Yes, I believe that parental rights should be constitutionally protected through the proposed Parental Rights Amendment:
The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a
Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without
demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest
order and not otherwise served.
No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to
supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.
To sign this petition please go to www.parentalrights.org. I encourage everybody to look at this petition.
|Posted by Diane Vigil on September 24, 2013 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
Claudia Felder lives in Chino, Calif., with her parents. It's a wholesome scene: nice house, three dogs and a parrot and happy family pictures everywhere.
You'd have no idea that the composed, cheerful, articulate young woman got off to a rough start in life.
Felder spent much of her childhood in foster care, starting when she was 3 years old. She's 21 now, and has been living happily with her adoptive family. But memories of an abusive past still haunt her.
"To this day, every now and then, I'll have a nightmare," Felder tells NPR's Arun Rath. "It's my biological mom getting the crap beat out of her in a motel room. She had long hair, but her face is always fuzzed out, so I never remember what she looks like, I can't recall that."
Claudia Felder, 21, was in and out of the U.S. foster care system for nearly 10 years before she found a permanent family. Her difficult story ended happily, but that's not always the case for the 400,000 kids in foster care in America.Enlarge image
Claudia Felder, 21, was in and out of the U.S. foster care system for nearly 10 years before she found a permanent family. Her difficult story ended happily, but that's not always the case for the 400,000 kids in foster care in America.
After that incident, Felder entered the foster care system, where she spent the better part of the next 10 years.
Felder says she remember the homes and some of the names of the parents from when she first went into foster care. This is all she knew; always moving, never knowing when she was going to leave.
This tumultuous life mirrors that of other children in the U.S. There are about 400,000 kids in foster care in the U.S. — roughly the equivalent of all of the kids in Chicago Public Schools. Preventing their precarious home lives would be ideal, but the system itself still needs help, according to those who work in and research foster care.
'All We Had'
When Felder was in foster care, she was not completely alone. Her sister was with her, too. Felder's sister is three years younger than she, just a baby at the time.
"I raised my little sister through foster care," she says. "That's all we had was each other. She was a baby, [but] that still meant more to me than anything. Somebody I at least knew going through all these other changes in my life."
And there were plenty of changes. Felder says they were moving in-and-out of foster homes, not knowing where they'd end up next or how long they'd have to stay.
"I had about six foster homes, and all but one were physically and sexually abusive," she says. "So I experienced it with my biological parents and then five other homes. It was like an ongoing thing."
When Felder was adopted, it seemed like the nightmare would finally come to an end. By the age of 6, she had already been in five foster homes. She says it was difficult to adjust to home life and she got into trouble in school.
"I had a lot of trust issues [and] a lot of abandonment issues," she says.
After four years in that house, Felder says the family wanted her out. At age 10, they sent her back into foster care. But she left alone; the family wanted to keep her younger sister. It was devastating.
A Meter Of Society's Problems
Cris Beam, the author of the book To The End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, says this is the sort of life cycle of kids in foster care.
"They'll get pulled from their home at five or six and a van will come to them in the middle of the night, they'll take the kid, the kid is terrified, and they'll be put with a stranger," Beam says. "Imagine being five years old and suddenly being surrounded by strangers. They don't understand what's happening."
Beam has spent years researching foster care in America and is a foster parent herself. She says that all too often, these bewildered children will act out in various ways that can scare off ill-prepared foster parents who might otherwise adopt.
Beam says that the problems foster kids face are so intractable because they are also society's problems. She says it is impossible to address the foster care problem without tackling broader issues of drug abuse, domestic and sexual abuse, and poverty.
"They are a meter of our social problems," Beam says. "[But] not just a meter of how child welfare is failing or succeeding, they're a meter of how we are failing or succeeding as a society."
Not Enough Families
Alex Morales, the CEO of the Children's Bureau of Southern California, says the U.S. needs to focus on how it's going to prevent this problem in the first place.
"How do you reduce the situation so that you don't have 140,000 reports going on in a year?" Morales says. "You try to start very early with families ... prevention is ultimately the direction we need to invest in."
While prevention may be the key, Morales says there's still a crisis going on with Los Angeles Foster Care. There just aren't enough homes to take in kids, and that ongoing crisis in Los Angeles is one that reflects a national problem.
"The issue is, there are only about 3,000 foster homes," he says. "Not more than about five years ago, there were twice as many homes. The children have no place to go when they come into the care of the government or courts. Where do we put them?"
The answer is institutions and group homes. These aren't the old orphanages out of Charles Dickens, but according to Morales, the conditions in many group homes can be just as bleak. With overcrowding, kids end up sleeping in cots in adoption agencies; essentially office buildings become home.
Most social workers agree that even the best group home is no match for a real family, and it doesn't need to be a traditional one. Morales says that only a family can give these kids the kind of support they need.
"They're the final defenders of a child's future by saying, 'Look, the family has failed them, the system has failed them, and we're going to try to step in and be the last solution to catch this child before they go off the cliff into homelessness and jails,' " he says.
The Value Of A Home
After her first adoption failed, Claudia Felder spent almost seven months in a new foster home. She says it wasn't perfect, but it's where she met a new social worker. Someone she could trust. They talked about what Felder wanted.
"I remember talking about ... kids at school talking about sleepovers. What are they? I've always wanted to have a sleepover with a friend," Felder says. "The little things that a lot of people take for granted, it's like the things that a lot of kids and myself at that age longed for."
That social worker turned her life around, and eventually became Felder's mom.
"I always say, I'm a really bad foster parent, because once they walk into the door, that's it, they're not leaving," says Kim Felder.
She could have adopted without the added difficulty of the foster care system, but says that she and her husband liked the challenge.
"Even when Claudia would pull some of her things, you would get frustrated," Kim Felder says, "[but] then when they do the little amazing thing like the first band concert or they graduate from high school, inside you're saying, 'Oh my God, have you seen how far this child has come? Can you see what they can do?' "
Kim and her husband have had that feeling over and over. They have eight kids, including Claudia — six of whom are adopted.
