Articles on lawsuits

A place to post and discuss news.

Moderators: family_man, LindaJM

yellernboyz
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:11 pm

Postby yellernboyz » Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:21 am

DOES ANYONE EVER REALLY SUE THE STATE FOR FALSLEY TAKING OUR KIDS AND PUTTING FAMILIES THROUGH HELL? DOES ANYONE EVER WIN? DOES IT TAKE BACK THE LOSS OF FAMILIES?

User avatar
Dazeemay
Posts: 4135
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:07 pm

Postby Dazeemay » Thu Aug 23, 2007 12:45 pm

To answer your first and second question. Yes, people have won when they sue the state for cps action. However, the taxpayers pay for it.

I am taking your last question two ways.

If you have lost your children to cps permanently it will not bring back the loss.

If your children were returned to you one could look at it this way.

You have gotten more money than you have ever dreamed of which will give you a new start in life for all of your family.

Next cps will not bother you again. That is what I think and I may be wrong. It would be foolish of them to accoust you again.
Whereas, we who have not sued will always be looking over our shoulders and live in fear of them coming at us again.
**********************************
This is not legal advice;hopefully wisdom

To put it in simple terms…when the authorities ARE the perpetrators and the perpetrators ARE the authorities, there is no earthly justice or recourse, at the end of the day (unless the American people wake up).

Therefore, those who have achieved the highest levels of power seek to ‘enjoy’ the most grievous and extreme injustices. For many of those in the highest circles of power, the greatest statement of power is to perpetrate the greatest possible injustice…the savage, brutal traumatization and abuse of an innocent child.
http://themurkynews.blogspot.com/ MattTwoFour

"Ultimately, the law is only as good as the judge" --- D.X. Yue, 2005, in "law, reason and judicial fraud"
http://www.parentalrightsandjustice.com/index.cgi?ctype=Page;site_id=1;objid=45;curloc=Site:1

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:02 pm

.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime_f ... ml?ref=rss

'Foster-care nightmare' for boys



BY CHRISENA COLEMAN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Monday, August 27th 2007, 4:00 AM


When Raven Hamlett was ready to kick drugs and get her life together, she figured temporary foster care was the best place for her six kids.

Only after Hamlett got them back did she learn the awful truth, she says - her 5-year-old son was forced to watch porn flicks and act out sex scenes with his 2-year-old brother.

"I thought my kids would be safe in the care of the city, but the system failed my children," said a tearful Hamlett, 29.

Hamlett sued the city, foster care agency Graham Windham and the unnamed pervert in Bronx Supreme Court last month.

"This is a foster-care nightmare that nobody should have to live with," said her lawyer, David Lesch. "I have never seen anything so heinous come through this office."

Lesch said Hamlett voluntarily put her children in foster care in February 2004 and took them back in June 2006.

When she sought her son's medical records from the city Administration for Children's Services, she said, she discovered a referral for "medical evaluation due to report of sexual behavior with his younger brother."

In a June hearing with city lawyers, the boy testified that a visitor to his foster home named Victor made him and his younger brother watch porn and act out scenes. He said he was too scared to tell anyone.

At least 300 children in foster care were abused or neglected in the year ending July 1, skyrocketing 57% above the year before, according to ACS statistics.

The city Law Department said it was evaluating the lawsuit. Graham Windham representatives could not be reached for comment.

Hamlett said her son, now 8, won't talk about the abuse, but he cries all the time, gets into fights and is plagued by nightmares.

"My youngest son was 2 when it happened, and I don't see any effects in him, but my older son is troubled," Hamlett said. "I don't know what he's thinking, but his life will never be the same."

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:40 pm

.

http://www.kotv.com/news/local/story/?id=135262

Family Suing DHS After Child’s Death

KOTV - 9/2/2007 8:55 PM - Updated 9/3/2007 12:03 PM

A social worker might have cut corners and cost a boy his life. An independent review says a DHS employee reported Keenan Taylor was safe with his father, even though allegations of abuse kept coming in. Keenan was killed in 2005 and his father was found guilty of murder. The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage reports the report details months of abuse, still, the DHS worker said nothing was wrong, and when a supervisor called him on it, he couldn't back up his story.

Keenan Taylor’s mother, Tammy Taylor, lost custody of her son when she tested positive for drugs. Her little boy went to live with his father, Carlis Ball, who has since been convicted of Keenan's murder.

"I'm sad for my baby to know that his father killed him, you know I just don't wanna believe that," said Keenan’s mother Tammy Taylor in 2005.

Carlis Ball was reported to DHS five times before Keenan's death. Tipsters said his home smelled like urine, Keenan had open sores on his legs, bruises, belt marks and a black eye.

A DHS worker reported he found no signs of abuse. But an independent review shows the social worker may never have checked on Keenan. The worker couldn't remember details of the investigation, and witnesses included in DHS reports say they were never interviewed.

In June 2005, Keenan Taylor died after his father poured boiling water on him. The two-year-old had burns on most of his body, his skin started to peel away from his flesh, and he started convulsing. Ball put him in a closet for almost 24 hours, before the boy's grandmother convinced him to call for help.

"He said Keenan is hurt and I'm scared, I said, what happened? He said, last night he got burned and now he said he's breathing funny. I said, Carlis, hang up the phone, dial 911, I'm on my way," Ball’s mother Phyllis Ball said in 2005.

Keenan died a week before his third birthday. That same week, the DHS worker assigned to his case quit.

DHS admitted to the district attorney that the worker's reports were inaccurate before his father's trial. The medical examiner confirmed Keenan was healing from multiple injuries when he died, including numerous scars, a cut lip, and a head wound.

Keenan’s father, Carlis Ball, is serving life without parole. Meanwhile, Keenan's grandfather is suing DHS. He says he wants to make sure other children don't suffer the way his grandson did.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:56 pm

.

http://www.ktnv.com/global/story.asp?s=7059405

Family Sues County Family Services For 7 Month Old's Death

Sep 11, 2007 06:28 PM EDT




The Clark County Department of Family Services is facing a lawsuit from the family of a child who died in foster care.

The agency is accused of failing to protect children in its care and supervise foster parents.

The suit was filed on behalf of a 7 month old baby boy named Charles.

He died from severe head trauma inside his foster home in August 2006.

The boy's foster mother, Melanie Ochs, was charged with his murder.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:07 pm

.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_6892211?source=rss

County settles Bey abuse suit

Allegations say social service workers missed problems with girls placed in care of Your Black Muslim Bakery leader

By Chris Metinko
STAFF WRITER

Article Launched: 09/14/2007 03:07:27 AM PDT


OAKLAND -- Alameda County has settled a nearly four-year-old lawsuit brought by three women who said the county did nothing to stop former Your Black Muslim Bakery head Yusuf Bey from sexually assaulting and abusing them during foster care at his home.
The three women's names were not used in the lawsuit because they were minors when they filed the suit in July 2003 in Alameda County Superior Court.

