Tag: law

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Big news!! Trump signs executive order strengthening the CHILD welfare system


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Trump acted to strengthen America’s child welfare system by signing a historic Executive Order (EO) aimed at improving outcomes for children and families. This EO focuses on three key areas of action: improving partnerships, improving resources, and improving oversight.

“President Trump’s executive order demonstrates how his administration has prioritized placing each of America’s foster kids with the loving, permanent family they deserve,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. 

“Since the President took office, we have focused on promoting adoption unlike any previous administration, and we’ve begun to see results. The President’s executive order lays out bold reforms for our work with states, communities, and faith-based partners to build a brighter future for American kids who are in foster care or in crisis.”

“Our number one goal is to help our children and youth by making improvements to our child welfare system, and I’m incredibly grateful to President Trump for taking this monumental action today,” said the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson.

“These strong actions support vulnerable children and youth nationwide by advancing measures to reduce child abuse and neglect, encouraging family preservation, and strengthening adoption and other forms of permanency for America’s kids.”

Background

Currently, there are approximately 430,000 children in the foster care system. Of those 430,000 children, there are nearly 124,000 children in foster care who have a plan for adoption, but have not yet achieved the permanency of a forever family. Each year, close to 20,000 youth age out of care without the support of a loving, permanent family. Many of these young men and women will experience higher rates of homelessness, incarceration, and unemployment after they leave foster care. Through three key reforms to the child welfare system outlined in the Executive Order, this Administration is standing up for vulnerable children and families, pursuing child safety, as well as permanency and child and family well-being.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), ACF received and distributed $45 million in grants to states, territories, and tribes to support the child welfare needs of families during this crisis, and to help keep families together. In addition, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is anticipated to add $300 million in federal resources in fiscal year 2020 to support children in foster care, as well as children formerly in foster care now living with adoptive parents or legal guardians.

ACF has worked tirelessly in aiding efforts to reduce the number of children entering the foster care system. Through proactive primary prevention efforts and a focus on providing services to keep children safely at home, ACF—with partners at all levels of government and in the not-for-profit sector—has been able to keep more children safely out of foster care. This progress can be seen in the data. The number of children/youth entering care in recent years has declined, with a preliminary estimate of 250,000 children/youth entering care in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. This is a five percent decline from FY 2018, and a nine percent decline from FY 2016.

The Executive Order on Strengthening Foster Care for America’s Children

The EO builds upon that success by offering three key reforms that will strengthen the child welfare system and promote permanency for children in the foster care system nationwide.

The first reform aims at creating robust partnerships between state agencies and public, private, faith-based and community organizations. To accomplish this, the EO empowers HHS to collect and publish localized data that can be used to aid in the development of community-based prevention and family support services and in the recruitment of foster and adoptive families; to hold states accountable for recruiting an adequate number of foster and adoptive families for all children; and to develop guidance for states on best practices for effective partnering with faith-based and community organizations, aimed at improving outcomes for children and families.

The second reform seeks to improve resources provided to caregivers and those in care. To accomplish this, HHS will increase the availability of trauma-informed training, support guardianship through funding and grants, and enhance support for kinship care and for youth exiting foster care by evaluating barriers to federal assistance.

The third reform would improve federal oversight over key statutory child welfare requirements. To accomplish this, the EO requires the Title IV-E Reviews and the Child and Family Services Reviews to strengthen the assessments of these critical requirements and directs HHS to provide guidance to states regarding flexibility in the use of federal funds to support and encourage high-quality legal representation for parents and children.

Deliberate reforms of the child welfare system will bring change to the foster care system to improve the lives of many vulnerable children and families. ACF looks forward to implementing these changes to prevent child maltreatment, keep families together whenever safely possible, and achieve timely permanency for the thousands of children waiting in the system.

Source:

All ACF press releases, fact sheets and other materials are available on the ACF media page. Follow ACF on Twitter Visit disclaimer page for more updates.

Quick Facts

Currently, there are approximately 430,000 children in the foster care system. Of those 430,000 children, there are nearly 124,000 children in foster care who have a plan for adoption, but have not yet achieved the permanency of a forever family.

Each year, close to 20,000 youth age out of care without the support of a loving, permanent family.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), ACF received and distributed $45 million in grants to states, territories, and tribes to support the child welfare needs of families during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is anticipated to add $300 million in federal resources in fiscal year 2020 to support children in foster care, as well as children formerly in foster care now living with adoptive parents or legal guardians.

The number of children/youth entering care in recent years has declined, with a preliminary estimate of 250,000 children/youth entering care in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. This is a five percent decline from FY 2018, and a nine percent decline from FY 2016.