Claudia Felder's story has a happy ending, but that is not the story for a lot of kids. Researcher Cris Beam says that for many older kids who don't end up with families, cynicism sets in, and around 12 or 13 years old, they decide to run out the clock and wait for emancipation. Once they turn 18, they can go out on their own. Beam says being independent without strong family support is dangerous.
"The reality is they need someone to fall back on. They need parents when they're 20 or 23," Beam says. "Think about when you had your first heartbreak, your first job loss, your first crush, your first crash, your first anything. When kids hit any little stumble at all ... they need to have someone they can call upon. What we really need to be finding for them are families."
Today, Claudia Felder does outreach work with foster kids, and she's trying to help them understand why they need that support.
"A lot of these kids are just like I was. They don't want to be adopted," Felder says. "You need to have somebody in your life."
|Posted by Diane Vigil on September 21, 2013 at 10:10 PM||comments (0)|
By Nancy Schaefer
Georgia State Senate, 50th District
revised September 25, 2008
My introduction into Child Protective Service cases was due to a grandmother in an adjoining state who called me with her tragic story. Her two granddaughters had been taken from her daughter who lived in my district. Her daughter was told wrongly that if she wanted to see her children again she should sign a paper and give up her children. Frightened and young, the daughter did. I have since discovered that parents are often threatened into cooperation of permanent separation of their children.
The children were taken to another county and placed in foster care. The foster parents were told wrongly that they could adopt the children. The grandmother then jumped through every hoop known to man in order to get her granddaughters. When the case finally came to court it was made evident by one of the foster parent’s children that the foster parents had, at any given time, 18 foster children and that the foster mother had an inappropriate relationship with a caseworker. In the courtroom, the juvenile judge acted as though she was shocked and said the two girls would be removed quickly. They were not removed. Finally, after much pressure being applied to the Department of Family and Children Services of Georgia (DFCS), the children were driven to South Georgia to meet their grandmother who gladly drove to meet them.
After being with their grandmother two or three days, the judge, quite out of the blue, wrote up a new order to send the girls to their father, who previously had no interest in the case and who lived on the West Coast. The father was in “adult entertainment”. His girlfriend worked as an “escort” and his brother, who also worked in the business, had a sexual charge brought against him.
Within a couple of days the father was knocking on the grandmother’s door and took the girls kicking and screaming to California.
The father developed an unusual relationship with the former foster parents and soon moved to the southeast. The foster parents began driving to the father’s residence and picking up the little girls for visits. The oldest child had told her mother and grandmother on two different occasions that the foster father molested her.
To this day after five years, this loving, caring blood relative grandmother does not even have visitation privileges with the children. The little girls are, in my opinion, permanently traumatized and the young mother of the girls was so traumatized with shock when the girls were first removed from her that she has never completely recovered. The mother has rights but the father still has custody of the children.
Throughout this case and through the process of dealing with multiple other mismanaged cases of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), I have worked with other desperate parents across the state of Georgia and in many other States because their children were taken for no cause and they have no one with whom to turn. I have witnessed ruthless behavior from many caseworkers, social workers, investigators, lawyers, judges, therapists, and others such as those who “pick up” the children. I have been stunned by what I have seen and heard from victims all across this land.
In this report, I have focused mainly on the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). However, I believe Child Protective Services nationwide has become corrupt and that the entire system is broken beyond repair. I am convinced parents and families should be warned of the dangers.
The Department of Child Protective Services, known as the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in Georgia and other titles in other states, has become a “protected empire” built on taking children and separating families. This is not to say that there are not those children who do need to be removed from wretched situations and need protection.
However, this report is concerned with the children and parents caught up in “legal kidnapping,” ineffective policies, and an agency that on certain occasions would not remove a child (or children) when the child was enduring torment and abuse.
In one county in my District, I arranged a meeting for thirty-seven families to speak freely and without fear. These poor parents and grandparents spoke of their painful, heart wrenching encounters with DFCS. Their suffering was overwhelming. They wept and cried. Some did not know where their children were and had not seen them in years. I had witnessed the “Gestapo” at work and I witnessed the deceitful conditions under which children were taken in the middle of the night, out of hospitals, off of school buses, and out of homes. In one county a private drug testing business was operating within the agency’s department that required many, many drug tests from parents and individuals for profit. It has already made over $100,000.
Due to being exposed, several employees in this particular office were fired. However, they have now been rehired either in neighboring counties or in the same county again. According to the calls I am now receiving, the conditions in that county are returning to the same practices that they had before the light was shown on their evil deeds.
Having worked with probably 300 cases statewide, and now hundreds and hundreds across this nation and in nearly every state, I am convinced there is no responsibility and no accountability in Child Protective Services system.
I have come to the conclusion:
· that poor parents very often are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers;
· that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean your children are to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to be, with family;
· that parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes and on and on are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system even while the parents are at work and while their children are separated from them. (some times parents are required to pay for the programs) This can take months or even years and it emotionally devastates both children and parents. Parents are victimized by “the system” that makes a profit for holding children longer and “bonuses” for not returning children to their parents;
· that caseworkers and social workers are very often guilty of fraud. They withhold and destroy evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights unnecessarily. However, when charges are made against Child Protective Services, the charges are ignored;
· that the separation of families and the “snatching of children” is growing as a business because local governments have grown accustomed to having these taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets;
· that Child Protective Services and Juvenile Court can always hide behind a confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions and keep the funds flowing. There should be open records and “court watches”! Look who is being paid! There are state employees, lawyers, court investigators, guardian ad litems, court personnel, and judges. There are psychologists, and psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, therapists, foster parents, adoptive parents, and on and on. All are looking to the children in state custody to provide job security. Parents do not realize that the social workers are the glue that hold “the system” together that funds the court, funds the court appointed attorneys, and the multiple other jobs including the “system’s” psychiatrists, therapists, their own attorneys and others.
