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Category Archives: false allegations of abuse

 The T.R.U.T.H. Project


 Family Attorney Blows the Whistle on State Child Protective Services Agencies



Practicing family attorney Gregory Hession confirms child protective service agencies engage in abusive, deliberate and dirty tricks motivated by federal funding.

Op-ed column: No way to save children


Child Protective Services is a punitive and ineffective system

Sunday, July 19, 2009


When Child Protective Services in Montgomery County says, “Jump!” you are supposed to respond by asking, “How high?” If you don’t, they will try to make your life miserable. I know because I just ended a five-year battle with them. I was reported to Child Protective Services three times. The first time the investigator said there was no credible evidence to support a charge of neglect. The second and third times, she said there was, but she was overturned by an administrative law judge at fair hearings held by the Office of Children and Family Services.

Never in my life have I encountered the level of rudeness, deception, abuse of power and outright lying that I experienced in my dealings with Montgomery County Child Protective Services. Nevertheless, people continue to write letters to the editor of this newspaper accusing columnist Carl Strock of exaggerating and being unfair when he exposes Child Protective Services. I can tell you from experience that Carl Strock has yet to sound the bottom of the child protective cesspool, if indeed there is one.

Final insult

The final insult from Child Protective Services came at the first part of my last hearing, which occurred in April of this year. When administrative law judge Susan Preston asked each side to turn over the evidence they would be presenting at the hearing, Montgomery County’s Senior CPS investigator, Marsha Benjamin, handed over material that was part of my last hearing, material which had been sealed by the state. The distribution of sealed material is, if I understand the law correctly, a Class A misdemeanor.

My lawyer wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services notifying them that the material was from a sealed case. The department quickly withdrew from the hearing, and we received a letter from the state a few weeks ago notifying us that we had won the hearing.

I’ve written about Child Protective Services a couple of times in the past few years, and the conclusion that I came to in the past still remains: namely, that CPS needs to be overhauled. I’m not alone in that conclusion.

Buried deep in the enormous bowels of the Internet, I found a New York state-appointed organization, the Citizens Review Panels of Child Protective Services. I was amazed to find that there are three panels that regularly hold hearings about CPS, review CPS agencies and make recommendations to the Office of Children and Family Services. I read several of their annual reports and was pleased to find that many of their recommendations to New York State line up with mine.

Their recommendations include eliminating anonymous reporting, letting school districts deal with educational neglect, focusing on prevention, and revising civil service requirements for investigators. I highly recommend an article in the 2007 annual report which asks, “Is it time to rethink our child protection system?”

It essentially argues that in 1979, the child protective system was cobbled together in a hurry, changes over the years have made the situation worse, and only systemic reform will make a difference. Much of the article is summarized in the following paragraph:

“Today, Child Protective Services is a system to receive, investigate, and make determinations of reports of suspected child maltreatment.

 Originally conceived as a way to protect children by helping families to take better care of their children, the system has increasingly failed to achieve that goal. We pour billions of dollars into our child welfare system. And yet the deaths still come; after four decades, the number of deaths of children due to abuse has hardly changed. Indeed, experience has shown that highly-publicized deaths lead to more reports and more removals. Some observers have noted that greater removals, rather than making children safer, leads to more deaths.”

Fundamental questions

The panels state clearly that we don’t need any more Band-Aid solutions, such as laws named after dead children that make legislators look good but don’t answer the fundamental questions, which are as follows:

“Are New York’s children and families better off because of contact with Child Protective Services? For far too many, the answer is no. We call for a fundamental review of statute, policy and practice. Can a structure such as CPS really keep children safe? Can families needing help and engagement possibly be served by a punitive, criminal-justice model system? How can we mobilize other institutions to improve the lives of families and reduce maltreatment? And finally, how can we conscientiously separate the good elements of our current system from those that need improvement, and build upon the good?”

It is not just obscure people like me, or columnists like Carl Strock, who are asking these questions. The panels issuing these reports are made up of social workers, lawyers, educators, non-profit child welfare agencies and the like. Each panel is about as close to a blue ribbon panel as you can get.

They are asking the right questions. But is anyone in New York state’s Office of Children and Family Services or in the New York state Legislature listening?

Daniel T. Weaver lives in Amsterdam and is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.

Grand jury looks at CPS

By Danny Bernardini

Posted: 07/18/2009 01:01:00 AM PDT

Child Protective Services in Solano County was hit with a slew of complaints by the county grand jury Friday regarding how investigations are conducted by the agency.

In its report, the Solano County grand jury points out several problems, including how potential offenders are notified, suspects being prematurely labeled as offenders, how appeals are handled and paperwork issues.

Those discoveries were made during the investigation of the policies and procedures regarding citizens whose names are placed on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI).

