lingo

Being familiar with the language always makes navigating new terrain much easier. A few key terms include:

Adam Walsh: The federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which requires (among other things) that child welfare agencies conduct fingerprint-based FBI checks on all prospective foster and adoptive homes and, for federally funded placements, imposes either a permanent or a five-year bar on placements if a caretaker has a conviction for specified crimes.29

ASFA: The federal Adoption & Safe Families Act of 1997 which amended Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.30

Baby Moses: The tag given to cases involving infants left at a designated facility, which are not treated as abandonment, to promote safe delivery of infants who might otherwise be left in trash bins or similar perilous circumstances. Special procedures regarding confidentiality, notice, and termination of parental rights apply in these cases.31

CAC: Child Advocacy Center, a multi-disciplinary center designed to minimize the trauma on a child by limiting the number of interviews and to promote collaboration between medical, law enforcement, social work, legal, and other child welfare professionals.32

CAPTA: The federal Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act, most recently reauthorized and amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003.33

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocates, volunteer guardians ad litem appointed to advocate for a child in court.34

CCEJ: Court of Continuing and Exclusive Jurisdiction. After the adversary hearing, if another court is the CCEJ as result of a custody case or another CPS suit, the court must transfer the suit to the CCEJ or, if mandatory transfer grounds exist, order the transfer of the suit from the CCEJ, or order the transfer of the case to the court having venue of the suit.35

FBSS: Family Based Safety Services. These are protective services provided to a family before a child is removed from the home. These services are designed to avoid a removal and reduce the likelihood that a child will be abused or neglected.36

IV-D: Title IV-D of the Social Security Act creates the state’s child support enforcement program. Texas receives a substantial federal subsidy for this program. The Child Support Division of the Office of Attorney General (also known as the IV-D state agency) is responsible for the establishment and enforcement of child support.

IV-E: Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, the source of federal foster care and adoption assistance funding and the accompanying restrictions and requirements.37

Family Reunification Services: These are protective services provided after removal to support a family and the child during the child’s transition from living in substitute care to living back in the home.38

Kinship Care: Caretaking by relatives or “fictive kin,” friends of the family that function like relatives.

Order to Participate in Services: A court order to compel a parent or caretaker to participate in services designed to avoid the need to remove a child.39

SWI: Statewide Intake, a centralized DFPS office located in Austin where members of the public or professionals can report child abuse via the telephone or the Internet.

Special circumstances

In some cases, laws applicable to special situations and populations require particularized knowledge to competently resolve a CPS case. If you find yourself in a case with one of these issues, you must get help before you proceed.

For example, if a case involves:

•    a child with Native American heritage: Any removal or termination of parental rights of an “Indian child” is subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act.40

•    a foreign-born child: If a foreign-born child is in DFPS custody, DFPS must give notice to the foreign consul.41

•    an undocumented child: If an undocumented child cannot reunify with her family, the child will probably be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which is an avenue for obtaining Permanent Resident status.42

•    a child to be placed outside Texas: If a child will be placed outside of Texas, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children may require advance approval from the state where the child will be placed.43

•    a child from another state: If Texas does not have “home state” jurisdiction or there is a prior custody determination in another state, consult the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to assess to what extent a Texas court can assert jurisdiction beyond temporary emergency jurisdiction.45

Where to get help

Fortunately, there are excellent resources, mentors, checklists and guides available to help the busy practitioner wade through the daunting blend of legal, medical, mental health, financial and educational issues that modern child welfare litigation presents. Using these tools, we can best follow the advice of an early child advocate, Sitting Bull, who urged, “Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can build for our children.”46

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for CPS policy, rules, resources and updates about new initiatives;

Administration for Children and Families for Children’s Bureau, with federal law and child welfare policy handbook;

Texas Lawyers Care for child welfare-related articles, practice guides, expert witness information, and legal research;

American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law for articles, news, legislative updates and links to many other resources;

National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges for technical assistance, training, and research;

National Association of Counsel for Children for training, publications, and advocacy; D

Editor’s note: For more information, the author can be contacted at 512/929-6635 or


1 Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, P.L.105-89, §102.
2 42 U.S.C. §675 (5)(E) (state must file termination of parental rights for child in foster care for last 15 out of 22 months, or in case of aggravated circumstances, unless exception applies); Tex. Fam. Code §263.401 (dismissal of DFPS suit after one year unless extraordinary circumstances warrant extension of no more than 180 days).
3 42 U.S.C. §671(a)(19) (mandatory preference for adult relative that meets child protection standards over non-related caretaker); Tex. Fam. Code §262.114 (DFPS must evaluate relatives or other potential caregivers identified by parents and perform home study of most appropriate caregiver); Tex. Fam. Code §264.751 (relative and other designated caregiver support program).
4 Tex. Fam. Code §264.2015 (family group conferencing as strategy to promote family preservation and permanency).
5 DFPS Designated Caregiver Form 2625.
6 Contact Chrissy Sanders, Legal Assistant, Office of General Counsel, at 512/438-5606 or chrissy, to request HOTDOCS.
7 Tex. Fam. Code §262.107; §262.104 (a)(5) and (b) (in addition to general danger to physical health or safety, removal authorized based on specific harm caused by a parent or caretaker’s use of controlled substances or by allowing a child to remain on the premises where methamphetamines are manufactured).
8 Tex. Fam. Code §262.102.
9 Tex. Fam. Code §262.102 (a)(2)-(3); §262.107(a)(2)-(3); DFPS can claim federal funding for children who qualify for Title IV-E, but only if a court finds at the time of the removal that it was contrary to child’s welfare to remain in the home and that reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal. 42 U.S.C. §671(a)(15)(B); §672(a)(2)(A)(ii).
10 Tex. Fam. Code §262.113.
11 Tex. Fam. Code §262.201(a).
12 Tex. Fam. Code §262.201(b).
13 Tex. Fam. Code §263.201.
14 Tex. Fam. Code §§263.006; 263.202; 266.007.
15 Tex. Fam. Code §263.304.
16 Tex. Fam. Code §263.301.
17 Tex. Fam. Code §263.306.
18 Tex. Fam. Code §263.305.
19 Tex. Fam. Code §263.401 (dismissal after one year; 180 day extension possible).
20 Tex. Fam. Code §161.001(2); Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W. 2d 367 (Tex. 1976) (list of best interest factors).
21 Tex. Fam. Code §263.501.
22 Tex. Fam. Code §263.502-.503.
23 Tex. Fam. Code §160.204(a) (possible permutations that warrant presumed father status include child born during marriage, or within 301 days of a terminated marriage, child born during attempted marriage, or marriage after child’s birth with voluntary assertion of paternity if father takes specific actions)
24 Tex. Fam. Code §160.204(a)(5).
25 Tex. Fam. Code §160.204(b).
26 Tex. Fam. Code §160.402 (paternity registry); §160.404 (termination without notice to alleged father unless established parent-child relationship or man has filed paternity suit).
27 A variety of mechanisms exist for establishing paternity, Tex. Fam. Code Ch. 160, Subch. C. (establishing parent-child relationship); Subch. D. (acknowledgement of paternity) and Subch. G (adjudication of parentage).
28 Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §511 et seq.
29 P.L. 109-248; See also 42 U.S.C. §671(a)(20)(A).
30 P.L. 105-89.
31 Tex. Fam. Code Ch. 262, Subch. D; §263.1015 (no service plan required) and Tex. Fam. Code §161.001(1)(S) (termination ground for abandoned infants).
32 Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 264, Subchapter E.
33 P.L. 108-36.
34 Tex. Fam. Code Ch. 264, Subch. G.
35 Tex. Fam. Code §262.202-.203.
36 40 Tex. Admin. Code §700.702.
37 42 U.S.C. §670 et seq.
38 40 Tex. Admin. Code §700.703.
39 Tex. Fam. Code §264.203.
40 25 U.S.C. §1901 et seq.
41 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 21 U.S.T. 77, Article 37.
42 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(27)(J).
43 Tex. Fam. Code Ch. 162, Subch.B.
44 Tex. Fam. Code §§152.102(7); 152.201(a)(1) (“home state” is state where child lived with a parent or person acting as a parent for at least six months prior to the filing of the SAPCR).
45  Tex. Fam. Code Ch. 152.
46  Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux, See The Indian Child Welfare Act Handbook: A Legal Guide to the Custody and Adoption of Native American Children, B.J. Jones (American Bar Association, Family Law Section, 1995), p.1.