· that The Adoption and the Safe Families Act, set in motion first in 1974 by Walter Mondale and later in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, offered cash “bonuses” to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care. In order to receive the “adoption incentive bonuses” local child protective services need more children. They must have merchandise (children) that sells and you must have plenty so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000 to $6,000 bonus for each child adopted out to strangers and an additional $2,000 for a “special needs” child. Employees work to keep the federal dollars flowing;
· State Departments of Human Resources (DHR) and affiliates are given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population. For every child DHR and CPS can get adopted, there is the bonus of $4,000 or maybe $6,000. But that is only the beginning figure in the formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the State has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. Therefore States and local communities work hard to reach their goals for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care.
· that there is double dipping. The funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. There is funding for foster care then when a child is placed with a new family, then “adoption bonus funds” are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16 drugs per day, like two children of a constituent of mine, more funds are involved and so is Medicaid;
· As you can see this program is ordered from the very top and run by Health and Human Resources. This is why victims of CPS get no help from their legislators. It explains why my bill, SB 415 suffered such defeat in the Judicial Committee, why I was cut off at every juncture. Legislators and Governors must remember who funds their paychecks.
· that there are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep them together or provide effective care;
· that the incentive for social workers to return children to their parents quickly after taking them has disappeared and who in protective services will step up to the plate and say, “This must end! No one, because they are all in the system together and a system with no leader and no clear policies will always fail the children. Just look at the waste in government that is forced upon the tax payer;
· that the “Policy Manual” is considered “the last word” for CPS/DFCS. However, it is too long, too confusing, poorly written and does not take the law into consideration;
· that if the lives of children were improved by removing them from their homes, there might be a greater need for protective services, but today children are not safer. Children, of whom I am aware, have been raped and impregnated in foster care;
· It is a known fact that children are in much more danger in foster care than they are in their own home even though home may not be perfect;
· that some parents are even told if they want to see their children or grandchildren, they must divorce their spouse. Many, who are under privileged, feeling they have no option, will divorce and then just continue to live together. This is an anti-family policy, but parents will do anything to get their children home with them. However, when the parents cooperate with Child Protective Services, their behavior is interpreted as guilt when nothing could be further from the truth;
· Fathers, (non-custodial parents) I must add, are oftentimes treated as criminals without access to visit or even see their own children and have child support payments strangling the very life out of them;
· that the Foster Parents Bill of Rights does not stress that a foster parent is there temporarily to care for a child until the child can be returned home. Many foster parents today use the Foster Parent Bill of Rights as a means to hire a lawyer and seek to adopt the child placed in their care from the real parents, who are desperately trying to get their child home and out of the system. Recently in Atlanta, a young couple learning to be new parents and loving it, were told that because of an anonymous complaint, their daughter would be taken into custody by the State DFCS. The couple was devastated and then was required by DFCS to take parenting classes, alcohol counseling and psychological evaluations if they wanted to get their child back. All of the courses cost money for which most parents are required to pay. While in their anxiety and turmoil to get their child home, the baby was left for hours in a car to die in the heat in her car seat by a foster parent who forgot about the child. This should never have happened. It is tragic. In many cases after the parents have jumped through all the hoops, they still do not get their child. As long as the child is not returned, there is money for the agency, for foster parents, for adoptive parents, and for the State;
· that tax dollars are being used to keep this gigantic system afloat, yet the victims, parents, grandparents, guardians and especially the children, are charged for the system’s services;
· that grandparents have called from all over the State of Georgia and from other states trying to get custody of their grandchildren. CPS claims relatives are contacted, but there are many many cases that prove differently. Grandparents who lose their grandchildren to strangers have lost their own flesh and blood. The children lose their family heritage and grandparents, and parents too, lose all connections to their heirs;
· that The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!
· That according to the California Little Hoover Commission Report in 2003, 30% to 70% of the children in California group homes do not belong there and should not have been removed from their homes.
1. Call for an independent audit of all State Child Protective Services (CPS) and for a Federal Congressional hearing on Child Protective Services nationwide.
2. Activate immediate change. Every day that passes means more families and children are subject to being held hostage and their lives destroyed.
3. Abolish the Federal and State financial incentives that have turned Child Protective Services into a business that separate families for money.
4. Grant to parents their rights verbally and in writing.
5. Mandate a search for family members to be given the opportunity to adopt their own relatives if children need to be removed permanently.
6. Mandate a jury trial where every piece of evidence is presented before permanently removing a child from his or her parents. Open family court. Remove the secrecy. Allow the press and family members access. Give parents the opportunity in court to speak and be a part of their children’s future.
7. Require a warrant or a positive emergency circumstance before removing children from their parents. (Judge Arthur G. Christean, Utah Bar Journal, January, 1997 reported that “except in emergency circumstances, including the need for immediate medical care, require warrants upon affidavits of probable cause before entry upon private property is permitted for the forcible removal of children from their parents.”)
8. Uphold the laws when someone fabricates or presents false evidence. If a parent alleges fraud, hold a hearing with the right to discovery of all evidence made available to parents.
On my desk are scores of cases of exhausted families and terrified children. It has been beyond me to turn my back on these suffering, crying, and beaten down individuals. We are mistreating the most innocent. Child Protective Services have become an adult centered business to the detriment of children. No longer is judgment based on what the child needs or who the child wants to be or with whom, or what is really best for the whole family; it is some adult or bureaucrat who makes the decisions, based often on just hearsay, without ever consulting a family member, or just what is convenient, profitable, or less troublesome for the social workers.
I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to so many families that I am not sure if I even believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so.
Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set our children and families free.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy” Proverbs 31:8-9
|Posted by Diane Vigil on September 18, 2013 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
Do you know that if you are a child caught in Sacramento CPS and the juvenile court system,
(1) You may not retain your own attorney for your hearings or trial. You are assigned an attorney, who is on contract with CPS and thus works hand-in-hand with CPS?
(2) You may not request an open trial as in other cities, but must conduct all hearings and trials behind closed doors, with no family members, media, or interested citizens permitted to following the proceedings?