Quotes

“President Trump’s executive order demonstrates how his administration has prioritized placing each of America’s foster kids with the loving, permanent family they deserve. Since the President took office, we have focused on promoting adoption unlike any previous administration, and we’ve begun to see results. The President’s executive order lays out bold reforms for our work with states, communities, and faith-based partners to build a brighter future for American kids who are in foster care or in crisis.”— Alex Azar, HHS Secretary

“Our number one goal is to help our children and youth by making improvements to our child welfare system, and I’m incredibly grateful to President Trump for taking this monumental action today. These strong actions support vulnerable children and youth nationwide by advancing measures to reduce child abuse and neglect, encouraging family preservation, and strengthening adoption and other forms of permanency for America’s kids.”— Lynn Johnson, ACF Assistant Secretary

Additional Links

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Parents whose rights were terminated can now petition courts: Champion/Moran bill restores parental rights

Every state should follow this lead.

This is an awesome step forward in the fight for child welfare system reform.

Good job Minnesota!!!

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed into law legislation allowing the reestablishment of the parent/child relationship. At left, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Sen. Bobby Champion, at right, Rep. Rena Moran and Sen. Jeff Hayden. Andrew VonBank

Gov. Tim Walz signed into law HF 554, a bill authored by Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – St. Paul), that allows parents who had previously had their parental rights terminated for non-egregious harm to directly seek reestablishment of these rights from the courts.

Currently, only a county attorney can make this petition.

“Whenever we’re able to, we should keep families together and our children deserve to be protected, loved, and nurtured. When they can stay in their community with their parents, this gives them the best outlook in life,” Moran said. “We know all too well that our child welfare system doesn’t seem to always have the best interest of the child in mind, and that’s why it’s important for us to keep working to improve it. Every child deserves a strong future and I thank Governor Walz for signing this important bill into law.”

The House approved the measure by a vote of 130-0 on April 4, and the Senate followed on April 29 with a vote of 66-0 and the governor signed it into law May 6.

Under the bill, petitions for reinstatement of parental rights would only be allowed in cases in which the rights were terminated for non-egregious harm, such as chemical dependency or mental illness, and not for physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.

Studies have shown when children, especially African-American children, remain in the foster system, they face poorer life outcomes than those who remain with their biological families. These include lower lifetime employment rates, a greater chance of experience with the criminal justice system, and higher rates of mental illness and addiction.

The legislation requires the parent to clearly demonstrate the steps they’ve taken to address the underlying issue which led to the termination of rights in the first place, and a judge would make the final decision.

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Teen who vanished 11 years ago charged with killing kidnapper Dad

Before you read this article below, I want to put in my two cents worth. THIS BOY IS A VICTIM.

LET HIM GO BACK TO HIS MAMA AND FAMILY THAT HE WAS TAKEN FROM AS A CHILD. That abusive man had no right to take him like that.

By the looks of the comments to this article below, most everyone agrees LET HIM GO HOME.That being said, there’s going to be allot of details in this case that are unknown to the readers so a blanket opinion is not going to necessarily be the right decision

This kid is 17. First of all 17 year olds don’t all think with a sound mind. Obviously his dad was abusive but if that was the case did the kid try to escape or call for help? Did he go to school? Did they see signs of abuse and ignore it? Why didn’t the second wife try to help the kid?

Even if he is totally justified for this killing, he’s now a killer and will need, at the very least, counseling. We can’t just release him back into society and ignore the fact that on top of the abuse he has suffered, he is also going to be traumatized by killing his Dad. He’s going to be severely affected by that and by going to jail.

Abuse is a cycle and often passed down. This kid could end up being an abuser himself. The reunification with his family is going to be an issue as well, as I would guess that he was also a victim of parental alienation syndrome.

There are definitely many factors involved that we,the public, are not aware of. All on all this is a very delicate and sad situation.

WHAT DO Y’ALL THINK? COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW.


Read the original article here.The family of a teenager missing for 11 years finally learned what happened to him this month, when they heard of his arrest for allegedly killing the father who kidnapped him, according to reports.

Relatives of Anthony Templet searched for him for more than a decade after he was snatched from his Houston, Texas, home at 5 years old by his dad, Burt Templet, the family told WAFB 9 this week.

“After 11 years of waiting to hear if my brother was still alive, he is found,” his sister Natasha Templet told local outlet.

“He has been secluded and abused all these years by his own father,” she said. “My brave brother had to defend himself for the last time against that evil man.”

The now-17-year-old told investigators that his father was drunk and started a fight prior to the incident earlier this month.

The teen grabbed two guns to protect himself and eventually shot his dad in the head and torso and then called 911, deputies said. The elder Templet died from his injuries days later.

Court records obtained by KHOU show that Burt was charged with assault three times between 2001 and 2002. Two of the cases were dismissed.

His ex-wife had filed a protective order just two months before the family last saw Anthony, the outlet reported.

“Burt and my mom were together for about 10 years and it was extremely violent,” Natasha said. “I can only imagine what Anthony’s been through.”