The lawsuit says county social workers missed glaring problems with the girls, who were in the care of Yusuf Bey's wife, Nora -- including when the three started getting pregnant and having babies. The girls said they did not tell social workers Bey was the father because they feared him.

The county settled the lawsuit -- which initially sought $10 million in damages -- for $188,000, which included attorney fees, in February. The county investigated the women's allegations after they filed a $10 million claim in January 2003, but county supervisors denied the women's claims three months later.

At the time the civil suit was filed, Bey also was facing criminal charges in Alameda County Superior Court in connection with raping a minor. Bey died of cancer in 2003 while facing those charges.

According to the lawsuit against the county, two of the women are sisters and were 10 and 12 when foster care workers sent them to live with Bey and his wife in 1978.

Bey regularly raped them and abused them while continually threatening to kill them if they ever told,


the suit alleges. The third woman was a 13-year-old ward of the court and was supposed to be watched over by a social worker when she got a job in 1994 at Oakland's Your Black Muslim Bakery.
The sisters gave birth to four children. Paternity tests showed at least one was Bey's, according to the lawsuit.

The suit says the father of two of the girls took them away from Bey and moved them to Lake Tahoe. But when Bey found out, Alameda County Social Services returned the girls to Bey.

The third woman in the suit contends Bey raped her a week after she took a job in the bakery in 1994. Bey threatened to kill the 13-year-old if she reported the assault.

The lawsuit was filed against Bey, Your Black Muslim Bakery, the Bey Muslim Organization, Nora Bey, Freida Bey, three Alameda County employees and the county itself.

It says that Alameda County "was aware that all plaintiffs were working at defendant Your Black Muslim Bakery when they were minors and were brutally being raped and otherwise sexually abused at the hands of the owner defendant Yusuf Bey. The defendant county failed to protect any of the plaintiffs by investigating the situation at the Bakery and/or removing them from the bakery."

Attorneys involved in the suit did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:19 pm

.

http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/metro/201973.php

Tucson Region

Brandon Williams' dad seeks $7M in his death

By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.19.2007

The father of Brandon Williams has filed a claim against the state, Child Protective Services, the Pima County Sheriff's Department and others, seeking $7 million in damages for the death of his son.
Five-year-old Brandon died March 22 as a result of a skull fracture, but he also had a large amount of over-the-counter medication in his system.
His mother, Diane Marsh, and a roommate, Flower Tompson, have been charged with his death.
Tompson's boyfriend, Mark Moss, was also arrested in the death but was never charged. Last week, his attorney filed a notice in Superior Court, saying Moss will not provide any testimony in the case without immunity; otherwise he will invoke his right to silence.
Documents have shown CPS was concerned about Brandon months before he died because the boy disappeared from school and was believed to be living in a motel with his mother. CPS documents describe her having mental and physical health problems.
Despite the concerns, CPS never took Brandon into temporary custody and failed to find him.
A week before Brandon died, Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Lillian George did see Brandon after responding to a missing persons report filed by a family friend and Marsh's father. George was able to find Marsh and Brandon, but despite seeing that Brandon's legs were covered in bandages, George did not contact CPS.
Both CPS spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez and Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Deputy Dawn Hanke declined to comment on the claim, citing the likelihood of a lawsuit.
Efforts to reach Melvin Williams, Brandon's father, or his attorney, Carter Morey, were unsuccessful.
Also included in the claim are CPS workers Cindy Graupmann and Caryn Strober, as well as supervisor Janet Lake.
The three "negligently failed to locate Brandon, to take Brandon into temporary custody pursuant to Arizona law, to file a petition regarding Brandon pursuant to Arizona law and to protect Brandon and keep him safe from the obvious neglect and abuse that led to his death," the claim states.
"George negligently failed to immediately contact CPS on March 15, 2007, and report Brandon's condition, to stay with Brandon until CPS could respond, investigate and take appropriate action, and to help CPS remove Brandon from the custody of (his mother)."
To bolster the claim, Morey cites documents from CPS and related agencies showing concern about Brandon's placement with Marsh and subsequent disappearance.
For example, in September of last year, Assistant Attorney General Pennie Wamboldt sent an e-mail to Graupmann and other CPS workers saying, "I am VERY concerned about Brandon remaining in her (Marsh's) care. Cindy Graupmann reports that mom is still staying in a motel, and that a neighbor told Cindy that mom has been moving stuff out of the family home. Please continue at least doing welfare checks on Brandon with the school."
And last November Lake, the supervisor, wrote, "Initially there were no allegations as to Brandon. However, due to escalating concerns as to (mother's) behavior, department was considering filing on Brandon but allowing him to remain as long as he was safe. Whereabouts of Brandon not known at this time as (mother) has fled. . . . Regular attempts to locate Brandon must be made and assessment of his safety completed."
It wasn't until March that Deputy George found Brandon at a Northwest residence.
There she noted that Brandon's legs and feet were heavily bandaged.
"Diane Marsh stated her son had been playing in the backyard and had fallen in the gravel and got cut up on the cacti," George wrote in her report. "I had my own concerns both for her safety (Marsh) and the safety of her child and that I would be forwarding this information to Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services for them to follow up on."
There is no indication CPS ever received those concerns.
The claim seeks $4 million from the state and CPS, and $3 million from the Sheriff's Department.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sun Sep 23, 2007 6:38 pm

.

http://www.bucyrustelegraphforum.com/ap ... 1/70920004

Convicted parents sue social worker over caged kids

CLEVELAND (AP) — A couple convicted of forcing some of their 11 adopted special-needs children to sleep in cages has filed a federal lawsuit against county social workers and other officials, accusing them of illegally entering the home.

Michael and Sharen Gravelle, who were each sentenced in February to two years in prison for child endangering and child abuse, said Huron County social workers and sheriff’s deputies violated their constitutional rights when officials removed the children from the home in 2005 after receiving a tip about children sleeping in cages.

Ken Myers, the Gravelles’ attorney, said the couple have been penalized for their behavior and now county officials should be “held accountable for their actions.”

Messages seeking comment were left Thursday at the Huron County sheriff’s office and the Department of Job and Family Services.

The Gravelles have suffered emotional distress and the loss of their reputation, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. They are asking the court for the county to compensate them, including their attorney fees.