(3) You may not seek help for CPS wrongs against you except from the Foster Care Ombudsman, an entity WITHIN the Department of Social Services, whose aim is to protect CPS? The Foster Care Ombudsman comes with a warning: “Proceed with a complaint at your own risk. Your identity will not be protected and you will face retaliation for complaining.”
Do you know that if you are a family member of a child caught in CPS and the juvenile court system,
(1) You have no right to inquire about the case nor do you have a right to be interviewed for any knowledge you might have? Yet you can be quoted and lied about in court documents as "evidence"? Evidence enters by "stipulation" (all parties must agree--yeah, right) or by CPS stapling its "evidence" to the back of the court document. This is known as the "staple-on" rule.
(2) You can be threatened with a restraining order JUST for calling and asking about the child or youth?
(3) You can be denied ALL contact with the child or youth, EVEN if a 17-year-old has been rushed for emergency surgery for a life-threatening condition to a major medical center and is asking repeatedly for you? And CPS has to give NO reasons why you are not allowed contact.
Do you know that if you are a therapist, an educator, a CASA worker, mandated reporter, or any professional or caring adult in the child’s life, ALL of the ABOVE can also happen to YOU??? And do you know you will have NO recourse? That there is not one law to protect you from the power of CPS against you?
Do you know that CPS can threaten you, libel you, slander you, restrain you, forbid you complete contact for 18 years, and enter court documents deliberately filled with lies WITHOUT EVER EVEN SPEAKING TO YOU??? Even if the child or family member who is part of the proceedings is pleading with his social worker to speak to you?
Every one of these things happened to our family because we cared about an abused 15-year-old needing help. He told us not to go to CPS--he knew better. His mother was a former CPS emergency social worker, and he knew what would happen if he became caught in that system. So we didn't. We just gave him emotional support. But when someone DID contact CPS, he experienced every one of these things and more. CPS can do WHATEVER it wants. It has unlimited, unchecked power, carte blanche. How did it get the kind of power that can trample due process and hold itself above the law? FROM THE LAW!!!!! The laws MUST be changed! You may not have fallen into the jurisdiction of CPS and the juvenile courts, but one day you may, and then what? You might make the "mistake" we did and actually care about a child being abused. You might think that child protective services actually protects children. You will be in for the surprise of your life. And then it will be too late. Don’t wait for YOUR freedoms to be ripped from you along with the child's. ACT NOW!
This youth is now 18. He is meeting with legislators with eight suggested reforms of the law:
1. Create independent ombudsman agency for youth in CPS
2. Create complaint process that does not bring harm or retaliation to reporting youth
3. Allow open court hearings and trial if requested by youth
4. Allow evidence into court without having to be vetted by CPS and require CPS to substantiate all evidence and allegations on more than just hearsay
5. Mandate training for social workers on questioning techniques and on emotional abuse under WIC 300
6. Record all interviews with youth, parents, and third parties so court documents cannot be distorted and falsified
7. Establish due process protection for mandated reporters, family members, and concerned third parties to prevent CPS abuse of power and intimidation
8. Allow sibling visitation if in best interest of the youth
Fight with us for these legislative reforms! They will protect all of us
|Posted by Diane Vigil on September 16, 2013 at 3:35 AM||comments (0)|
August 20, 2013 — San Diego, CA – In its continuing campaign to end the harassment, fraud, and abuse rampant in California State Family Courts, a parents’ rights group, the California Coalition for Families and Children, has filed a lawsuit today in federal court charging the San Diego County courts, social workers, divorce attorneys, and psychologists with federal criminal racketeering.
“The abuses of parents and children by Family Courts, social workers, and family law attorneys have harmed parents and children for far too long. We intend to end that abuse.” says CCFC President Colbern Stuart. “Family court is designed by its makers to be probably the most dangerous life event parents and children can endure. It enables and profits from every inhumane instinct known to man—greed, hate, resentment, fear—resulting in abundant cash flow for the divorce industry and a fallout of parent and children’s misery.”
“And behind the curtain of this machine of misery we’ve uncovered its cause—the multi-billion dollar divorce industry, populated by judges, attorneys, and a machinery of tax-dollar fed “judicial administrators,” social workers that George Orwell would marvel at.” “We’ve been delivering that message kindly for years now, yet the tide keeps rising on families in crisis. We’ve appealed to the county courts, state and local politicians, state judicial oversight bodies, United States Representatives, and just plain old human dignity, but the harassment and abuse of parents and children has only increased. A resort to federal court intervention in the widespread criminal collusion in state government was the next logical step.”
“It’s time to recognize Family Court for what it is—a corporate crime ring raiding parents and children of financial and psychological well-being, and devouring our children’s futures. And its not just divorce lawyers—its judges, “judicial administrators,” psychologists, cops and prosecutors—people we should be able to trust—in a modern day criminal cabal using county courtrooms and sheriff’s deputies as the machinery of organized crime.” Say Stuart. “Since state officials’ hands are too deep into the cookie jar to stop their own abuse, we’re seeking the assistance of federal oversight.”
CCFC has been active in past years uncovering fraud and abuse of families and children in state courts, including the consumer fraud case of Dr. Stephen Doyne, the most notable child custody elevator in San Diego. “They not only let Doyne run wild for years, they actively protected his abuse of parents and children. In my mind, the industry is a godless abomination” says Stuart. “One of our parents who challenged Doyne and lost was ordered—by the same court that employs Doyne—to pay Doyne’s attorneys fees—over $380,000—for calling out his undisputed fraud. It’s outrageous, and its going to stop.”
CCFC’s Complaint details both civil and criminal charges. “We’ve alleged over 34 specific federal crimes in the complaint, and we’re turning our evidence over to the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney for further investigation.” Says Stuart.
The Complaint is available online through its facebook page at www.facebook.com/ccfconline details.