Their father eventually remarried, but that woman left him earlier this year. She had also reportedly filed a protective order against Burt and alleged that he knocked out several of her teeth.

Anthony remains incarcerated at a juvenile facility in north Louisiana but has spoken to his sister and his 80-year-old grandmother on the phone.

District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office has been in contact with several of Anthony’s relatives since the teen’s arrest and will review “whatever information anyone has before deciding what action to take.”

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The Truth About Aging Out of Foster Care

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Source: view original content here

When this occurs, the child will be placed into the foster care system.

More than 250,000 children are placed into the foster care system in the United States every year.

Aging Out of Foster Care

We are making some promises to these children when we place them into foster care. We are telling them that they are getting the chance to create a better life for themselves.

They are promised a safe home where they can have a family that can be called their own.

For many children, these promise are just empty words that have no meaning.

As the statistics show, many foster kids are aging out of the system and have nowhere to turn.

  • More than 23,000 children will age out of the US foster care system every year.

  • After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.

  • Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.

  • There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.

  • 7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.

  • The percentage of children who age out of the foster care system and still suffer from the direct effects of PTSD: 25%.

  • Tens of thousands of children in the foster care system were taken away from their parents after extreme abuse.

  • 8% of the total child population of the United States is represented by reports of abuse that are given to authorities in the United States annually.

  • In 2015, more than 20,000 young people — whom states failed to reunite with their families or place in permanent homes.

One of the biggest problems that social workers face today is a stigma that people have regarding what they do.

Many people see child protection workers as vengeful, hateful people who just want to take kids away from their parents and families.

The sad truth is that over 6 million children are at a high risk of being abused by their families annually and this is represented by the over 3 million reports of possible abuse that are filed every year.

We know that children thrive in families and that is why we want kids to be placed into foster care instead of an institution.

The problem is that the temporary solution of foster care has become a permanent solution and 10% of the kids that are placed into the system age out of it without every really getting the chance to heal.

Is Violence Against Children A Hidden American Epidemic?

  • substantiated child abuse will become the victim of abuse again within 6 months.

If 7 out of 10 foster kids say that they want to pursue college, then why are we finding ways to limit them?

A college education allows for a number of advantages that can help these kids find happiness, even though their childhood may not have been as fun as some of their peers.

These kids want to change their lives, yet a vast majority of them will never even get to see college.

Only 6% of kids who age out of the system will attend an institution of higher learning and only 50% of them will be able to graduate with a degree.

What is the end result?

These kids give up hope, stop caring, and are at a higher risk of repeating the cycle of violence with their own children one day that led to their placement in foster care in the first place.

Foster Kids Aren’t Always Placed Into Foster Homes

  • Despite the promises of the foster care system, as of 2012, more than 58,000 children in the U.S. foster care system were placed in institutions or group homes.

  • 75% of women and 33% of men receive government benefits to meet basic needs after they age out of the system.

  • 1 out of every 2 kids who age out of the system will develop a substance dependence.

  • States spent a mere 1.2-1.3% of available federal funds on parent recruitment and training services even though 22% of children in foster care had adoption as their goal.

  • Adopted children make-up roughly 2% of the total child population under the age of 18.

  • Children who are adopted make up over 10% of the total referrals for child therapy.

  • 55% of these children who wind up being legally emancipated by the foster care system have had 3 or more placements over their childhood.

  • 33% of children had changed elementary schools 5 or more times, causing them to fall behind academically and lose friends that they had made in the process.

  • There is a direct correlation to the age of a child who enters foster care and their likelihood of being successfully discharged to a permanent home instead of being legally emancipated.

There is more than just the problem of worthless parents when it comes to the modern foster care system – parents who abuse their children are worthless.

There is also the problem of foster families not being able to access the resources that kids need because of a lack of funding… or a lack of desire to do so.

Kids who are taken out of violent homes not only face the struggle of missing their parents and living in a strange environment, but there may be PTSD and other mental health issues present as well.

Foster kids will blow out of homes because the tools aren’t in place to help them cope and there isn’t enough patience within the foster family to allow for the natural grieving process to take place.

When parents, foster families, and the system at large fail these kids and they age out of the system,

is it any wonder why so many struggle to make their way in the world?

Are Things Getting Worse Instead of Better?

