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Beware Child Protective Services



 
 
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Old June 24th 07, 10:28 AM posted to alt.support.child-protective-services,alt.dads-rights.unmoderated,alt.support.foster-parents,alt.support.divorce,misc.kids
Greegor
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Default Beware Child Protective Services

http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html

Beware Child Protective Services: What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know

Introduction
Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services
Part 2 - Tips for Avoiding the Abuses of Child Protective Services
for non-offending parents, advocates, and mandated reporters
Links - About Child Protective Services
Note: Throughout this text the terms Child Protective Services (CPS)
and Child Welfare Agencies are used interchangeably.


Introduction

Probably no other public agency leaves victims and advocates more
perplexed than Child Protective Services. On the one hand, people
think of CPS with appreciation as they envision a selfless agency
rescuing innocent children from horrific conditions. Indeed, CPS
workers across the country do this routinely. The gratitude is
deserved.

At the same time, the agency seems to be perpetually marred by a
steady drumbeat of nightmare stories about CPS emanating from the very
families CPS is supposed to serve. This text deals with just one of
these problems; the CPS practice of removing or threatening to remove
children from the nonviolent, non-offending parent in cases of family
violence. This guide explains why this happens with such frequency,
how to help prevent it from happening in your case, and what to do
about it if you're already caught in its grip. (Since the non-
offending, nonviolent parent in these cases is usually the mother, we
often refer to this parent as 'the mother', though there are certainly
cases where the non-offending parent is the father.)

The Situation as it Usually Unfolds

In brief, the particular problem we cover usually unfolds like this. A
mother herself seeks help from CPS or becomes involved with CPS
through someone else's report of suspected child abuse. Her child has
been physically or sexually abused by a family member, usually by a
male family member, or there are concerns the child is living in a
home where there is domestic violence. At first, the mother naturally
anticipates that CPS will try to help her and her child, and try to
punish and stop the perpetrator. So these mothers are stunned when
suddenly the CPS/juvenile court system turns its sights on her, even
though everyone agrees she didn't perpetrate the abuse or violence.

Suddenly she is the one under investigation, and the perpetrator is
seeming to be all but ignored. And worse, CPS is threatening to take
her child from her, or has already done so without warning or notice,
and is threatening to keep the child, right at the time that mother
and child need each other most. She feels the system turn hostile
toward her. Did she, the non-offending parent, protect the child from
the violent parent? Did she protect the child from molestation? Did
she protect the child from being exposed to domestic violence in the
home? Well, no, obviously she did not, or could not, or, in the case
of molestation, often didn't know about it.

Instead of being treated more as a co-victim of a violent perpetrator,
with help and guidance provided according to the mother's expressed
needs, she is treated more as a co-perpetrator, with CPS establishing
mandated controls over virtually any which aspect of her life CPS
chooses, all under threat of losing her child. In addition to court
dates at which it is her behavior that's in question, CPS gives her a
mandated, often overwhelming set of programs and goals she must comply
with to the satisfaction of the CPS/juvenile court system, in order to
- maybe - get the child back - and maybe not. She is also held
accountable for maintaining a cooperative attitude throughout, even
though she is, in fact, in a profoundly adversarial relationship with
CPS (which is why she's given an attorney at court time). At the same
time, she begins to realize that the CPS/juvenile court system isn't
pushing to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence, nor is
CPS even invested with the power to do so.

Most mothers say they would rather be threatened with jail than to be
threatened with the loss of her child. Yet as invasive, terrifying,
and awesome as this governmental threat is, virtually all the
decisions as to her fitness, compliance, and fate are being decided at
the lowest judicial standard of evidence, 51% of the evidence, the
'preponderance of the evidence' standard. This is a far cry from the
'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard the government must reach before
sentencing someone to jail for even the briefest time.

The level of proof against her that CPS is required to put forth is so
minimal that it provides the mother little protection against any
abusive, prejudiced, or discriminatory exercise of power by CPS. The
low evidence burden on CPS also makes it nearly impossible for the
mother to defend herself, especially against such vague accusations as
'failure to protect', or that 'she knew or should have known', things
which don't even constitute a crime in the criminal system. And to top
off the injustices, an all too common requirement on her must-do list
is that she and/or the child must partake in family conferencing or a
family reunification plan in which one or both must meet, mediate, or
co-counsel with the perpetrator - the very same perpetrator from whom
the mother has been accused of 'failure to protect' the child.

The Dawn of Recognition

Unfortunately, such stories are not the result of occasional human
errors that are bound to occur in any public agency. They are,
instead, inevitable and frequent outcomes stemming from the flawed
founding premises and the weak legal underpinnings of the CPS/juvenile
court system. The structure of the system drives toward these
injustices no matter how well intentioned individual CPS workers may
be. Nor is this to say that children should never be removed from the
non-offending parent. There are circumstances in which they should.
The problem is that the system is so arbitrary, sexist, secret, and
outdated, that it tends toward abusive or mistaken results.

In the last decade, there has been growing recognition and discussion
of the CPS problem as it pertains to the non-offending parent. In
1999, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges put
together the Greenbook Initiative, a set of 67 recommendations aimed
at remedying precisely this set of problems. But though the Greenbook
gives long overdue recognition to the issue, the recommendations don't
call for installing any firm checks on the system, as will be
discussed in more detail in a later section.

And in 2004, in New York state, there was a landmark settlement in a
class action lawsuit against that state's child welfare agencies. The
lawsuit, Nicholson v. Scoppetta, had been brought by mothers who had
their children removed for no other reason than that the mothers,
victims of domestic violence, had failed to protect their children
from 'exposure' to the domestic violence. The 2004 lawsuit agreement
and an earlier injunction prohibited child welfare agencies from using
this reason alone to remove children from non-offending parents.

Though the lawsuit put CPS agencies around the country on notice of
their wrongdoing and harm done in these cases, to date it has brought
only modest change in practice. The vague laws and weak evidence
standards governing CPS means that CPS workers need only adjust the
language used in their justification for removing a child, offer the
usual scant proof, and many juvenile courts continue removing children
in these situations as before.

Perhaps the brightest spot on the horizon is the year 2005 resolution
passed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in
support of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to
close. Since their founding, most CPS/juvenile court proceedings have
been operating in secret, completely off the public record. This
secrecy has mushroomed the system's tendency toward abuse. The judges'
2005 resolution in support of open hearings is not yet law, but it's a
promising step. It's highly unlikely any of the system's abuses will
be corrected until this essential public airing and public scrutiny of
the system's proceedings is firmly set into law and practice.

The Oppressive Swath of Danger and Damage

The harm of the widespread CPS practice of removing or threatening to
remove children from non-offending parents extends far beyond the
dangers and injustices to individual mothers and children. The harm
extends to nearly every poor, immigrant, or minority race mother who
is trying to deal with family violence. Most have heard first hand
stories of CPS removing children from other mothers in their
neighborhoods. As a result, they become reluctant to seek help for
their own situations for fear that the same thing might happen to
them.

Though we include a fair amount of information about the structure and
history of CPS, the purpose of this guide isn't to do policy analysis
nor to make recommendations for change. The purpose of this guide is
to give family violence victims, advocates, and mandated reporters
information and tips that can help you, as best as possible, to
understand and avoid the pitfalls and abuses of the CPS/Juvenile Court
system as they pertain to the non-offending parent.

***


Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services and Child Welfare
Agencies
Though most of the information in this section is meant to explain why
so many non-offending parents get victimized by the CPS system, we
start by correcting a very common misconception about mandated
reporting.

1. In California, and Many Other States, Mandated Reporters Do NOT
Have to Report to Child Protective Services.

We start here because so many counselors, teachers, doctors, and other
mandated reporters, many of whom are already sympathetic to the
problems mothers experience with CPS, say there's nothing they can do
about it. They believe their state laws require that whenever they
suspect child abuse, they must make a report to CPS. But that's not,
in fact, what the law in California and many other states says at
all.

As you can see clearly in the California law printed here, the law
gives mandated reporters a choice of institutions to which they can
report. You can make your report to police, sheriffs, probation
departments, or child welfare agencies. In fact, in California and
many other states we're familiar with, the mandated reporting laws put
child welfare agencies last on the list of options.

Here is the section of the California State Mandated Reporter Law that
pertains to whom one should report.


California Penal Code Section 11165.9
11165.9. Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made by
mandated reporters, or in the case of reports pursuant to Section
11166.05, may be made, to any police department or sheriff's
department, not including a school district police or security
department, county probation department, if designated by the county
to receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. Any of
those agencies shall accept a report of suspected child abuse or
neglect whether offered by a mandated reporter or another person, or
referred by another agency, even if the agency to whom the report is
being made lacks subject matter or geographical jurisdiction to
investigate the reported case, unless the agency can immediately
electronically transfer the call to an agency with proper
jurisdiction. When an agency takes a report about a case of suspected
child abuse or neglect in which that agency lacks jurisdiction, the
agency shall immediately refer the case by telephone, fax, or
electronic transmission to an agency with proper jurisdiction.
Agencies that are required to receive reports of suspected child abuse
or neglect may not refuse to accept a report of suspected child abuse
or neglect from a mandated reporter or another person unless otherwise
authorized pursuant to this section, and shall maintain a record of
all reports received.

One obvious question after reading this law is why are so many
mandated reporters taught incorrectly that they must report to CPS
when the law in many states so clearly gives mandated reporters a
choice. The reasons will become clearer in the section on the history
of child protection. But in brief, CPS agencies were established back
in the late 1960's and 1970's at a time when a strong national
consensus had developed that children shouldn't suffer abuse in the
home. However, it was also a time when family violence was not yet
viewed as criminal, and perpetrators were not held accountable. CPS
powers and functions were shaped to reflect that ambivalent
constellation of beliefs. And today, despite advances, there is still
strong societal resistance to holding family violence perpetrators
accountable. And there's a corresponding tendency to channel
intrafamilial child abuse cases into CPS where policies and powers are
set to detain the child and not the perpetrator.

But the main point we want to underscore here is that mandated
reporters in many states can choose not to report to CPS. You have
other options, and often those other options will be much more
beneficial for both the mother and the child.

NOTE 1: Finding the Text of Your State's Mandated Reporting Law - Most
states have their full legal codes on the Internet in searchable form.
Go to your state's legal codes page. In most states, the mandated
reporting laws will be in your state's Penal Code. Search 'child abuse
mandated reporter' or similar term.

NOTE 2: Cross Reporting - In California and in many other states the
child abuse mandated reporting laws require 'cross-reporting' between
agencies. This means that the agency which receives the initial report
must immediately send copies of the report to other designated
agencies. So if CPS receives the initial report, CPS must immediately
send a copy of the report to the relevant police agency and to the
District Attorney's office, and visa versa. This cross-reporting
requirement has little effect on the problems we're trying to outline
here because in general practice the agency that first receives the
report is the agency which takes primary responsibility for handling
the case.

2. CPS Does Not Have the Power to Open a Criminal Case Against the
Perpetrator, Nor Do They Have the Power of Arrest. CPS agencies are
not law enforcement agencies. They are social service agencies. This
explains why CPS does not take action against the perpetrators of the
violence.

Child Protective Services do not have the power to open a criminal
case against perpetrators of child abuse. They do not have the power
to do criminal investigations of child abuse, nor the power of arrest.
Nor does the juvenile court system that corresponds to CPS cases seek
to prosecute the perpetrators, nor are these courts invested with the
power to do so.

CPS workers are not law enforcement officers, they are social service
workers. Child Protective Services are a branch of your state social
services department. They are not part of your justice department nor
of your local law enforcement agencies.

Understanding this is key to understanding why the CPS/juvenile court
system does not hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against
a child, nor does it seek to gather evidence for prosecution, nor to
punish the perpetrators for what they've done. The CPS/juvenile court
system was never intended nor empowered to do so.

So, if your daughter was raped by her stepfather, for example, CPS
will not investigate his crime, will not seek to punish him, nor in
any way hold him accountable. Likewise, if your husband is violent
with you and CPS is looking into the status of the children, CPS has
no power to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence.

NOTE 1: The CPS 'Investigation' - One of the things that creates
confusion on this issue is that CPS and others use the word
investigation to describe the CPS process of looking into the child
abuse matter. But these are not criminal investigations where evidence
is gathered to determine 'beyond a reasonable doubt' who committed a
particular crime, and how, so that the perpetrator can be brought to
justice.

A CPS 'investigation' can be better understood as a social narrative
report on the status of a child and the child's family. To be sure,
the CPS report centers around the issue of the suspected abuse. But
once CPS determines it's 'more likely than not' that the abuse
occurred, that satisfies CPS inquiry into the incidents themselves.

Different from a criminal investigation, the main purpose of the CPS
report is to determine whether or not the child needs to be protected
from future abuse, and if so, what needs to be done to protect the
child from future abuse. As such, CPS reports focus in on detailing
the family histories of the parents, the psychosocial and economic
conditions of the home, the relationships between the family members,
the school and educational status of family members, as well as
covering the alleged abuse. All of these things, except for the abuse,
would be completely irrelevant in a criminal investigation.

NOTE 2: Juvenile Court Powers in CPS cases - In many states, juvenile
courts do now have the power to order perpetrators into counseling,
and in some states have the power to order the abuser out of the home.
These decisions, however, are rendered with the purpose of protecting
a child from future abuse, and not with the purpose of holding the
perpetrator accountable.

3. The CPS/juvenile court System Has Only One Significant Power, the
Power to Remove Children from their Parents.

Although CPS does not have law enforcement powers, unlike most other
social service agencies, CPS does have one awesome power, the power to
take custody and remove children from the home. The stated purpose of
this power is to protect the child from future abuse. The stated
purpose is not to punish anyone, though obviously for parents and
children who love each other this forced removal can be the worst
punishment of all.

The lack of law enforcement powers explains why CPS does not take
action against perpetrators. The power to remove children explains why
CPS so quickly turns its sights on the non-offending parent.

Once CPS decides that abuse of a child or violence in the home has
probably taken place, the CPS worker must then decide how best to
protect the child from future abuse. Since it's usually obvious that
the child should not be immediately returned to the perpetrator of the
violence, CPS quickly turns to the question of whether or not the
child should stay with the non-offending parent. That's how and why
CPS becomes so fixated on 'investigating' the nonviolent parent. Did
the mother protect the child from the abuse? Did she know, or should
she have known, that the child was being molested? Did the mother
protect the child from living in a home with domestic violence? Will
she protect the child in the future?

No matter how you look at it, the circumstances of these situations
can almost always be construed to indicate that the mother didn't
protect, and that she knew or should have known. After all, goes the
thinking, she's the mother and she's living in the same home.

NOTE 1: CPS does have other options than to remove the child. In fact,
federal and state law governing CPS requires that CPS pursue family
preservation as well as child safety, and that CPS first make
"reasonable efforts" to establish a service plan for the family to
follow so the child can stay in the home, or return to the home.

But even if CPS is making a good faith effort to abide by these
policies, it doesn't alter the adversarial (oppositional) nature of
the relationship with CPS in which the mother finds herself. Even if
CPS has not taken the child and lays out a program for the mother to
follow so the child can stay in the home, the mother knows full well
what this means. 'You do this program or we take your child'. The
mother knows this doesn't feel like help. It feels terrifying,
hostile, and punitive. Especially so as her must-do-list is often
hugely overwhelming since so many of the mothers are poor and acutely
stressed. And even more hostile as the mother begins to see how prone
the CPS exercise of power is to be arbitrary, prejudiced, and with
shifting input and goals, the frequency of which is partly explained
by the following.