Published in The Prosecutor, May-June 2008, Volume 38, No. 3

abuse, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death
When CPS workers accept lies, children can die
Austin Bureau
Published: 14 December 2013 11:13 PM
Updated: 14 December 2013 11:41 PM

(source: Dallas Morning News)

Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson died from injuries that included a fractured skull after workers were lied to about her case








Alexandria Hill, 2, died of head injuries last July. Her foster mother has been charged with her murder.
Orien Hamilton, an 11-month-old, died in October from fatal head injuries in a suburban Austin home.
Foster mother Sherill Small, 54, faces trial on a capital murder charge in a toddler’s death
Gregory Guajardo has been charged in the death of his son



AUSTIN — When Child Protective Services workers accept lies at face value and stop pressing for the truth, children can die.

Being gullible about relationships, living situations or even abuse can be fatal, as illustrated by the recent beating deaths of at least four young Texas children — Orien Hamilton, Alexandria Hill, Giovanni Guajardo and Emma Thompson.

In each instance, adults who had something to hide or who needed to be strong-willed protectors misled CPS workers. Had the workers known the truth, they might have removed the children from harm’s way.

State protective services chief John Specia said he wants to better train his people to ferret out deception.

“We’ve got to be able to connect dots,” said Specia, a veteran San Antonio family court judge. Gov. Rick Perry selected him last year to run CPS’ parent agency, the Department of Family and Protective Services. “It’s really a matter of being able to have … that little red light go off that somebody isn’t telling you the whole story.”

While Specia has ordered some policy changes in response to two recent deaths, The Dallas Morning News found gaps and loopholes in the department’s current rules and procedures.

The newspaper found, for instance, that CPS workers aren’t necessarily required to interview neighbors when they investigate tips about birth parents’ being abusive. Nor do CPS workers or employees of the state’s foster-care contractors have to knock on neighbors’ doors when they examine people stepping up to care for the children.

Such a check is done only if the people agreeing to tend to the youngster submit neighbors as references, said department spokesman Patrick Crimmins.

And state rules don’t require prospective foster parents to supply any references at all.

Several large contractors who perform such checks ask for references in applications, and industry veterans say it’s standard practice. But, Crimmins said, there’s an anomaly in the rules: Relatives who volunteer to take in children must supply names of people who can vouch for their character, but total strangers serving as foster parents do not.

“We can find no current … or prior standard that requires references,” he said Friday. Asked if the department would move to require them, Crimmins said: “We’re looking at everything” after a rash of child deaths.

It’s another crisis for an agency that has been through several rounds of legislative overhauls over the last decade. And in trying to improve investigations, it faces familiar problems: employee turnover fueled by low pay, too-heavy caseloads, inexperienced workers and supervisors who are almost as green as their subordinates.

In late October, 11-month-old Orien Hamilton suffered fatal head injuries in a suburban Austin home. A month earlier, CPS whiffed in checking out a tip from her birth father. He’d warned that a man with violent tendencies was helping to care for her.

Although CPS had seen the man in the home in April and knew he’d been involved in a domestic-violence episode there the following month, its worker who checked out the tip bought a step-aunt’s lie that he’d moved to Colorado.

That revelation rocked the department, reviving painful memories of a 2009 Houston case. CPS left 4-year-old Emma Thompson, who’d contracted herpes, in her mother’s care. A CPS worker accepted the mother’s misleading claims.

Fifteen days later, the mother’s live-in boyfriend sexually abused and killed Emma.

“Women who are abused are really good liars. I’ve dealt with that as a judge,” said Specia, who said CPS workers need more training on domestic-violence victims’ tendency to protect abusers.

Earlier this year, lawmakers heeded Specia’s plea and gave him money to hire 800 more front-line workers, supervisors and clerical staff. But Texas CPS still faces significant morale problems.

Each year, more than one third of the lowest-seniority caseworkers quit. A recent CPS salary study said the reasons remain unchanged — stress, safety concerns, poor supervision, low pay. Investigators still juggle more than 20 cases each. As of last week, seven urban counties — none in North Texas — had more than one-third of their newly referred investigations still waiting for a boots-on-the-ground look-see after two months.

Experts consider that a bad practice. They also don’t recommend having “conservatorship workers,” who visit foster children and youngsters handed off to relatives, responsible for 32 cases apiece. But Texas tolerates that, several child welfare experts said in interviews.