“The present-day suffering of so many parents and children has and is being wrought within a larger system characterized by a widespread institutional failure of—indeed contempt for—the rule of law.”“California legal institutions such as family courts and the legal community, professional institutions such as the state bar and psychology boards, and criminal justice institutions have in the recent decade gradually combined to cultivate a joint enterprise forum in which widespread “family practice” exceptions to the rule of law are not only tolerated, but increasingly encouraged. Professional behavior that would only a few years ago be recognized as unethical, illegal, or otherwise intolerable by American legal, psychological, law enforcement, or social work professionals has increasingly achieved acceptance—indeed applause—from institutional interests which benefit from a joint enterprise enforcing the unwritten law of “who you know is more important than what you know.” “In this lawless behavior’s most crass infestation, California Superior Court Family Division judges are regularly heard to announce, in open court, “I am the law” and proceed to act accordingly with impunity, indifference, and without shame.”
“The effect on parents and children seeking social support within this coalescing “family law” forum has not been as advertised by courts and professionals—a new healing—but instead a new affliction: an ‘imposed disability’ of de rigueur deprivation of fundamental rights in the name of ‘therapeutic jurisprudence’ funded by converting college funds into a bloated ministry of the bar leaving families and their children with mere crumbs of their own success.”
The case centers on the April 15, 2010 assault of CCFC’s President, Cole Stuart, at the San Diego County Bar Association meeting of family court judges and attorneys. Stuart was attending the meeting of family court judges and attorneys on behalf of CCFC. SDCBA recognized Stuart as the President of the Parents’ Rights group and ordered fifteen armed bar association security to tackle him, handcuff him, and throw him out.
According to Stuart, around ten CCFC parents and children attended the seminar to advance their reform efforts and send a message of “doctor, heal thyself.” The San Diego County Bar Association meeting of judges and attorneys chose a theme critical of their own clients: calling them “Litigants Behaving Badly.” CCFC chose a counter-theme: CCFC parents and children carried signs stating “JUDGES BEHAVING BADLY; if YOU don’t follow the law, why would WE?”
“Judge Judy may be entertaining daytime television for some, but that indignity has no place in our justice system—even in what they consider to be “low-brow” family court. Yet many family court judges regularly administer such obnoxious ‘renegade’ justice every day, in open defiance of the rule of law. ‘Sober as a judge’ these days has a whole new meaning.” Says Stuart—“I’ve been a successful lawyer for 18 years and seen both excellence and failure, but I’ve never been ashamed of my profession until the days I walked out of family court.” “I decided then that this lawless rolling train wreck of shame to my profession and harm to my community must stop. And for that inspiration, they sent me to jail.”
CCFC and Stuart are suing SDCBA and the dozen judges and lawyers who organized the seminar. “They were well aware of our intent to be present at the Seminar–and had fifteen Sheriff’s Deputies and a paddy wagon waiting to welcome us when we arrived. We had been in court to seek sanctions against them in the morning, then they assault me that very evening.
According to the CCFC Complaint: “Family Courts, including judges, blame “Litigants Behaving Badly” for harms enabled—indeed largely manufactured—by the Domestic Dispute Industry’s own longstanding predatory commercial practices. CCFC saw the “Litigants Behaving Badly” theme as part of the self-delusional propaganda engaged in by so many [divorce industry] members who, rather than recognizing the harm their industry enables and “healing themselves”, instead blame their own clients, who, quite true, do regularly abuse process, their loved ones, and even themselves—in perfect compliance with [divorce industry] instructions.”
The lawsuit alleges that divorce lawyers illegally conspire with judges to steal from parents as part of a racketeering criminal enterprise—and brings over 30 claims of federally-indictable crime. “Civil rights violations, fraud, and obstruction of justice are federal crimes—even for judges.”
The lawsuit seeks to hold judges and courts personally responsible for overseeing the crime committed by the attorneys and social workers in their courtroom. “Judges have a legal and ethical duty to ‘ensure rights’ under the judicial canons of conduct. It’s just not possible that intelligent lawyers like judges don’t understand exactly what goes on in their courtrooms, yet they allow it to continue. In CCFC’s opinion, this judicial collusion is far more serious crime than even the fraud of divorce attorneys themselves” says Stuart.
CCFC has filed a motion for a protective order preventing the San Diego Defendants from harassing them “Since they’ve known about CCFC and its reform toward the more humane family dispute resolution solutions we offer, they’ve treated us as enemies of the state. When we thought we’d be welcomed, or at least heard, we’ve instead become targets of prosecution and terrorist threats–They assaulted me, harassed our members including threatening “gun cock” and death threat late night phone calls, attacked our businesses, professional licenses, and threatened to jail and extort us with further crime. It’s outrageous that our own government allows this to happen, and we’re asking the federal court to protect our members as we pursue the civil and criminal charges against the courts.”
A complete set of filings and exhibits is available from CCFC’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ccfconline
About: CCFC is a nonprofit organization of parents-both men and women-who have experienced marital dissolution proceeding in San Diego, Orange, or Los Angeles Counties, Our members are professionals or others who are highly motivated to improving governmental and justice system process addressing domestic relations, parentage, custody, and abuse.
CCFC seeks to promote the health and success of all families–parents and children equally and alike. We perceive that parents and children presently lack effective and independent advocates within government and the civil and criminal justice system, and as such their rights and interests are regularly compromised in favor of the institutionalized interests of others, including government, private attorneys and professional service providers, and the enormous domestic dispute industry. CCFC organizers, officers, and affiliates are professionals dedicated to improving social, governmental, and justice system processes concerning domestic relations, child rearing, parenting, constitutional law, child custody, and domestic violence. Many of CCFC’s members are mothers, fathers, and children who have withstood abundant hardship resulting from the current practices of what is generally described as the “Family Law Community.” These injuries and insults include fraudulent, inefficient, harmful, and even dangerous services; an institutionalized culture of indifference to “clearly-established” liberties; insults to the autonomy and dignity of parents and children; extortion, robbery, abuse, and more, delivered at the hands of eager operators within the divorce industry.