4. At best, CPS/juvenile court Decisions are Made on the Lowest
Judicial Standard of Evidence, the 'Preponderance of the Evidence'
Standard, i.e. 51% of the Evidence. The void of evidence and rigor in
the CPS/juvenile court system leaves the decision making process wide
open to the virtually unchecked influence of mistakes, bias,
discrimination, prejudice, vengeance, hearsay, junk science, nonsense,
and arbitrariness of all kinds. (The one exception to this is that a
final termination of parental rights usually requires a 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence, which is still a much lower standard
than the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of the criminal system.)

When CPS seeks to establish the abuse, remove a child for up to 18
months, establish mandated service plans, determine visitation, etc.,
CPS must go into juvenile court to get these decisions authorized by
the court. At first this may seem to provide the kind of oversight on
CPS decisions that would make the process just, equitable, and safe
from abuses. But read on.

First, the body of law governing the CPS/juvenile court system is so
vague and open ended that virtually any and all decisions made by
these bodies falls within the scope of the laws.

Second, at best, CPS and juvenile courts makes these decisions based
on the 'preponderance of evidence' standard. This is the lowest
judicial standard of evidence. The preponderance of the evidence
standard is 51% of the evidence. It's sometimes called the 'more
likely than not' standard. What this means is that all CPS needs to
support a decision is evidence on their side, the CPS side, which is
just a sliver more than the evidence on your side. This is a far cry
from the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard criminal officials must
establish before they can convict someone of a crime, even a
misdemeanor.

Example of Preponderance of the Evidence: The mother tells CPS she
didn't know that the stepfather was sexually molesting the daughter
because the stepfather always did it while she (the mother) was
watching television in another room. The CPS worker tells the court
that the fact the mother was in the same house watching television
while the stepfather molested the child is a good indication that the
mother should have known what the stepfather was doing. Given the
sloppiness of the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard, all the
judge has to do is lean ever so slightly to the social worker's
argument, and the judge can issue a finding that the mother 'knew or
should have known', and then based on this finding grant the CPS
petition to detain the child. Which is exactly what happened in this
case.

Many lawyers themselves are so scornful of the flimsy evidence
standard of the CPS system they call it "a crap shoot", or the
"anything goes" standard. The problem for the mother goes beyond the
fact that CPS doesn't need much evidence against her. It also means
that whatever opinion a CPS worker may have of you, the worker can
usually support that opinion in court simply by fishing through the
extensive family details the worker has gathered and then selecting
out the one or two tidbits that favor the opinion.

Add to this the huge initial mistake many women make of thinking of
CPS as their advocate or friend or counselor. They pour their hearts
out to the worker, giving the worker a whole ocean of intimate
information in which to fish for evidence against them.

Yes, it's true that with all this latitude, the CPS system can
actually do things right and put its full resources into helping the
mother and child to get safely on their feet together. And indeed,
there are plenty of cases where this is exactly what happens. But
there are a number of things that makes the system tend toward abusive
responses. One of these is the cardinal truth of any power. Unchecked
power always tends towards abuses of that power. And the power of CPS
is hugely unchecked. And worse yet, as is discussed later, it is
exercised in secret.

A second thing that tends the system toward abusive and prejudicial
responses is the class of the mothers themselves, and the heaping
social prejudices that already prevail against them. The mothers who
come to the attention of CPS are most often poor, or immigrant, or
minority race, and themselves are the direct or secondary victims of
family violence. The harsh realities of their lives are chaotic,
frantic, and generally incomprehensible to people who don't live them.
There is so much prejudice, stereotypes, ignorance, and blame against
these women floating in society that the middle class social service
system is primed from the start to blame these mothers, or at the very
least, to believe it's the mothers that need to be fixed.

NOTE 1: Lessons from the Native American Community. Prior to the
passage of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, child welfare/
juvenile court systems were removing up to 25% of the children from
many Indian tribes, then terminating Indian parental rights, and
adopting the children out to non-Indian families. Non-Indian social
workers and judges were using rampant prejudicial and racist notions
to justify these removals. In particular, CPS/juvenile courts were
judging many traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive,
in and of themselves. Native American peoples' were losing so many of
their children to this process, many tribes labeled these child
welfare policies as genocidal.

The Indian tribes crafted the Indian Child Welfare Act with the aim of
stopping this systematic removal of their children. In so doing, the
Indians keenly understood how the use of the 'preponderance of
evidence' standard gave free reign to the prejudices, racism, and
arbitrary factors that were being used to justify taking their
children. They understood that the more oppressed a person is the more
they need a high standard of evidence to protect them from
governmental abuse. So, among other things, the Indian Child Welfare
Act requires that CPS/juvenile courts must use the stricter 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence before the state can put an Indian
child in temporary foster care, and must use the even stricter 'beyond
a reasonable doubt' standard of evidence before the court can order
termination of Indian parental rights. The act also requires that at
any termination hearing, there must be expert witness testimony on
Indian culture and child rearing.

We feel strongly that these same protections should be extended to all
who come before CPS, since most all of these families are members of
historically oppressed groups.

5. The Flimsy 'Preponderance of the Evidence' Standard is Bad Enough,
But Things are Actually Much Worse. Increasingly, the CPS/juvenile
court systems are handing off their fact finding and decision making
responsibilities to mediators, evaluators, and even to CASA
volunteers, all of whom operate on NO standard of evidence at all.

There's no doubt that the juvenile courts have become increasingly
stressed over the last few decades as victims of family violence have
emerged to seek help for their plights. But instead of adding
resources to properly meet the need, the CPS/juvenile court system,
like the family court system, has handed off more and more of its fact
finding and decision making responsibilities to a whole phalanx of
psychologists, mediators, evaluators, and even to volunteers.

These are court janitors, really, brought aboard to mop up the
judicial mess made by women and children who have found a way to make
their needs and outrage heard. When a case becomes complicated or
contentious, or is just more work than the judge wants to handle, the
judge simply turns the case over to one of these evaluators to look
into the case and come back to the judge with a set of
recommendations. In nearly all cases, juvenile court judges blindly
rubber stamp these recommendations with no further ado.

What is absolutely critical to understand is that once handed off to
these evaluators, you have been ushered out the court's back door,
outside the rule of court law, and completely unprotected by rules of
evidence. These evaluators operate under NO standard of evidence. NO
rules of admissibility. NO legal protections at all. Hearsay,
psychobabble, prejudice, lies, gossip, it all comes in. And it's often
all against you because the perpetrators are usually expert
manipulators and liars, and, in addition, they have likely already
poisoned the social relationships around you. This is why it's the non-
offending parent who most needs strict rules of evidence for
protection, and is most hurt by their absence.

NOTE 1 - CASA Volunteers - But it gets even worse. Many juvenile
courts across the country are now handing off official fact finding
and decision making responsibilities in these cases to CASA
volunteers, people who are only required to have 30 hours training.
And the juvenile courts are usually assigning these volunteers to the
most egregious and complex cases of child abuse.

The public has been thoroughly wooed to the feel good idea of having
CASA volunteers to 'protect the interests of the child' in these
cases. Indeed, there is great benefit for the child to be assigned a
special person to talk to and even to advocate for the child through
this process.

The whole CASA program would be just fine if it ended there. But
juvenile courts routinely swear these volunteers in as official court
fact finders (investigators), as representatives of the child's stated
interests, as representatives of the child's best interests, and, as
formulators of recommendations to the court as to the best disposition
of the child. A recent national study, the Packard Foundation funded
Caliber Study, finds that juvenile court judges adopt ALL the
recommendations of the CASA volunteers in over 60% of cases.

This is a complete mockery and travesty of any and all notions of
justice, and is particularly contemptful of mother's and children's
rights. For so many reasons. But just for one, imagine if your surgeon
sought out and took the recommendation of whether to amputate your leg
from a volunteer with 30 hours training. You would be outraged! And
you would never deal with this surgeon again. Yet this is exactly what
juvenile court judges across the country are doing on the question of
whether or not to remove the child from the mother, in the most
complex and egregious of cases. They are turning over their fact
finding, evaluation, and decision making responsibilities by swearing
in persons with 30 hours training to act in any or all these official
capacities.

The courts say they are doing this because they want to be sure to
hear the children's voices. But you only have to think for a moment to
realize what the courts are really doing is avoiding the costs of a
professional investigator, expert, or professional representation that
is minimally needed to guarantee even minimal judicial standards for
children.

And these courts have the nerve to accuse the mothers of failure to
protect!

6. Both the Federal and State Welfare Law Governing the CPS/Juvenile
court System are Full of Vague, Non-mandatory Language, a Fact Which
Further Promotes the 'Anything Goes' Atmosphere of CPS Proceedings. In
addition, these laws almost always refer to the parents as an
undifferentiated single unit, "the parents', a fact which puts a legal
lock on viewing the non-offending parent with as much culpability as
the abusive parent. Only recently has the legal language begun to
recognize the existence of the 'non-offending parent' as separate or
unique from the offending parent.

As you read through the federal and state law governing child
protective services you can see features of the law that further help
explain the frequent arbitrary and biased actions of these agencies.
Here are just two.

Federal and state welfare law governing child protective services are
vague, nonspecific, and use mostly non-mandatory language. For
example, federal law 'encourages' child welfare agencies to provide
their materials in languages other than English. It does not mandate
that they do so. As such, many, if not most, non-English speaking
mothers receive their CPS reports, their service plans, and notices in
English only. Another example is that welfare law states a
'preference' for family reunification, and says social workers shall
make 'reasonable efforts' to provide services that allow the family to
stay together.

This kind of language in the law leaves so much wiggle room that
virtually anything the system decides will fall within the law, a fact
which further magnifies the difficulties for a non-offending parent
trying to defend herself or appeal these decisions.

A second feature that runs throughout child welfare law is that it
constantly refers to 'the parents' as an undifferentiated entity.
There's very infrequent distinction in child welfare law between the
offending and non-offending parent. In fact, if you were an alien from
outer space reading this law, it would be a while before it even
dawned on you that "the parents" are two separate human beings. This
dubious framework stems from the archaic patriarchal view of marriage
of not very long ago that the two become one and the one is the man.

Naturally, this constant reference to "the parents" helps cement the
system's huge blind spot to a woman's predicament when her partner is
abusive. Clearly, the law can't see her more as a victim of the
abuser, if the legal language lumps her in with the abuser. If the
father is a domestic violence perpetrator, the mother, too, is
automatically "engaging in domestic violence", which is precisely the
language the system has used to justify taking the children from
mothers who are victims of domestic violence. Legal recognition and
distinctions between the offending and non-offending parent are coming
at a snail's pace.

7. The CPS/Juvenile Court System Operates in Secrecy Off the Public
Record. This secrecy fans the flames of the system's other tendencies
to abuse.

The reason that CPS/Juvenile Court findings, proceedings, mandates,
and actions take place off the public record is ostensibly to protect
the privacy of the child and family in what is viewed as a private
family matter. But one certainly must ask, who really has been more
protected by this secrecy, the CPS system or the families it serves?

Nothing fans the flames of governmental abuse like governmental
secrecy. Secret files, secret evidence, secret accusations, secret
proceedings are a sure fire formula for allowing abuses to thrive and
expand throughout the system. Since its inception, CPS/juvenile court
activities have been off the public record with the exception of only
a few states. The involved parents are informed. But, to date, neither
the public nor any public watchdog has been allowed scrutiny or
oversight of the handling of these cases.

Fortunately, it looks like there is the possibility this may change.
In 2005, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
voted approval of presumptively open hearings with discretion of
courts to close. This isn't yet law, but it's a big step in that
direction. As part of the resolution the judges wrote the following,

"Open court proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical
problems faced by juvenile and family courts and by child welfare
agencies in matters involving child protection, may enhance
accountability in the conduct of these proceedings by lifting the veil
of secrecy which surrounds them, and may ultimately increase public
confidence in the work of the judges of the nation's juvenile and
family courts."

We would probably word this a little differently, 'Open court
proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical problems
faced by children and non-offending parents in matters involving child
protection,.....'

8. Most all CPS/juvenile court Systems deal ONLY with Intra familial
Child Abuse. This schism between the way society deals with child
abuse perpetrated by a family member versus child abuse perpetrated by
an 'outsider' points out a staggering hypocrisy in the rhetoric about
treating child abuse seriously. Behind the rhetoric is a child welfare
and police system that in reality works hand in hand to let most child
abusers walk free.

Many people are very surprised when they call CPS to report a child
abuse case perpetrated by a neighbor, a priest, a stranger, or by any
one outside the family. CPS tells the caller they don't handle these
cases. They only respond to cases in which the perpetrator is a family
member. So in most cases in which the perpetrator is not a family
member, CPS tells the caller they'll need to report to police.

Another thing that may surprise you is that if you call police to
report a case of child abuse perpetrated by a family member, police
will often tell you should report the case to CPS. Granted police
could take the report if they wanted to, and they should take the
report. But police themselves are all too often on the same
philosophical page as CPS. They too often believe that when fathers
'grow their own victim', the fathers shouldn't be held accountable
like other offenders.

And another thing. Even if police do take a report of sexual abuse
perpetrated by a family member, chances are very good that the
perpetrator, even if convicted, will get off lightly compared to an
outside-the-family perpetrator. California law, like the law in many
states, maintains gaping legal loopholes where, prosecutors can, and
frequently do, charge intra familial child sex abuse under different
codes which allow the family offenders much lighter sentences. In
addition, the law allows convicted intra familial child sex offenders
to be given probation, different from outsider child sex offenders who
must go to prison. And the law allows convicted intra familial child
sex offenders to stay off the state's public registered sex offenders
lists, also unlike 'outside'. (For a good discussion of the legal
loopholes for fathers and other family members who sexually molest
their children see Child Sexual Abuse and the State by Ruby Andrew at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...ract_id=904100)

There isn't a civic leader out there that doesn't publicly rage to the
heavens about what monsters child molesters are, and how these
'animals' should be strung up at the crack of dawn. But, remember, the
overwhelming majority of all child sex abuse is perpetrated by family
members. What this means is that, in reality, we have a system that
publicly beats its chest over the small percentage of child molesters
who attack someone else's child, while by legal slight of hand that
same system lets the vast majority of child molesters go free. Not by
accident, but by legal and institutional design. What's perhaps most
telling is that, at least in California, these legal loopholes for
intra familial perpetrators have been widened over recent years,
rather than tightened.

Or to put it another way, the more women and children have made
demands on the system to stop family violence, the more the system has
created ways to look good while paving the perpetrator's escape. The
patriarchy with all its bluff and bluster to the contrary, still
supports the notion that a man's home is his castle, and that his
children are his to do with as he pleases. Unfortunately, CPS, with
its hold-no-perpetrators-accountable system, is a vital part of the
machinery for perpetuating these archaic and oppressive beliefs.

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you
keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis, Women's Justice Center,
www.justicewomen.com









On Jun 23, 11:26 pm, Marie wrote:
Beware Child Protective Services:
What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know

http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html

Cuidado con los Servicios
de Protección Infantil:
Lo que víctimas, defensoras e informantes
por mandato deben saber

http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...rvices_sp.html

Women's Justice Center
Centro de Justicia para Mujeres

www.justicewomen.com

www.ayudaparamujeres.com



  #2  
Old June 26th 07, 02:05 AM posted to alt.support.child-protective-services,alt.dads-rights.unmoderated,alt.support.foster-parents,alt.support.divorce,misc.kids
Greegor
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 4,243
Default Beware Child Protective Services

Kane wrote
98% propaganda. 2%, fact because to lie and mislead
you have to have an element of truth.


Could you be more specific?

It's all been done before.





0:]http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html

Beware Child Protective Services: What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know


Introduction
Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services
Part 2 - Tips for Avoiding the Abuses of Child Protective Services
for non-offending parents, advocates, and mandated reporters
Links - About Child Protective Services
Note: Throughout this text the terms Child Protective Services (CPS)
and Child Welfare Agencies are used interchangeably.