The experts warned that any drive to detect more deception will crash against two stubborn facts: Most CPS workers are overworked and most are young, recent college graduates who have not reared a family and are in their first job.

Expecting them to cut through deceptions as well as someone in her 40s might is foolish, said former McKinney police Sgt. Ida Wei Cover. She spent seven years as a CPS worker and then switched to law enforcement.

“They just don’t have the life experiences,” Cover said. Given their age and caseloads, no one should be surprised when tragedies occur, she added. “Realistically, it is unmanageable to have a good finger on the pulse on all of their cases.”

Susan Etheridge, who was a CPS program administrator in Dallas County until 2004, said her old employer competes for college graduates with companies and school systems that pay more. When CPS fails to give rookies top-notch training and place them under the wing of savvy, experienced supervisors, it invites disaster, she said.

“Come on, you can’t run McDonald’s with the kind of turnover they’ve got,” said Etheridge, who now runs Court Appointed Special Advocates of Collin County, which recruits volunteers to guide and help abused children as they’re taken from birth families. “The really good [CPS workers] will say to you as they’re leaving, ‘It is unethical because I can’t meet all of these requirements. And I can’t stand it anymore.’”

Recent child deaths

Etheridge and other longtime leaders of child-welfare organizations suggested possible improvements after reviewing the clues that CPS missed and the opportunities for more rigorous investigation it didn’t seize in several child deaths:

Emma Thompson: In June 2009, doctors at a Houston hospital confirmed the 4-year-old had herpes and unusual bruises around her waist. Interviewed at the hospital, Emma denied she’d been touched inappropriately.

According to the Houston Chronicle, birth mother Abigail Young told a CPS worker that no other adults were living in her household. Young said Emma might have come into contact with someone with herpes at a local YMCA. While in rare cases herpes can be transmitted in a nonsexual way, Young also had the disease.

She also lied about her live-in boyfriend, Lucas Coe, who served as a part-time baby-sitter. He had a lengthy criminal record. CPS had investigated him three times on accusations he abused a former girlfriend’s young boy.

Had CPS known Coe was there, it probably would have removed Emma and her two sisters. Instead, she stayed with Young, a nurse. Fifteen days later, Emma died from injuries that included a fractured skull, severed pancreas, vaginal tearing and more than 80 bruises. Coe is serving a sentence of life without parole in connection with her death. Young received a prison term of 20 years for failing to protect the child.

The case triggered a policy change — CPS has to interview neighbors if a child has a sexually transmitted disease. The Legislature also passed a law tightening such investigations so that the presumption is the disease-ridden child will be removed.

Alexandria Hill: The 2-year-old died of head injuries last July at a Temple hospital. In January, Texas Mentor, a for-profit foster-care contractor, had placed her in a newly licensed foster home in Rockdale, an hour northeast of Austin. Just over a year ago, CPS removed Alex from her birth parents in Austin, citing concerns about their parenting skills and drug use.

Foster mother Sherill Small, 54, faces trial on a capital murder charge in the toddler’s death. Small told police she was swinging Alex by the legs through the air when she accidentally lost her grip, smashing the child’s head against the floor. Milam County authorities recently announced they’re seeking a sentence of life without parole.

Experts say CPS and Texas Mentor overlooked too many warning signs about Small and her husband, including her own history as an abused foster child and his past drug addiction and scrapes with the law, and baby-sitting relief she later was learned to have received from one of her adult daughters. In 2002, the daughter had been convicted of robbery and kidnapping.

Specia was apparently upset that neither CPS nor Texas Mentor properly vetted the adult daughter. He has ordered that in the future, all grown offspring of foster parents will be interviewed before any placements occur.

Orien Hamilton: The 11-month-old, born in San Antonio with methamphetamines in her body, died in October from fatal head injuries. They occurred in the suburban Austin home of a step-aunt, Heather Hamilton. Only days earlier, Lutheran Social Services, the state’s largest private child placing agency, had licensed the aunt as a foster parent.

Officials have acknowledged that CPS and Lutheran conducted such inadequate checks that they didn’t know Jacob Salas was Heather Hamilton’s live-in boyfriend and eight-year partner. Salas, 32, was well-known to police for violence. In May, he flew into a rage and put his fist through a car’s tail light, according to police and CPS reports. He’d also listed Heather Hamilton’s previous address on a 2004 driver’s license application and her current Cedar Park address on several more recent public records.

Giovanni Guajardo: The 6-month-old, born in Dallas in September 2012 with amphetamines in his system, suffered fatal head injuries in a Balch Springs home last March.

Giovanni’s parents, Shawnna Gonzalez and Gregory Guajardo, also have two daughters. The oldest, now 3, tested positive at birth for cocaine, according to CPS records. After Giovanni’s birth, “both parents admitted to illegal drug use,” said a terse child fatality report by CPS.

CPS farmed out Giovanni to one relative and the girls to another.

Dallas Juvenile Court Judge William Mazur put those relative caregivers under strict orders not to allow unsupervised visits by the birth parents, records show. But for several days in March, all three youngsters were left in the care of their birth parents and grandmother.

The grandmother “also was aware that they were not supposed to have unsupervised visits with the parents,” said CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales. “She knew that it was happening.”

Gregory Guajardo, 31, who has a lengthy criminal record, has been charged with capital murder in connection with Giovanni’s death. CPS says it never got an explanation of what happened.

“The autopsy photographs on that child were horrible,” Balch Springs Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Haber recounted.

Trusting intuition

Mike Foster of Austin, who has 40 years of experience running a residential treatment center and a family services agency for abused children, said that in child safety investigations, if adults are uncooperative, CPS or private companies should escalate their aggressiveness.

They should randomly interview neighbors and demand to look into closets — say, to see if a man’s clothes are present, indicating he lives in the home.

“You should always take it to the next step,” Foster said. “You almost always regret not trusting your intuition. If you feel like something’s up, you better chase that down.”

Crimmins, the CPS spokesman, said workers may ask to look into closets. But if rebuffed, they are encouraged to confer with a supervisor, he said. The agency then can consider further action “to compel a complete inspection,” he said.

Retired child-placing agency executive Irene Clements of Austin, now president of the National Foster Parent Association, said assessments of adults who fill in for birth parents are too sketchy.

“You can learn a lot by asking for more information,” she said. Clements said long ago, the state required prospective foster parents to write autobiographies and essays on their marriages and child-rearing techniques.

“You could compare his answer to hers, and you can catch stuff,” Clements said.