When Child Protective Services receives a complaint of alleged child abuse, a social worker investigates. The worker then must classify the category of abuse and determine whether or not to place the accused on the CACI.

It is also decided if an in-person contact with the family within 24 hours is needed or if a visit to the family within 10 days is appropriate.

A referral is then sent to another social worker who further investigates and interviews those involved. That worker then must determine if the accusation is unfounded, inconclusive or substantiated.

If deemed unfounded, the case is closed. If found inconclusive or substantiated, the child may remain with the family, be removed or placed in the custody of the courts.

Being deemed inconclusive places the name of the accused on the CACI for at least 10 years. If the claim is substantiated, the name of the accused is put on the CACI for life.

Those people put on the CACI are notified by first class mail after their names are sent to the Department of Justice. Being placed on the CACI may prevent someone from being employed where there may be contact with children.

That list contains more than 800,000 names and is not routinely purged of erroneous or unsupported entries, the grand jury said. People can appeal being on the list, but that doesn’t mean the name will be removed.

Because of this, the grand jury recommended the accused be notified before being put on the list, so they have the chance to respond.

The jury also suggested contacting the accused through certified mail with a return receipt to ensure that person is aware they will be placed on the CACI. It was also discovered that in some cases, the accused was not interviewed before being placed on the CACI.

For the full report, visit

Palo Alto parents fight for children’s return from Nebraska foster care

By Patrick May

Mercury News

Posted: 07/07/2009 06:16:41 PM PDT

Updated: 07/08/2009 09:02:50 AM PDT

A Stanford University physicist and his wife, whose kids have been held in a Nebraska foster home for more than a month after an ugly family altercation, will appear this morning in a courtroom outside Omaha, hoping to persuade a judge to let their children come back home.

The bizarre chain of events began when the couple — Suwen Wang, a visiting scholar at Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, and his wife, paralegal Charlotte Fu — traveled to Nebraska last month so their 12-year-old daughter, Alice, could be honored in an international art competition. On June 6, a witness told police the parents had hit their son, 13, while their car was parked on a road outside Omaha.

“This is an Orwellian nightmare,” said Larry Markosian, a computer scientist at NASA/Ames Research Institute and longtime friend of Wang and his family.

“Every family occasionally has difficulty raising kids, especially teenage boys. I don’t know what happened. But we know they are a loving and kind family and we see no reason whatsoever to keep these kids in a foster home so far from the community they grew up in.”

Both Wang and Fu deny striking their son.

According to police, a witness saw Fu get out of their car and punch the boy, sitting in the back seat, in the face several times. The couple’s Omaha attorney, Michael Nelson, said “there was an incident with their son. He was needling his sister, and they pulled over to discipline him,” he said. “He used an expletive to his mom, but beyond that I can’t go into specifics.”

Nelson said the incident lasted “probably for 20 minutes or so, as they lectured the son. A witness made the call after watching from their front lawn.”

No formal charges

After the boy allegedly pushed his mom away, police said, Wang turned around from the front seat and also hit him several times in the face. Nelson said the boy was not treated for any injuries. Wang and Fu were arrested and kept in jail for two nights before posting a $250 cash bond each, said Nelson, adding that they had not been formally charged in the abuse case.

Wang and Fu declined to comment to the Mercury News about the incident. The Mercury News is not naming the boy because of the nature of the case.

But according to accounts in the Omaha World-Herald, the responding officer said Fu had blood on her face from a cut on her nose and that the children appeared to be upset.

The couple and their attorneys hope to persuade the judge to allow Nebraska child-welfare officials to work with their California counterparts and speed the children’s return back home.

Alice’s paintings clinched the North American division of the 2009 International Children’s Painting Competition and the parents hope she’ll be able to travel to South Korea for an Aug. 17 ceremony where the worldwide winner will be announced.

Nelson suggested that the parents’ ethnicity may be playing a role in the case. “The parents and children are all U.S. citizens,” said their attorney. But the court-appointed guardian for the children is trying to take away their passports.

“These are people of Chinese descent, and it’s as if authorities see some dark cloud here or fear there’s something more to this than this one incident.”

However, the Omaha paper referred to “California documents” that state Wang and Fu have “a ‘previous history of domestic violence,’ explaining that the father restrained the mother after she threatened to leave during a 2008 argument.”

In an interview with the Omaha paper, Fu seemed to be making a special plea to authorities on her daughter’s behalf, saying “this whole thing has nothing to do with Alice. She has become the ultimate victim.” And traveling to South Korea “would be a lifetime opportunity for her. It would be devastating for her to not go.”

Kathie Osterman with Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services said her agency “is working with California to get the kids back home. I don’t know what the time frame might be, because there are a lot of people to work with on this.”

Paul Sullivan, the Cass County deputy attorney handling the matter, did not return phone calls for comment.