Introduction


Probably no other public agency leaves victims and advocates more
perplexed than Child Protective Services. On the one hand, people
think of CPS with appreciation as they envision a selfless agency
rescuing innocent children from horrific conditions. Indeed, CPS
workers across the country do this routinely. The gratitude is
deserved.


At the same time, the agency seems to be perpetually marred by a
steady drumbeat of nightmare stories about CPS emanating from the very
families CPS is supposed to serve. This text deals with just one of
these problems; the CPS practice of removing or threatening to remove
children from the nonviolent, non-offending parent in cases of family
violence. This guide explains why this happens with such frequency,
how to help prevent it from happening in your case, and what to do
about it if you're already caught in its grip. (Since the non-
offending, nonviolent parent in these cases is usually the mother, we
often refer to this parent as 'the mother', though there are certainly
cases where the non-offending parent is the father.)


The Situation as it Usually Unfolds


In brief, the particular problem we cover usually unfolds like this. A
mother herself seeks help from CPS or becomes involved with CPS
through someone else's report of suspected child abuse. Her child has
been physically or sexually abused by a family member, usually by a
male family member, or there are concerns the child is living in a
home where there is domestic violence. At first, the mother naturally
anticipates that CPS will try to help her and her child, and try to
punish and stop the perpetrator. So these mothers are stunned when
suddenly the CPS/juvenile court system turns its sights on her, even
though everyone agrees she didn't perpetrate the abuse or violence.


Suddenly she is the one under investigation, and the perpetrator is
seeming to be all but ignored. And worse, CPS is threatening to take
her child from her, or has already done so without warning or notice,
and is threatening to keep the child, right at the time that mother
and child need each other most. She feels the system turn hostile
toward her. Did she, the non-offending parent, protect the child from
the violent parent? Did she protect the child from molestation? Did
she protect the child from being exposed to domestic violence in the
home? Well, no, obviously she did not, or could not, or, in the case
of molestation, often didn't know about it.


Instead of being treated more as a co-victim of a violent perpetrator,
with help and guidance provided according to the mother's expressed
needs, she is treated more as a co-perpetrator, with CPS establishing
mandated controls over virtually any which aspect of her life CPS
chooses, all under threat of losing her child. In addition to court
dates at which it is her behavior that's in question, CPS gives her a
mandated, often overwhelming set of programs and goals she must comply
with to the satisfaction of the CPS/juvenile court system, in order to
- maybe - get the child back - and maybe not. She is also held
accountable for maintaining a cooperative attitude throughout, even
though she is, in fact, in a profoundly adversarial relationship with
CPS (which is why she's given an attorney at court time). At the same
time, she begins to realize that the CPS/juvenile court system isn't
pushing to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence, nor is
CPS even invested with the power to do so.


Most mothers say they would rather be threatened with jail than to be
threatened with the loss of her child. Yet as invasive, terrifying,
and awesome as this governmental threat is, virtually all the
decisions as to her fitness, compliance, and fate are being decided at
the lowest judicial standard of evidence, 51% of the evidence, the
'preponderance of the evidence' standard. This is a far cry from the
'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard the government must reach before
sentencing someone to jail for even the briefest time.


The level of proof against her that CPS is required to put forth is so
minimal that it provides the mother little protection against any
abusive, prejudiced, or discriminatory exercise of power by CPS. The
low evidence burden on CPS also makes it nearly impossible for the
mother to defend herself, especially against such vague accusations as
'failure to protect', or that 'she knew or should have known', things
which don't even constitute a crime in the criminal system. And to top
off the injustices, an all too common requirement on her must-do list
is that she and/or the child must partake in family conferencing or a
family reunification plan in which one or both must meet, mediate, or
co-counsel with the perpetrator - the very same perpetrator from whom
the mother has been accused of 'failure to protect' the child.


The Dawn of Recognition


Unfortunately, such stories are not the result of occasional human
errors that are bound to occur in any public agency. They are,
instead, inevitable and frequent outcomes stemming from the flawed
founding premises and the weak legal underpinnings of the CPS/juvenile
court system. The structure of the system drives toward these
injustices no matter how well intentioned individual CPS workers may
be. Nor is this to say that children should never be removed from the
non-offending parent. There are circumstances in which they should.
The problem is that the system is so arbitrary, sexist, secret, and
outdated, that it tends toward abusive or mistaken results.


In the last decade, there has been growing recognition and discussion
of the CPS problem as it pertains to the non-offending parent. In
1999, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges put
together the Greenbook Initiative, a set of 67 recommendations aimed
at remedying precisely this set of problems. But though the Greenbook
gives long overdue recognition to the issue, the recommendations don't
call for installing any firm checks on the system, as will be
discussed in more detail in a later section.


And in 2004, in New York state, there was a landmark settlement in a
class action lawsuit against that state's child welfare agencies. The
lawsuit, Nicholson v. Scoppetta, had been brought by mothers who had
their children removed for no other reason than that the mothers,
victims of domestic violence, had failed to protect their children
from 'exposure' to the domestic violence. The 2004 lawsuit agreement
and an earlier injunction prohibited child welfare agencies from using
this reason alone to remove children from non-offending parents.


Though the lawsuit put CPS agencies around the country on notice of
their wrongdoing and harm done in these cases, to date it has brought
only modest change in practice. The vague laws and weak evidence
standards governing CPS means that CPS workers need only adjust the
language used in their justification for removing a child, offer the
usual scant proof, and many juvenile courts continue removing children
in these situations as before.


Perhaps the brightest spot on the horizon is the year 2005 resolution
passed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in
support of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to
close. Since their founding, most CPS/juvenile court proceedings have
been operating in secret, completely off the public record. This
secrecy has mushroomed the system's tendency toward abuse. The judges'
2005 resolution in support of open hearings is not yet law, but it's a
promising step. It's highly unlikely any of the system's abuses will
be corrected until this essential public airing and public scrutiny of
the system's proceedings is firmly set into law and practice.


The Oppressive Swath of Danger and Damage


The harm of the widespread CPS practice of removing or threatening to
remove children from non-offending parents extends far beyond the
dangers and injustices to individual mothers and children. The harm
extends to nearly every poor, immigrant, or minority race mother who
is trying to deal with family violence. Most have heard first hand
stories of CPS removing children from other mothers in their
neighborhoods. As a result, they become reluctant to seek help for
their own situations for fear that the same thing might happen to
them.


Though we include a fair amount of information about the structure and
history of CPS, the purpose of this guide isn't to do policy analysis
nor to make recommendations for change. The purpose of this guide is
to give family violence victims, advocates, and mandated reporters
information and tips that can help you, as best as possible, to
understand and avoid the pitfalls and abuses of the CPS/Juvenile Court
system as they pertain to the non-offending parent.


***


Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services and Child Welfare
Agencies
Though most of the information in this section is meant to explain why
so many non-offending parents get victimized by the CPS system, we
start by correcting a very common misconception about mandated
reporting.


1. In California, and Many Other States, Mandated Reporters Do NOT
Have to Report to Child Protective Services.


We start here because so many counselors, teachers, doctors, and other
mandated reporters, many of whom are already sympathetic to the
problems mothers experience with CPS, say there's nothing they can do
about it. They believe their state laws require that whenever they
suspect child abuse, they must make a report to CPS. But that's not,
in fact, what the law in California and many other states says at
all.


As you can see clearly in the California law printed here, the law
gives mandated reporters a choice of institutions to which they can
report. You can make your report to police, sheriffs, probation
departments, or child welfare agencies. In fact, in California and
many other states we're familiar with, the mandated reporting laws put
child welfare agencies last on the list of options.


Here is the section of the California State Mandated Reporter Law that
pertains to whom one should report.


California Penal Code Section 11165.9
11165.9. Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made by
mandated reporters, or in the case of reports pursuant to Section
11166.05, may be made, to any police department or sheriff's
department, not including a school district police or security
department, county probation department, if designated by the county
to receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. Any of
those agencies shall accept a report of suspected child abuse or
neglect whether offered by a mandated reporter or another person, or
referred by another agency, even if the agency to whom the report is
being made lacks subject matter or geographical jurisdiction to
investigate the reported case, unless the agency can immediately
electronically transfer the call to an agency with proper
jurisdiction. When an agency takes a report about a case of suspected
child abuse or neglect in which that agency lacks jurisdiction, the
agency shall immediately refer the case by telephone, fax, or
electronic transmission to an agency with proper jurisdiction.
Agencies that are required to receive reports of suspected child abuse
or neglect may not refuse to accept a report of suspected child abuse
or neglect from a mandated reporter or another person unless otherwise
authorized pursuant to this section, and shall maintain a record of
all reports received.


One obvious question after reading this law is why are so many
mandated reporters taught incorrectly that they must report to CPS
when the law in many states so clearly gives mandated reporters a
choice. The reasons will become clearer in the section on the history
of child protection. But in brief, CPS agencies were established back
in the late 1960's and 1970's at a time when a strong national
consensus had developed that children shouldn't suffer abuse in the
home. However, it was also a time when family violence was not yet
viewed as criminal, and perpetrators were not held accountable. CPS
powers and functions were shaped to reflect that ambivalent
constellation of beliefs. And today, despite advances, there is still
strong societal resistance to holding family violence perpetrators
accountable. And there's a corresponding tendency to channel
intrafamilial child abuse cases into CPS where policies and powers are
set to detain the child and not the perpetrator.


But the main point we want to underscore here is that mandated
reporters in many states can choose not to report to CPS. You have
other options, and often those other options will be much more
beneficial for both the mother and the child.


NOTE 1: Finding the Text of Your State's Mandated Reporting Law - Most
states have their full legal codes on the Internet in searchable form.
Go to your state's legal codes page. In most states, the mandated
reporting laws will be in your state's Penal Code. Search 'child abuse
mandated reporter' or similar term.


NOTE 2: Cross Reporting - In California and in many other states the
child abuse mandated reporting laws require 'cross-reporting' between
agencies. This means that the agency which receives the initial report
must immediately send copies of the report to other designated
agencies. So if CPS receives the initial report, CPS must immediately
send a copy of the report to the relevant police agency and to the
District Attorney's office, and visa versa. This cross-reporting
requirement has little effect on the problems we're trying to outline
here because in general practice the agency that first receives the
report is the agency which takes primary responsibility for handling
the case.


2. CPS Does Not Have the Power to Open a Criminal Case Against the
Perpetrator, Nor Do They Have the Power of Arrest. CPS agencies are
not law enforcement agencies. They are social service agencies. This
explains why CPS does not take action against the perpetrators of the
violence.


Child Protective Services do not have the power to open a criminal
case against perpetrators of child abuse. They do not have the power
to do criminal investigations of child abuse, nor the power of arrest.
Nor does the juvenile court system that corresponds to CPS cases seek
to prosecute the perpetrators, nor are these courts invested with the
power to do so.


CPS workers are not law enforcement officers, they are social service
workers. Child Protective Services are a branch of your state social
services department. They are not part of your justice department nor
of your local law enforcement agencies.


Understanding this is key to understanding why the CPS/juvenile court
system does not hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against
a child, nor does it seek to gather evidence for prosecution, nor to
punish the perpetrators for what they've done. The CPS/juvenile court
system was never intended nor empowered to do so.


So, if your daughter was raped by her stepfather, for example, CPS
will not investigate his crime, will not seek to punish him, nor in
any way hold him accountable. Likewise, if your husband is violent
with you and CPS is looking into the status of the children, CPS has
no power to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence.


NOTE 1: The CPS 'Investigation' - One of the things that creates
confusion on this issue is that CPS and others use the word
investigation to describe the CPS process of looking into the child
abuse matter. But these are not criminal investigations where evidence
is gathered to determine 'beyond a reasonable doubt' who committed a
particular crime, and how, so that the perpetrator can be brought to
justice.


A CPS 'investigation' can be better understood as a social narrative
report on the status of a child and the child's family. To be sure,
the CPS report centers around the issue of the suspected abuse. But
once CPS determines it's 'more likely than not' that the abuse
occurred, that satisfies CPS inquiry into the incidents themselves.


Different from a criminal investigation, the main purpose of the CPS
report is to determine whether or not the child needs to be protected
from future abuse, and if so, what needs to be done to protect the
child from future abuse. As such, CPS reports focus in on detailing
the family histories of the parents, the psychosocial and economic
conditions of the home, the relationships between the family members,
the school and educational status of family members, as well as
covering the alleged abuse. All of these things, except for the abuse,
would be completely irrelevant in a criminal investigation.


NOTE 2: Juvenile Court Powers in CPS cases - In many states, juvenile
courts do now have the power to order perpetrators into counseling,
and in some states have the power to order the abuser out of the home.
These decisions, however, are rendered with the purpose of protecting
a child from future abuse, and not with the purpose of holding the
perpetrator accountable.


3. The CPS/juvenile court System Has Only One Significant Power, the
Power to Remove Children from their Parents.


Although CPS does not have law enforcement powers, unlike most other
social service agencies, CPS does have one awesome power, the power to
take custody and remove children from the home. The stated purpose of
this power is to protect the child from future abuse. The stated
purpose is not to punish anyone, though obviously for parents and
children who love each other this forced removal can be the worst
punishment of all.


The lack of law enforcement powers explains why CPS does not take
action against perpetrators. The power to remove children explains why
CPS so quickly turns its sights on the non-offending parent.


Once CPS decides that abuse of a child or violence in the home has
probably taken place, the CPS worker must then decide how best to
protect the child from future abuse. Since it's usually obvious that
the child should not be immediately returned to the perpetrator of the
violence, CPS quickly turns to the question of whether or not the
child should stay with the non-offending parent. That's how and why
CPS becomes so fixated on 'investigating' the nonviolent parent. Did
the mother protect the child from the abuse? Did she know, or should
she have known, that the child was being molested? Did the mother
protect the child from living in a home with domestic violence? Will
she protect the child in the future?


No matter how you look at it, the circumstances of these situations
can almost always be construed to indicate that the mother didn't
protect, and that she knew or should have known. After all, goes the
thinking, she's the mother and she's living in the same home.


NOTE 1: CPS does have other options than to remove the child. In fact,
federal and state law governing CPS requires that CPS pursue family
preservation as well as child safety, and that CPS first make
"reasonable efforts" to establish a service plan for the family to
follow so the child can stay in the home, or return to the home.


But even if CPS is making a good faith effort to abide by these
policies, it doesn't alter the adversarial (oppositional) nature of
the relationship with CPS in which the mother finds herself. Even if
CPS has not taken the child and lays out a program for the mother to
follow so the child can stay in the home, the mother knows full well
what this means. 'You do this program or we take your child'. The
mother knows this doesn't feel like help. It feels terrifying,
hostile, and punitive. Especially so as her must-do-list is often
hugely overwhelming since so many of the mothers are poor and acutely
stressed. And even more hostile as the mother begins to see how prone
the CPS exercise of power is to be arbitrary, prejudiced, and with
shifting input and goals, the frequency of which is partly explained
by the following.


4. At best, CPS/juvenile court Decisions are Made on the Lowest
Judicial Standard of Evidence, the 'Preponderance of the Evidence'
Standard, i.e. 51% of the Evidence. The void of evidence and rigor in
the CPS/juvenile court system leaves the decision making process wide
open to the virtually unchecked influence of mistakes, bias,
discrimination, prejudice, vengeance, hearsay, junk science, nonsense,
and arbitrariness of all kinds. (The one exception to this is that a
final termination of parental rights usually requires a 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence, which is still a much lower standard
than the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of the criminal system.)