Cover, the former McKinney police child-abuse investigator, said CPS should pair all rookie workers with a veteran worker in a mentorship. Ideally, it should include opportunities to work cases alongside police detectives.

Having CPS workers take certain law enforcement courses about interrogation techniques would also help, she said.

“Attempt to build an alliance with that individual, saying, ‘I’m helping you to get this placement. I’m helping you to keep your granddaughter in your home,’” she said. “Make the agency the bad guy. … Build the trust.”

Specia has said he wants to “beef up” training about domestic-violence victims for CPS’ 1,400 conservatorship workers, though he has offered no details.

Crimmins said the training has yet to be enhanced. But a three-month, basic-training course gives CPS rookies two reading assignments about domestic violence and covers the subject in about three hours over three separate days of classroom instruction and in a simulation of mock cases.

A special unit in San Antonio is trying to come up with new guidelines for handling households afflicted by domestic violence.

Cover said fewer CPS recruits had college majors, such as social work and psychology, than in years past. That helped them for the drug- and violence-wracked households they’re about to enter.

“These workers absolutely need additional training in the dynamics of family violence and spouse abuse and how it impacts the children, as well as alcoholism and drug abuse,” she said.

Follow Robert T. Garrett on Twitter at @RobertTGarrett.


Vetting caregivers

Is Texas’ checklist for vetting adult caregivers of abused children adequate? Before children may be placed in a foster home or with a relative, Child Protective Services requires the following information or checks:

• Addresses for the past 10 years

• Basic information on all members of the household

• Family income

• Criminal history background check

• A check of any past investigations by CPS

CPS requires these questions about domestic violence:

• For foster parents, screeners must check for any domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement in the past 12 months.

• For relative caregivers, screeners simply must inquire about family violence.

Possible holes in vetting by CPS and its contractors:

• Workers for CPS or private child-placing agencies don’t have to demand references from prospective foster parents. However, some agencies do, and the state requires five from relatives who’ve volunteered to take in abused kids.

• Workers don’t have to randomly interview neighbors, even during initial investigations of suspected child maltreatment.

• Workers don’t have to examine closets of single adults who want to be caregivers, to see if they’ve omitted mention of an adult partner spending significant time in the home.

• For foster parents, CPS requires interviews of all members of the household and adult children living elsewhere. However, for relative caregivers, guidelines don’t specifically say all household members must be interviewed. Guidelines do call for contacting adult children.

SOURCES: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services; Texas Administrative Code; child-placing agencies’ websites; Dallas Morning News research

parental alienation syndrome
Poisoned Hearts – How Parental Alienation Hurts

I am going to focus my attention for a while on Parental Alienation Syndrome. I encourage comments and ideas from the readers.

Parental Alienation Syndrome Poster

(From Wikipedia):Parental alienation syndrome was a term coined by child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner.  He defines Parental Alienation Syndrome as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against the parent, a campaign that has no justification. The disorder results from the combination of indoctrinations by the alienating parent and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the alienated parent.”(ref:Gardner, RA (2001). “Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS): Sixteen Years Later”Academy Forum 45 (1): 10–12. Retrieved 2009-03-31.)

Parental Alienation is child abuse and a hate crime of the worst kind – with the consequences primarily going to the child that the alienating parent is trying to estrange from the targeted parent.

I can tell you, as the ‘target parent’ – the pain is deep.  There is no words to describe it.  There is such extensive damage done, to both the child and parent, that to heal seems impossible.  Where do we start? How do we start to heal when the alienating parent (or grandparent in my case) still has control of the child, still alienates the child, and does not want anything to change? Now, my child isn’t even a child anymore – he is an adult. So he is no longer part of any custody agreements or court rulings. There is no custody modification possible. There is no reversal of court orders possible.

It is over.  Or is it?


I waited ten years after I realized no matter what I did, how hard I fought, or what happened, I would not win custody of my son back. I had to give up eventually or it was going to kill me.  I eventually had to accept that it would be his adulthood that I would have to wait for. So I did just that – I waited.

I imagined for years how it would go – his 18th birthday. I imagined what it would be like to have his birthday party take place, with his custodial family present and I show up – to their dismay- and how my son would run to me, because he could.

I imagined how after that day we would be best friends. How he would call me for advice or to share good news with me. I imagined how he would come to stay with me, and we would talk all night about the good times, and cry together over the bad.

I imagined so many things we could do together. I never imagined there would be silence on his end. I never imagined I would call on his 18th birthday and he wouldn’t answer. I never imagined emails would go ignored, chats would not be initiated. I never imagined he was so alienated from me that even though he’s old enough now to decide for himself, she still controls him.

The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome by Gardner, Sauber, and Lorandos, has become the standard reference work for PAS. The International Handbook features clinical, legal, and research perspectives from 32 contributors from eight countries.

I never imagined that my son might hate me – or that I would wonder if he really does hate me. My gut tells me he doesn’t, but I have not heard from him, so maybe I am wrong.

I never imagined this pain might last forever.

What do I do now? How do I reach him? Do I wait for him? Do I find a seminar to attend? Do I drag my entire extended family to some weekend camp retreat where we make clay sculptures and have group sessions about our dysfunctional family and how its come so far between me and my son that he’s out of control. I cannot believe or understand how my brothers, my child’s uncles, have allowed this alienation to take place, and now that the deleterious effects are shining through they are ‘washing their hands of it’ – frustrated at the results of their inaction. WELL WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN?

 I have to fight the demon that tells me i want to  commit suicide when I think about the idea that my son may hate me for real and we may never heal. I have to fight the demon that gives me so much rage that I cannot take out against anyone but myself. I have to fight to forget everything I don’t want to remember, but then I am afraid to forget too much. I don’t know anymore, I just want to know my son again. I want him to be okay.

How do we fix the damage that’s been done?

I am going to include articles about PAS that I found from around the web here, and ask that anyone out there who has something to say, please do.  I need to know how to fix this. It hurts.



Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO)
PAAO is dedicated to educating the general public, schools, police, counselors, and religious leaders on the subjects of Hostile Aggressive Parenting and Parental Alienation Syndrome. To achieve its goal, PAAO uses not only seminars and conferences to disseminate information, but also actively collects information. The PAAO website is clean, well organized, and highly informative.
Breakthrough Parenting
Breakthrough Parenting is a California-based organization that offers both classes and counseling on child custody, co-parenting, parenting plans, and parental alienation. The Breakthrough Parenting website offers several interesting books for sale. The executive director of Breakthrough Parenting, Jayne Major, PhD, has also put up an informative article entitled “Parents who have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation” that can be downloaded for free in PDF format.
This no-frills but highly popular website describes itself this way: “PsyCare hopes to address issues that are not always popular or politically correct. Instead, we want to stimulate debate and research on important issues affecting today’s families[,] to learn from other’s experiences and try to influence social policies based on empirical research and objective findings.” Highly informative and contains links to many other high-quality PAS websites.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
Florida psychologist Dr. J. Michael Bone has put up a solid website that deals with both parental alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Dr. Boone has provided a number links to some highly informative sources.
Help Stop PAS
“Help Stop PAS is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering healthy, rational, supportive and sustainable relationships between parents and their children during and after divorce. Our mission is to educate parents, extended family, law practitioners, clergy, medical and mental health professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of parent alienation in order to intervene, in the appropriate discipline, and to reduce the occurrence of parent alienation. We also seek to obtain funding to promote and perform research projects aimed at providing new information about the appropriate professional definitions of, and the legal and mental health effects of parent alienation.” Another very solid website.
Parental Alienation Information Network (PAIN)
Far from painful, Dr. Glenn Cartwright’s site is a great no-nonsense PA and PAS information source.
child sex crimes, cps, fbi wanted, internet sex, kids, news, safety, sexual predators, video
FBI searching for unidentified child porn suspect

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Child abuse and porn suspect known as “Jimmy” is wanted by the FBI.


The FBI is looking for a man portrayed in videos being distributed in forums on the internet. The unknown suspect was shown engaging in sexually explicit activities with a child and officials are looking for any help in finding him. The videos were found in April in online child pornography forums.

Some of the images show a ring on the man’s right ring finger as well as a distinct plaid chair. The man has male patterned baldness, and dark hair.


Based on the audio, the suspect may refer to himself as “Jimmy.” The man speaks with a southern accent but the videos provide no clue to his location.

Anyone with information on this suspect or this case is urged to contact the FBI.

To give a tip, call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a tip online at

The hacker and activist group Anonymous is going after the troubled teen industry
By , Deseret News
Published: Monday, Nov. 11 2013 6:45 p.m. MST
Updated: 31 minutes ago

The hacker and activist group Anonymous is going after the troubled teen industry and zeroed in on a Utah school — the Logan River Academy — alleging abuse of children because of its alleged use of solitary confinement on its clients.

LOGAN — The hacker group Anonymous reportedly has the troubled teen industry on its cyber hit list, zeroing in on the Logan River Academy on Monday in a campaign that asserts abuse of its underage clients.

A Twitter storm on social media with the hashtag “ShutLoganRiver” was active on Monday, drawing on allegations that the Utah school uses prolonged solitary confinement, called “development” time, as a way to punish noncompliance with school rules.

Anonymous is a loose and elusive online collective of people around the world who call themselves “hacktivists,” responding at varying scales to perceived social injustices.

Logan River Academy issued a statement Monday denying allegations of illegal or unsafe conduct, calling the information being shared online “false, inaccurate and misleading.”

“Students are not isolated, secluded, abused or mistreated in any way,” the statement said. “To the contrary, students facing an acute and temporary crisis receive increased supervision and support during the crisis to protect them and others and to best provide for their well-being.”

Participants in the Twitter conversation shared testimonials reportedly posted by family and participants criticizing the program.

“We actually chose to send our son to Logan River Academy after paying an experienced educational consultant who highly recommended it. The decision was the worst we have ever made,” wrote someone claiming to be parents from Fairfax, Va. “We pulled our son after only five months, the last three of which were spent primarily in ‘devo’ (solitary).”

“I was a victim of this program. I was mentally tortured and (still) have a scar that will never go away,” wrote one person who identified himself as a Texas resident.

On its website, the academy describes itself as having experience and success at helping youths 12-18 with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, anxiety and substance abuse issues, to name a few.

The group is urging that people demand AdvancEd drop the school’s educational accreditation and is directing followers to put pressure on Logan Mayor Randy Watts and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to stop the use of methods it describes as abuse.

The campaign, which builds on a petition on, describes a multibillion-dollar troubled youth industry that charges parents thousands of dollars of month for “treatment” programs that are carried out under little government oversight or scrutiny.

The petition appeared in early October, passing 200 signatures by the end of the month. From there it picked up speed and had about 870 signatures Monday night.

Utah, the campaign said, is a state “where there is comparable lack of oversight and relevant legislation to safeguard vulnerable students in residential programs.”

The troubled youth industry and its robust Utah presence has been the genesis of controversy for years, at times prompting calls for reform.

Nearly a decade ago, Utah licensing officials and watch-dog organizations were urging more oversight for these private programs to ensure that “discipline” doesn’t amount to abuse.

Contributing: McKenzie Romero


Twitter: amyjoi16

The hacker and activist group Anonymous is going after the troubled teen industry
By , Deseret News
Published: Monday, Nov. 11 2013 6:45 p.m. MST
Updated: 31 minutes ago

The hacker and activist group Anonymous is going after the troubled teen industry and zeroed in on a Utah school — the Logan River Academy — alleging abuse of children because of its alleged use of solitary confinement on its clients.

LOGAN — The hacker group Anonymous reportedly has the troubled teen industry on its cyber hit list, zeroing in on the Logan River Academy on Monday in a campaign that asserts abuse of its underage clients.

A Twitter storm on social media with the hashtag “ShutLoganRiver” was active on Monday, drawing on allegations that the Utah school uses prolonged solitary confinement, called “development” time, as a way to punish noncompliance with school rules.

Anonymous is a loose and elusive online collective of people around the world who call themselves “hacktivists,” responding at varying scales to perceived social injustices.

Logan River Academy issued a statement Monday denying allegations of illegal or unsafe conduct, calling the information being shared online “false, inaccurate and misleading.”

“Students are not isolated, secluded, abused or mistreated in any way,” the statement said. “To the contrary, students facing an acute and temporary crisis receive increased supervision and support during the crisis to protect them and others and to best provide for their well-being.”

Participants in the Twitter conversation shared testimonials reportedly posted by family and participants criticizing the program.

“We actually chose to send our son to Logan River Academy after paying an experienced educational consultant who highly recommended it. The decision was the worst we have ever made,” wrote someone claiming to be parents from Fairfax, Va. “We pulled our son after only five months, the last three of which were spent primarily in ‘devo’ (solitary).”