Osterman could not say how unusual it was for authorities to remove children from parents visiting from another state and hold them for weeks so far from home. She did confirm that the court order required the foster family to monitor the children’s e-mail and telephone calls with their parents.

And it was details like that that have rallied dozens of supporters to the parents’ side, including 10 who have made the trip to Nebraska for today’s court hearing.

Emotional plea

Nebraska officials said they are simply carrying out a court order meant to protect the children. But Markosian, who is the boy’s assistant scoutmaster and who helped organize a news conference Tuesday evening at the Omaha Children’s Museum, said Nebraska was guilty of overkill.

“These kids are very much involved in the Palo Alto community, with Boy Scouts, art and Chinese lessons,” said Markosian. “And they are being ripped away from not only their family but from their whole community.”

Markosian on Tuesday read aloud from an e-mail he says Alice sent June 17 to her parents.

“Dear Mom and Dad,” it said. We “love you a lot. Remember that. We know you’re doing everything you can to bring us back home and we are very thankful. Love you a lot.”

Markosian said the girl signed her e-mail with 10 exclamation points.



California artist to head home



PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. — A young award-winning artist and her brother are expected to return to California after spending a month in Nebraska foster care.

“This is absolutely the best outcome that could have happened,” said Sharon Silverman, one of more than a dozen friends and supporters who flew from California to attend a Wednesday hearing in Cass County Court.

Alice Fuzi Wang, 12, the artist, and her 13-year-old brother have been in a Nebraska foster home since an argument during a family trip a month ago.

The family had traveled to Omaha for an art exhibit that features Alice’s painting, which won the North American division of the International Children’s Painting Competition. The family was scheduled to go to an Aug. 17 award ceremony in South Korea.

Instead, the children were put in a foster home after parents Suwen Wang, a physicist, and Charlotte Fu, a paralegal, were accused of hitting their son June 6 in Plattsmouth. The parents deny the allegation, and feared their daughter would miss the trip.

Cass County Judge John Steinheider approved an agreement to send the children home in the care of California’s social services department.

Attorneys on the case came to the agreement this week after Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services staff and their California counterparts developed a plan.

The children got to visit their parents and friends at an Omaha hotel Tuesday. “The children really want to come home,” Fu said, her lip quivering, before the hearing.

The parents’ attorneys have said the case was moving too slowly. HHS attorney Susan Buettner said: “The most important thing has been lost: This is a case that involved alleged child abuse.”

California authorities proposed requiring the parents to complete a 16-week parenting program, continue family therapy, allow social worker visits and refrain from corporal punishment, according to a copy filed earlier in Nebraska court. Lawyers did not say in court whether those were the conditions of the new plan.

Dad scolded for taking toddlers to men’s restroom

Originally published July 02, 2009

By Adam Behsudi

News-Post Staff


A family wants an apology after a father said he was publicly accosted by a security guard after taking his 3-year-old and 1-year-old daughters to the men’s restroom at the Frederick County Department of Social Services.

“He banged on the (stall) door like he was a cop,” said Donovan O’Neil. “He was just really inappropriate about it.”

The scene that occurred Friday morning turned ugly, O’Neil said, when the guard reprimanded him outside the bathroom in front of a crowd.

“We would just like an apology, that is all,” said wife Ashleigh O’Neil, the girls’ mother.

The guard was responding to a complaint made by someone who had used the restroom while O’Neil was in the stall with his daughters, according to DSS.

“There were other staff present when the incident unfolded, and they did not feel anything unpleasant was said,” said DSS spokeswoman Deborah Lundahl.

The building, at Carroll and All Saints streets, does not have a family restroom, but Lundahl said staff would have been happy to clear the men’s room for O’Neil to use.

She said the department director contacted the family.

“We reviewed the incident and are satisfied with how it was handled,” she said.

Ashleigh O’Neil said she had not been notified of any review of the incident and disagreed that nothing unpleasant was said.

She said the guard was aggressive, gesturing toward his crotch about what their 3-year-old daughter could have seen.

Ashleigh O’Neil said she met her husband and daughters at the building, where they inquired about receiving energy assistance.

As they were preparing to leave, her 3-year-old daughter said she had to use the restroom, and the 1-year-old needed a diaper change. She asked her husband to take the girls to the restroom while she checked the parking meter and picked up an additional form.

O’Neil said she came back into the building and heard a secretary call for Child Protective Services to immediately report to security.

When she went to the restroom area to check on her family, she found the security guard and a group of people including DSS staff, she said.

“To this day (the 3-year-old girl) is scared to go to the bathroom,” O’Neil said.

The guard is employed by Abacus Corp., a company DSS subcontracts for building security.

Ed Cussina, an area manager for the company, said he was looking into the incident.

He said he will likely have a supervisor interview the guard and review a report of the incident, usually filed no matter how minor the occurrence.

“If there’s further action that needs to be taken, we take it,” Cussina said.