  • In 2012, there were approximately 679,000 instances of confirmed child maltreatment from the over 3 million reports generated.
  • The overall national child victim rate was 9.2 child victims per 1,000 children in the US population.
  • State child victim rates vary dramatically in the United States, ranging from 1.2 child victims per 1,000 children to 19.6 child victims per 1,000 children.
  • African-American children had the highest rates of victimization at 14.2 victims per 1,000 children in that racial group’s overall child population.
  • Asian children had the lowest rates, with 1.7 victims per 1,000.
  • Between 2002 and 2012, the number of children in care on the last day of the fiscal year decreased by 24.2%, or by over 130,000 children.
  • The annual rate of children who are discharged out of the foster system without a successful placement: 13%.
  • Children with a diagnosed disability of any kind, including a learning disability, are twice as likely to age out of the foster care system.
  • Kids who enter the foster care system after the age of 12 have a 2 in 5 chance of being legally emancipated at the age of 18 from the system.
  • More than 20% of the children who are currently in foster care are aged 3 or younger.
  • African-American children make up 20% of the foster care population, which is about double the amount of maltreatment reports that are generated for their racial demographic annually.
  • More than 40% of the children who reach the age of 18 while in foster care were in the system for more than 3 years.

Even when foster care isn’t the best solution, it is often still better than the maltreatment that was being experienced at home.

In the United States, the median measurements of child maltreatment are over 5% annually.

In foster car, the median measurement for maltreatment is just 0.32%.

In practical terms, this means that a child in the US is about 15x more likely to be abused in their home then in a foster home.

From this standpoint, we can honestly say that we are providing a safer environment for children, but we need to do more than just provide safety.

We need to be able to provide areas of growth so that these kids can have the tools they need in order to find success in the pursuit of their own dream

What Can We Do To Help Facilitate Change?

  • In 2012, only 4.5% of children who were adopted out of foster care were placed in the system for fewer than 12 months.

  • The percentage of children adopted in less than 12 months out of foster care in 2009: 3.6%.

  • More than 85% of children in foster care have had a minimum of two different placement settings within the first 12 months of being placed in the system.

  • 11% of children who are placed into a permanent setting outside of foster care will re-enter the system within 12 months.

  • Only 32.6% of adoptions from foster care occur within the first 2 years of a child being placed into the system.

  • Less than 70% of the cases of founded child maltreatment had a response time that was less than 48 hours for an intervention.

  • 30.4% of incidents were responded to by caseworkers in 24 hours or less.

  • 73% of the cases of child maltreatment are due to neglect.

  • Kids between the ages of 0-7 make up more than half of all child maltreatment reports that are generated in the United States every year.

  • 48.9% of the reports are generated from families that are Caucasian.

  • More than 6% of children who are placed into foster care have been sexually abused by a parent or family member.

child custody, cps
Are you dealing with CPS or a Child Custody Case? Help is Available!

During this holiday season, It’s Almost Tuesday wishes the best in all things for children and their families.

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We wish there were no bad foster homes.

We wish CPS had no over zealous case workers.

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We wish couples stayed happily married with no divorces.

We wish there was no such thing as parental alienation syndrome or parental kidnapping.

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We wish for the end of alot of bad things, but there is a reality that wishes can’t erase.

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If you are facing CPS, or a divorce and children are involved there IS HELP AVAILABLE.

Do you know someone in a custody dispute?

What a better gift to give a loved one who is facing a child custody case or court battle but peace of mind?

We want to help you find the answers that you need to fight for your rights and your kids and succeed.

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Win in court.
Check out our new page with a library of books and guides on just about any topics you could think of.

Tell your friends.

The kids who need it the most will thank you one day.

It’s our wish that we would all be nice to each other in every way possible, but if you have no choice and nice isn’t an option, be ready.
GET HELP NOW!

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Obsessed Alienation – Severe Parental Alienation in Custody Cases

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“I love my children. If the court can’t protect them from their abusive father, I will. Even though he’s never abused the children, I know it’s a matter of time. The children are frightened of their father. If they don’t want to see him, I’m not going to force them. They are old enough to make up their own minds.”

The obsessed alienator is a parent, or sometimes a grandparent, with a cause:

to align the children to his or her side and together, with the children, and a campaign to destroy their relationship with the targeted parent.

For the campaign to work, the obsessed alienator enmeshes the children’s personalities and beliefs into their own. This is a process that takes time but one that the children, especially the young, are completely helpless to see and combat. It usually begins well before the divorce is final.

The obsessed parent is angry, bitter or feels betrayed by the other parent. The initial reasons for the bitterness may actually be justified. They could have been verbally and physical abused, raped, betrayed by an affair, or financially cheated.

The problem occurs when the feelings won’t heal but instead become more intense because of being forced to continue the relationship with a person they despise because of their common parenthood. Just having to see or talk to the other parent is a reminder of the past and triggers the hate. They are trapped with nowhere to go and heal.

The characteristics of obsessed alienation are as follows

  • They are obsessed with destroying the children’s relationship with the targeted parent
  • They having succeeded in enmeshing the childrens’ personalities and beliefs about the other parent with their own.
  • The children will parrot the obsessed alienator rather than express their own feelings from personal experience with the other parent.

  • The targeted parent and often the children cannot tell you the reasons for their feelings.