“I was a victim of this program. I was mentally tortured and (still) have a scar that will never go away,” wrote one person who identified himself as a Texas resident.

On its website, the academy describes itself as having experience and success at helping youths 12-18 with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, anxiety and substance abuse issues, to name a few.

The group is urging that people demand AdvancEd drop the school’s educational accreditation and is directing followers to put pressure on Logan Mayor Randy Watts and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to stop the use of methods it describes as abuse.

The campaign, which builds on a petition on, describes a multibillion-dollar troubled youth industry that charges parents thousands of dollars of month for “treatment” programs that are carried out under little government oversight or scrutiny.

The petition appeared in early October, passing 200 signatures by the end of the month. From there it picked up speed and had about 870 signatures Monday night.

Utah, the campaign said, is a state “where there is comparable lack of oversight and relevant legislation to safeguard vulnerable students in residential programs.”

The troubled youth industry and its robust Utah presence has been the genesis of controversy for years, at times prompting calls for reform.

Nearly a decade ago, Utah licensing officials and watch-dog organizations were urging more oversight for these private programs to ensure that “discipline” doesn’t amount to abuse.

Contributing: McKenzie Romero


Twitter: amyjoi16

John Quinn was shot by the police, then found innocent

This article is a bit dated, published October 28th, 2011 in the Collin County Observer. However, I just read it today, and found it interesting enough to pass along.

John Gerard Quinn was charged with aggravated assault of a public official for pointing a gun at the police when the McKinney SWAT team raided his house in the middle of the night. His conviction could have resulted in a life sentence.

Yesterday, a jury in Judge Chris Oldner’s 416th District Court found Quinn innocent after an eight-day trial.

In the early hours of August 5, 2006 a McKinney SWAT team crashed into and raided his house looking for narcotics. McKinney Officer Jesus Damain Guerrero said that when he saw Quinn standing with a gun in his hand Guerrero fired several shots with one bullet hitting Quinn in his right hand.

The officer explained that he shot Quinn in response to Quinn raising his gun at the him.

Quinn was taken to Parkland Hospital where he was treated and then booked into the Collin County jail. He was charged with two charges of aggravated assault on a public servant and possession of a controlled substance. Quinn posted a $150,000 bond on August 6th.

In February of 2007 the grand jury no-billed Officer Guerrero. And in April of 2007 a grand jury returned indictments against Quinn on a first degree felony charge of aggravated assault on a public servant and a felony indictment of possession of a controlled substance.

At the trial, Quinn charged that the police were covering up their actions. The jury did not believe the officer’s story – finding Quinn innocent.

However, in the narcotics charge, the jury found Quinn guilty of less than 1 gram of drugs. Judge Oldner gave Quinn a sentence of 180 days, probated for two years, and including a fine of $500.

John Quinn is an executive who moved into McKinney several years ago. Quinn lives with his son, Brian, who is in his 20’s, and his girlfriend. After the raid, Brian was charged with manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance (between 28 g and 200 g). Brian’s case has not yet come to trial.

Was this incident the whole story?

Blind JusticeSome believe the police raid began with a divorce in 1991.

John Quinn sued for a divorce from Laurie Quinn Houston on charges that she was having an extra-marital affair. Quinn was given custody of his two children but several years later, their daughter moved in with her mother. Several times, the mother asked the court to amend the child support agreement. In a nasty prolonged fight Quinn charged that Houston and her daughter lived in a ‘questionable lifestyle’ that was a charged sexual environment.

This divorce became an ugly, sordid battle involving the children. In response to Quinn’s allegations, Houston told the authorities that their daughter told her that Quinn molested her when she was about six or eight years old. Quinn alleged that the “troubled minds’ of his former wife and daughter “concocted a scheme to either get more money from him or divert attention from his daughter’s troubles”.

In 2004, Houston filed a complaint with Denton County Child Protective Services alleging that Quinn had raped his daughter. Denton CPS investigated, including taping interviews with the daughter. Child Protection told the authorities that they were “unable to determine” the rape allegations. In September, the Denton County legal authorities also dropped the investigation saying that they were unable to make a determination.

Unhappy with the progress of the Denton investigation, Houston also filed the same complaint at the McKinney police department. The Denton authorities did tell the McKinney Police that they believed there was no credible evidence, but the Collin County District Attorney went ahead issued an arrest warrant for Quinn four days after Denton dismissed the charges.

The Collin County charges languished. After a fifteen-month delay, the Collin County grand jury no-billed Quinn only after he had successfully been given a writ of habeas corpus by Collin County former Judge Betty Caton.

In March of 2006, Quinn filed a complaint in the Federal Court in the Eastern District of Texas suing DA John Roach, Sr., several individuals in the District Attorney’s Office and the McKinney Police Department (as individuals and in their official capacities). His suit claimed that the county and McKinney denied him his constitutional rights. In his complaint, Quinn wrote, “This case tells a story of deception, immorality, greed, incompetence, and pain that is difficult to believe could actually happen in 21th century America under the watchful eyes of supposedly-well-trained public servants. But it did.”

Five months after Quinn sued the police and DA, the McKinney police smashed his door down, shot him and charged him with 2 counts of assault that could lock him up for life.

The DA did ask federal court to dismiss the suit under his privilege under immunity from suits. On March 7, 2007 the court refused to dismiss the suit, but did give the DA immunity “in his individual capacity”, not in his “official capacity”. But after another motion by the DA a Federal Magistrate dismissed the suit on December 21, 2007, writing, “This is in essence a divorce and child custody case gone bad.” The judge confirmed the dismissal, the 5th Circuit Court affirmed, and the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

In July of 2008, Quinn has filed another suit – this time in the 429th District Court. This suit is against the McKinney police for shooting him. But this case has also been moved to the federal court. In January of 2010, the court also put this case on ice until the criminal case is resolved.

The federal court gave notice that if Quinn was found guilty, his suit would be dismissed.

Since a jury has now vindicated John Quinn, he can now move forward with his life and his suit against the McKinney police.


This entry was posted on October 28th, 2011 at 12:29:40 pm and is filed under Observer Opinions, Law, Crime & Punishment, City Hall.
Comment from: Terrill [Visitor] Email
– I love getting the whole story Thanks Bill. And now I want to know what can we as citizens do when the officials within the system go bad and attack citizens legally or personally like this?
10/28/11 @ 15:35
Comment from: Truth Be Told [Visitor] Email
1) It sounds like the McKinney Police Department was serving a search warrant for narcotics. The police need probable cause to do this. So, what was the probable cause?