Click here to read the entire complaint: CCFC V. SDCBA VERIFIED COMPLAINT AND COVER SHEET FOR FILING-signed-redacted 5
|Posted by Diane Vigil on September 15, 2013 at 2:10 AM||comments (0)|
Friday, August 30, 2013
Vivian Benn, of Temecula, is shown in a booking photo.
Vivian Benn, of Temecula, is shown in a booking photo. (KABC Photo)
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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The owner and CEO of a Riverside foster family agency has been charged with embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.
Riverside County deputies arrested Vivian Benn, of Temecula, during a traffic stop on Wednesday.
Benn, who owns the Family Hope Foster Family Agency (FFA), is suspected of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of county money.
In May 2009, the Riverside County Auditor-Controller's Office conducted an audit of the Department of Public Social Services, focusing specifically on several foster family group homes and FFAs, including Family Hope. The audit showed that about $1.2 million in payments made to Family Hope by the Department of Public Social Services was unaccounted for.
This discrepancy led to an investigation that started in June 2012 by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office into Family Hope.
The investigation found that Benn embezzled about $400,000 from January 2004 to November 2009. Investigators say Benn used the funds for her personal use. The probe also revealed that Benn embezzled and misappropriated an additional $125,000 from April 2007 to September 2009 by transferring funds into a bank account she created called Brooklyn Financial.
Authorities say Benn used this account as a "shell company" created under her daughter's name to hide money and avoid paying the Internal Revenue Service.
She was charged with six counts of embezzlement by a public officer, and one count each of embezzling property by a public officer and money laundering.
Her arraignment was scheduled in Riverside on Friday.
(Copyright ©2013 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
|Posted by Diane Vigil on August 31, 2013 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
Posted on 21 March, 2013 by Michael Doughty
bildeThe Louisiana Division of Children and Household Solutions is carrying out a new effort in the state's foster care system called Faith in Households, according to DCFS Assistant Suzy Sonnier.
The goal is to safely lower the number of children in the state's foster care program and reduce the quantity of time children spend in the system. It additionally is geared toward helping every child find a permanent connection prior to they leave the foster system.
Faith in Families looks for to decrease the lot of children in Louisiana's foster care program by 25 percent, or roughly 1,000 children, by 2015.
"By 2015, we desire 85 percent of our children to exit foster care within 24 months of getting in either with reintegration with family or adoption," Sonnier stated when she revealed the program today in Shreveport. "We wish to meet the national standard of 75.2 percent of children being met again with their family within 12 months.".
Sonnier shared a story of a young woman who aged from the foster system at 18, almost a many years ago. She is now a well-adjusted and totally used adult; however, the female still is sorry for that she never had the ability to make a household hookup.
"Here she was 27, had a fantastic profession in front of her and no one to share it with. When she got an advertising, she had no one to call.".
Louisiana has 706 children ages 15 to 17 in foster care. Over the next 3 years, numerous of them will age out of the system, leaving them with no choice to find work or a place to live.
"I dislike to say it. Unless they were in a very great foster house when they aged out who enables them to come back and be a household source for them, then they are just out there on the street," said Kelli Todd, program supervisor of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. "They have no idea how to fill out college applications, they constantly call our office to help them get their birth certificate or Social Security card, they do not have the resources they require.".
The Faith in Families effort will be phased into the foster program over 3 years, from now till 2015.
|Posted by Diane Vigil on August 31, 2013 at 8:25 PM||comments (0)|
Posted on 31 July, 2013 by L
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) has taken the first steps to fire four employees in connection with the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy, a county official said Tuesday.
County CEO Bill Fujioka announced the move on Twitter “based on an internal investigation” into the death of Gabriel Fernandez on May 24.
The recommendation was made by DCFS director Philip Browning to discharge the four employees, Fujioka said. The two social workers and two supervisors are on paid leave pending a hearing in August.
KNX 1070′s Claudia Peschiutta reports three other employees will be reprimanded as a result of the investigation
In a memo dated July 30 (PDF) addressed to DCFS staff, Browning called the decisions “difficult” and acknowledged that the “action may cause stress and concern” among staffers.
“We finally got to a conclusion which really indicated that staff really performed far below our expectations in this case,” Browning told KCAL9′s Jeff Nguyen.
The four employees facing termination are union members who will have a chance to challenge the discharge notices in two weeks, in an internal hearing.
“This is the first step in a process in a long-term investigation,” L.A. County spokesman David Summers said.
Tammi Stephano of the National Safe Child Coalition has organized a number of protests against DCFS.
“We’re not going to go away,” Stephano said. “If somebody doesn’t make sure and enforce that the right thing is done, they’re going to create a problem bigger than they possible expect right now.”
Authorities were tipped off to the abuse on May 22 after the Los Angeles County Fire Department was called out to the 200 block of East Avenue Q-10 on a report of a boy who was not breathing.
|Posted by Diane Vigil on August 26, 2013 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
June 6, 2013 in California, Child Protective Services, corruption, DCFS, Kidjacked
I was so happy to learn that California lawmakers have voted to order a long overdue audit of Child Protective Services.
We have a baby...for awhile at least
We have a baby…for awhile at least!
Child Protective Services is supposed to help children and families overcome stressful events in life, and stay together and healthy. But there are families who say that CPS does anything but that.
Family members testified before the legislative hearing that CPS actually has worked to destroy, not restore, their families. And others suggested there was a profit motive in the situation.
Parents around the state have had to deal with horrendous actions of CPS, like the Donnelly family.
One officer can be heard saying, “I’m going to grab your baby, and don’t resist, and don’t fight me, okay?”
Donnelly said he felt compelled to act, as a father, and as a legislator.
“The footage is frightening for parents everywhere to think that your children might be confiscated should CPS disagree with your parental instincts. It’s chilling to think that a government agency can take your child right back to a hospital that you as a parent have lost faith in, but it happened.”
Donnelly began demanding answers. In a letter, he asked Sheri Heller, director of California’s Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CPS, to account for how this was allowed to happen.