When CPS seeks to establish the abuse, remove a child for up to 18
months, establish mandated service plans, determine visitation, etc.,
CPS must go into juvenile court to get these decisions authorized by
the court. At first this may seem to provide the kind of oversight on
CPS decisions that would make the process just, equitable, and safe
from abuses. But read on.


First, the body of law governing the CPS/juvenile court system is so
vague and open ended that virtually any and all decisions made by
these bodies falls within the scope of the laws.


Second, at best, CPS and juvenile courts makes these decisions based
on the 'preponderance of evidence' standard. This is the lowest
judicial standard of evidence. The preponderance of the evidence
standard is 51% of the evidence. It's sometimes called the 'more
likely than not' standard. What this means is that all CPS needs to
support a decision is evidence on their side, the CPS side, which is
just a sliver more than the evidence on your side. This is a far cry
from the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard criminal officials must
establish before they can convict someone of a crime, even a
misdemeanor.


Example of Preponderance of the Evidence: The mother tells CPS she
didn't know that the stepfather was sexually molesting the daughter
because the stepfather always did it while she (the mother) was
watching television in another room. The CPS worker tells the court
that the fact the mother was in the same house watching television
while the stepfather molested the child is a good indication that the
mother should have known what the stepfather was doing. Given the
sloppiness of the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard, all the
judge has to do is lean ever so slightly to the social worker's
argument, and the judge can issue a finding that the mother 'knew or
should have known', and then based on this finding grant the CPS
petition to detain the child. Which is exactly what happened in this
case.


Many lawyers themselves are so scornful of the flimsy evidence
standard of the CPS system they call it "a crap shoot", or the
"anything goes" standard. The problem for the mother goes beyond the
fact that CPS doesn't need much evidence against her. It also means
that whatever opinion a CPS worker may have of you, the worker can
usually support that opinion in court simply by fishing through the
extensive family details the worker has gathered and then selecting
out the one or two tidbits that favor the opinion.


Add to this the huge initial mistake many women make of thinking of
CPS as their advocate or friend or counselor. They pour their hearts
out to the worker, giving the worker a whole ocean of intimate
information in which to fish for evidence against them.


Yes, it's true that with all this latitude, the CPS system can
actually do things right and put its full resources into helping the
mother and child to get safely on their feet together. And indeed,
there are plenty of cases where this is exactly what happens. But
there are a number of things that makes the system tend toward abusive
responses. One of these is the cardinal truth of any power. Unchecked
power always tends towards abuses of that power. And the power of CPS
is hugely unchecked. And worse yet, as is discussed later, it is
exercised in secret.


A second thing that tends the system toward abusive and prejudicial
responses is the class of the mothers themselves, and the heaping
social prejudices that already prevail against them. The mothers who
come to the attention of CPS are most often poor, or immigrant, or
minority race, and themselves are the direct or secondary victims of
family violence. The harsh realities of their lives are chaotic,
frantic, and generally incomprehensible to people who don't live them.
There is so much prejudice, stereotypes, ignorance, and blame against
these women floating in society that the middle class social service
system is primed from the start to blame these mothers, or at the very
least, to believe it's the mothers that need to be fixed.


NOTE 1: Lessons from the Native American Community. Prior to the
passage of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, child welfare/
juvenile court systems were removing up to 25% of the children from
many Indian tribes, then terminating Indian parental rights, and
adopting the children out to non-Indian families. Non-Indian social
workers and judges were using rampant prejudicial and racist notions
to justify these removals. In particular, CPS/juvenile courts were
judging many traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive,
in and of themselves. Native American peoples' were losing so many of
their children to this process, many tribes labeled these child
welfare policies as genocidal.


The Indian tribes crafted the Indian Child Welfare Act with the aim of
stopping this systematic removal of their children. In so doing, the
Indians keenly understood how the use of the 'preponderance of
evidence' standard gave free reign to the prejudices, racism, and
arbitrary factors that were being used to justify taking their
children. They understood that the more oppressed a person is the more
they need a high standard of evidence to protect them from
governmental abuse. So, among other things, the Indian Child Welfare
Act requires that CPS/juvenile courts must use the stricter 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence before the state can put an Indian
child in temporary foster care, and must use the even stricter 'beyond
a reasonable doubt' standard of evidence before the court can order
termination of Indian parental rights. The act also requires that at
any termination hearing, there must be expert witness testimony on
Indian culture and child rearing.


We feel strongly that these same protections should be extended to all
who come before CPS, since most all of these families are members of
historically oppressed groups.


5. The Flimsy 'Preponderance of the Evidence' Standard is Bad Enough,
But Things are Actually Much Worse. Increasingly, the CPS/juvenile
court systems are handing off their fact finding and decision making
responsibilities to mediators, evaluators, and even to CASA
volunteers, all of whom operate on NO standard of evidence at all.


There's no doubt that the juvenile courts have become increasingly
stressed over the last few decades as victims of family violence have
emerged to seek help for their plights. But instead of adding
resources to properly meet the need, the CPS/juvenile court system,
like the family court system, has handed off more and more of its fact
finding and decision making responsibilities to a whole phalanx of
psychologists, mediators, evaluators, and even to volunteers.


These are court janitors, really, brought aboard to mop up the
judicial mess made by women and children who have found a way to make
their needs and outrage heard. When a case becomes complicated or
contentious, or is just more work than the judge wants to handle, the
judge simply turns the case over to one of these evaluators to look
into the case and come back to the judge with a set of
recommendations. In nearly all cases, juvenile court judges blindly
rubber stamp these recommendations with no further ado.


What is absolutely critical to understand is that once handed off to
these evaluators, you have been ushered out the court's back door,
outside the rule of court law, and completely unprotected by rules of
evidence. These evaluators operate under NO standard of evidence. NO
rules of admissibility. NO legal protections at all. Hearsay,
psychobabble, prejudice, lies, gossip, it all comes in. And it's often
all against you because the perpetrators are usually expert
manipulators and liars, and, in addition, they have likely already
poisoned the social relationships around you. This is why it's the non-
offending parent who most needs strict rules of evidence for
protection, and is most hurt by their absence.


NOTE 1 - CASA Volunteers - But it gets even worse. Many juvenile
courts across the country are now handing off official fact finding
and decision making responsibilities in these cases to CASA
volunteers, people who are only required to have 30 hours training.
And the juvenile courts are usually assigning these volunteers to the
most egregious and complex cases of child abuse.


The public has been thoroughly wooed to the feel good idea of having
CASA volunteers to 'protect the interests of the child' in these
cases. Indeed, there is great benefit for the child to be assigned a
special person to talk to and even to advocate for the child through
this process.


The whole CASA program would be just fine if it ended there. But
juvenile courts routinely swear these volunteers in as official court
fact finders (investigators), as representatives of the child's stated
interests, as representatives of the child's best interests, and, as
formulators of recommendations to the court as to the best disposition
of the child. A recent national study, the Packard Foundation funded
Caliber Study, finds that juvenile court judges adopt ALL the
recommendations of the CASA volunteers in over 60% of cases.


This is a complete mockery and travesty of any and all notions of
justice, and is particularly contemptful of mother's and children's
rights. For so many reasons. But just for one, imagine if your surgeon
sought out and took the recommendation of whether to amputate your leg
from a volunteer with 30 hours training. You would be outraged! And
you would never deal with this surgeon again. Yet this is exactly what
juvenile court judges across the country are doing on the question of
whether or not to remove the child from the mother, in the most
complex and egregious of cases. They are turning over their fact
finding, evaluation, and decision making responsibilities by swearing
in persons with 30 hours training to act in any or all these official
capacities.


The courts say they are doing this because they want to be sure to
hear the children's voices. But you only have to think for a moment to
realize what the courts are really doing is avoiding the costs of a
professional investigator, expert, or professional representation that
is minimally needed to guarantee even minimal judicial standards for
children.


And these courts have the nerve to accuse the mothers of failure to
protect!


6. Both the Federal and State Welfare Law Governing the CPS/Juvenile
court System are Full of Vague, Non-mandatory Language, a Fact Which
Further Promotes the 'Anything Goes' Atmosphere of CPS Proceedings. In
addition, these laws almost always refer to the parents as an
undifferentiated single unit, "the parents', a fact which puts a legal
lock on viewing the non-offending parent with as much culpability as
the abusive parent. Only recently has the legal language begun to
recognize the existence of the 'non-offending parent' as separate or
unique from the offending parent.


As you read through the federal and state law governing child
protective services you can see features of the law that further help
explain the frequent arbitrary and biased actions of these agencies.
Here are just two.


Federal and state welfare law governing child protective services are
vague, nonspecific, and use mostly non-mandatory language. For
example, federal law 'encourages' child welfare agencies to provide
their materials in languages other than English. It does not mandate
that they do so. As such, many, if not most, non-English speaking
mothers receive their CPS reports, their service plans, and notices in
English only. Another example is that welfare law states a
'preference' for family reunification, and says social workers shall
make 'reasonable efforts' to provide services that allow the family to
stay together.


This kind of language in the law leaves so much wiggle room that
virtually anything the system decides will fall within the law, a fact
which further magnifies the difficulties for a non-offending parent
trying to defend herself or appeal these decisions.


A second feature that runs throughout child welfare law is that it
constantly refers to 'the parents' as an undifferentiated entity.
There's very infrequent distinction in child welfare law between the
offending and non-offending parent. In fact, if you were an alien from
outer space reading this law, it would be a while before it even
dawned on you that "the parents" are two separate human beings. This
dubious framework stems from the archaic patriarchal view of marriage
of not very long ago that the two become one and the one is the man.


Naturally, this constant reference to "the parents" helps cement the
system's huge blind spot to a woman's predicament when her partner is
abusive. Clearly, the law can't see her more as a victim of the
abuser, if the legal language lumps her in with the abuser. If the
father is a domestic violence perpetrator, the mother, too, is
automatically "engaging in domestic violence", which is precisely the
language the system has used to justify taking the children from
mothers who are victims of domestic violence. Legal recognition and
distinctions between the offending and non-offending parent are coming
at a snail's pace.


7. The CPS/Juvenile Court System Operates in Secrecy Off the Public
Record. This secrecy fans the flames of the system's other tendencies
to abuse.


The reason that CPS/Juvenile Court findings, proceedings, mandates,
and actions take place off the public record is ostensibly to protect
the privacy of the child and family in what is viewed as a private
family matter. But one certainly must ask, who really has been more
protected by this secrecy, the CPS system or the families it serves?


Nothing fans the flames of governmental abuse like governmental
secrecy. Secret files, secret evidence, secret accusations, secret
proceedings are a sure fire formula for allowing abuses to thrive and
expand throughout the system. Since its inception, CPS/juvenile court
activities have been off the public record with the exception of only
a few states. The involved parents are informed. But, to date, neither
the public nor any public watchdog has been allowed scrutiny or
oversight of the handling of these cases.


Fortunately, it looks like there is the possibility this may change.
In 2005, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
voted approval of presumptively open hearings with discretion of
courts to close. This isn't yet law, but it's a big step in that
direction. As part of the resolution the judges wrote the following,


"Open court proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical
problems faced by juvenile and family courts and by child welfare
agencies in matters involving child protection, may enhance
accountability in the conduct of these proceedings by lifting the veil
of secrecy which surrounds them, and may ultimately increase public
confidence in the work of the judges of the nation's juvenile and
family courts."


We would probably word this a little differently, 'Open court
proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical problems
faced by children and non-offending parents in matters involving child
protection,.....'


8. Most all CPS/juvenile court Systems deal ONLY with Intra familial
Child Abuse. This schism between the way society deals with child
abuse perpetrated by a family member versus child abuse perpetrated by
an 'outsider' points out a staggering hypocrisy in the rhetoric about
treating child abuse seriously. Behind the rhetoric is a child welfare
and police system that in reality works hand in hand to let most child
abusers walk free.


Many people are very surprised when they call CPS to report a child
abuse case perpetrated by a neighbor, a priest, a stranger, or by any
one outside the family. CPS tells the caller they don't handle these
cases. They only respond to cases in which the perpetrator is a family
member. So in most cases in which the perpetrator is not a family
member, CPS tells the caller they'll need to report to police.


Another thing that may surprise you is that if you call police to
report a case of child abuse perpetrated by a family member, police
will often tell you should report the case to CPS. Granted police
could take the report if they wanted to, and they should take the
report. But police themselves are all too often on the same
philosophical page as CPS. They too often believe that when fathers
'grow their own victim', the fathers shouldn't be held accountable
like other offenders.


And another thing. Even if police do take a report of sexual abuse
perpetrated by a family member, chances are very good that the
perpetrator, even if convicted, will get off lightly compared to an
outside-the-family perpetrator. California law, like the law in many
states, maintains gaping legal loopholes where, prosecutors can, and
frequently do, charge intra familial child sex abuse under different
codes which allow the family offenders much lighter sentences. In
addition, the law allows convicted intra familial child sex offenders
to be given probation, different from outsider child sex offenders who
must go to prison. And the law allows convicted intra familial child
sex offenders to stay off the state's public registered sex offenders
lists, also unlike 'outside'. (For a good discussion of the legal
loopholes for fathers and other family members who sexually molest
their children see Child Sexual Abuse and the State by Ruby Andrew at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...ract_id=904100)


There isn't a civic leader out there that doesn't publicly rage to the
heavens about what monsters child molesters are, and how these
'animals' should be strung up at the crack of dawn. But, remember, the
overwhelming majority of all child sex abuse is perpetrated by family
members. What this means is that, in reality, we have a system that
publicly beats its chest over the small percentage of child molesters
who attack someone else's child, while by legal slight of hand that
same system lets the vast majority of child molesters go free. Not by
accident, but by legal and institutional design. What's perhaps most
telling is that, at least in California, these legal loopholes for
intra familial perpetrators have been widened over recent years,
rather than tightened.


Or to put it another way, the more women and children have made
demands on the system to stop family violence, the more the system has
created ways to look good while paving the perpetrator's escape. The
patriarchy with all its bluff and bluster to the contrary, still
supports the notion that a man's home is his castle, and that his
children are his to do with as he pleases. Unfortunately, CPS, with
its hold-no-perpetrators-accountable system, is a vital part of the
machinery for perpetuating these archaic and oppressive beliefs.


Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you
keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis, Women's Justice Center,
www.justicewomen.com


On Jun 23, 11:26 pm, Marie wrote:
Beware Child Protective Services:
What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know


http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html


Cuidado con los Servicios
de Protección Infantil:
Lo que víctimas, defensoras e informantes
por mandato deben saber


http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...rvices_sp.html


Women's Justice Center
Centro de Justicia para Mujeres


www.justicewomen.com


www.ayudaparamujeres.com



  #3  
Old June 26th 07, 03:10 AM posted to alt.support.child-protective-services,alt.dads-rights.unmoderated,alt.support.foster-parents,alt.support.divorce,misc.kids
Dan Sullivan
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,687
Default Beware Child Protective Services

On Jun 25, 9:05 pm, Greegor wrote:
Kane wrote

98% propaganda. 2%, fact because to lie and mislead
you have to have an element of truth.


Could you be more specific?


OK, it's really 97.8249675% propoganda and 2.17504% fact.

That help you out, Greg?

  #4  
Old June 26th 07, 11:53 AM posted to alt.support.child-protective-services,alt.dads-rights.unmoderated,alt.support.foster-parents,alt.support.divorce,misc.kids
Chas
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 32
Default Beware Child Protective Services

Greegor wrote:
http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html

Beware Child Protective Services: What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know

Introduction
Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services
Part 2 - Tips for Avoiding the Abuses of Child Protective Services
for non-offending parents, advocates, and mandated reporters
Links - About Child Protective Services
Note: Throughout this text the terms Child Protective Services (CPS)
and Child Welfare Agencies are used interchangeably.