The couple contend that that the wood-and-wire enclosures were meant to protect unruly and destructive youngsters. The children, who suffered from problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and a disorder that involves eating nonfood items, ranged in age from 1 to 14 when they were removed from the Gravelles’ home in Wakeman, about 60 miles west of Cleveland.

A Juvenile Court judge ordered the children to be placed for adoption in March 2006. Myers said he appealed that decision this week to the U.S. Supreme Court after Ohio’s top court declined to hear the case.

The Gravelles’ have filed appeals on all charges and are allowed them to remain free on bond until their appeals are exhausted, which could take a year or longer.


.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Sep 24, 2007 12:45 pm

.

http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2007/ ... rowned.txt

Foster Mother Can't Be Sued In Drowning Death, Judge Rules

This article was published on Friday, September 21, 2007 7:13 PM CDT in News
By Ron Wood
THE MORNING NEWS

FAYETTEVILLE -- A foster mother can't be sued for the drowning death of a child in her care, a judge ruled Friday.

Johnnie David Wood, 8, drowned Aug. 13, 2005, in Beaver Lake. Wood was in the custody of Ozark Guidance Center and in the care of a foster parent, Jennifer King, at the time.

The boy's parents sued Ozark Guidance, King and their insurance companies.

Washington County Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn dismissed King from the case and dismissed some of the claims against Ozark Guidance based on a state law that gives foster parents and organizations they work for immunity from being sued unless their actions are intentional -- that is, malicious, willful or wanton, or they rise to a level of gross negligence.

Gunn said there were no facts alleged that would rise to gross negligence. The suit did not allege intentional acts.

King now is out of the suit entirely but there are still some issues remaining, including negligent supervision claims against Ozark Guidance and questions involving insurance coverage and liability.

According to the suit, when the child drowned, King was watching him for another Ozark Guidance foster parent. King had gone to her car at the time and left Wood and several other children ages 2 to 17 on the beach.

Ozark Guidance contracts with the state to provide foster care for children in Washington and Benton counties.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 6:25 am

.

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings. ... ew&id=6197

Statement of Roma O. Amor, Tucson, Arizona

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA

Roma O. Amor, petitioner appearing as herself

ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY (ADES) & ITS DIVISION OF CHILDREN YOUTH AND FAMILIES (DCYF) - CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES (CPS), Parties in Interest

MOTION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF AND COMPLIANCE

Now comes Roma O. Amor seeking Declaratory Relief for Positive Enforcement to address the issues of the greater public interest of the Constitutional, federal statutory, and Federally-Protected Rights of families and their children who reside in the State of Arizona. Petitioner seeks relief against unconstitutional policies of ADES and CPS that violate Federal Child Welfare Funding Law (Federal Contracts). CPS has adopted an increasingly unbridled pattern of disregard for the law and its methods of intrusion into the private and family affairs resulting in unnecessary child fatalities and abuse while in ADES custody or under investigation by CPS Agents.

1. Jurisdiction is conferred by AZ Rule of Civil Proc. 57, AZ Rule of the Supreme Court 28(G), Arizona Constitution Article 6 Section 5

2. Venue is found in this court for State of Arizona policies and actions under color of state law of its CPS agency, its Office of the Attorney General, and the Juvenile Courts of its subdivisions.

3. Questions Raised:

a) Whether current child welfare laws of The State of Arizona are unlawful, illegal, and unconstitutional under Federal Statutory Child Welfare Funding Law (Federal Contract Law) and the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Arizona child welfare laws violate Federal Contract Law under the United States Constitution Article I Sec. 8 cl. 1 Spending Clause which gives the U.S. Congress power to place conditions on federal funding grants. Spending Clause legislation is a contract; in return for federal funds, the recipients (State of Arizona) agree to comply with federally imposed conditions.

See: Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Ed. 526 U. S. 629, 640 (1999), Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman 451 U. S. 1, 17 (1981); see also Davis, supra, at 640; Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School Dist. 524 U. S. 274, 286 (1998); Guardians Assn. v. Civil Serv. Community of New York City 463 U. S. 582, 599 (1983) (opinion of White, J.); id., at 632-633 (Marshall, J., dissenting); Lau v. Nichols 414 U. S. 563, 568-569 (1974).

4. Supporting Statements and Standards of Law Incorporated Herein:

a) ARS 41-1962 “Federal law shall control.”

b) Detention/Removal Hearings, Federal Statutory Law, examples

- CFR Sec 1356.21(d) Documentation of Judicial Determinations (2) Neither affidavits nor nunc pro tunc orders will be accepted as verification documentation in support of reasonable efforts and contrary to the welfare judicial determinations. (3) Court orders that reference State law to substantiate judicial determinations are NOT acceptable, even if State law provides that a removal must be based on a judicial determination that remaining in the home would be contrary to the child’s welfare or that removal can only be ordered after reasonable efforts have been made.

If finding is not explicitly documented, Title IV-E funding is severed under federal law. 45 CFR 1356.21(c)

- 42 USC 672(a)(1) Court must make the finding that “continuance in the home of the parent or legal guardian would be contrary to the child’s welfare.” and “removal from the home was the result of a explicit judicial determination and that reasonable efforts have been made”.

This finding must be made at the time of the first court ruling authorizing removal of the child from the home or lose all Title IV-E federal funding. 45 CFR 1356.21(c)

- 42 USC 672(a)(2) Court must make finding that “placement and care are the responsibility of the State agency or any other public agency with whom the responsible state agency has an agreement.”

No federal funding until findings are made 45 CFR 1356.71(d)(1)(iii)

- 42 USC 671(a)(15), 42 USC 672(a)(1), and 45 CFR 1356.21(b)(1) Court must make the finding that “reasonable efforts have been made to prevent or eliminate need for removal.” Mandates Prevention to Prevent Removal

If explicit finding are not documented Title IV-E funding will be withdrawn. 45 CFR 1356.21(b)(1)(ii)

- PL 96-272 Judicial determinations are required to be explicit and so stated in the court order. The Senate Report on the bill that became Public Law 96-272 characterized the required judicial determinations as “important safeguard(s) against inappropriate agency action and made clear that such requirements were not to become “a mere pro forma exercise in paper shuffling to obtain Federal Funding.” (S. Rept. No. 336, 96th Congress, 2d Session. 16, 1980) “We concluded, based on our review of States’ documentation of judicial determinations over the past years that, in many instances, these important safeguards had become precisely what congress was concerned that they not become.”