  • Their beliefs sometimes becoming delusional and irrational. No one, especially the court, can convince obsessed alienators that they are wrong. Anyone who tries is the enemy.

  • They will often seek support from family members, quasi-political groups or friends that will share in their beliefs that they are victimized by the other parent and the system.
  • The battle becomes “us against them.” The obsessed alienator’s supporters are often seen at the court hearings even though they haven’t been subpoenaed.

  • They have an unquenchable anger because they believe that the targeted parent has victimized them and whatever they do to protect the children is justified.

  • They have a desire for the court to punish the other parent with court orders that would interfere or block the targeted parent from seeing the children. This confirms in the obsessed alienator’s mind that he or she was right all the time.

  • The court’s authority does not intimidate them.

  • The obsessed alienator believes in a higher cause, protecting the children at all cost.

  • The obsessed alienator will probably not want to read what is on these pages because the content just makes them angrier.

There are no effective treatments for either the obsessed alienator or the children.

The courts and mental health professionals are helpless.

The only hope for these children is early identification of the symptoms and prevention. After the alienation is entrenched and the children become “true believers” in the parent’s cause, the children are lost to the other parent for years to come.

We realize this is a sad statement, but we have yet to find an effective intervention, by anyone, including the courts that can rehabilitate the alienating parent and child.

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More on Parental Alienation

Divorce is one of life’s most painful passages. It is painful for the spouse who wants it, painful for the spouse who feels rejected, and painful for the children.

We can understand and empathize with the spouse who feels wronged and wants revenge, or the spouse who is overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of losing the children, or the spouse who prefers to forget that the marriage ever was.

But using the children to get revenge, to cope with anxiety, to erase the past, is unacceptable.

Parents must hold themselves to a higher standard.

Parent/child relationships are particularly vulnerable when children are first informed of the impending separation, or when one parent actually leaves the home.

If your spouse manipulates the children to blame you for the divorce, or to believe you have abandoned them, affection can dissolve overnight as their distress and hurt feelings are channeled into hatred.

The risk becomes multiplied if, for any reason, you have no communication or contact with the children after you leave the home. This keeps you from reassuring the children of your love and helping them understand that they do not have to choose between their parents.

A child who feels caught between two homes may feel that the solution to the conflict is to declare a clear allegiance to one household. This motive can result in alienation from either parent.

A child who is anxious or angry about the remarriage may channel these feelings into unwarranted hatred of the remarried parent and stepparent. Or the child’s alienation may express the disappointment of reconciliation wishes that have been dashed by the remarriage.

Regardless of the child’s underlying motivation, if the favored parent welcomes the child’s allegiance and fails to actively promote the child’s affection for the other parent, the child may cling to a maladaptive solution.

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.

enablers

PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:

1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.

2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.

3. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’tdemonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for thealienated parent, only hate.

4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker”phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.

5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.

6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.

7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividlydescribes situations that he or she could not haveexperienced.

8. Animosity is spread to also include the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brainwashed against the alienated parent.

The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with the other parent, even though he or she has told the child that he has to, it is a court order, etc.

The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling the child that he can’t.

Alienation advances when the alienating parent urdses the child as a personal therapist. The child is told about every miserable experience and negative feeling about the alienated parent with great specificity.

The child, who is already enmeshed with the parent because his or her identity is still undefined, easily absorbs the parent’s negativity. They become aligned with this parent and feel that they need to be the protector of the alienating parent.

Parental alienation can be mild and temporary or extreme and ongoing. Most researchers believe that any alienation of a child against (the child’s) other parent is harmful to the child and to the target parent.

Extreme, obsessive, and ongoing parental alienation can cause terrible psychological damage to children extending well into adulthood.

Parental Alienation focuses on the alienating parents behavior as opposed to the alienated parent’s and alienated childrens’ conditions. This definition is different from Parental Alienation Syndrome as originally coined by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1987:

“a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.”

Parental Alienation Syndrome symptoms describe the child’s behaviours and attitude towards the targeted parent after the child has been effectively programmed and severely alienated from the targeted parent.

Parental alienation, on the other hand, describes the alienating parent’s or parents’ conduct which induces parental alienation syndrome in children. Parental alienation is a form of relational aggression by one parent against the other parent using their common children.

The process can become cyclic with each parent attempting to alienate the children from the other. There is potential for a negative feedback loop and escalation.

At other times an affected parent may withdraw leaving the children to the alienating parent. Children so alienated often suffer effects similar to those studied in the psychology of torture.

Alienating parents often use grandparents, aunts/uncles, and other elders to alienate their children against the target parent.

In some cases, mental health professionals become unwitting allies in these alienation attempts by backing unfounded allegations of neglect, abuse or mental disease. Courts also often side with the alienating parent against the target parent in legal judgements because parental alienation is so difficult to detect.