Introduction

Probably no other public agency leaves victims and advocates more
perplexed than Child Protective Services. On the one hand, people
think of CPS with appreciation as they envision a selfless agency
rescuing innocent children from horrific conditions. Indeed, CPS
workers across the country do this routinely. The gratitude is
deserved.

At the same time, the agency seems to be perpetually marred by a
steady drumbeat of nightmare stories about CPS emanating from the very
families CPS is supposed to serve. This text deals with just one of
these problems; the CPS practice of removing or threatening to remove
children from the nonviolent, non-offending parent in cases of family
violence. This guide explains why this happens with such frequency,
how to help prevent it from happening in your case, and what to do
about it if you're already caught in its grip. (Since the non-
offending, nonviolent parent in these cases is usually the mother, we
often refer to this parent as 'the mother', though there are certainly
cases where the non-offending parent is the father.)

The Situation as it Usually Unfolds

In brief, the particular problem we cover usually unfolds like this. A
mother herself seeks help from CPS or becomes involved with CPS
through someone else's report of suspected child abuse. Her child has
been physically or sexually abused by a family member, usually by a
male family member, or there are concerns the child is living in a
home where there is domestic violence. At first, the mother naturally
anticipates that CPS will try to help her and her child, and try to
punish and stop the perpetrator. So these mothers are stunned when
suddenly the CPS/juvenile court system turns its sights on her, even
though everyone agrees she didn't perpetrate the abuse or violence.


CPS can't 'stop' or 'punish' a 'perpetrator -- and women who call CPS to
punish their spouse deserve to loose their kids!


Suddenly she is the one under investigation, and the perpetrator is
seeming to be all but ignored. And worse, CPS is threatening to take
her child from her, or has already done so without warning or notice,
and is threatening to keep the child, right at the time that mother
and child need each other most. She feels the system turn hostile
toward her. Did she, the non-offending parent, protect the child from
the violent parent? Did she protect the child from molestation? Did
she protect the child from being exposed to domestic violence in the
home? Well, no, obviously she did not, or could not, or, in the case
of molestation, often didn't know about it.

Instead of being treated more as a co-victim of a violent perpetrator,
with help and guidance provided according to the mother's expressed
needs, she is treated more as a co-perpetrator, with CPS establishing
mandated controls over virtually any which aspect of her life CPS
chooses, all under threat of losing her child. In addition to court
dates at which it is her behavior that's in question, CPS gives her a
mandated, often overwhelming set of programs and goals she must comply
with to the satisfaction of the CPS/juvenile court system, in order to
- maybe - get the child back - and maybe not. She is also held
accountable for maintaining a cooperative attitude throughout, even
though she is, in fact, in a profoundly adversarial relationship with
CPS (which is why she's given an attorney at court time). At the same
time, she begins to realize that the CPS/juvenile court system isn't
pushing to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence, nor is
CPS even invested with the power to do so.


Now yer catchin on.


Most mothers say they would rather be threatened with jail than to be
threatened with the loss of her child. Yet as invasive, terrifying,
and awesome as this governmental threat is, virtually all the
decisions as to her fitness, compliance, and fate are being decided at
the lowest judicial standard of evidence, 51% of the evidence, the
'preponderance of the evidence' standard. This is a far cry from the
'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard the government must reach before
sentencing someone to jail for even the briefest time.

The level of proof against her that CPS is required to put forth is so
minimal that it provides the mother little protection against any
abusive, prejudiced, or discriminatory exercise of power by CPS. The
low evidence burden on CPS also makes it nearly impossible for the
mother to defend herself, especially against such vague accusations as
'failure to protect', or that 'she knew or should have known', things
which don't even constitute a crime in the criminal system. And to top
off the injustices, an all too common requirement on her must-do list
is that she and/or the child must partake in family conferencing or a
family reunification plan in which one or both must meet, mediate, or
co-counsel with the perpetrator - the very same perpetrator from whom
the mother has been accused of 'failure to protect' the child.

The Dawn of Recognition

Unfortunately, such stories are not the result of occasional human
errors that are bound to occur in any public agency. They are,
instead, inevitable and frequent outcomes stemming from the flawed
founding premises and the weak legal underpinnings of the CPS/juvenile
court system. The structure of the system drives toward these
injustices no matter how well intentioned individual CPS workers may
be. Nor is this to say that children should never be removed from the
non-offending parent. There are circumstances in which they should.
The problem is that the system is so arbitrary, sexist, secret, and
outdated, that it tends toward abusive or mistaken results.

In the last decade, there has been growing recognition and discussion
of the CPS problem as it pertains to the non-offending parent. In
1999, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges put
together the Greenbook Initiative, a set of 67 recommendations aimed
at remedying precisely this set of problems. But though the Greenbook
gives long overdue recognition to the issue, the recommendations don't
call for installing any firm checks on the system, as will be
discussed in more detail in a later section.

And in 2004, in New York state, there was a landmark settlement in a
class action lawsuit against that state's child welfare agencies. The
lawsuit, Nicholson v. Scoppetta, had been brought by mothers who had
their children removed for no other reason than that the mothers,
victims of domestic violence, had failed to protect their children
from 'exposure' to the domestic violence. The 2004 lawsuit agreement
and an earlier injunction prohibited child welfare agencies from using
this reason alone to remove children from non-offending parents.

Though the lawsuit put CPS agencies around the country on notice of
their wrongdoing and harm done in these cases, to date it has brought
only modest change in practice. The vague laws and weak evidence
standards governing CPS means that CPS workers need only adjust the
language used in their justification for removing a child, offer the
usual scant proof, and many juvenile courts continue removing children
in these situations as before.


They get paid by how many children they seize, and how long they can
keep them. The more they snatch the more they make -- the longer they
keep them, the more they make.


Perhaps the brightest spot on the horizon is the year 2005 resolution
passed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in
support of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to
close. Since their founding, most CPS/juvenile court proceedings have
been operating in secret, completely off the public record. This
secrecy has mushroomed the system's tendency toward abuse. The judges'
2005 resolution in support of open hearings is not yet law, but it's a
promising step. It's highly unlikely any of the system's abuses will
be corrected until this essential public airing and public scrutiny of
the system's proceedings is firmly set into law and practice.


Like how to snatch kids from non-offending parents, CPS will keep their
'courts' secret no matter what lawmakers say.


The Oppressive Swath of Danger and Damage

The harm of the widespread CPS practice of removing or threatening to
remove children from non-offending parents extends far beyond the
dangers and injustices to individual mothers and children. The harm
extends to nearly every poor, immigrant, or minority race mother who
is trying to deal with family violence. Most have heard first hand
stories of CPS removing children from other mothers in their
neighborhoods. As a result, they become reluctant to seek help for
their own situations for fear that the same thing might happen to
them.

Though we include a fair amount of information about the structure and
history of CPS, the purpose of this guide isn't to do policy analysis
nor to make recommendations for change. The purpose of this guide is
to give family violence victims, advocates, and mandated reporters
information and tips that can help you, as best as possible, to
understand and avoid the pitfalls and abuses of the CPS/Juvenile Court
system as they pertain to the non-offending parent.

***


Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services and Child Welfare
Agencies
Though most of the information in this section is meant to explain why
so many non-offending parents get victimized by the CPS system, we
start by correcting a very common misconception about mandated
reporting.

1. In California, and Many Other States, Mandated Reporters Do NOT
Have to Report to Child Protective Services.

We start here because so many counselors, teachers, doctors, and other
mandated reporters, many of whom are already sympathetic to the
problems mothers experience with CPS, say there's nothing they can do
about it. They believe their state laws require that whenever they
suspect child abuse, they must make a report to CPS. But that's not,
in fact, what the law in California and many other states says at
all.

As you can see clearly in the California law printed here, the law
gives mandated reporters a choice of institutions to which they can
report. You can make your report to police, sheriffs, probation
departments, or child welfare agencies. In fact, in California and
many other states we're familiar with, the mandated reporting laws put
child welfare agencies last on the list of options.

Here is the section of the California State Mandated Reporter Law that
pertains to whom one should report.


California Penal Code Section 11165.9
11165.9. Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made by
mandated reporters, or in the case of reports pursuant to Section
11166.05, may be made, to any police department or sheriff's
department, not including a school district police or security
department, county probation department, if designated by the county
to receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. Any of
those agencies shall accept a report of suspected child abuse or
neglect whether offered by a mandated reporter or another person, or
referred by another agency, even if the agency to whom the report is
being made lacks subject matter or geographical jurisdiction to
investigate the reported case, unless the agency can immediately
electronically transfer the call to an agency with proper
jurisdiction. When an agency takes a report about a case of suspected
child abuse or neglect in which that agency lacks jurisdiction, the
agency shall immediately refer the case by telephone, fax, or
electronic transmission to an agency with proper jurisdiction.
Agencies that are required to receive reports of suspected child abuse
or neglect may not refuse to accept a report of suspected child abuse
or neglect from a mandated reporter or another person unless otherwise
authorized pursuant to this section, and shall maintain a record of
all reports received.

One obvious question after reading this law is why are so many
mandated reporters taught incorrectly that they must report to CPS
when the law in many states so clearly gives mandated reporters a
choice. The reasons will become clearer in the section on the history
of child protection. But in brief, CPS agencies were established back
in the late 1960's and 1970's at a time when a strong national
consensus had developed that children shouldn't suffer abuse in the
home. However, it was also a time when family violence was not yet
viewed as criminal, and perpetrators were not held accountable. CPS
powers and functions were shaped to reflect that ambivalent
constellation of beliefs. And today, despite advances, there is still
strong societal resistance to holding family violence perpetrators
accountable. And there's a corresponding tendency to channel
intrafamilial child abuse cases into CPS where policies and powers are
set to detain the child and not the perpetrator.

But the main point we want to underscore here is that mandated
reporters in many states can choose not to report to CPS. You have
other options, and often those other options will be much more
beneficial for both the mother and the child.


Folks call CPS to punish parents -- not help children. They won't call
LEO to report dirty dishes -- they'd be laughed off the planet. Try it
-- call 911 and tell them your neighbor is a lousy housekeeper.

Appears this piece is written by a ****ed off feminazi more conserned
that CPS won't 'punish the abuser' [man] and leave the non-offending
parent [woman] free ti invite another 'abuser' over for 'brunch'. lol.

While there is some info here about CPS - this long screed seems focused
on punishing men for being 'abusers' and the authors anger that CPS
won't help in her zelotry.

These 'domestic abuse' feminazis are a dime a dozen. And when they get
one 'abuser' 'punished', they're doin the bump with another by nitefall.


NOTE 1: Finding the Text of Your State's Mandated Reporting Law - Most
states have their full legal codes on the Internet in searchable form.
Go to your state's legal codes page. In most states, the mandated
reporting laws will be in your state's Penal Code. Search 'child abuse
mandated reporter' or similar term.

NOTE 2: Cross Reporting - In California and in many other states the
child abuse mandated reporting laws require 'cross-reporting' between
agencies. This means that the agency which receives the initial report
must immediately send copies of the report to other designated
agencies. So if CPS receives the initial report, CPS must immediately
send a copy of the report to the relevant police agency and to the
District Attorney's office, and visa versa. This cross-reporting
requirement has little effect on the problems we're trying to outline
here because in general practice the agency that first receives the
report is the agency which takes primary responsibility for handling
the case.

2. CPS Does Not Have the Power to Open a Criminal Case Against the
Perpetrator, Nor Do They Have the Power of Arrest. CPS agencies are
not law enforcement agencies. They are social service agencies. This
explains why CPS does not take action against the perpetrators of the
violence.

Child Protective Services do not have the power to open a criminal
case against perpetrators of child abuse. They do not have the power
to do criminal investigations of child abuse, nor the power of arrest.
Nor does the juvenile court system that corresponds to CPS cases seek
to prosecute the perpetrators, nor are these courts invested with the
power to do so.

CPS workers are not law enforcement officers, they are social service
workers. Child Protective Services are a branch of your state social
services department. They are not part of your justice department nor
of your local law enforcement agencies.

Understanding this is key to understanding why the CPS/juvenile court
system does not hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against
a child, nor does it seek to gather evidence for prosecution, nor to
punish the perpetrators for what they've done. The CPS/juvenile court
system was never intended nor empowered to do so.

So, if your daughter was raped by her stepfather, for example, CPS
will not investigate his crime, will not seek to punish him, nor in
any way hold him accountable. Likewise, if your husband is violent
with you and CPS is looking into the status of the children, CPS has
no power to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence.

NOTE 1: The CPS 'Investigation' - One of the things that creates
confusion on this issue is that CPS and others use the word
investigation to describe the CPS process of looking into the child
abuse matter. But these are not criminal investigations where evidence
is gathered to determine 'beyond a reasonable doubt' who committed a
particular crime, and how, so that the perpetrator can be brought to
justice.

A CPS 'investigation' can be better understood as a social narrative
report on the status of a child and the child's family. To be sure,
the CPS report centers around the issue of the suspected abuse. But
once CPS determines it's 'more likely than not' that the abuse
occurred, that satisfies CPS inquiry into the incidents themselves.

Different from a criminal investigation, the main purpose of the CPS
report is to determine whether or not the child needs to be protected
from future abuse, and if so, what needs to be done to protect the
child from future abuse. As such, CPS reports focus in on detailing
the family histories of the parents, the psychosocial and economic
conditions of the home, the relationships between the family members,
the school and educational status of family members, as well as
covering the alleged abuse. All of these things, except for the abuse,
would be completely irrelevant in a criminal investigation.

NOTE 2: Juvenile Court Powers in CPS cases - In many states, juvenile
courts do now have the power to order perpetrators into counseling,
and in some states have the power to order the abuser out of the home.
These decisions, however, are rendered with the purpose of protecting
a child from future abuse, and not with the purpose of holding the
perpetrator accountable.

3. The CPS/juvenile court System Has Only One Significant Power, the
Power to Remove Children from their Parents.

Although CPS does not have law enforcement powers, unlike most other
social service agencies, CPS does have one awesome power, the power to
take custody and remove children from the home. The stated purpose of
this power is to protect the child from future abuse. The stated
purpose is not to punish anyone, though obviously for parents and
children who love each other this forced removal can be the worst
punishment of all.

The lack of law enforcement powers explains why CPS does not take
action against perpetrators. The power to remove children explains why
CPS so quickly turns its sights on the non-offending parent.

Once CPS decides that abuse of a child or violence in the home has
probably taken place, the CPS worker must then decide how best to
protect the child from future abuse. Since it's usually obvious that
the child should not be immediately returned to the perpetrator of the
violence, CPS quickly turns to the question of whether or not the
child should stay with the non-offending parent. That's how and why
CPS becomes so fixated on 'investigating' the nonviolent parent. Did
the mother protect the child from the abuse? Did she know, or should
she have known, that the child was being molested? Did the mother
protect the child from living in a home with domestic violence? Will
she protect the child in the future?

No matter how you look at it, the circumstances of these situations
can almost always be construed to indicate that the mother didn't
protect, and that she knew or should have known. After all, goes the
thinking, she's the mother and she's living in the same home.

NOTE 1: CPS does have other options than to remove the child. In fact,
federal and state law governing CPS requires that CPS pursue family
preservation as well as child safety, and that CPS first make
"reasonable efforts" to establish a service plan for the family to
follow so the child can stay in the home, or return to the home.