c) State statutes and regulations cannot be construed to displace the protections of the United States Constitution, even when the state acts to protect the welfare of children. Cf. Lorillard Tobacco Co v. Reilly 533 U.S. 525, 540-41, 121 S.Ct. 2404, 2414 (2001)

d) “State courts can decide definitively only questions of state law that are not subject to overriding federal law.” Leiter Minerals Inc. v. United States 352 US 220 (CERT No 26, 1957)

e) “Public policy is better served by imposing a duty in such circumstances to help prevent future harm.” Gibson v. Kasey (AZ Supreme Court, No CV-06-0100-PR, 2006; AZ Ct App Div 1 No 1 CA-CV 05-0119) (En banc)

f) ARS 25-408(H)(I) Judicial acts and the court must adhere to previous agreed custody agreements

g) ARS 25-403 and 25-403.03 domestic violence and family law

h) Child abuse proceedings involve the government acting in an adversarial role toward the custodial parent, an entirely different circumstance and procedure than divorce proceedings where there is no governmental accusation of fault. “Persons faced with possible forced dissolution of their custodial rights have a more critical need for procedural protections than do those in ongoing family affairs.” Santosky 455 U.S. at 753

In Brittain v. Hansen, the 9th Cir. Court discussed the greater custodial liberty interest and procedural differences of child abuse and custody cases, and concluded that “by failing to recognize the lesser liberty interest in visitation Id. at 992 the court applied the erroneous legal standard “best interests of the child,” quoting Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 303-04 (1993) and held the “best interest of the child” legal standard applies to custody law not child abuse proceedings”

“Custodial parents have a greater liberty interest than those with visitation rights.” Brittain v Hansen, 451 F.3d 982, 991, 992 (9th Cir. 2006), quoting Weller v Dep’t of Social Svcs, 901 f2d 387, 394 (4th Cir. 1990), Zakrzewski v Fox, 87 F.3d 1011, 1013-14 (8th Cir. 1996), Wise v. Bravo, 666 F.2d 1328, 1332-33 (10th Cir. 1981); “A non-custodial parent lacks prudential standing to bring Establishment Clause challenge based on his relationship with his child.” Brittain, quoting Elk Grove Unified School Dist v. Newdow, 542 US 1, 13-18 (2004); “Liberty interests of parents with only visitation rights does not give rise to a constitutional violation” Brittain, (9th Cir.) quoting Wise (10th Cir. 1981)

i) “Substantive Due Process rights are those which involve greater liberties, as those guaranteed by the First Amendment”. Glucksburg 512 U.S. at 721-22

Anthony v. City of New York 339 F.3d 129, 139 (2nd Cir 2003) “(1) whether any policy makers of the municipality knew that it’s employees will confront or encounter a given situation,; (2) that the situation either presents the employees with a difficult choices of this sort and that training or supervision will make less difficult or that there is a history of the employees mishandling the situation; and (3) that the wrong choice by employees will frequently cause the deprivation of a Person’s Constitutional rights.” See also: King v Atiyeh, Monell v New York City Dept of Social Services

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 US 833, 901 (1992), quoting Miller v. Johnson, 515 US _ (1995) "Legislative purpose to accomplish a constitutionally forbidden result may be found when that purpose was the predominant factor motivating the legislature's decision.", Shaw v. Hunt 517 US _ (1996), Joseph P. Mazurek, AG of Montana v. James H. Armstrong et al (Cert. 9th Cir Ct App, No 96-1104, 1997)

5. ARS 8-821 standard of proof for temporary custody is unconstitutional under the USSC “Matthews Test” addressed by the AZ Supreme Court in Kent K. and Sherry K. ARS 8-821 provides for taking into temporary custody under the “reasonable grounds” standard, similarly vague to suspicion or probable cause. A parent’s interests at this stage are paramount; the interest of the government is to reunite the child with the custodial parent. This error of lowered standard of proof, “reasonable grounds,” at the early stage of proceedings stacks the deck against custodial parents’ greater interest in their child and familial association. Matthews v. Eldridge and Kent K and Sherry K set the minimum standard at “preponderance of evidence”. The goals at this stage are prevention and reunification not termination which does not enter the equation until 12 – 18 months later. Until the first 18 months pass, a real reunification effort with the custodial parent is mandated by federal statutory law (contract law). By giving the adverse party the greater interest and lowering the standard of proof thus increasing the risk of error, a parent’s case will be lost at the first stage of proceedings, a deprivation of substantive due process to protect the greater interests of the parent. There must be a concrete offer of due process afforded to the parent with the greater liberty interest in adversarial proceedings, not the current level of rubber-stamping and paper-shuffling to meet federal funding guidelines. These are families. Santosky 455 U.S. at 753 (holding child abuse proceedings involve the government acting in an adversarial role toward the custodial parent, and such “persons faced with possible forced dissolution of their custodial rights have a more critical need for procedural protections.”)

In Re KG, SG, and TG (9th Cir. 2004), reaffirming the decision of the U.S.S.C., “This court has noted that the permanent termination of parental rights has been described as the family law equivalent of the death penalty. Consequently, parents must be afforded every procedural and substantive protection the law allows.”

6. ARS 8-824(F) is unconstitutional; the Standard of Proof is limited to “probable cause to believe that continued temporary custody is clearly necessary.” In applying this standard of proof, the court will make an erroneous determination of unfitness without offer of proof (common in juvenile court) and substantive and procedural due process of law which will lead to loss of the parent’s right to familial association, and in affect, terminated rights to custody. Kent K and Sherry K, quoting Santosky (holding erroneous determination of unfitness at this stage could lead to permanently extinguishing the relationship between a fit parent and her child).

7. The State of Arizona encouraged and instituted into state law a vague and easily misconstrued policy of mental illness as reason for removal of a child as well as for termination of parental rights. ARS 8-533(B)(3) and ARS 8-846(1)(b) “A State shall not be immune under the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States for violation of a federally protected right…remedies (both at law and in equity) are available.” Title 42 Chap. 126 Sec 12202 and Title 42 Chap. 21 Subchapter V 2000d-7, and Title 28 CFR, PART 35 Nondiscrimination on Basis of Disability, State and Local Government Services

Title II of the ADA, "No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services or programs of a public entity [reasonable efforts to prevent removal and reunification programs of CPS], or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." 42 USC 12132 A "public entity" is defined as "(A) any State or local government; or (B) any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government." 42 USC 12131

“Where a statute authorizes conduct that is ‘patently violative of fundamental constitutional principles,’ reliance on the statute does not immunize the official's conduct”. Grossman 33 F3d at 1209 See also: Meyers v. Contra Costa County Dept. Soc Svcs 812 F2d 1154, 1157, 1158 (9th Cir. 1987) and Miller v Gammie (No 01-1549, DC No CV-99-00275-HDM PHA, 9th CirCtApp. 2003)

8. Another usage of the wrong standard of law that needing addressed, is the “best interests of the child” standard in adversarial child abuse cases which invoke greater liberties and constitutional protections for familial association. “Best interests of the child” standard is erroneous in child abuse proceedings. Only when proceedings reach the permanency stage, specifically the disposition stage, does the balance of interests shift away from the custodial parent. Matthews

9. Much of A.R.S. Title 8 is unconstitutional and in violation of overriding federal law; for brevity petitioner provided examples. Vague policies, statutes, laws, or the encouragement thereof that violate Federal Child Welfare Funding Laws, constitutionally and federally-protected rights must be examined. Families have the right to be free from unbridled State intrusion into their private family life without afforded substantive and procedural due process of law. When a case of state custody is necessary, children and others in the custody of the state must be afforded the duty of care owed by the state and its agencies under the Fourteenth Amendment.