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Extreme forms of parental alienation include obsessive brainwashing, character assassination, and the false inducement of fear, shame, and rage in children against the target parent. Moderate forms of parental alienation include loss of self control, flare ups of anger, and nconscious alliances with the children against the target parent. In it’s mildest forms, parental alienation includes occasional mild denigration alternating with a focus on encouraging the children’s relationship with the other parent.

Parental alienation often forces children to choose sides and become allies against the other parent. Children caught in the middle of such conflicts suffer severe losses of love, respect and peace during their formative years.

They also often lose their alienated parent forever.

These consequences and a host of others cause terrible traumas to children as studied in Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Parents so alienated often suffer heartbreaking loss of their children through no fault of their own. In addition, they often face false accusations from their alienated children that they cannot counter with the facts.

Finally, they often find themselves powerless to show that this little-known form of cruel, covert, and cunning aggression is occurring or has occurred.

Often the problem can be cured only by realizing the underlying causes. The reasons are very numerous and varied. These are examples:

  • Money. The custodial parent may wish to have more than the non-custodial parent is willing or able to provide and the children are leverage pawns.
  • Retaliation. ‘You wanted a life without us. Now you have it.’
  • New family member.The mother forms a new romantic relationship and wants her new man to be the father. The non-custodial parent is a hindrance to that new relationship, an unwanted reminder.
  • New partner’s interference. Mother’s boy-friend or new husband wants to be the man in the child’s life and works to exclude the father.
  • Jealousy Mother’s empty life is in stark contrast to Father’s recovering one. Mother may not wish the father’s new partner to have the role of ‘rival mother’ – particularly if she is insecure about her own abilities.
  • Property rights. Mother regards child as her property and is unwilling to share
  • Social appearance.Mother could never admit that she is not the sole focus of her child’s life.
  • Depression, Poor health.General negative view on life interpreted by her as being a result of the marital breakup and therefore his fault.
  • Simple hatred by the mother of the father.
  • Hostility from the father toward the mother is viewed by her as a risk to the children as well, so she feels that she must ‘protect’ the child by preventing the father from visiting. Mother may have no basis whatsoever for feeling that the father will be hostile to the child.
  • Possessiveness of the child’s attention and affection. The Mother may have no other close family and be envious of the father’s friends and relatives.

  • Mother convinces herself that the father is a dangerous human with extreme character flaws to which the child should not be exposed. Mother assumes that activities enjoyed by the father are risky to the child, even though other children may engage in those same activities.
  • Mother has taken a gender approach and is hostile to all men. This can be particularly true if the mother has limited her own contacts to other single mothers. She may be unable to sustain a wholesome relationship with a man.
  • Punishment. Mother eliminates visits or shortens contact with the father if the children do not behave. “You have not finished your homework. You cannot go to dinner with your father.” or “You did not obey me about your bedtime. You are grounded here and while you are with your father this weekend.”
  • Perceived competition with the former spouse. This is particularly true when the non-custodial father spends more on the children than the mother is able to do. Also called “Disneyland Dads”, the father uses his time in high dollar activities while the mother has to make do on free and low cost amusements for them. This also works in reverse with the “competitive” mom – where the non-custodial parent plans an activity, such as a driving vacation and then the custodial mom has to ‘trump’ it by flying the children out of the country on vacation. Neither parent seems to notice that the TWO vacations are far more than the child would have received if in a pre-divorce home and that the child’s values are being distorted on a very subconscious, but permanent level.
  • Self-esteem. The mother’s interests and activities may be so focused on the children that she has no life if they are not around. She does not wish to, or cannot admit, that they have fun if she is not part.
  • Fear of abandonment.Mother worries that children may choose the father over her if given the opportunity.
  • Control. The children may be the only means the parent has of directing the life and emotions of the former spouse.
  • Reverse control. The mother may have never wanted a man except to sire the child and, once that role is complete, the mother wants him well away from her child. Watch for parents who say ‘MY child’ when talking to the other parent.
  • Punishment to the Father for forming a new marriage. ‘You were supposed to stay single and grieve for me forever.’
  • Mistaken belief that the father was actually not interested in the child.Many men are not granted much of a role in baby care, so as the child grows older and the father is ‘learning how to parent’ he may not spend as much time with the child –which may be viewed in retrospect as disinterest. Parenting does not come naturally to everyone and non-custodial parents have less of a chance to practice, with their mistakes being more visible.
  • Lifestyle conflicts.Mother and father have different choices in cultures, religions, and values and she wants to isolate the children into hers.
  • Emotional dependence.The mother may feel that the child has only so much capability for affection and wants it all for herself.
  • Resentment of reminders of failure.The mother may view the dissolved marriage as a failure and wish to avoid all memory of it.
  • Concealment. The mother may be having difficulties and does not want the children to provide information about her situation to the father.