But even if CPS is making a good faith effort to abide by these
policies, it doesn't alter the adversarial (oppositional) nature of
the relationship with CPS in which the mother finds herself. Even if
CPS has not taken the child and lays out a program for the mother to
follow so the child can stay in the home, the mother knows full well
what this means. 'You do this program or we take your child'. The
mother knows this doesn't feel like help. It feels terrifying,
hostile, and punitive. Especially so as her must-do-list is often
hugely overwhelming since so many of the mothers are poor and acutely
stressed. And even more hostile as the mother begins to see how prone
the CPS exercise of power is to be arbitrary, prejudiced, and with
shifting input and goals, the frequency of which is partly explained
by the following.

4. At best, CPS/juvenile court Decisions are Made on the Lowest
Judicial Standard of Evidence, the 'Preponderance of the Evidence'
Standard, i.e. 51% of the Evidence. The void of evidence and rigor in
the CPS/juvenile court system leaves the decision making process wide
open to the virtually unchecked influence of mistakes, bias,
discrimination, prejudice, vengeance, hearsay, junk science, nonsense,
and arbitrariness of all kinds. (The one exception to this is that a
final termination of parental rights usually requires a 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence, which is still a much lower standard
than the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of the criminal system.)

When CPS seeks to establish the abuse, remove a child for up to 18
months, establish mandated service plans, determine visitation, etc.,
CPS must go into juvenile court to get these decisions authorized by
the court. At first this may seem to provide the kind of oversight on
CPS decisions that would make the process just, equitable, and safe
from abuses. But read on.

First, the body of law governing the CPS/juvenile court system is so
vague and open ended that virtually any and all decisions made by
these bodies falls within the scope of the laws.

Second, at best, CPS and juvenile courts makes these decisions based
on the 'preponderance of evidence' standard. This is the lowest
judicial standard of evidence. The preponderance of the evidence
standard is 51% of the evidence. It's sometimes called the 'more
likely than not' standard. What this means is that all CPS needs to
support a decision is evidence on their side, the CPS side, which is
just a sliver more than the evidence on your side. This is a far cry
from the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard criminal officials must
establish before they can convict someone of a crime, even a
misdemeanor.

Example of Preponderance of the Evidence: The mother tells CPS she
didn't know that the stepfather was sexually molesting the daughter
because the stepfather always did it while she (the mother) was
watching television in another room. The CPS worker tells the court
that the fact the mother was in the same house watching television
while the stepfather molested the child is a good indication that the
mother should have known what the stepfather was doing. Given the
sloppiness of the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard, all the
judge has to do is lean ever so slightly to the social worker's
argument, and the judge can issue a finding that the mother 'knew or
should have known', and then based on this finding grant the CPS
petition to detain the child. Which is exactly what happened in this
case.

Many lawyers themselves are so scornful of the flimsy evidence
standard of the CPS system they call it "a crap shoot", or the
"anything goes" standard. The problem for the mother goes beyond the
fact that CPS doesn't need much evidence against her. It also means
that whatever opinion a CPS worker may have of you, the worker can
usually support that opinion in court simply by fishing through the
extensive family details the worker has gathered and then selecting
out the one or two tidbits that favor the opinion.

Add to this the huge initial mistake many women make of thinking of
CPS as their advocate or friend or counselor. They pour their hearts
out to the worker, giving the worker a whole ocean of intimate
information in which to fish for evidence against them.

Yes, it's true that with all this latitude, the CPS system can
actually do things right and put its full resources into helping the
mother and child to get safely on their feet together. And indeed,
there are plenty of cases where this is exactly what happens. But
there are a number of things that makes the system tend toward abusive
responses. One of these is the cardinal truth of any power. Unchecked
power always tends towards abuses of that power. And the power of CPS
is hugely unchecked. And worse yet, as is discussed later, it is
exercised in secret.

A second thing that tends the system toward abusive and prejudicial
responses is the class of the mothers themselves, and the heaping
social prejudices that already prevail against them. The mothers who
come to the attention of CPS are most often poor, or immigrant, or
minority race, and themselves are the direct or secondary victims of
family violence. The harsh realities of their lives are chaotic,
frantic, and generally incomprehensible to people who don't live them.
There is so much prejudice, stereotypes, ignorance, and blame against
these women floating in society that the middle class social service
system is primed from the start to blame these mothers, or at the very
least, to believe it's the mothers that need to be fixed.

NOTE 1: Lessons from the Native American Community. Prior to the
passage of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, child welfare/
juvenile court systems were removing up to 25% of the children from
many Indian tribes, then terminating Indian parental rights, and
adopting the children out to non-Indian families. Non-Indian social
workers and judges were using rampant prejudicial and racist notions
to justify these removals. In particular, CPS/juvenile courts were
judging many traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive,
in and of themselves. Native American peoples' were losing so many of
their children to this process, many tribes labeled these child
welfare policies as genocidal.

The Indian tribes crafted the Indian Child Welfare Act with the aim of
stopping this systematic removal of their children. In so doing, the
Indians keenly understood how the use of the 'preponderance of
evidence' standard gave free reign to the prejudices, racism, and
arbitrary factors that were being used to justify taking their
children. They understood that the more oppressed a person is the more
they need a high standard of evidence to protect them from
governmental abuse. So, among other things, the Indian Child Welfare
Act requires that CPS/juvenile courts must use the stricter 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence before the state can put an Indian
child in temporary foster care, and must use the even stricter 'beyond
a reasonable doubt' standard of evidence before the court can order
termination of Indian parental rights. The act also requires that at
any termination hearing, there must be expert witness testimony on
Indian culture and child rearing.

We feel strongly that these same protections should be extended to all
who come before CPS, since most all of these families are members of
historically oppressed groups.

5. The Flimsy 'Preponderance of the Evidence' Standard is Bad Enough,
But Things are Actually Much Worse. Increasingly, the CPS/juvenile
court systems are handing off their fact finding and decision making
responsibilities to mediators, evaluators, and even to CASA
volunteers, all of whom operate on NO standard of evidence at all.

There's no doubt that the juvenile courts have become increasingly
stressed over the last few decades as victims of family violence have
emerged to seek help for their plights. But instead of adding
resources to properly meet the need, the CPS/juvenile court system,
like the family court system, has handed off more and more of its fact
finding and decision making responsibilities to a whole phalanx of
psychologists, mediators, evaluators, and even to volunteers.

These are court janitors, really, brought aboard to mop up the
judicial mess made by women and children who have found a way to make
their needs and outrage heard. When a case becomes complicated or
contentious, or is just more work than the judge wants to handle, the
judge simply turns the case over to one of these evaluators to look
into the case and come back to the judge with a set of
recommendations. In nearly all cases, juvenile court judges blindly
rubber stamp these recommendations with no further ado.

What is absolutely critical to understand is that once handed off to
these evaluators, you have been ushered out the court's back door,
outside the rule of court law, and completely unprotected by rules of
evidence. These evaluators operate under NO standard of evidence. NO
rules of admissibility. NO legal protections at all. Hearsay,
psychobabble, prejudice, lies, gossip, it all comes in. And it's often
all against you because the perpetrators are usually expert
manipulators and liars, and, in addition, they have likely already
poisoned the social relationships around you. This is why it's the non-
offending parent who most needs strict rules of evidence for
protection, and is most hurt by their absence.

NOTE 1 - CASA Volunteers - But it gets even worse. Many juvenile
courts across the country are now handing off official fact finding
and decision making responsibilities in these cases to CASA
volunteers, people who are only required to have 30 hours training.
And the juvenile courts are usually assigning these volunteers to the
most egregious and complex cases of child abuse.

The public has been thoroughly wooed to the feel good idea of having
CASA volunteers to 'protect the interests of the child' in these
cases. Indeed, there is great benefit for the child to be assigned a
special person to talk to and even to advocate for the child through
this process.

The whole CASA program would be just fine if it ended there. But
juvenile courts routinely swear these volunteers in as official court
fact finders (investigators), as representatives of the child's stated
interests, as representatives of the child's best interests, and, as
formulators of recommendations to the court as to the best disposition
of the child. A recent national study, the Packard Foundation funded
Caliber Study, finds that juvenile court judges adopt ALL the
recommendations of the CASA volunteers in over 60% of cases.

This is a complete mockery and travesty of any and all notions of
justice, and is particularly contemptful of mother's and children's
rights. For so many reasons. But just for one, imagine if your surgeon
sought out and took the recommendation of whether to amputate your leg
from a volunteer with 30 hours training. You would be outraged! And
you would never deal with this surgeon again. Yet this is exactly what
juvenile court judges across the country are doing on the question of
whether or not to remove the child from the mother, in the most
complex and egregious of cases. They are turning over their fact
finding, evaluation, and decision making responsibilities by swearing
in persons with 30 hours training to act in any or all these official
capacities.

The courts say they are doing this because they want to be sure to
hear the children's voices. But you only have to think for a moment to
realize what the courts are really doing is avoiding the costs of a
professional investigator, expert, or professional representation that
is minimally needed to guarantee even minimal judicial standards for
children.

And these courts have the nerve to accuse the mothers of failure to
protect!

6. Both the Federal and State Welfare Law Governing the CPS/Juvenile
court System are Full of Vague, Non-mandatory Language, a Fact Which
Further Promotes the 'Anything Goes' Atmosphere of CPS Proceedings. In
addition, these laws almost always refer to the parents as an
undifferentiated single unit, "the parents', a fact which puts a legal
lock on viewing the non-offending parent with as much culpability as
the abusive parent. Only recently has the legal language begun to
recognize the existence of the 'non-offending parent' as separate or
unique from the offending parent.

As you read through the federal and state law governing child
protective services you can see features of the law that further help
explain the frequent arbitrary and biased actions of these agencies.
Here are just two.

Federal and state welfare law governing child protective services are
vague, nonspecific, and use mostly non-mandatory language. For
example, federal law 'encourages' child welfare agencies to provide
their materials in languages other than English. It does not mandate
that they do so. As such, many, if not most, non-English speaking
mothers receive their CPS reports, their service plans, and notices in
English only. Another example is that welfare law states a
'preference' for family reunification, and says social workers shall
make 'reasonable efforts' to provide services that allow the family to
stay together.

This kind of language in the law leaves so much wiggle room that
virtually anything the system decides will fall within the law, a fact
which further magnifies the difficulties for a non-offending parent
trying to defend herself or appeal these decisions.

A second feature that runs throughout child welfare law is that it
constantly refers to 'the parents' as an undifferentiated entity.
There's very infrequent distinction in child welfare law between the
offending and non-offending parent. In fact, if you were an alien from
outer space reading this law, it would be a while before it even
dawned on you that "the parents" are two separate human beings. This
dubious framework stems from the archaic patriarchal view of marriage
of not very long ago that the two become one and the one is the man.

Naturally, this constant reference to "the parents" helps cement the
system's huge blind spot to a woman's predicament when her partner is
abusive. Clearly, the law can't see her more as a victim of the
abuser, if the legal language lumps her in with the abuser. If the
father is a domestic violence perpetrator, the mother, too, is
automatically "engaging in domestic violence", which is precisely the
language the system has used to justify taking the children from
mothers who are victims of domestic violence. Legal recognition and
distinctions between the offending and non-offending parent are coming
at a snail's pace.

7. The CPS/Juvenile Court System Operates in Secrecy Off the Public
Record. This secrecy fans the flames of the system's other tendencies
to abuse.

The reason that CPS/Juvenile Court findings, proceedings, mandates,
and actions take place off the public record is ostensibly to protect
the privacy of the child and family in what is viewed as a private
family matter. But one certainly must ask, who really has been more
protected by this secrecy, the CPS system or the families it serves?

Nothing fans the flames of governmental abuse like governmental
secrecy. Secret files, secret evidence, secret accusations, secret
proceedings are a sure fire formula for allowing abuses to thrive and
expand throughout the system. Since its inception, CPS/juvenile court
activities have been off the public record with the exception of only
a few states. The involved parents are informed. But, to date, neither
the public nor any public watchdog has been allowed scrutiny or
oversight of the handling of these cases.

Fortunately, it looks like there is the possibility this may change.
In 2005, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
voted approval of presumptively open hearings with discretion of
courts to close. This isn't yet law, but it's a big step in that
direction. As part of the resolution the judges wrote the following,

"Open court proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical
problems faced by juvenile and family courts and by child welfare
agencies in matters involving child protection, may enhance
accountability in the conduct of these proceedings by lifting the veil
of secrecy which surrounds them, and may ultimately increase public
confidence in the work of the judges of the nation's juvenile and
family courts."

We would probably word this a little differently, 'Open court
proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical problems
faced by children and non-offending parents in matters involving child
protection,.....'

8. Most all CPS/juvenile court Systems deal ONLY with Intra familial
Child Abuse. This schism between the way society deals with child
abuse perpetrated by a family member versus child abuse perpetrated by
an 'outsider' points out a staggering hypocrisy in the rhetoric about
treating child abuse seriously. Behind the rhetoric is a child welfare
and police system that in reality works hand in hand to let most child
abusers walk free.

Many people are very surprised when they call CPS to report a child
abuse case perpetrated by a neighbor, a priest, a stranger, or by any
one outside the family. CPS tells the caller they don't handle these
cases. They only respond to cases in which the perpetrator is a family
member. So in most cases in which the perpetrator is not a family
member, CPS tells the caller they'll need to report to police.

Another thing that may surprise you is that if you call police to
report a case of child abuse perpetrated by a family member, police
will often tell you should report the case to CPS. Granted police
could take the report if they wanted to, and they should take the
report. But police themselves are all too often on the same
philosophical page as CPS. They too often believe that when fathers
'grow their own victim', the fathers shouldn't be held accountable
like other offenders.

And another thing. Even if police do take a report of sexual abuse
perpetrated by a family member, chances are very good that the
perpetrator, even if convicted, will get off lightly compared to an
outside-the-family perpetrator. California law, like the law in many
states, maintains gaping legal loopholes where, prosecutors can, and
frequently do, charge intra familial child sex abuse under different
codes which allow the family offenders much lighter sentences. In
addition, the law allows convicted intra familial child sex offenders
to be given probation, different from outsider child sex offenders who
must go to prison. And the law allows convicted intra familial child
sex offenders to stay off the state's public registered sex offenders
lists, also unlike 'outside'. (For a good discussion of the legal
loopholes for fathers and other family members who sexually molest
their children see Child Sexual Abuse and the State by Ruby Andrew at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...ract_id=904100)

There isn't a civic leader out there that doesn't publicly rage to the
heavens about what monsters child molesters are, and how these
'animals' should be strung up at the crack of dawn. But, remember, the
overwhelming majority of all child sex abuse is perpetrated by family
members. What this means is that, in reality, we have a system that
publicly beats its chest over the small percentage of child molesters
who attack someone else's child, while by legal slight of hand that
same system lets the vast majority of child molesters go free. Not by
accident, but by legal and institutional design. What's perhaps most
telling is that, at least in California, these legal loopholes for
intra familial perpetrators have been widened over recent years,
rather than tightened.

Or to put it another way, the more women and children have made
demands on the system to stop family violence, the more the system has
created ways to look good while paving the perpetrator's escape. The
patriarchy with all its bluff and bluster to the contrary, still
supports the notion that a man's home is his castle, and that his
children are his to do with as he pleases. Unfortunately, CPS, with
its hold-no-perpetrators-accountable system, is a vital part of the
machinery for perpetuating these archaic and oppressive beliefs.

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you
keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis, Women's Justice Center,
www.justicewomen.com









On Jun 23, 11:26 pm, Marie wrote:
Beware Child Protective Services:
What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know

http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html

Cuidado con los Servicios
de Protección Infantil:
Lo que víctimas, defensoras e informantes
por mandato deben saber

http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...rvices_sp.html

Women's Justice Center
Centro de Justicia para Mujeres

www.justicewomen.com

www.ayudaparamujeres.com




--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

  #5  
Old June 26th 07, 01:04 PM posted to alt.support.child-protective-services,alt.dads-rights.unmoderated,alt.support.foster-parents,alt.support.divorce,misc.kids
Chas
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 32
Default Beware Child Protective Services

Greegor wrote:
Kane wrote
98% propaganda. 2%, fact because to lie and mislead
you have to have an element of truth.