Joshua William Smith
Joshua William Smith


War Between Texas and North Carolina


For THREE years North Carolina refuses to Obey the State and Federal Codes of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and ignores Orders from Texas Judges to Return Joshua William Smith, a Texas resident. Texas District Court Granted a Writ of Habeas Corpus, to be enforced by law enforcement in retrieving Joshua William Smith from NC and returning him to Texas. The Second Court of Appeals in North Carolina has ruled, “North Carolina does not have subject matter jurisdiction.”
 As of May 2009, Joshua Smith remains in the (UNLAWFUL) Temporary custody of NC Social Services, for over THREE years, in violation of Federal UCCJEA and the state laws of NC and TX, cited throughout the linked court documents below. If you read the most recent Appellate court ruling, you will know the NC court’s opinion, based on cited case law, in determining that North Carolina does not have jurisdiction over the custody and care of Joshua William Smith.
North Carolina’s Second Court of Appeals ruled that NC does not have Jurisdiction, WHY is NC allowed to illegally detain Joshua Smith? (The above portions, documents and pictures provided by

Joshua William Smith, School Picture

Joshua William Smith, School Picture


To see the rest of the hope4kidz story on Joshua visit:


Before CPS Custody

Before CPS Custody






I was contacted by hope4kidz because they thought I might want to look at the documentation in this case and post this story on my blog, since I live in North Carolina and receive a lot of North Carolina visitors.  After viewing the documentation in this case I must say that I am absolutely shocked that the Carteret County Department of Social Services and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has been allowed to get away with the Federal Kidnapping of Joshua!

 I include the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as a responsible party in this case because they have an Principal/agent relationship with county offices.  With the court action that has occurred in this case, North Carolina DSS surely knows what is occurring in their own state and has the power to order Carteret County to relinquish their illegal custody of Joshua.  The courts here in North Carolina have found and held the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services responsible for the actions of county offices, their agents.

 Upon reviewing the documents in this case it is crystal clear that this child in being illegally detained by the State of North Carolina in violation of a Texas Court Order, state and federal laws. 








Before CPS Custody

Before CPS Custody





Here are the documents that I reviewed in order by the dates they were filed the links to the full pdf documents are in yellow:

Smith Javan – GAL Report from 5_16_08

Amazingly in this document the GAL admits that Joshua’s environment is not stable….well North Carolina has had illegal custody of him for the last 2 years and 25 days at the time of her report, (over 3 years now)  and according to the North Carolina Court of appeals Joshua has been in numerous placements since North Carolina illegally removed this child from his fathers care based on unproven and false allegations. So I would state that North Carolina DSS is responsible for the instability in this child’s life, as well as Joshua’s lack of an education…Click on the link for the GAL report above to see the full report.  I hope everyone of you can realize how ridiculous this report is…everything that the GAL states in here as issues have been caused by the actions of North Carolina CPS.


At the time of this GAL report Josh had been out of the home 2years 25 days. At the time of this GAL report Josh had been out of the home 2years 25 days.


 The GAL also states in this report that Joshua has only been in one placement, yet later states that he was in a foster home…


GAL Issues For The Court GAL Issues For The Court


This Report is Full of Contridictions!!!! This Report is Full of Contradictions!!!!


The GAL’s report is full of contradictions, they say Joshua won’t cooperate at school that is why his educational needs are not being met, yet further down the tutor states that Joshua’s behavior is not an issue….that the issue is that Joshua’s sessions are space too far apart to be effective for Joshua. 


The County Cannot Meet Joshua's Needs!!! The County Cannot Meet Joshua’s Needs!!!


Right here proves that North Carolina’s Continuing “illegal” custody is not in Joshua’s best interested…they are illegally holding a child and damaging this child beyond repair.  And the worse part about this, is that they know they are harming Joshua in this manner.  They even admit it with this sentence.


Illegal Adoption Recommendation Illegal Adoption Recommendation


When you do not have legal custody of a child, can you put them up for adoption?  Is that what has happened to Joshua?  To the adoptive parents, if there are any, “If you have adopted Joshua, please know that this is a illegal adoption and that Joshua needs to be returned to his family.”  If you are the family who has adopted Joshua please visit the website and call their toll-free number.”  Return Joshua to his rightful place!

All of the Paper Worker The GAL filled out...All the Time She Took, But Notice She Did Not Circle and Answer Here!