Heller responded that she couldn’t share that information with an assemblyman, unless a judge ordered her to do so. Donnelly responded, “It has become clear that CPS answers to no one, but this abuse of power cannot be tolerated.”
You can read the rest of the story at: Child ‘Protectors’ Accused of Destroying Families
Was it just a coincidence that I received a letter only yesterday demanding someone investigate the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services?
Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County is "Shawshank"
Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County is “Shawshank”
I am glad they are finally getting the investigation they need, maybe we’ll actually get some justice.
|Posted by Diane Vigil on August 26, 2013 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
10 Things You Should do if CPS or DCFS is Investigating You
1: Take any accusations seriously. ←Click To Open No matter how absurd or unbelievable the CPS/DCFS social worker’s claim(s) may seem, please understand that the social worker is dead serious, and most likely presumes – no… most likely BELIEVES that you are guilty as accused. Even if the social worker doesn’t admit that s/he is at your home to take your children, often times that IS EXACTLY why they are there. It is our experience, over 20+ years, that the majority of CPS social workers develop a cynical view of life and assume that you are UTTERLY GUILTY until YOU PROVE that you are not: the opposite of the way the “justice system” is supposed to operate.
2: Ask what the accusations and charges are. ←Click To Open Most typically, the CPS/DCFS social worker wants to keep you from knowing exactly what you have been accused of — sort of keeping themselves on a “general fishing expedition” — but it is required by state and federal law to tell you the exact details of the accusations at first contact with you. Be wary! Do not settle for the vague and general charges called “neglect” or “abuse.” Neglect and abuse are broad categories – not the legally-required “details” of the accusations or charges! You are entitled to know the “details & specifics” of what you are accused of committing.
3: Say as little as possible. In fact – BE QUIET! ←Click To Open In criminal law it is ALWAYS strongly suggested that you talk to NO ONE but your attorney. Think about it. Virtually ALL CHARGES that CPS or DCFS levels against you are CRIMINAL CHARGES. And while CPS or DCFS is there ONLY to take your kids, the police can and often will show up later for the parents! In fact, open your mouth and tell the CPS investigator just enough to “make their case” and you can start packing an overnight case as the police will be called by CPS who will be at your door to take you away.
Sure, it is totally natural that innocent parents who have nothing to hide will want to explain everything to a CPS social worker because such parents would assume that ANY reasonable person would see that there is nothing wrong going on. But CPS and DCFS social workers are commonly ANYTHING BUT reasonable. They become entrenched in a culture that is uniformly cynical about ALL PARENTS. Frankly, you are presumed guilty by the majority of CPS and DCFS agents. The exhausted, over-worked social worker who just fought the crowded freeways to make it to your home is there on a mission. That mission is most often to find evidence to support what the social worker already believes to be true – that you abused your child just as the neighbor, relative or anonymous tipster claimed.
If you don’t talk to them –just as you are always told to never voluntarily talk with the police if they are accusing you of a crime– you take their power away. They will not be able to use your own admissions, statements, and your very words against you. For example” “Have you ever spanked your toddler?” Do you really think there is a good answer to that question? The majority of CPS and DCFS social workers abhor most any form of parental punishment.
4: The minute you become aware that your family is being investigated, YOU MUST find an attorney who has experience in fighting CPS or DCFS. ←Click To Open An attorney EXPERIENCED in CPS and DCFS cases and courts is mandatory! Juvenile Dependency courts are worlds unto themselves. Your most seasoned and experienced lawyers when first stepping foot into a Juvenile Dependency courtroom are totally dumb struct as if they stepped into It’s a Small World at Disneyland. Most lawyers –even experienced Family Law attorneys– who are not experienced with CPS/DCFS mistakenly think that it is their job (as it would be in any other court setting) to find out what CPS or DCFS wants and then communicate all the details to their clients. Shockingly, doing exactly that often leads to total disaster and the loss of your children.
5: Be courteous and polite to CPS social workers & investigators. ←Click To Open Let’s face it, when a “government investigator” –without any advanced notice– knocks insistently on your door, well-dressed, looking all official with a county badge; exuding the authority of the government; is well-prepared, PRIMED and READY to level accusations of child abuse or neglect against you: most people would be SHOCKED! If you’re human you’d also be scared too. As government is getting bigger and bigger every year they are getting more and more powerful and intrusive in the lives of ordinary citizens. We are all a bit nervous and threatened by the power of the state as we witness weekly examples of government power wielded unfairly on Investigative TV News programs and in the lives of our own families and friends.
What could your reaction possibly be to a surprise home-visit from a government agent? No one appreciates surprise visits by any one! Perhaps the dishes are unwashed; maybe you haven’t cleaned house for a day or two; say that there are a collection of beer bottles on the coffee table from the football game the day before; could be that you’re not dressed in appropriate attire as you would be IF EXPECTING guests… So when you are surprised and ACCUSED TO YOUR FACE of child neglect or child abuse it might be natural that you are shocked, defensive, upset, angry and a little hostile. As Homer Simpson would say: “Do’ah!”
Guess what? An angry demeanor toward the CPS social worker or DCFS investigator is considered evidence of your guilt. Your perfectly natural, upset and angry reaction to being accused of harming your child will very OFTEN BE USED as evidence of your violent and abusive personality.
6: Never invite any CPS or DCFS social worker or investigator into your home unless he or she has a warrant or court order. ←Click To Open If a County CPS/DCFS social worker requests that you invite them into your home politely refuse. If he or she insists or suggests that not allowing entry will work against you or will ensure that your children are taken away from you HOLD YOUR GROUND. Politely ask to see their warrant or court order to come into your home. It the CPS social worker or investigator claims to have a warrant, insist on seeing it: in fact they owe you a copy! Why? Would a Social worker lie? YES. Police and government agents often suggest they have a warrant or outright lie and claim to have a warrant when they do not. It makes their task of finding needed evidence against you so much easier! If the CPS/DCFS government agent cannot produce a warrant, firmly but politely tell them that they will have to remain outside until a warrant is presented. They will be annoyed. But you will be far better off – legally. If the agent says it is an EMERGENCY call their bluff. Insist that they explain how it is an emergency and what constitutes an emergency. Typically, in so-called “emergency situations,” the police and the CPS social workers come together and even then it is not necessarily an emergency but a working relationship that some CPS agents have with associates on the police force.