Could you be more specific?

It's all been done before.


justicewomen has a picture of pangnuts - and on it's homepage above the
fold, a link to the site that published Don/Kane/d'geezers rant about
how s/he was horribly abused and therefore spanking is abuse.

What a small world. lol.




0:]http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html

Beware Child Protective Services: What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know
Introduction
Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services
Part 2 - Tips for Avoiding the Abuses of Child Protective Services
for non-offending parents, advocates, and mandated reporters
Links - About Child Protective Services
Note: Throughout this text the terms Child Protective Services (CPS)
and Child Welfare Agencies are used interchangeably.
Introduction
Probably no other public agency leaves victims and advocates more
perplexed than Child Protective Services. On the one hand, people
think of CPS with appreciation as they envision a selfless agency
rescuing innocent children from horrific conditions. Indeed, CPS
workers across the country do this routinely. The gratitude is
deserved.
At the same time, the agency seems to be perpetually marred by a
steady drumbeat of nightmare stories about CPS emanating from the very
families CPS is supposed to serve. This text deals with just one of
these problems; the CPS practice of removing or threatening to remove
children from the nonviolent, non-offending parent in cases of family
violence. This guide explains why this happens with such frequency,
how to help prevent it from happening in your case, and what to do
about it if you're already caught in its grip. (Since the non-
offending, nonviolent parent in these cases is usually the mother, we
often refer to this parent as 'the mother', though there are certainly
cases where the non-offending parent is the father.)
The Situation as it Usually Unfolds
In brief, the particular problem we cover usually unfolds like this. A
mother herself seeks help from CPS or becomes involved with CPS
through someone else's report of suspected child abuse. Her child has
been physically or sexually abused by a family member, usually by a
male family member, or there are concerns the child is living in a
home where there is domestic violence. At first, the mother naturally
anticipates that CPS will try to help her and her child, and try to
punish and stop the perpetrator. So these mothers are stunned when
suddenly the CPS/juvenile court system turns its sights on her, even
though everyone agrees she didn't perpetrate the abuse or violence.
Suddenly she is the one under investigation, and the perpetrator is
seeming to be all but ignored. And worse, CPS is threatening to take
her child from her, or has already done so without warning or notice,
and is threatening to keep the child, right at the time that mother
and child need each other most. She feels the system turn hostile
toward her. Did she, the non-offending parent, protect the child from
the violent parent? Did she protect the child from molestation? Did
she protect the child from being exposed to domestic violence in the
home? Well, no, obviously she did not, or could not, or, in the case
of molestation, often didn't know about it.
Instead of being treated more as a co-victim of a violent perpetrator,
with help and guidance provided according to the mother's expressed
needs, she is treated more as a co-perpetrator, with CPS establishing
mandated controls over virtually any which aspect of her life CPS
chooses, all under threat of losing her child. In addition to court
dates at which it is her behavior that's in question, CPS gives her a
mandated, often overwhelming set of programs and goals she must comply
with to the satisfaction of the CPS/juvenile court system, in order to
- maybe - get the child back - and maybe not. She is also held
accountable for maintaining a cooperative attitude throughout, even
though she is, in fact, in a profoundly adversarial relationship with
CPS (which is why she's given an attorney at court time). At the same
time, she begins to realize that the CPS/juvenile court system isn't
pushing to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence, nor is
CPS even invested with the power to do so.
Most mothers say they would rather be threatened with jail than to be
threatened with the loss of her child. Yet as invasive, terrifying,
and awesome as this governmental threat is, virtually all the
decisions as to her fitness, compliance, and fate are being decided at
the lowest judicial standard of evidence, 51% of the evidence, the
'preponderance of the evidence' standard. This is a far cry from the
'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard the government must reach before
sentencing someone to jail for even the briefest time.
The level of proof against her that CPS is required to put forth is so
minimal that it provides the mother little protection against any
abusive, prejudiced, or discriminatory exercise of power by CPS. The
low evidence burden on CPS also makes it nearly impossible for the
mother to defend herself, especially against such vague accusations as
'failure to protect', or that 'she knew or should have known', things
which don't even constitute a crime in the criminal system. And to top
off the injustices, an all too common requirement on her must-do list
is that she and/or the child must partake in family conferencing or a
family reunification plan in which one or both must meet, mediate, or
co-counsel with the perpetrator - the very same perpetrator from whom
the mother has been accused of 'failure to protect' the child.
The Dawn of Recognition
Unfortunately, such stories are not the result of occasional human
errors that are bound to occur in any public agency. They are,
instead, inevitable and frequent outcomes stemming from the flawed
founding premises and the weak legal underpinnings of the CPS/juvenile
court system. The structure of the system drives toward these
injustices no matter how well intentioned individual CPS workers may
be. Nor is this to say that children should never be removed from the
non-offending parent. There are circumstances in which they should.
The problem is that the system is so arbitrary, sexist, secret, and
outdated, that it tends toward abusive or mistaken results.
In the last decade, there has been growing recognition and discussion
of the CPS problem as it pertains to the non-offending parent. In
1999, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges put
together the Greenbook Initiative, a set of 67 recommendations aimed
at remedying precisely this set of problems. But though the Greenbook
gives long overdue recognition to the issue, the recommendations don't
call for installing any firm checks on the system, as will be
discussed in more detail in a later section.
And in 2004, in New York state, there was a landmark settlement in a
class action lawsuit against that state's child welfare agencies. The
lawsuit, Nicholson v. Scoppetta, had been brought by mothers who had
their children removed for no other reason than that the mothers,
victims of domestic violence, had failed to protect their children
from 'exposure' to the domestic violence. The 2004 lawsuit agreement
and an earlier injunction prohibited child welfare agencies from using
this reason alone to remove children from non-offending parents.
Though the lawsuit put CPS agencies around the country on notice of
their wrongdoing and harm done in these cases, to date it has brought
only modest change in practice. The vague laws and weak evidence
standards governing CPS means that CPS workers need only adjust the
language used in their justification for removing a child, offer the
usual scant proof, and many juvenile courts continue removing children
in these situations as before.
Perhaps the brightest spot on the horizon is the year 2005 resolution
passed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in
support of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to
close. Since their founding, most CPS/juvenile court proceedings have
been operating in secret, completely off the public record. This
secrecy has mushroomed the system's tendency toward abuse. The judges'
2005 resolution in support of open hearings is not yet law, but it's a
promising step. It's highly unlikely any of the system's abuses will
be corrected until this essential public airing and public scrutiny of
the system's proceedings is firmly set into law and practice.
The Oppressive Swath of Danger and Damage
The harm of the widespread CPS practice of removing or threatening to
remove children from non-offending parents extends far beyond the
dangers and injustices to individual mothers and children. The harm
extends to nearly every poor, immigrant, or minority race mother who
is trying to deal with family violence. Most have heard first hand
stories of CPS removing children from other mothers in their
neighborhoods. As a result, they become reluctant to seek help for
their own situations for fear that the same thing might happen to
them.
Though we include a fair amount of information about the structure and
history of CPS, the purpose of this guide isn't to do policy analysis
nor to make recommendations for change. The purpose of this guide is
to give family violence victims, advocates, and mandated reporters
information and tips that can help you, as best as possible, to
understand and avoid the pitfalls and abuses of the CPS/Juvenile Court
system as they pertain to the non-offending parent.
***
Part 1 - Key Facts About Child Protective Services and Child Welfare
Agencies
Though most of the information in this section is meant to explain why
so many non-offending parents get victimized by the CPS system, we
start by correcting a very common misconception about mandated
reporting.
1. In California, and Many Other States, Mandated Reporters Do NOT
Have to Report to Child Protective Services.
We start here because so many counselors, teachers, doctors, and other
mandated reporters, many of whom are already sympathetic to the
problems mothers experience with CPS, say there's nothing they can do
about it. They believe their state laws require that whenever they
suspect child abuse, they must make a report to CPS. But that's not,
in fact, what the law in California and many other states says at
all.
As you can see clearly in the California law printed here, the law
gives mandated reporters a choice of institutions to which they can
report. You can make your report to police, sheriffs, probation
departments, or child welfare agencies. In fact, in California and
many other states we're familiar with, the mandated reporting laws put
child welfare agencies last on the list of options.
Here is the section of the California State Mandated Reporter Law that
pertains to whom one should report.
California Penal Code Section 11165.9
11165.9. Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made by
mandated reporters, or in the case of reports pursuant to Section
11166.05, may be made, to any police department or sheriff's
department, not including a school district police or security
department, county probation department, if designated by the county
to receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. Any of
those agencies shall accept a report of suspected child abuse or
neglect whether offered by a mandated reporter or another person, or
referred by another agency, even if the agency to whom the report is
being made lacks subject matter or geographical jurisdiction to
investigate the reported case, unless the agency can immediately
electronically transfer the call to an agency with proper
jurisdiction. When an agency takes a report about a case of suspected
child abuse or neglect in which that agency lacks jurisdiction, the
agency shall immediately refer the case by telephone, fax, or
electronic transmission to an agency with proper jurisdiction.
Agencies that are required to receive reports of suspected child abuse
or neglect may not refuse to accept a report of suspected child abuse
or neglect from a mandated reporter or another person unless otherwise
authorized pursuant to this section, and shall maintain a record of
all reports received.
One obvious question after reading this law is why are so many
mandated reporters taught incorrectly that they must report to CPS
when the law in many states so clearly gives mandated reporters a
choice. The reasons will become clearer in the section on the history
of child protection. But in brief, CPS agencies were established back
in the late 1960's and 1970's at a time when a strong national
consensus had developed that children shouldn't suffer abuse in the
home. However, it was also a time when family violence was not yet
viewed as criminal, and perpetrators were not held accountable. CPS
powers and functions were shaped to reflect that ambivalent
constellation of beliefs. And today, despite advances, there is still
strong societal resistance to holding family violence perpetrators
accountable. And there's a corresponding tendency to channel
intrafamilial child abuse cases into CPS where policies and powers are
set to detain the child and not the perpetrator.
But the main point we want to underscore here is that mandated
reporters in many states can choose not to report to CPS. You have
other options, and often those other options will be much more
beneficial for both the mother and the child.
NOTE 1: Finding the Text of Your State's Mandated Reporting Law - Most
states have their full legal codes on the Internet in searchable form.
Go to your state's legal codes page. In most states, the mandated
reporting laws will be in your state's Penal Code. Search 'child abuse
mandated reporter' or similar term.
NOTE 2: Cross Reporting - In California and in many other states the
child abuse mandated reporting laws require 'cross-reporting' between
agencies. This means that the agency which receives the initial report
must immediately send copies of the report to other designated
agencies. So if CPS receives the initial report, CPS must immediately
send a copy of the report to the relevant police agency and to the
District Attorney's office, and visa versa. This cross-reporting
requirement has little effect on the problems we're trying to outline
here because in general practice the agency that first receives the
report is the agency which takes primary responsibility for handling
the case.
2. CPS Does Not Have the Power to Open a Criminal Case Against the
Perpetrator, Nor Do They Have the Power of Arrest. CPS agencies are
not law enforcement agencies. They are social service agencies. This
explains why CPS does not take action against the perpetrators of the
violence.
Child Protective Services do not have the power to open a criminal
case against perpetrators of child abuse. They do not have the power
to do criminal investigations of child abuse, nor the power of arrest.
Nor does the juvenile court system that corresponds to CPS cases seek
to prosecute the perpetrators, nor are these courts invested with the
power to do so.
CPS workers are not law enforcement officers, they are social service
workers. Child Protective Services are a branch of your state social
services department. They are not part of your justice department nor
of your local law enforcement agencies.
Understanding this is key to understanding why the CPS/juvenile court
system does not hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against
a child, nor does it seek to gather evidence for prosecution, nor to
punish the perpetrators for what they've done. The CPS/juvenile court
system was never intended nor empowered to do so.
So, if your daughter was raped by her stepfather, for example, CPS
will not investigate his crime, will not seek to punish him, nor in
any way hold him accountable. Likewise, if your husband is violent
with you and CPS is looking into the status of the children, CPS has
no power to hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence.
NOTE 1: The CPS 'Investigation' - One of the things that creates
confusion on this issue is that CPS and others use the word
investigation to describe the CPS process of looking into the child
abuse matter. But these are not criminal investigations where evidence
is gathered to determine 'beyond a reasonable doubt' who committed a
particular crime, and how, so that the perpetrator can be brought to
justice.
A CPS 'investigation' can be better understood as a social narrative
report on the status of a child and the child's family. To be sure,
the CPS report centers around the issue of the suspected abuse. But
once CPS determines it's 'more likely than not' that the abuse
occurred, that satisfies CPS inquiry into the incidents themselves.
Different from a criminal investigation, the main purpose of the CPS
report is to determine whether or not the child needs to be protected
from future abuse, and if so, what needs to be done to protect the
child from future abuse. As such, CPS reports focus in on detailing
the family histories of the parents, the psychosocial and economic
conditions of the home, the relationships between the family members,
the school and educational status of family members, as well as
covering the alleged abuse. All of these things, except for the abuse,
would be completely irrelevant in a criminal investigation.
NOTE 2: Juvenile Court Powers in CPS cases - In many states, juvenile
courts do now have the power to order perpetrators into counseling,
and in some states have the power to order the abuser out of the home.
These decisions, however, are rendered with the purpose of protecting
a child from future abuse, and not with the purpose of holding the
perpetrator accountable.
3. The CPS/juvenile court System Has Only One Significant Power, the
Power to Remove Children from their Parents.
Although CPS does not have law enforcement powers, unlike most other
social service agencies, CPS does have one awesome power, the power to
take custody and remove children from the home. The stated purpose of
this power is to protect the child from future abuse. The stated
purpose is not to punish anyone, though obviously for parents and
children who love each other this forced removal can be the worst
punishment of all.
The lack of law enforcement powers explains why CPS does not take
action against perpetrators. The power to remove children explains why
CPS so quickly turns its sights on the non-offending parent.
Once CPS decides that abuse of a child or violence in the home has
probably taken place, the CPS worker must then decide how best to
protect the child from future abuse. Since it's usually obvious that
the child should not be immediately returned to the perpetrator of the
violence, CPS quickly turns to the question of whether or not the
child should stay with the non-offending parent. That's how and why
CPS becomes so fixated on 'investigating' the nonviolent parent. Did
the mother protect the child from the abuse? Did she know, or should
she have known, that the child was being molested? Did the mother
protect the child from living in a home with domestic violence? Will
she protect the child in the future?
No matter how you look at it, the circumstances of these situations
can almost always be construed to indicate that the mother didn't
protect, and that she knew or should have known. After all, goes the
thinking, she's the mother and she's living in the same home.
NOTE 1: CPS does have other options than to remove the child. In fact,
federal and state law governing CPS requires that CPS pursue family
preservation as well as child safety, and that CPS first make
"reasonable efforts" to establish a service plan for the family to
follow so the child can stay in the home, or return to the home.
But even if CPS is making a good faith effort to abide by these
policies, it doesn't alter the adversarial (oppositional) nature of
the relationship with CPS in which the mother finds herself. Even if
CPS has not taken the child and lays out a program for the mother to
follow so the child can stay in the home, the mother knows full well
what this means. 'You do this program or we take your child'. The
mother knows this doesn't feel like help. It feels terrifying,
hostile, and punitive. Especially so as her must-do-list is often
hugely overwhelming since so many of the mothers are poor and acutely
stressed. And even more hostile as the mother begins to see how prone
the CPS exercise of power is to be arbitrary, prejudiced, and with
shifting input and goals, the frequency of which is partly explained
by the following.
4. At best, CPS/juvenile court Decisions are Made on the Lowest
Judicial Standard of Evidence, the 'Preponderance of the Evidence'
Standard, i.e. 51% of the Evidence. The void of evidence and rigor in
the CPS/juvenile court system leaves the decision making process wide
open to the virtually unchecked influence of mistakes, bias,
discrimination, prejudice, vengeance, hearsay, junk science, nonsense,
and arbitrariness of all kinds. (The one exception to this is that a
final termination of parental rights usually requires a 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence, which is still a much lower standard
than the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of the criminal system.)
When CPS seeks to establish the abuse, remove a child for up to 18
months, establish mandated service plans, determine visitation, etc.,
CPS must go into juvenile court to get these decisions authorized by
the court. At first this may seem to provide the kind of oversight on
CPS decisions that would make the process just, equitable, and safe
from abuses. But read on.