Theses cases involving Parental Alienating are very frustrating to the targeted parent. Many times the offending parent feels totally justified in their actions. They cannot see the damage they are causing their children.

How can targeted parents in these situations be helped?

Encourage them to keep their heads up, maintain perspective, and contact the right professionals. Open up the line of communication with their children, recognize early warning signs of trouble, and respond appropriately to rude and hateful behavior.

Avoid common errors made by rejected parents through recognition of the problem and quickly obtaining the proper experts, which is crucial in developing a strategy inn a custody case involving Parental Alienation.

If necessary, ask the courts to order an evaluation and most of all to order treatment to reverse the damages caused by such conduct.

Sources:

Parental Alienation Syndrome by Lynn M.Swank,

Dr. Richard A. Warshak. Divorce Poison, Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, Regan Books, New York,

Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Three Types of Parental Alienation Copyright 1997 by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.)

Forensic Family Services, Inc.

awareness, child abuser, cps, custody, false allegations, family, home, love, parental alienation syndrome
Backlash Against Parental Alienation: Denial and Skepticism About Psychological Abuse

By Richard A Warshack, Psychologist and expert on P.A.S. @richardwarshack

This post is in honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day—April 25.

A boy wrote a letter to his mother telling her that she belonged in a mental institution, that she was nothing to him, that she was nothing but a screw-up, that she was sick, selfish, that he wanted to have nothing to do with her or any of her relatives, and that he hoped she died a horrible, painful death. In other words, this boy disowned his mother with the most aggressive, vile, and hateful language.

The father’s attorney attempted to minimize the child’s alienation by claiming that the boy merely loved his dad a lot more than he loved his mom.

Attorneys spin the facts to zealously advocate for their clients’ positions. We expect it.

But what excuse do others have for denying the reality that a child can become irrationally alienated from a good and formerly loved parent? And for denying the reality that the child’s unjustified rejection of one parent can be traced to the other parent’s relentless manipulations to drive a wedge between child and parent?

How could anyone who works in the family law system deny the reality — affirmed nearly unanimously by legal and mental health professionals — that children can be influenced by one parent to turn against the other parent?

Encouraging a child to align with one parent against the other, and teaching a child to hate a parent for no good reason, is cruel. If a teacher did this to a student, bad-mouthed a child’s parents and systematically undermined the child’s love and respect for her parents, that teacher would be out of a job.

“Stealing the soul,” is how I described this process in DIVORCE POISON—enlisting children as agents in their own deprivation and violating children’s trust.

Leading authorities on divorce agree. Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Janet Johnston held no punches: “Whether such parents are aware of the negative impact on the child, these behaviors of the aligned parent (and his or her supporters) constitute emotional abuse of the child.”

Society has a checkered track record in recognizing and protecting children from abuse. Denial and minimization intermittently subdue awareness and acknowledgment. It has been this way with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, and with psychological abuse. So we should not be surprised that a subculture of parents and professionals denies that children can be manipulated to reject a parent for no good reason—or that they go so far as to claim that most children will turn against the parent who is abusing them in these ways.

How do deniers rationalize their apparent blindness?
Here are five strategies.

1. Deflect attention from the reality of divorce poison and its destructive impact with debates about whether parental alienation constitutes a bona fide syndrome. The claim is that because the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-5) does not include the term “parental alienation,” the problem must be bogus. You also will not find “reckless driving syndrome” in the DSM-5. But you would be wise to avoid getting in a car with a driver who has this problem. Children need protection from reckless, toxic parenting, regardless of how we label the parent’s behavior. Moreover, the DSM-5 does refer to the concept of irrational parental alienation. The diagnostic manual mentions “unwarranted feelings of estrangement” as an example of the diagnosis: Parent–Child Relational Problem.

To the parent who loses her child, or the child who loses a parent, it matters little whether we label the loss a syndrome, a disorder, a condition, or a problem. What matters is whether a child is suffering and whether a parent’s behavior contributes to a child’s suffering.

2. Claim that it is only a speculation, hypothesis, or theory that children can become alienated from one parent when exposed to the other parent’s negative influence. As I explained in my article, “Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation,” there is nothing theoretical or speculative about the existence of irrationally alienated children. These children can be directly observed by anyone willing to look.

3. Attribute unsupportable, fake positions to parental alienation studies, and then refute the fake positions—a tactic known as “attacking a straw man.” For instance, a recently published study claimed that “the alienation hypothesis” (see denial strategy #2 above) maintains that parental denigration is only unilateral, not reciprocal, and that all children exposed to parental denigration become alienated from the target of denigration. When the study found that a group of volunteer college students reported that both parents denigrated each other, and the children did not reject either parent, the authors of the study concluded that “the alienation hypothesis” was not supported and that parental denigration does not cause children to reject the parent who is denigrated.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that no scholar has claimed that parental denigration necessarily leads to a child rejecting the denigrated parent. Of course many children whose parents badmouth each other maintain relationships with both parents. Rejecting a parent is an extreme consequence, not a common one. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with irrationally alienated children knows that these children are reluctant to admit that their favored parent maligned their other parent— in fact, these children are reluctant to admit anything negative about the parent whom they favor.