2)Juries do not find defendants “innocent”. They render a verdict of either guilty or not guilty. Our justice system is designed to give every benefit to the accused. There have been innocent people wrongly convicted, but far more guilty people get set free by juries.

3)When the McKinney SWAT Team came “crashing” into Mr. Quinn’s home I would assume they wore there standard attire with the word “POLICE” all over their clothing. I would also assume they yelled,”Police. Search warrant,” prior to entering the home. If they did not, perhaps it was a “no-knock” warrant, meaning they had probable cause to believe that it would endanger their lives by doing so (i.e. they’re guns and drugs inside).

The Observer comments:

I agree that the law requires that police need “probable cause to endanger their lives….”. But the practice is closer to the truth that a ‘rubber-stamp’ Collin County judge will give the police what the say, with or without “probable cause”.

Heck, since almost every police department feels they need a SWAT team complete with a quasi-military team armored complete with snipers, machine guns and grenades.

….. and since they now have a SWAT team, “well lets give the SWAT group something to do!”

10/29/11 @ 10:25
Comment from: 4 MPD Barney Fife’s [Visitor]
4 Truth Be Told

The SWAT team in this case threw 3 deadly stun grenades into that home and set it ablaze. They shot Mr. Quinn according to their own recordings in 4.5 seconds after the attack signal was given. The stun grenades are specifically designed to emit 185dB’s (check out OSHA sound level standards)8 million candella of light, tons of smoke and heat. Federal courts have ruled that these devices are deadly and are in fact STUN GRENADES – not “firecrackers” as the MPD testified. The effect is to make it impossible for their victims to hear, see, orientate or understand what is happening.

This is the second MPD SWAT attack involving the shooting of a citizen where upon the MPD’s own records and sworn testimony shows they stun grenaded themselves during the attack and then in panic opened up wild fire.

And it’s the second documented time they’ve been caught in a Blue Code Of Silence coverup conspiracy.

There was no probable cause this was a retaliation for them being sued for clearly breaking the law. They admit they broke the law – but you see, unlike any other profession in America they have given themselves legal immunity from thier crimes and thus have no accountability.

You really need to quit believing the hype and start researching the facts and the cost/benefit ratio of wasted tax dollars on Militarized Police forces.

Our community is in danger due to these crminal/inept boys with military toys.

And remember, the same thing can happen to any one of the residents of our community at any time. Next time it could be you or somebody you know or love. When that occurs, please write and tell us all what your “opinion” is.
10/29/11 @ 15:25
Comment from: Tim Baker [Visitor] Email
“3)When the McKinney SWAT Team came “crashing” into Mr. Quinn’s home I would assume they wore there standard attire with the word “POLICE” all over their clothing. I would also assume they yelled,”Police. Search warrant,” prior to entering the home.”

What’s to prevent a group of criminals from doing this?
10/29/11 @ 19:01
Comment from: anon [Visitor] Email
Interesting…an alleged pedophile in Collin County goes free and decides to sue. Then gets busted for drugs and whines that he gets shot in a drug raid. Pedophiles are roaming free all over Collin County and you’re going to turn this into the COPS are the bad guys on this one? Many times, I’d agree. But whenever there’s a pedophile involved, I ask, why did the cops not just finish the job?
10/31/11 @ 14:13
Comment from: Texas Commentator [Visitor] Email
As a forty-plus year resident of McKinney, Texas, I am very saddened to read stories such as this. Through the years, I have personally known many fine officers in the McKinney Police department. In most cases such as this, it is not the bottom line ground troops at fault for this behavior, but the higher ranking officers in charge of the department who in some cases were rejects from the Dallas Police Department. Over twenty-five years ago there was the case of many top line officers being charged with falsing arrests of suspected drug sellers in Dallas. It was found that the evidence was actually baking power placed as evidence against these suspected and arrested individuals. Sadly for McKinney, Texas, many of these top of-the-heap officers, left the Dallas Police Department and came to the McKinney Police Department before actual charges for falsifying evidence came before them. As a well respected business man told me, many years ago, “A Fish stinks from the head down.”
11/02/11 @ 13:32
Comment from: Philip W. Moore, Jr. [Visitor] Email

You say alleged, then wish the cop would have just killed the indisputably adjudicated innocent man who got shot by the police. All I can say to you is that I accuse you of being a pedophile, and that maybe you should get shot. Pretty easy to target you that way, isn’t it? Oh wait, you post your hate-filled diatribes anonymously.

11/02/11 @ 22:32
Comment from: Philip Moore Jr. NOT [Visitor] Email
@Philip W. Moore, Jr.:

So PROUD to be a Texas with all those initials and “Jr” after your name aren’t you? Can’t stand the idea of being just one of The People, an anonymous person. Got to have a name – a name with initials and letters after the name. How arrogant you are…and so typical white male collin county too.

The Collin County Observer recognized:

That you, Mr. Not is an anonymous jackass.

11/07/11 @ 16:08
Comment from: Philip W. Moore, Jr. [Visitor] Email
All I can say is that if you can’t put your name next to what you write, maybe you shouldn’t write anything.
11/08/11 @ 14:42
Comment from: Rick Koster [Visitor] Email
I find it troubling that police departments feel compelled to conduct an armed assault of a domicile for any alleged offense. In a lot of cases it would be quite reasonable for law enforcement to wait for suspects to leave for work, detain them in route and then enter the domicile without any fireworks.
I have a strong feeling that if police at a reasonable hour knocked on the door of most citizens without a violent criminal history, there would be little confrontation while executing a search warrant.

A lot of citizens arm themselves, in accordance with their right under the second amendment of the US constitution, to be prepared against a potential home invasion. How is a citizen to distinguish friend from foe during an midnight armed assault?

Are we destined to repeat the fiasco of Ruby Ridge and Waco’s Mt. Carmel?

11/11/11 @ 17:47
Comment from: Mya [Visitor] Email
People cannot call Mr. Quinn that. He is a good man and he wouldn’t do anyone harm. The police was wrong.
03/15/12 @ 16:40

arrests, child death, cps, death, judicial system, social worker, texas
Accountability in Greenville, Tx with the Arrest of Three CPS Workers

Well this is an event that we do not see very often.  There is so much media coverage, I’ve decided to copy and paste the articles below for Tuesday’s readers to sift through.