First, the body of law governing the CPS/juvenile court system is so
vague and open ended that virtually any and all decisions made by
these bodies falls within the scope of the laws.
Second, at best, CPS and juvenile courts makes these decisions based
on the 'preponderance of evidence' standard. This is the lowest
judicial standard of evidence. The preponderance of the evidence
standard is 51% of the evidence. It's sometimes called the 'more
likely than not' standard. What this means is that all CPS needs to
support a decision is evidence on their side, the CPS side, which is
just a sliver more than the evidence on your side. This is a far cry
from the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard criminal officials must
establish before they can convict someone of a crime, even a
misdemeanor.
Example of Preponderance of the Evidence: The mother tells CPS she
didn't know that the stepfather was sexually molesting the daughter
because the stepfather always did it while she (the mother) was
watching television in another room. The CPS worker tells the court
that the fact the mother was in the same house watching television
while the stepfather molested the child is a good indication that the
mother should have known what the stepfather was doing. Given the
sloppiness of the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard, all the
judge has to do is lean ever so slightly to the social worker's
argument, and the judge can issue a finding that the mother 'knew or
should have known', and then based on this finding grant the CPS
petition to detain the child. Which is exactly what happened in this
case.
Many lawyers themselves are so scornful of the flimsy evidence
standard of the CPS system they call it "a crap shoot", or the
"anything goes" standard. The problem for the mother goes beyond the
fact that CPS doesn't need much evidence against her. It also means
that whatever opinion a CPS worker may have of you, the worker can
usually support that opinion in court simply by fishing through the
extensive family details the worker has gathered and then selecting
out the one or two tidbits that favor the opinion.
Add to this the huge initial mistake many women make of thinking of
CPS as their advocate or friend or counselor. They pour their hearts
out to the worker, giving the worker a whole ocean of intimate
information in which to fish for evidence against them.
Yes, it's true that with all this latitude, the CPS system can
actually do things right and put its full resources into helping the
mother and child to get safely on their feet together. And indeed,
there are plenty of cases where this is exactly what happens. But
there are a number of things that makes the system tend toward abusive
responses. One of these is the cardinal truth of any power. Unchecked
power always tends towards abuses of that power. And the power of CPS
is hugely unchecked. And worse yet, as is discussed later, it is
exercised in secret.
A second thing that tends the system toward abusive and prejudicial
responses is the class of the mothers themselves, and the heaping
social prejudices that already prevail against them. The mothers who
come to the attention of CPS are most often poor, or immigrant, or
minority race, and themselves are the direct or secondary victims of
family violence. The harsh realities of their lives are chaotic,
frantic, and generally incomprehensible to people who don't live them.
There is so much prejudice, stereotypes, ignorance, and blame against
these women floating in society that the middle class social service
system is primed from the start to blame these mothers, or at the very
least, to believe it's the mothers that need to be fixed.
NOTE 1: Lessons from the Native American Community. Prior to the
passage of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, child welfare/
juvenile court systems were removing up to 25% of the children from
many Indian tribes, then terminating Indian parental rights, and
adopting the children out to non-Indian families. Non-Indian social
workers and judges were using rampant prejudicial and racist notions
to justify these removals. In particular, CPS/juvenile courts were
judging many traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive,
in and of themselves. Native American peoples' were losing so many of
their children to this process, many tribes labeled these child
welfare policies as genocidal.
The Indian tribes crafted the Indian Child Welfare Act with the aim of
stopping this systematic removal of their children. In so doing, the
Indians keenly understood how the use of the 'preponderance of
evidence' standard gave free reign to the prejudices, racism, and
arbitrary factors that were being used to justify taking their
children. They understood that the more oppressed a person is the more
they need a high standard of evidence to protect them from
governmental abuse. So, among other things, the Indian Child Welfare
Act requires that CPS/juvenile courts must use the stricter 'clear and
convincing' standard of evidence before the state can put an Indian
child in temporary foster care, and must use the even stricter 'beyond
a reasonable doubt' standard of evidence before the court can order
termination of Indian parental rights. The act also requires that at
any termination hearing, there must be expert witness testimony on
Indian culture and child rearing.
We feel strongly that these same protections should be extended to all
who come before CPS, since most all of these families are members of
historically oppressed groups.
5. The Flimsy 'Preponderance of the Evidence' Standard is Bad Enough,
But Things are Actually Much Worse. Increasingly, the CPS/juvenile
court systems are handing off their fact finding and decision making
responsibilities to mediators, evaluators, and even to CASA
volunteers, all of whom operate on NO standard of evidence at all.
There's no doubt that the juvenile courts have become increasingly
stressed over the last few decades as victims of family violence have
emerged to seek help for their plights. But instead of adding
resources to properly meet the need, the CPS/juvenile court system,
like the family court system, has handed off more and more of its fact
finding and decision making responsibilities to a whole phalanx of
psychologists, mediators, evaluators, and even to volunteers.
These are court janitors, really, brought aboard to mop up the
judicial mess made by women and children who have found a way to make
their needs and outrage heard. When a case becomes complicated or
contentious, or is just more work than the judge wants to handle, the
judge simply turns the case over to one of these evaluators to look
into the case and come back to the judge with a set of
recommendations. In nearly all cases, juvenile court judges blindly
rubber stamp these recommendations with no further ado.
What is absolutely critical to understand is that once handed off to
these evaluators, you have been ushered out the court's back door,
outside the rule of court law, and completely unprotected by rules of
evidence. These evaluators operate under NO standard of evidence. NO
rules of admissibility. NO legal protections at all. Hearsay,
psychobabble, prejudice, lies, gossip, it all comes in. And it's often
all against you because the perpetrators are usually expert
manipulators and liars, and, in addition, they have likely already
poisoned the social relationships around you. This is why it's the non-
offending parent who most needs strict rules of evidence for
protection, and is most hurt by their absence.
NOTE 1 - CASA Volunteers - But it gets even worse. Many juvenile
courts across the country are now handing off official fact finding
and decision making responsibilities in these cases to CASA
volunteers, people who are only required to have 30 hours training.
And the juvenile courts are usually assigning these volunteers to the
most egregious and complex cases of child abuse.
The public has been thoroughly wooed to the feel good idea of having
CASA volunteers to 'protect the interests of the child' in these
cases. Indeed, there is great benefit for the child to be assigned a
special person to talk to and even to advocate for the child through
this process.
The whole CASA program would be just fine if it ended there. But
juvenile courts routinely swear these volunteers in as official court
fact finders (investigators), as representatives of the child's stated
interests, as representatives of the child's best interests, and, as
formulators of recommendations to the court as to the best disposition
of the child. A recent national study, the Packard Foundation funded
Caliber Study, finds that juvenile court judges adopt ALL the
recommendations of the CASA volunteers in over 60% of cases.
This is a complete mockery and travesty of any and all notions of
justice, and is particularly contemptful of mother's and children's
rights. For so many reasons. But just for one, imagine if your surgeon
sought out and took the recommendation of whether to amputate your leg
from a volunteer with 30 hours training. You would be outraged! And
you would never deal with this surgeon again. Yet this is exactly what
juvenile court judges across the country are doing on the question of
whether or not to remove the child from the mother, in the most
complex and egregious of cases. They are turning over their fact
finding, evaluation, and decision making responsibilities by swearing
in persons with 30 hours training to act in any or all these official
capacities.
The courts say they are doing this because they want to be sure to
hear the children's voices. But you only have to think for a moment to
realize what the courts are really doing is avoiding the costs of a
professional investigator, expert, or professional representation that
is minimally needed to guarantee even minimal judicial standards for
children.
And these courts have the nerve to accuse the mothers of failure to
protect!
6. Both the Federal and State Welfare Law Governing the CPS/Juvenile
court System are Full of Vague, Non-mandatory Language, a Fact Which
Further Promotes the 'Anything Goes' Atmosphere of CPS Proceedings. In
addition, these laws almost always refer to the parents as an
undifferentiated single unit, "the parents', a fact which puts a legal
lock on viewing the non-offending parent with as much culpability as
the abusive parent. Only recently has the legal language begun to
recognize the existence of the 'non-offending parent' as separate or
unique from the offending parent.
As you read through the federal and state law governing child
protective services you can see features of the law that further help
explain the frequent arbitrary and biased actions of these agencies.
Here are just two.
Federal and state welfare law governing child protective services are
vague, nonspecific, and use mostly non-mandatory language. For
example, federal law 'encourages' child welfare agencies to provide
their materials in languages other than English. It does not mandate
that they do so. As such, many, if not most, non-English speaking
mothers receive their CPS reports, their service plans, and notices in
English only. Another example is that welfare law states a
'preference' for family reunification, and says social workers shall
make 'reasonable efforts' to provide services that allow the family to
stay together.
This kind of language in the law leaves so much wiggle room that
virtually anything the system decides will fall within the law, a fact
which further magnifies the difficulties for a non-offending parent
trying to defend herself or appeal these decisions.
A second feature that runs throughout child welfare law is that it
constantly refers to 'the parents' as an undifferentiated entity.
There's very infrequent distinction in child welfare law between the
offending and non-offending parent. In fact, if you were an alien from
outer space reading this law, it would be a while before it even
dawned on you that "the parents" are two separate human beings. This
dubious framework stems from the archaic patriarchal view of marriage
of not very long ago that the two become one and the one is the man.
Naturally, this constant reference to "the parents" helps cement the
system's huge blind spot to a woman's predicament when her partner is
abusive. Clearly, the law can't see her more as a victim of the
abuser, if the legal language lumps her in with the abuser. If the
father is a domestic violence perpetrator, the mother, too, is
automatically "engaging in domestic violence", which is precisely the
language the system has used to justify taking the children from
mothers who are victims of domestic violence. Legal recognition and
distinctions between the offending and non-offending parent are coming
at a snail's pace.
7. The CPS/Juvenile Court System Operates in Secrecy Off the Public
Record. This secrecy fans the flames of the system's other tendencies
to abuse.
The reason that CPS/Juvenile Court findings, proceedings, mandates,
and actions take place off the public record is ostensibly to protect
the privacy of the child and family in what is viewed as a private
family matter. But one certainly must ask, who really has been more
protected by this secrecy, the CPS system or the families it serves?
Nothing fans the flames of governmental abuse like governmental
secrecy. Secret files, secret evidence, secret accusations, secret
proceedings are a sure fire formula for allowing abuses to thrive and
expand throughout the system. Since its inception, CPS/juvenile court
activities have been off the public record with the exception of only
a few states. The involved parents are informed. But, to date, neither
the public nor any public watchdog has been allowed scrutiny or
oversight of the handling of these cases.
Fortunately, it looks like there is the possibility this may change.
In 2005, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
voted approval of presumptively open hearings with discretion of
courts to close. This isn't yet law, but it's a big step in that
direction. As part of the resolution the judges wrote the following,
"Open court proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical
problems faced by juvenile and family courts and by child welfare
agencies in matters involving child protection, may enhance
accountability in the conduct of these proceedings by lifting the veil
of secrecy which surrounds them, and may ultimately increase public
confidence in the work of the judges of the nation's juvenile and
family courts."
We would probably word this a little differently, 'Open court
proceedings will increase public awareness of the critical problems
faced by children and non-offending parents in matters involving child
protection,.....'
8. Most all CPS/juvenile court Systems deal ONLY with Intra familial
Child Abuse. This schism between the way society deals with child
abuse perpetrated by a family member versus child abuse perpetrated by
an 'outsider' points out a staggering hypocrisy in the rhetoric about
treating child abuse seriously. Behind the rhetoric is a child welfare
and police system that in reality works hand in hand to let most child
abusers walk free.
Many people are very surprised when they call CPS to report a child
abuse case perpetrated by a neighbor, a priest, a stranger, or by any
one outside the family. CPS tells the caller they don't handle these
cases. They only respond to cases in which the perpetrator is a family
member. So in most cases in which the perpetrator is not a family
member, CPS tells the caller they'll need to report to police.
Another thing that may surprise you is that if you call police to
report a case of child abuse perpetrated by a family member, police
will often tell you should report the case to CPS. Granted police
could take the report if they wanted to, and they should take the
report. But police themselves are all too often on the same
philosophical page as CPS. They too often believe that when fathers
'grow their own victim', the fathers shouldn't be held accountable
like other offenders.
And another thing. Even if police do take a report of sexual abuse
perpetrated by a family member, chances are very good that the
perpetrator, even if convicted, will get off lightly compared to an
outside-the-family perpetrator. California law, like the law in many
states, maintains gaping legal loopholes where, prosecutors can, and
frequently do, charge intra familial child sex abuse under different
codes which allow the family offenders much lighter sentences. In
addition, the law allows convicted intra familial child sex offenders
to be given probation, different from outsider child sex offenders who
must go to prison. And the law allows convicted intra familial child
sex offenders to stay off the state's public registered sex offenders
lists, also unlike 'outside'. (For a good discussion of the legal
loopholes for fathers and other family members who sexually molest
their children see Child Sexual Abuse and the State by Ruby Andrew at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...ract_id=904100)
There isn't a civic leader out there that doesn't publicly rage to the
heavens about what monsters child molesters are, and how these
'animals' should be strung up at the crack of dawn. But, remember, the
overwhelming majority of all child sex abuse is perpetrated by family
members. What this means is that, in reality, we have a system that
publicly beats its chest over the small percentage of child molesters
who attack someone else's child, while by legal slight of hand that
same system lets the vast majority of child molesters go free. Not by
accident, but by legal and institutional design. What's perhaps most
telling is that, at least in California, these legal loopholes for
intra familial perpetrators have been widened over recent years,
rather than tightened.
Or to put it another way, the more women and children have made
demands on the system to stop family violence, the more the system has
created ways to look good while paving the perpetrator's escape. The
patriarchy with all its bluff and bluster to the contrary, still
supports the notion that a man's home is his castle, and that his
children are his to do with as he pleases. Unfortunately, CPS, with
its hold-no-perpetrators-accountable system, is a vital part of the
machinery for perpetuating these archaic and oppressive beliefs.
Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you
keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis, Women's Justice Center,
www.justicewomen.com

On Jun 23, 11:26 pm, Marie wrote:
Beware Child Protective Services:
What Victims, Advocates, and
Mandated Reporters Need to Know
http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...eservices.html
Cuidado con los Servicios
de Protección Infantil:
Lo que víctimas, defensoras e informantes
por mandato deben saber
http://www.justicewomen.com/tips_bew...rvices_sp.html
Women's Justice Center
Centro de Justicia para Mujeres
www.justicewomen.com
www.ayudaparamujeres.com




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