Do not even open the door to allow the CPS agent look into your home to see your children: they can see something that creates an “emergency situation” even if it is not true.
Be FIRM. You should not waiver nor give in to thinking: “What’s the harm?” There is no compromise here: no exception. If you invite a County CPS investigator or a Los Angeles DCFS social worker into your home, you have just waived your Federally-protected fourth amendment constitutional protection. Just like a police detective intent on hauling you to the police station for questioning would love for you to willingly invite them into your home, a CPS social worker who is openly or secretly intent on taking your children from you WILL FIND SOMETHING IN YOUR HOME TO JUSTIFY THE REMOVAL OF YOUR KIDS.
This happens every day all over America and even more often in Southern California where CPS and DCFS agents are the most ruthless social workers anywhere. The bar for removal is “whatever it needs to be” as far as the social worker is concerned. A legal prescription in your bathroom cabinet, a beer bottle on the coffee table, a kitchen knife not in the drawer, a broken window, a back door without a deadbolt, a missing smoke detector, a swimming pool without its own secondary safety fence: whatever might be necessary to fill out the paperwork to justify removal. If this particular social worker set out to take your child, allowing them innocently into your house will ensure that your child is taken from you. You now have a year or a lifetime of HELL before you.
7: Demand that CPS tape any interrogation of your child. ←Click To Open Subjective reports of what a child said or did not say is hardly ever adequate. Ask that any interrogation be recorded. You could produce your own recorder (as a back-up) just in case the CPS or DCFS investigator “loses” their tape between the interrogation and a subsequent court hearing where you might have “wished” that you had such a tape.
8: If you are accused of physical abuse, immediately have your doctor give your child a thorough physical exam. ←Click To Open Ask your doctor to write a letter stating that there are no bruises or injuries observed, nor any other health-related issues that would raise any concern or suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Obviously go to a doctor whom you trust. If a CPS or DCFS social worker suggests a doctor for you, or suggests that they know where you can see a doctor at NO CHARGE (as attractive as that may be), NEVER visit with a doctor recommended by CPS. What you may not know is that these doctors are a regular part of the CPS system and they are commonly called as expert-testimony witnesses by CPS as a witness against the parents. They are paid handsomely for their testimony.
9: Create a list of relatives and friends who are willing and able to care for your children if CPS takes them. ←Click To Open If your children are removed from your home, or the court is demanding that your children must soon leave your home for some period of time it is always better that your children are taken in by relatives or friends. Are you aware that children placed in foster care are sometimes abused or mistreated by people working the foster care system for a “pay check?” There is the flip side to that where some truly loving foster parents sometimes become smitten with your kids and start their own campaign with the court and petition for adoption! Having your kids in foster care is simply adding one more level of stress and complexity to your plate.
10: Never admit guilt, even if pressured by a CPS social worker to do so in exchange for leniency or getting your kids back. ←Click To Open If you are innocent of neglect or abuse why would you buckle to the pressure of a CPS agent’s demands to have you admit to false accusations? If you are accused or charged with neglect because someone has informed the county CPS system that you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the social worker who is investigating those accusations may have good-reason to be concerned for your kids’ safety.
Even if you privately agree that maybe you drink too often or too much that does not mean that you have to incriminate yourself in this investigation. Bite your tongue. Admit NOTHING! Even if you recognize that you have a problem that needs to be addressed this is not your DOCTOR; this is not your PRIEST; this is not your LAWYER. Wrong person! Wrong time! This person is not here to HEP YOU. This person is here to collect evidence to support the accusations made against you and to TAKE YOUR KIDS. Period.
Do not admit guilt. Instead, work with your doctor, pastor or even your private CPS defense attorney to find the professional help you might need need (and professional help that the courts will recognize – no sense paying twice because a treatment program is not court-approved). By NOT ADMITTING GUILT, you can then honestly work on any issues you have and work with the court to keep your kids under your roof or to get your kids returned to you when appropriate.
By mistakenly thinking that admitting guilt to a social worker is justified is often a fast trip to jail – removing many of the options that you need right now to get your life in order. In any potentially-criminal situation NEVER voluntarily do anything until you contact an attorney: preferably a compassionate and understanding attorney who works with parents, kids and the Juvenile Dependency Courts on a daily basis. They will offer you frank advice that will be better than unnecessarily sitting locked behind bars. CPS social workers and investigators are not above lying to you to encourage you to confess or admit to something that you might not even be guilty of – just to get you arrested and your kids in their control.
|Posted by Diane Vigil on August 26, 2013 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
STATE LAW - At High Risk!
California law does not protect parental rights as fundamental rights.
California Family Code § 3105
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that a parent's fundamental right to provide for the care, custody, companionship, and management of his or her children, while compelling, is not absolute. Children have a fundamental right to maintain healthy, stable relationships with a person who has served in a significant, judicially approved parental role.
(b) The court may grant reasonable visitation rights to a person who previously served as the legal guardian of a child, if visitation is determined to be in the best interest of the minor child.
(See also sections 3102, 3104)
California Education Code §§ 51938–39 require parental notification and allow parental opt-out for sex education.
IN THE COURTS
The California Supreme Court’s ruling in re Marriage of Harris 96 P.3d 141, 149, 151 (Cal. 2004) deprives custodial parents of their constitutional rights to deny grandparent visitation if a non-custodial parent supports it.
In Fenn v. Sheriff, 1 Cal. Rptr. 3d 185, 201 (Cal. Ct. App. 2003), the CA Court of Appeals found that , in light of Troxel, California Family Code § 3102 allows the court to order grandparent visitation against the wishes of fit parents.
No resolutions have been introduced in the California legislature supporting the PRA or opposing U.N. conventions that threaten parental rights.