Unanswered ASFA question

It is my opinion the GAL did not take the .01 second to answer this question because she knows that the holding of Joshua by North Carolina is illegal…Funny how she didn’t answer such a simple question…








Mother defaulted Custody, and NY case had been dismissed a long time ago Mother defaulted Custody



Jurisdiction of New York Became Null and Void When Mother dismissed New York Case Jurisdiction of New York Became Null and Void When Mother dismissed New York Case

  The New York case had been dismissed, therefore Texas is the state with jurisdiction in this case, the father filed for and received sole, legal and physical custody of Joshua.  In the above and below orders, the state of Texas issued orders to North Carolina to relinquish this child.  Which to this date the State of North Carolina and  Carteret County Department of Social Services has refused to do.






texas habeas corpus order_final


Texas Find North Carolina Guilty of Neglect and Abuse
Texas Finds North Carolina Guilty of Neglect and Abuse


 Texas has found that Carteret County North Carolina is abusing and neglecting Joshua and that they are putting this child’s safety and well-being at risk.  I wonder if there is a central registry for them?  I have to wonder exactly where Joshua is, the Texas court found that Carteret County was purposely hiding Joshua from his father.  At one point they had even sent him out of State to Virginia, so I have to ask, where is Joshua now?  Is he in North Carolina or have they again sent him unlawfully out of state to further deny his father’s custody?  Is Joshua even alive???  Where is this child and how long will it take before the FBI or the federal Government intervenes in this case and makes Carteret County give Joshua back and arrest the key players for their role in this federal crime.




This review proves that North Carolina was aware of the Texas Courts findings and orders in this matter…they have chosen to ignore the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
Reason For Review

Reason For Review



The Court of Appeals found that Joshua had been in numerous placements over the years.  Joshua is autistic and requires stability in order to thrive.  In their desperate attempt to hide this child from his father, Carteret County DSS has caused severe emotional harm to this child.  I honestly have to wonder if Joshua is returned home if he will ever be able to overcome the damage that North Carolina has caused him.    


North Carolina Court of Appeals Found that Joshua Had Been in Numerous Placements
North Carolina Court of Appeals Found that Joshua Had Been in Numerous Placements


 The North Carolina Court of Appeals has found that North Carolina DID NOT HAVE JURISDICTION!!! 

Court Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Court Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction

 The Decision of the trial court was Reversed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals…Note that it could not be remanded for additional findings or a new decision because North Carolina does not have Jurisdiction over the child.  Even with a finding by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, North Carolina Department of Social Services continues to illegally detain Joshua. 

Court Did Not Have Jurisdiction Of Joshua
Court Did Not Have Jurisdiction Of Joshua

North Carolina does not have the jurisdiction to continue to hold Joshua and keep him from his father, furthermore, since North Carolina lacks Jurisdiction over Joshua they cannot find him a abused or neglected child and place him into foster care.  As it stands in this case, North Carolina DOES NOT HAVE CUSTODY OF JOSHUA WILLIAM SMITH and are, as a matter of law,  holding him illegally…this is called kidnapping!

If North Carolina does not have jurisdiction or custody of this child, are they also fraudulently receiving foster care funds, from the Federal Government for Joshua’s care as well as Joshua’s SSI for his disability. Because without jurisdiction and custody, North Carolina DSS and whatever county department who is now hiding Joshua from his father, are not entitled to any title IV funds or state funds for Joshua’s care, (this would also include medicaid and foster care subsidies, adoption subsidies and any other funds for his care) nor are they entitled to his SSI payments, if he receives SSI.  If they are collecting these payments and funding for Joshua’s care they are committing fraud.  I can almost assure you that they are receiving funding for Joshua’s care….

I repeat: Since North Carolina does not have legal custody of Joshua, as according to their own courts….they lack the subject matter jurisdiction to find Joshua abused or neglect, they also lack the subject matter jurisdiction to place his custody with DSS, adopt him out, place him out of state, place him in a group home, place him in foster care, or any other type of placement.  To do so is illegal.  The only legal avenue that North Carolina has is to obey the Texas Court and return this child to his fathers rightful custody and face the charges that should be brought against them for their federal kidnapping of this child.

green cherry transcript

This is the transcript of a phone call between the registered nurse that Javan Smith had caring for Joshua and one of the DSS workers who came to the house at 3am to remove Joshua, based on allegations that his father had abandoned him.  In this phone call the DSS worker admits that she did not see a reason to remove Joshua and tried to tell the other county that but they told her to pick up the child anyway.

Green and Cherry

Joshua William Smith what is on his arm
After CPS illegal Custody

 This is one of the last pictures that Joshua’s father has received of him.  In this picture Joshua looks visibly upset and has what appears to be numerous, huge bruises on his right elbow and upper arm.  I would say these bruises required medical attention, yet instead of taking Joshua to a doctor…they decided they would take his picture instead. 

If you will remember in the GAL report, it states that during the GAL’s visit Joshua had collided with another child and was crying.  Joshua was told by “the care giver” at that time “that these types of things happen in life and there was no reason to cry.”  I have to wonder if on the date that this picture was taken, if he was also told the same thing.  Judging by the bruises that I see in Joshua’s arm in this picture not only did he need immediate medical attention…he had every right to cry, I would have and I am not an autistic child. 