10. Federal laws of foster care and adoption, legislated by Congress with good intention, are routinely violated by the state. Rather than adhere to statutory preventative measures to provide assistance to keep families together, they many times remove children from their parents when less extreme measures should have been taken violating federal statutory law and the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Arizona ADES-DCYF-CPS often places children with abusive noncustodial parents or in abusive foster/shelter care. (State Created Danger)

11. State law and policies announced by Governor Napolitano encourage unlawful practices of use of these federal funds resulting in need for more monies as the number of children removed from their parents rise. Funds should be used to provide families assistance with food, shelter, furnishings, education, location to domestic violence shelters, state training of its agencies in recognizing common consequences of domestic violence on victims and their children, and other preventative measures to stabilize the family and prevent removal.

12. The most critical issue in The State is the additional large expenditures of monies to hire additional caseworkers, reportedly to handle the overflow of children, but the reality is that additional caseworkers coupled with current “take the child and run” policies encourage improper practices, erroneous and non-explicit findings of abuse, and has the beginnings of an enterprise whose practice is to break up the family. Hiring additional caseworkers creates more crisis and more child fatalities; more children are removed rather than focus on current cases; the state is not the parent and not able to provide the proper standard of care as is its duty, nor can it provide nurturing. If more monies need be spent, it should be appropriated to training current caseworkers in integrity and ethics characteristic to the social services Code of Ethics. Higher standards of care and duty to assist those in need are standards to which social workers should be held. It is time that the State of Arizona brings those ethics back into its ADES– DCYF Child Protection Services agency, perhaps with more experienced workers with families of their own who understand the value of the family.

13. AZDES CPS removes children on suspicion (substantive due process violations). Many children are then abused in state custody (six to ten times higher in state custody per NCCAA). Reasonable efforts must be made to preserve the First Amendment protection of familial association in Arizona. It is obvious that this petitioner, the Mays family, the Hill family, the Payne family and other families undisclosed to the public, the Governor’s office, the State of Arizona and its CPS agency, the Pima County Juvenile Court in the State of Arizona, the City of Tucson Police Department, and The People are aware that there are serious Constitutional policy/procedural deficiencies regarding the safety, care, and protection of children and their families in the State of Arizona under current CPS policies and procedures.

14. The announced policy statement by Governor Napolitano coupled with the seemingly endless supply of federal monies encourages wrongful state intrusion into the lives of families in Arizona and violates constitutional and federally-protected rights and federal law.

15. Pattern and Practice of State Created Danger

* Payne children, deceased 2007 (CPS - Domestic Violence)

* Emily Mays, deceased August 2005, (CPS)

* Dwight Hill, deceased November 2005, (CPS)

* D.R.A., Abused, October – November 2005 (CPS)

* Others unnamed to protect the families.

The State-Created Danger Doctrine See Penilla v. City of Huntington Park, 115 F.3d 707, 710 (9th Cir. 1997) “If affirmative conduct on the part of a state actor places a plaintiff in danger, and the officer acts in deliberate indifference to that plaintiff’s safety, a claim arises under §1983.”. Second, the official’s act did more than simply expose the plaintiff to a danger that already existed. See L.W. v. Grubbs, 974 F.2d 119, 121 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Dwares v. City of New York, 985 F.2d 94, 99 (2d Cir. 1993); Freeman v. Ferguson, 911 F.2d 52, 55 (8th Cir. 1990). Finally, the official acted with deliberate indifference to known or obvious dangers. See L.W. v. Grubbs, 92 F.3d 894, 900 (9th Cir. 1996) “The plaintiff must show that the state official participated in creating a dangerous condition, and acted with deliberate indifference to the known or obvious danger in subjecting the plaintiff to it.”

18 U.S.C 4 Misprision of Felony – parents report abuse of their innocent children in CPS custody and judicial, state, county, and other actors, with deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of families and their children to a duty of care in state proceedings and custody (Fourteenth Amendment), do not act to interfere or stop the abuse, and even retaliate on the reporting parent by termination of rights, terminating visitation, or relinquishing custody of the child to prevent further reports of abuse at the hands of state agency policies and procedures upon these children. This is appalling and an outrage.

16. Petitioner’s case parallels the Mays and Hill cases in the period of time of injuries, the nature of the injuries, and deliberate indifference of the court, CPS, state-appointed attorneys, GALs, and assistant attorney generals acting as counsel for ADES to step up to the plate to provide the owed duty of care to protect children in state custody from further harm (death in the Mays, Payne, and Hill, other cases). The Payne case, this petitioners, and others demonstrate the deliberate indifference of CPS and juvenile courts toward domestic violence victims and their children and the need for change of the improper standard of “best interests of the child” in child abuse cases to protect the greater liberty interests of the custodial parent. It also demonstrates the complete unlawful disregard for “previous custody agreements”. ARS 25-408(H)(I)

17. This petitioner and other parents have contacted (2003-2007) Arizona Office of The Governor, Arizona House and Senate Members, and other public officials (State, City, AZBAR, AZ and Pima County Courts, and the like) who have the ability to make changes to inadequate or dangerous policy both before and after herein stated violations. They are all aware there is a problem with their own policies regarding the constitutional right of familial association and the Doctrine of State Created Danger and the duty of care afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment involving child protection and related policies.

Instead of positive changes to policies or even investigation into violations, policies were changed to further deny the Constitutional Right to due process and to strengthen policies that violate Constitutional rights in adversarial CPS cases.