Researchers who genuinely want to learn about the forces that lead children to irrationally reject a parent will begin by studying alienated children. Studying children who are not alienated merely makes the obvious point that their parents occasionally bad-mouth each other without alienating the children from either parent. This is the sort of “scholarship” that gives social science a bad odor because the study advocates for and confirms a bias against the existence of parental alienation.

4. Ignore studies that fail to support one’s pet theories. For example, while promoting skepticism about the notion that children can be manipulated by a parent to hate the other parent, the authors of the study mentioned above failed to cite the largest study, published by the American Bar Association, that explicitly attributed children’s problems to being brainwashed by one parent against the other. They also failed to cite the volume of scientific evidence about various mechanisms by which children’s attitudes can be influenced and by which negative stereotypes about a parent can be promulgated.

Children’s feelings and behavior toward each parent are influenced by the way their parents treat each other. Does any reasonable person seriously believe otherwise—that children are immune from a parent’s influence? If so, tell that to all the child psychologists and authors who study and write about how to raise smarter, healthier, happier, and better behaved children.

Ironically, one of the authors of the straw-man study, in a previous article, railed against scholars who selectively cite research that confirms their biases, a tactic he called “cherry picking” or “stacking the deck.” Pot, meet kettle.

5. Promulgate, or accept without investigation or critical scrutiny, dramatic and exaggerated claims that the evaluator, therapist, child representative, and judge in a case mistook a child’s justified rejection of a parent for unjustified alienation, or that children removed from toxic alienating environments have been abused by the family court system. Such claims are repeated without considering all the evidence weighed by the court in reaching its decision.

We have a lot to learn about the roots of parental alienation and about why some children become ensnared in a campaign of hatred toward a parent while others resist. And why some children draw closer to the target of bad-mouthing and reject the parent who dispenses divorce poison, a phenomenon called “blowback” in the video, WELCOME BACK, PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION.

But the existence of parents who effectively teach their children to hate the other parent, and of children who absorb this lesson, is beyond dispute.

Exactly two weeks before Parental Alienation Awareness Day in 2017, British High Court Justice Russell delivered her judgment in a Liverpool family court case. She wrote, “By manipulating her children, [the mother] has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions.”

Do the deniers and skeptics think Justice Russell was deluded?

As journalist Kathleen Parker observed, “Anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too.”

We may not want to face the fact that some parents prey on the children in their charge—physically, sexually, or emotionally. Often these parents carefully groom children to engage in harmful acts that victimize children. Whether children are victims of sexual abuse or psychological abuse, we must not turn a blind eye to them.

The fact that some children are able to resist does not obscure the reality that such abuse exists. Professionals who feed denial and skepticism play into the hands of those who want us to look away.

Because deniers and skeptics contribute to a backlash against protecting psychologically abused children from efforts to alienate them from a parent, 13 years after it was introduced we still need Parental Alienation Awareness Day to shine a light on the plight of children and parents caught in this maelstrom, and to remind us that much work remains to be done.

#PAADay #ParentalAlienation

cps
Texas Woman Heading to Prison For Abusing 3 Year Old Son

Story posted 2013.12.29 at 09:41 AM CST SAN ANTONIO (AP) —

A San Antonio woman is headed to federal prison for 28 years after pleading guilty to recording herself having sex with her 3-year-old son and sending the video to a former boyfriend.

Kimberly Epperson’s sentence Friday came after the 25-year-old agreed to a plea deal that set her punishment between 15 and 30 years for one count of production of child pornography.

Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery told Epperson she’d made a “sacrificial lamb” of her son who would have a lifetime of his own to remember the abuses. Prosecutors say Epperson and ex-boyfriend Wade Perkins had “used” the boy multiple times over weeks.

Perkins was sentenced in October to 30 years.

The San Antonio Express-News reports Epperson’s attorney said she’d been manipulated by Perkins.

Story posted 2013.12.29 at 09:41 AM CST

cps
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  http://www.tdcaa.com/node/2496

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; www.DFPS.state.tx.us.

Administration for Children and Families for Children’s Bureau, with federal law and child welfare policy handbook; www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/.

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

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

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

National Association of Counsel for Children for training, publications, and advocacy; www.nacchildlaw.org. D

Editor’s note: For more information, the author can be contacted at 512/929-6635 or pamela.parker@dfps.state.tx.us.

Endnotes

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 .sanders@dfps.state.tx.us, 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