These types of things happen

The neglect, abuse, and kidnapping of this child by the Carteret County Department of Social Services and the aiding and abetting of these crimes by the North Carolina Department of Human Service CANNOT be allowed to continue another day.  Return this child to his father, so that he may begin the process of healing from the abuse he has suffered at the State of  North Carolina’s hands!

I am asking everyone who reads this post to contact the national media about this case…direct them to my blog, have them contact me at my email address I will make sure that they see the evidence that proves Javan Smith’s case.  We need to speak out about this now…if they are allowed to get away with this blatant disregard for the laws of this country, they will continue to break the law.  One day it may even be your child kidnapped by this corrupt DSS.  












Plenty of Blame to Go Around In Girls’ Deaths, Report Finds

By Petula Dvorak

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, April 3, 2009

The District failed the four daughters of Banita Jacks on many fronts, according to a report released this week by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General.

The city’s schools, nonprofit agencies, health-care workers and police officers were all lax in their care of the imperiled family, contributing to the huge hole in the social safety net that they fell through, according to the report.

Publicly, the blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the city’s Child and Family Services Agency last year when U.S. Marshals discovered Jacks living with the corpses of her four daughters.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) fired six social workers just days after Jacks was arrested on allegations that she killed her four girls.

The team of investigators that researched the case and the lives of Banita Jacks and her children, who were between 5 and 17 years old, said the child welfare agency was not the only one that didn’t catch the family’s problems in time. In many instances, “errors of omission and commission, failures to communicate and coordinate, and deficient policies and procedures were evident,” the report said.

The team said that the Jacks family did not live “in isolation, unknown to District agencies and nonprofit organizations, but rather [was] one which actively sought and received numerous services and benefits,” the report said. “However, there were also service failures.”

The family was supposed to receive monthly visits based on its housing placement; it never did. The school system didn’t follow through when the girls dropped out of school. Police didn’t fully investigate when they were called to the house. And health-care providers did not follow up on things that should have been red flags, according to the report.

The family got a $1,580 monthly rent subsidy, health care, housing at a hypothermia shelter when they were homeless, weekly food deliveries from a nonprofit agency and admission to D.C. public charter schools, the report said.

But when Jacks sought help with her mental health from a worker at D.C. Chartered Health Plan, a community health center serving Medicaid patients, the worker never followed up to make sure that she got an appointment and that her daughters were safe. And when a school social worker called CFSA to report that a child seemed to be held hostage in her home, that worker tried to find the child a couple of times but closed the case without locating her, officials said.

The lack of coordination between the various agencies that knew about the family was one of the biggest problems in their case, according to the report.

It wasn’t until U.S. Marshals arrived to evict the family from their Southeast Washington house (which was in foreclosure) did the collective extent of things gone wrong come to light.

Among the inspector general’s recommendations:

— D.C. police should revise protocol on how officers respond to calls about troubled families and how they document their findings;

— CFSA hotline workers and investigators must improve their ability to locate individuals and families;

— A number of agencies, including housing nonprofit groups and the Income Maintenance Administration, need to cooperate with CFSA to help investigators locate people;

— The Public Charter School Board needs written procedures on how to deal with a student pulled out of school.





Child Deaths Led to Excessive Foster Care Placements, Critics Say

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A year ago, Banita Jacks was found living in a rented Southeast Washington rowhouse with the corpses of her four little girls. That discovery nearly derailed the District agency charged with protecting the city’s children.

Yesterday, several child advocates said the Child and Family Services Agency has overreacted — removing children from homes more readily than it did before Jacks’s children were found.

The 41 percent increase in children placed in foster care in the first nine months of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007, is “a foster-care panic that cut a swath of destruction through families in the District,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

A professor who heads a student-run family law clinic said it has seen a large increase in the number of cases in which children are placed in foster care quickly, then returned to their parents within weeks or months because the cases were unfounded.

“For the children, it was an eternity, and some are likely to suffer for it for the rest of their lives,” said Matthew Fraidin, a professor at the University of the District of Columbia law school.

Fraidin said his students represented the parents of such children as “Brian,” 8, who was placed in foster care because an uncle who did not live with him allegedly beat him. And 7-year-old “Lamar,” who spent three months in foster care until social workers debunked the report that his grandfather, who does not live in the same house, abused him. And “James,” 15, who was placed with a foster family rather than with relatives after his stepfather died while his mother was jailed.

Fraidin said the placements were part of a “mad rush” to reduce a backlog of cases.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, who has been involved closely with the agency since the Jacks case broke last year, said he stands behind the social workers’ decisions and believes they followed proper procedure.

The agency was faced with a mountain of cases in which suspicions were reported after the Jacks case came to light. At its peak, 1,750 reports of abuse or neglect were awaiting investigation. Social workers went into overdrive and reduced the backlog to fewer than 100 cases by last month, an accomplishment Nickles has praised.