18. Bill SB1430, initiated by Senator Johnson would have strengthened due process protections for First Amendment rights for CPS TPR cases, Arizona State Senate Committee on Family Services Minutes, dated February 13, 2006. Petitioner spoke at this Senate committee hearing. In June 2006 it was voted down due to Napolitano’s threat of veto. Napolitano has at the same time publicly stated that caseworkers are to “err on the side of the child”, affecting increased removals and TPR and creating policy at CPS that violates due process to families under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. "It seems like a lot of trouble for something that's going to get vetoed." Rep. Pete Hershberger, R-Tucson, said before the bill died on the House floor.

Napolitano’s threatened veto and changes to policy removed jury trials for CPS TPR cases is in violation of the 1st, 6th, 7th, and 14th Amendments guaranteeing the right to trial by jury and the right of confrontation in any criminal or government adversarial trial where the value in controversy exceeds 20 dollars (a child’s life and the right of familial association is invaluable).

The excuse was that “most jury trials resulted in TPR anyway”. This statement illustrates by admission the lack of procedural and substantive due process in Arizona juvenile courts, demonstrating the need for reform policies that implement the Constitutional Due Process of Law protections of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, Arizona Constitution, Federal and Statutory law. See: Cf. Lorillard Tobacco Co v. Reilly 533 U.S. 525, 540-41, 121 S.Ct. 2404, 2414 (2001)

AZ State Representative Laura Knaperek, as well as child advocacy expert Richard Wexler, spoke out strongly condemning Governor Napolitano’s policy saying it will deeply hurt Arizona’s families, and it has.

19. The Governor’s policy implementation (threat of veto, lowered standards of proof, and removal of jury trials) is a deliberate and knowing error as ruled by the Arizona Supreme Court decision in Kent K. and Sherry K. v. Bobby M. and Leeh M. where the Court, applying Matthews and Santosky, held that, "The private interest affected is commanding; the risk of error from using a preponderance standard is substantial; and the countervailing governmental interest favoring that standard is comparatively slight. Because the preponderance of the evidence standard essentially allocates the risk of error equally between the parents and the state, due process requires a higher standard of proof than “preponderance of the evidence”.

20. This petitioner spoke at Governor Napolitano’s CPS Reform conference in 2003 on domestic violence and the need for CPS to protect Mothers and their children. The recent horrific cases of Tyler and Ariana Payne and another unnamed father who dated a CPS supervisor parallels this case and the problem of Domestic Violence and CPS policies of separating Mother her child in favor of the noncustodial batterer, thus inflicting the sins of the batterer on the children, as addressed in an injunction against NY Child Protection in Nicholson et al v Scoppetta et al and Williams et al where the Court concluded:

“The City may not penalize a mother by separating her from her children; nor may children be separated from the mother, in effect visiting upon them the sins of their mother’s batterer” (In re Nicholson, 181 F supp 2d 182, 188 [ED NY Jan. 20, 2002], Nicholson v Williams, 203 F Supp 2d 153 [ED NY Mar 18, 2002] [108-pg elaboration grounds injunction]). The Court found that ACS unnecessarily, routinely charged mothers with neglect and removed their children where the mothers were the victims of domestic violence; that ACS did so without ensuring that the mother had access to the services she needed, without a court order, and without returning these children promptly; that ACS caseworkers and managers lacked adequate training about domestic violence, and their practice was to separate mother and child when less extreme measures should have been taken. The District court cited the testimony of a manager that it was common practice in domestic violence cases for ACS to wait a few days before going to court after removing the child because “after a few days of the children being in foster care, the mother will agree to ACS’s conditions without the matter even going to court” 203 F Supp 2d at 170.

See also: Pathologizing the Victim, a common tactic used in family court to applaud the actions of the abuser while labeling the victim unstable.

21. Common sense and civil law state that when government or agency policies are in violation of Constitutional Rights or of Federal Law or Federally protected rights, state and local governments and their agencies that institute or encourage policies are directly liable for wrongs and injuries that result. Governor Napolitano and the State of Arizona’s policies and deliberate indifference has assumed responsibility for injuries instilled upon families such as those of my child and of Emily Mays and Dwight Hill (infants) and further cases such as the Payne case (involving prior domestic violence and CPS change of custody) which show the sufferings and irreparable injury of parents and their children as a result. Children are no safer in state custody than with parents, nor are they any safer with CPS involvement. Child abuse is an issue for the police, not a social agency.

22. The federal law on child abuse and neglect is found primarily in Title IV-B&E of the Social Security Act transfers monies from the Social Security Fund to The State. Approximately seventy-five percent of the funds in Arizona is federal money which is available only if the state meets eligibility requirements; these funds can be withdrawn if requirements are not met.

The history and sources of the Child Welfare funding are primarily found in: Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance 42 USC 670-679b; the 1974 Walter Mondale Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, PL 93-247, 88 Stat. 4, 42 USC 5101-5107; and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, PL 96-272, 94 Stat. 500, 42 USC 670-676 (and amending 620-628); 42 USC 107(b), 5106a(b)(1) Grants to States for child abuse and neglect prevention and treatment programs, as well as other sources such as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), a contract which provides financial incentives for interstate placement of foster children, reportedly to find permanence.

23. The State of Arizona is the governing body of AZDES-DCYF-CPS. The State collects Federal Funding, (42 USC 670-679b) (17 Trillion in 2004, U.S. total) from the United States Government in the form of Title IV (Parts B & E) funding, mandated to be used primarily for prevention and reunification purposes (42 USC 671). Title 42 Chapter 67: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform also offers federal funding grants to CPS agencies through various eligibility programs such as fostering, adoptions, interstate placements, etc., as do other additional grants/receipts.

24. ADES receives federal funding through the state which then provides funding to domestic violence shelters and programs through its Community Services Administration (CSA) and collects information such as Name, Address, Age, Phone Number, Children’s Names and Ages, Income, Disability Status, and other personal information. ADES maintains its own private database on Mothers and children who receive domestic violence services. Recent events in the Payne case as well as this petitioner and others show a pattern of disregard for Mothers and their children who are victims of domestic violence.

25. The Supreme Court of the State of Arizona has power to issue declaratory relief in the form of Arizona State Congressional investigation into state records of specific practices of this agency such as the use of federal funding to meet federal eligibility requirements regarding prevention, inconsistencies in individual case documentation, nonexplicit rubber-stamped judicial findings, paper-shuffling to meet federal statutory law, foster provider licensing, state-contractor conflict-of-interests (fishing expeditions to build a case through forced services to justify unlawful removals post facto), and for examination or positive enforcement of federal law that overrides state law matter of child welfare.

26. This petitioner prays this AZ Supreme Court will honor Declaratory Positive Relief to address the problems in the Child “Protection” Services of the State of Arizona, such as amending state statutes and state policy to properly comply with overriding federal funding contract law.