There is accountability in Greenville, Texas with three CPS workers arrested on charges that they falsified documents, and mishandled a sexual abuse case, including illegally conducting a  search and seizure – knowingly.

Nobody is above the law, yet this happens in many cases. Rarely, if ever, do we see charges of oppression brought against the social workers – Its Almost Tuesday has never seen this before in Texas. We have seen many cases where charges like this should have been pressed, but never were. We have seen many cases where charges like this should have been pressed but were covered up deliberately.  Take heed, CPS, perhaps times are a changing – we can only hope.

It is our hope that justice will be served and this will serve as a precedence set for future cases involving CPS and families under investigation. It is only through transparency and public scrutiny that government agencies like CPS will be held accountable to not only the minimum standards set by law, but much deserved justice given to the forgotten children of the foster care system.

It is also important to remember, during this time, that media coverage respect that these are real people involved in a very horrific situation. They are grieving the loss of a child, and dealing with emotions of unimaginable proportions. There is no doubt a tremendous difficulty in a daily  struggle to handle such an ordeal that to add to it an onslaught of media coverage must double, triple, or quadruple the degree of pain and heartache they must feel.  While it is vital that the general public be made aware of truths within our child welfare system, Its Almost Tuesday is hopeful that the media will not unfairly sway opinions, or turn this case into a ‘circus’ that may impede such truth and that justice will prevail, whatever that may be.  It is an unfortunate shame (to understate it at the very least) that a child had to die in order for accountability to be sought.  We applaud the prosecutors for seeking such accountability, and for standing against the very essence of a damaged system by arresting those involved in wrongdoings.

Our hearts go out to those affected by the Alicia Moore case, and to those grieving the loss of this child, perhaps there is a tiny bit of solace offered in these arrests, and may truth and justice prevail; so that Alicia’s death can leave a legacy for future CPS caseworkers to remember.. and a lesson learned.

Its certainly not much to offer  our words of support in comparison to the hardships the Moore family faces, so again, our hearts go out to you, and may peace find you well.


3 CPS Employees Charged in Connection to Alicia Moore Case

By Randy McIIwain
|  Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013  |  Updated 11:08 PM CDT

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Three Child Protective Services employees from Greenville have been charged for their handling of sexual abuse allegations in slain teenager Alicia Moore’s file.

Investigators say three women were indicted by a Hunt County grand jury. The indictments have been sealed, but arrest warrants were issued on Tuesday.

CPS retiree, Laura Ard faces a single count of tampering with evidence, Natalie Reynolds, is charged with three counts of official oppression and one count of tampering with evidence, and Rebekah Ross is charged with three counts of official oppression and two counts of tampering with evidence.

The women were taken into custody. As of Tuesday night, Ard was the only person to post bail.

NBC 5 spoke to Ard after she bonded out of jail. She said she had been with CPS for 30 years and had never been in trouble.

Sources tell NBC 5 that only the charges of tampering with evidence apply to the Moore case and that tampering could include, altering, destroying or fabricating information in Moore’s investigative file.

CPS had an open file on Moore who was a victim of sexual abuse in the months before her disappearance on Nov. 2, 2012.

Moore was last seen about a block away from her home getting off a school bus. The teenager’s body was found days later stuffed into a furniture trunk, dumped along a rural road in Van Zandt County.

Moore’s great uncle, Michael Moore, has been charged with capital murder in her death.

During the Moore murder investigation, investigators with the State Inspector General’s office began looking into accusations that Moore’s CPS case was being mishandled. Officers with the IG’s office spent month’s looking into Moore’s CPS file and turned over findings in a report to the Hunt County District Attorney’s office last month. Hunt County examined the report and presented it to a grand jury, which returned the multi-count indictments.

It is not known at this time if anything in Moore’s investigative CPS file could have been used to possibly prevent her murder or aid in the murder investigation that dragged on until Michael Moore’s arrest in May 2013.

Indictments in CPS case unsealed

Herald-Banner Staff
September 25, 2013

GREENVILLE — Indictments filed against three current or former employees with the Child Protective Services (CPS) office in Greenville were unsealed Wednesday morning.

The charges allege all three acted together to use a false document in the investigation of the mother of slain Greenville teenager Alicia Moore and that two of the defendants conducted unlawful searches and/or seizures against multiple targets of CPS investigations.

One of those charged, Laura Marsh Ard, is the former program director for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services office in Rockwall.

Ard, 60, of Rockwall, received one indictment for tampering with physical evidence. Natalie Ausbie Reynolds 33, of Fate, received three indictments for official oppression and one indictment for tampering with physical evidence. Rebekah Thonginh Ross, 34 of Greenville, received four indictments for official oppression and one indictment for tampering with physical evidence.

The tampering with physical evidence indictments allege all three defendants acted together on or about Nov. 6, 2012 “to use a record and/or document to wit: the risk asssessment involving Aretha Moore … with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation.”

In three of the official oppression indictments, Reynolds and Ross were alleged to have acted together as CPS investigators to have subjected three separate individuals who were under CPS investigations “to search and seizure that the defendant knew as unlawful” on or about Dec. 16, 2011, March 28, 2012 and June 14, 2012.

Ross was also alleged to have subjected a fourth individual under CPS investigation to an unlawful search and/or seizure on June 27, 2012.

The tampering with physical evidence charges are third degree felonies, punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of from two to 10 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000.

The official oppression charges are Class A misdemeanor counts, which fall under the jurisdiction of a state district court, in this case the 354th District Court.

Dates for arraignment hearings — at which time the defendants will have a chance to enter formal pleas to the charges — had not been scheduled as of Wednesday morning.

Attorney for individual indicted in CPS case issues statement

Herald-Banner Staff
September 26, 2013

GREENVILLE — Attorney Peter Schulte, who represents Rebekah Thonginh Ross, one of three people indicted in connection with an investigation of the local Child Protective Services (CPS) office, issued a statement this morning on Ross’ behalf:

“Rebekah, who has dedicated the last several years of her life protecting the children of this State, is not guilty of these charges. The truth will be revealed in Court and we ask that the public withhold judgment until all the facts are known.  It’s disappointing that certain law enforcement officials in Hunt County and/or Austin are releasing alleged “facts” about these cases to the media that are simply not true. We have no intention of trying these cases in the news media and hope that the Government decides to follow their legal obligation to not make statements about these cases to the media outside the Courtroom.”

Source: The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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