A year ago, after the Jacks girls were discovered, he said he “couldn’t comprehend what happened” as he looked over the crumbling agency. Now, Nickles said, the agency is in better shape.

“We weeded out folks that weren’t committed to the kids and families,” he said, referring to social workers who quit or were dismissed.

A consulting group that CFSA hired last year praised the agency’s performance in the past few months and urged it not to backslide.

The “abatement of the crisis should not mean a return to business as usual,” said the report issued by the Public Catalyst Group, which includes Kevin Ryan, who is credited with helping to reform New Jersey’s state child welfare system when he was its commissioner.

The focus on breaking the backlog turned out to be a positive model for the agency, bringing the staff together and concentrating on outcome, rather than process, the consultants said.

Keeping that kind of focus and hiring a permanent director could help the agency improve more, the consultants wrote.

These articles show both sides of the issue…first they fail to properly investigate, then when they are busted on that, they over zealously begin yanking children out of their homes without justification….There is no middle ground with CPS…they either fail to do their jobs or they stomp all over the constitution as a means to protect their ass.  It does not matter how the children are effected in either case…so long as the CPS employees keep their jobs.  This is not about the best interest of children, it is about the best interest of CPS!

There is a way to investigate reports of abuse, and protecting the children that need to be protected from abuse…without scarring the children who are not being abused with illegal removal.  It is called an actual investigation, by someone who knows how to perform one while still abiding by constitutional rights….Hello, the police do it all the time!

Child Protective System Part 1 – Video – WLKY Louisville


Child Protective System Part 2 – Video – WLKY Louisville

Anonymous tips and child abuse investigations (Erin)


Friday June 5, 2009

Just about every person in America would agree with the statement: child abuse is a terrible crime, and we should do whatever we can to prevent it, or to stop it.

But Americans often disagree on the details of how to do that. In particular, battles have arisen over the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and whether this amendment applies to social workers investigating a claim of child abuse or neglect, even if this claim has come from an anonymous tipster and there has been no corroborating evidence that it might be true.

On the one hand, no one wants a child who is being abused to have to wait a long time for help to come. In cases where there is clearly immediate danger of harm to a child, we don’t want to tie up investigators’ hands with too much red tape.

On the other hand, heartbreaking stories of parents who are investigated, and children removed from their parents’ loving care overnight or even longer, on the strength of what turns out to be a malicious or completely fabricated report of abuse made by someone who wants to hurt the family (sometimes, sadly, a feuding relative) send chills up every loving parent’s spine. Sad statistics show that a child is much more likely to be a victim of some kinds of abuse while in foster care than in his own home (often at the hands of other children in the home, not the foster parents). The thought that a misunderstanding, or worse, an act of malice, could lead to one’s children being removed is terrifying to many parents.

That’s why I was interested in this blog post, written by the head of the Texas Home School Coalition, Tim Lambert:

SB 1064 by Senator Kirk Watson was filed early in the session, and it sought to allow CPS, in the course of an investigation of abuse or neglect, to get the medical or mental health records of children who are the focus of an investigation. In order for CPS to accomplish this, the person refusing to give the records and parents must be given notice and a court hearing and CPS must show “good cause” for the action before the court would order the release of said records to CPS.

However, the bill was substituted in committee for a very different SB 1064, which was passed out of the Senate and sent to the House. The new SB 1064 gave the court authority to force parents to give CPS access to the child and/or transport the child for “interview, examination and investigation,” without a court hearing or notice to the parent. Worst of all, the language in the current statute that requires CPS to prove “good cause shown” was stricken. Thus this bill would allow CPS, during an investigation in which the parents would not waive their 4th amendment rights, entrance into their home, access to medical or mental health records of their children or transportation of the child, on the simple filing of an affidavit by a CPS worker with no hearing or opportunity for the parents or their legal counsel to present their case.

The reason that the committee substitute was not filed as the original bill is clear. It would have caused a firestorm of opposition for the wholesale destruction of parental rights in the course of an investigation of child abuse by CPS. When the bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House Human Services Committee, officials of the Parent Guidance Center – a pro-parent group that helps families who are under investigation by CPS – presented written testimony and signed witness cards in opposition to the bill. Strangely, that testimony and those witness cards were not entered into the record of the hearing on the bill.

On the last day of the session, Representative Patrick Rose, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, offered a floor amendment to SB 1440 (another bill by Watson), which was on the Local and Consent Calendar. The amendment offered by Rose was the language of committee substitute SB 1064, and since SB 1440 was considered non-controversial and the sponsor of the bill (Rose) agreed to the amendment, it was adopted on a voice vote, and the final language of SB 1440 includes the committee substitute language of SB 1064.