Dated this 17th day of May, 2007

Signed in ink for the court

Roma O. Amor, Appearing as herself

SUBMISSION OF TESTIMONY FOR THE RECORD

ABOLISH CPS. Let police handle it!

COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS

SUBCOMMITTEE ON INCOME SECURITY AND FAMILY SUPPORT

CHILD WELFARE HEARING 5-15-07

Submitted for:

Roma O. Amor and Dante R. Amor (Rafe)

All Arizona families and for those children that suffer.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:23 am

.

http://www.dailymail.com/story/News/200 ... care-home/

Charleston Daily Mail (No author given)

Wednesday September 26, 2007

Couple sues over shutdown of foster care home



The Department of Health and Human Resources is being sued because of allegations that it improperly shut down a Roane County couple's foster home and removed the children.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Kanawha Circuit Court, Delmer and Janet Matheny maintain that the DHHR decided to step in based on the unfounded allegations of a child who had been placed in their home only months before.

The DHHR and Action Youth Care Inc., a nonprofit child welfare agency in Ripley, should have known that the child, identified in the complaint by the initials T.A., was prone to unpredictable and dangerous behavior, the suit contends.

In July 1999, when confronted by a neighbor with foster children about stealing, T.A. "threatened to ‘say things' to get the neighbor ‘kicked out of Action Youth Care,' " the suit maintains.

He also threatened to burn the Mathenys' home and two of the children living there, according to the suit.

Later that month, Janet Matheny asked officials to remove T.A. from their home, the suit maintains; in response, T.A. made additional threats.

Based on T.A.'s claims, the DHHR decided to close the Mathenys' foster home and remove the six children living there, including T.A., according to the suit.

Three of the now-adult children -- Joshua Shaw, Kristal Burgess and Michael Matheny -- are also plaintiffs in the suit.

The suit names the DHHR, AYC, and four employees as defendants.

"Soon after the closure of the Matheny foster home, the defendants knew or should have known that the evidence, upon which the original decision to close the Matheny foster home was based, was inaccurate and/or insufficient to justify the closure," the suit reads.

The couple filed a grievance over the DHHR's decision, but the children were not returned to their home, according to the suit. After they turned 18, Michael Matheny and Burgess went back to live with their former foster parents.

In June 2002, Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom ruled that the Mathenys had a constitutionally protected interest in the operation of their foster home and that they were denied due process, the suit maintains.

"The DHHR refused to produce the investigator who prepared the original report and then decided to drop the closure case," the suit claims. The couple learned of this decision from a letter dated Sept. 25, 2006.

DHHR spokesman John Law could not be reached on Tuesday.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:14 am

.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/wjxt/20070928/lo_wjxt/14224322

Girl Gets Nearly $800K Judgement In DCF Case

Fri Sep 28, 1:10 PM ET



A 12-year-old Jacksonville girl has been awarded nearly $800,000 in a lawsuit against a former Department of Children and Families employee accused of sexually abusing her seven years ago.


A Duval County jury ruled in May that Louis Templeman violated the then 5-year-old girl's civil rights when he allegedly sexually molested her.

The suspected abuse happened back in July of 2000, when Templeman worked as a child protection investigator.

The judgment against him was only announced Thursday because the time for an appeal had passed.

In total, the girl was awarded more than $788,000. She is now living with her biological mother.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:37 am

.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/ ... =7&cxcat=0

State pays 20 abused children $14 million

By Kathleen Chapman

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, September 28, 2007

The state of Florida has paid $14 million for 20 children, including three from Palm Beach County, who were beaten by a foster parent with sticks, pipes and extension cords over nearly a decade, their attorney announced Friday. A federal lawsuit said that the Florida Department of Children and Families sent children from around the state to the home of Nellie Jasper Johnson in Alachua County. From 1991 to until it finally shut down the home 2001, DCF received 17 separate reports that the children were being harmed, according to the suit.

Johnson, who received up to $90,000 each year in state subsidies for the children, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the abuse in 2003. The state used Johnson's home as an inexpensive place to dump children with disabilities, the suit said, and the state repeatedly failed to act on warnings they were being hurt. The three Palm Beach County siblings, an 11-year-old boy with disabilities and his two younger sisters, then 10 and 8, were sent to Johnson's home in July 1991, several years after being taken from their birth parents.


Two months later, two of the siblings told child abuse investigators that they were being beaten with extension cords and shoes. DCF removed one child from the home as a result of the allegations, but left others with Johnson. Despite finding a threat of harm to those children, and evidence confirmed by child abuse experts that she bruised another child by beating him with a belt, they allowed Johnson to adopt the siblings from Palm Beach County in 1993. After receiving more abuse reports, DCF workers in Alachua County issued a written instructions in 1995 saying that the home should be carefully watched, and no more children sent there to live. But caseworkers from around the state failed to follow those directions, according to the suit, and at one time there were 13-people living in the three-bedroom house. The siblings from Palm Beach County were taken out of Johnson's home in 1997. Others remained there for four more years. One of the Palm Beach County children overcame the abuse and now works as a nurse, said Howard Talenfeld, one of several attorneys who represented the victims. Others are not doing as well, he said.

The payments for each child range from about $300,000 to more than $1 million, Talenfeld said, depending on the severity of the abuse and extent of the injuries. Florida caps the damages that can be paid on claims in state courts to $100,000, and any verdict or settlement exceeding that amount must be approved by the legislature. But Florida does not limit on the amount of damages that can be paid in a federal lawsuit, so the victims in this case could be paid without delay. The state began settling with the individual victims in October 2006, and resolved the last cases in June 2007, DCF spokeswoman Erin Geraghty said Friday. Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth announced when he took over in January that the agency would not spend state money fighting lawsuits when facts clearly showed it had erred. In a written statement Friday, he said he was "saddened and horrified" by the case, and did not see a need for trial. "As evidenced by Ms. Johnson's sentencing to 60 years in prison for her crimes, these children were harmed irreparably and it is important we step forward now and do the right thing. We are one state, and as one state we cannot prosecute a perpetrator for their crimes and then later ask that the victims prove those crimes occurred," Butterworth said.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:17 pm

.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a ... /710030493

Abuse victim's mom sues FSSA workers


By Katie Merlie
[email protected]

NOBLESVILLE -- The mother of a child molestation victim has filed a civil lawsuit against the former employers of Cory Heinzman, who was a Child Protective Services caseworker. He was found guilty in June of 17 sex-related charges.