(UPDATE: be sure to read the lengthy comment in the comments thread by Richard Wexler, the Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.)

The bill, now SB 1440, has caught the attention of other concerned parents in Texas in addition to homeschooling parents; the issue isn’t really specific to homeschooling, but affects everyone who thinks that allowing CPS workers to show up at your front door and remove your children from your home without probable cause, without a warrant, without any evidence besides an anonymous tip that somebody heard a child yelling in the back yard (no, seriously, CPS investigations have been conducted for no more than that), isn’t really the best idea in the world.

I’ve read and seen some things from the CPS side, too. They’re often understaffed and overburdened, under-budgeted and overextended. They see heartbreaking stories unfold of children treated worse than most of us would ever like to imagine, and when they’re handed a stack of cases and told to investigate, they do.

But the anonymous tip system, while saving some children, is tearing apart the lives of others. How long does it take a four-year-old, say, to recover from being taken from his home and placed with strangers, even just overnight? What lasting fears of danger or of abandonment will cause him to suffer, especially when the case was without merit and his parents good, loving people who never harmed him at all? And from the CPS side of things, how many hours and how much time and effort is wasted investigating people for no reason other than that their neighbors don’t like that they let the kids play outside in the early evenings, or because an ex-husband or ex-wife wants to hurt the spouse who got custody?

SB 1440 should be opposed by Texans; I’ve already made my opposition to this bill known. But what I’d really like to see is an end of the anonymous tip system–yes, let the person reporting be anonymous to the family, so long as they’re willing to give their names and addresses to the CPS workers to be kept in a confidential file. That would decrease the number of false or malicious tips made, freeing up social workers to spend more time on the tips that have some merit or some evidence aside from a tipster’s word.

At the very least, I’d like to see language inserted into Section 4, subsection c-2 of SB 1440 that says something like this: “Neither the reasonable and prudent belief that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect, nor the fair probability that that allegations of abuse or neglect will be sustained if the requested order is issued and executed, may be based on an anonymous tip, on hearsay evidence whether anonymous or not, or on any single allegation which has been unsubstantiated by corroborating evidence or signed testimony by at least one other party.

Richard Wexlers Comment On this Post


Richard Wexler

June 5, 2009 10:38 AM

Speaking as a lifelong-liberal-non-countercultural-lapsed-card-carrying-member-of-the-ACLU: Ms. Manning, you’re absolutely right.

But it’s not just the children needlessly interrogated, stripsearched and taken from everyone they know and love who suffer. All that time, money and effort wasted on false allegations and trivial cases is, in effect, stolen from children in real danger. That’s why CPS agencies are so overwhelmed, and that’s why, all over the country, it is only systems that have curbed excessive intervention and needless removal of children that actually have made children safer. Details are on our website,

And nothing wastes more time, and endangers more children, than anonymous reports. That’s why your recommendation – to replace anonymous reporting with confidential reporting – is exactly what we’ve proposed for years. It’s part of our Due Process Agenda available on our website here: Our answer to rjohnson’s question, “what do you folks have to offer that might help improve the system?” is called Twelve Ways to do Child Welfare Right and it’s available here: Our comprehensive report on Texas child welfare is here: with updated data here:

The particular bill Ms. Manning writes about is intended to legalize Texas CPS’ illegal behavior in the FLDS case and another in which its actions were overturned by the courts. We have a detailed discussion of the bill on the NCCPR Child Welfare Blog. You can find it, and all of our FLDS commentary, by going to and entering FLDS in the search box. There’s more about the bill on the website of an excellent Texas advocacy group, the Parent Guidance Center,

Three final points:

–This is an issue that crosses ideological lines in important ways and both left and right have a lot to answer for. Too many conservatives think “family values” are solely a middle-class entitlement – witness Newt Gingrich proposing to throw poor people’s children into orphanages. And too many of my fellow liberals will gladly discard everything they claim to believe about civil liberties and embrace a framework of law that only John Ashcroft could love as soon as soon as someone whispers the words “child abuse” in their ears.

–The notion that cash-strapped localities “underinvestigate” is mistaken. It assumes a logical, rational system of screening calls to child abuse hotlines where none exists. On the contrary, child welfare systems are arbitrary, capricious and cruel. This can be seen in the enormous variations in rates of removal from state to state and, in California and elsewhere, county to county.

–rjohnson is mistaken in suggesting that caseworkers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t I’ve followed child welfare for more than 30 years, first as a reporter and now as an advocate. In all that time, I have never seen a caseworker fired, demoted, suspended, reprimanded or so much as slapped on the wrist for taking away too many children. All of these things have happened to workers who left even one child in her or his own home and had something go wrong. When it comes to taking away children workers are not damned if they do and damned if they don’t – they’re only damned if they don’t.

Richard Wexler

Executive Director

National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

Alexandria Va.


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