The lawsuit, which alleges negligence in hiring, was filed Monday in federal district court against two former employees of the Hamilton County Department of Family and Children, the former secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) and the current FSSA secretary.
An identical suit was filed in 2005 by the family of a teenager who said he was molested by Heinzman. That family also has another civil case pending in Marion County Superior Court, but that one names Heinzman as a defendant.
Heinzman, 38, of Arcadia, was sentenced Sept. 5 to 106.5 years in prison.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:14 pm

.

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_7204654?source=rss

Appeals court will reconsider Santa Clara County lawsuit alleging social worker provided phony evidence

By Howard Mintz
Mercury News
Article Launched: 10/17/2007 01:21:13 PM PDT


A federal appeals court agreed today to reconsider a Santa Clara County case that hinges on whether social workers can be sued for providing false information to juvenile court judges deciding whether to remove children from their parents.
In a brief order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to reconsider a ruling from last April, when a divided panel of the court concluded that social workers are entitled to "absolute immunity" against lawsuits over information they provide in dependency and child custody matters. The appeals court's action means an 11-judge panel will now review the case.

The legal battle stems from a civil rights lawsuit filed two years ago by Lori and Robert Beltran, who say they suffered a traumatic loss when they temporarily lost custody of their son based on allegedly phony evidence submitted by the Santa Clara County Child Protective Services department.

The department had investigated concerns about the son's medical condition on four separate occasions, focusing on whether the mother suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a condition in which a parent takes steps to keep a child ill to get medical attention. In each instance, social workers did not find a problem, but when the case got referred a fifth time, a different social worker recommended the mother be stripped of custody, according to court papers.

The parents asserted that the social worker's report was fabricated. When the case went through a 2002 custody
hearing, a juvenile court judge ordered the boy returned to the parents, who then sued the county.
A San Jose federal judge dismissed the case, finding that social workers cannot be sued for the statements they make in custody matters. The 9th Circuit agreed, but Judge Warren Ferguson dissented, saying social workers can be held liable if they fabricate evidence in dependency cases.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sun Oct 28, 2007 12:49 pm

.

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local ... 76578.html

Posted on Fri, Oct. 26, 2007

Child Welfare Services

Woman files claim against county, saying her social worker forced her to engage in sex acts to get her children back

She says a former social worker used custody of kids as leverage; she’s asking for $10 million

By Sarah Arnquist
An Atascadero woman has accused a former San Luis Obispo County male social worker of forcing her to engage in sexual acts in order to regain custody of her children.

Maria Romo filed a $10 million claim Thursday against the county and Anthony “Pete” L’Esperance, a Child Welfare Services social worker.

A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. The county now has 45 days to respond.

Claims and civil lawsuits only represent one side of a dispute.

The claim says Romo was a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual battery and intimidation by L’Esperance around November 2006.

Reached by phone Thursday, L’Esperance said he knew Romo because her son was one of his clients.

But he said he knew nothing of the allegations. And he said he resigned from his job in August to start his own business.

L’Esperance worked as a social worker for Child Welfare Services from April 2002 to Aug. 24, 2007, said Lee Collins, director of San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services.

Collins said the county investigated the allegations, but he could not comment on the results of the investigation. He did not say whether L’Esperance resigned or was fired.

“He no longer works here,” Collins said.

L’Esperance said he left social work partly because of accusations that get made by clients.

“I know that in the world of Child Welfare Services, which is one of the reasons I got out of it, we’re accused of things all the time,” L’Esperance said. “People don’t like it when you take away their kids and hold them to a certain standard.”

Romo could not be reached Thursday for comment. Her attorney, Angel Cabrera, did not return a phone call for comment.

Social workers work with families whose children are alleged or confirmed to have been abused or neglected. The social workers decide when to remove children from their parents’ custody and then try to reunite them, when possible, Collins said.

It is never appropriate for a social worker to have a relationship with a client and that would never be tolerated, he said.

“We would like to be able to say this kind of thing could never happen and would never happen,” Collins said. “But in any endeavor—I’m speaking in general terms — you may come across scoundrels, persons who could take advantage of the situation.”

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:04 pm

.

http://www.charlotte.com/nation/story/334590.html

Posted on Thu, Oct. 25, 2007

Suit says baby's seizure violated rights

By ANNA JO BRATTON
Associated Press Writer


Mary Anaya holds her 6-week-old son Joel, in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. The baby is home after sheriff's deputies seized him from his parents so doctors could perform a mandatory blood test that the boy's parents object to on religious grounds.

OMAHA, Neb. --A Nebraska couple sued state health officials Thursday, arguing their rights were violated when their newborn baby was seized by sheriff's deputies so a mandatory blood test could be performed.

Joel Anaya, who was almost 6 weeks old, was kept in foster care for six days until the tests came back negative earlier this month.

His parents, Mary and Josue Anaya, believe that the Bible instructs against deliberately drawing blood and that ignoring that directive may shorten a person's life. State health officials "conspired to deny the Anayas their rights of due process, and to seize and test baby Joel without notice or a hearing in district court," according to the filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha.

"This is a classic case of the government overreaching and violating a family's constitutional rights," said Jeff Downing, the couple's attorney.

The Anaya family is not seeking damages, but they want to ensure that this won't happen again if they have more children.

It's the first time in Nebraska a child was taken from parents to draw the drops of blood from the baby's heel for the screening, said Marla Augustine, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nebraska is one of four states - South Dakota, Michigan and Montana are the others - that doesn't offer a religious exemption for parents who don't want the test performed.

Health officials say the newborn screening program is one of the state's most cost-effective public health programs. The newborn blood test - usually performed within 48 hours of birth - screens for dozens of rare diseases, some of which can cause severe mental retardation or death if left undetected.

Last year, out of 26,819 babies tested, 537 tested positive for one of the dozens of diseases, and 43 of those results were confirmed, according to the state's Newborn Screening Program.

Augustine said Thursday that state officials had not seen the lawsuit and would have no comment.

The decision to seize Joel Anaya and test him was made by Douglas County prosecutors who have said they only did what was necessary to protect the baby's health.

When the Anayas' daughter Rosa was born in 2003, a hearing was held in Douglas County District Court and the couple voiced their objections. The state Supreme Court eventually turned down their arguments, but Rosa never was tested.

This time, the county wanted to make sure the testing was completed, said Nicole Brundo Goaley, a deputy Douglas County Attorney. So the county got an order from a juvenile court judge to test the baby.

Sheriff's deputies came Oct. 11 to take the child, who remained in foster care until tests came back Oct. 16. During that period, social workers let Mary Anaya nurse her son several times a day.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:14 am

.

http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/456693.html

Wrongful death claim against CPS

By Crystal Carreon - [email protected]
Last Updated 12:35 am PDT Saturday, October 27, 2007




Relatives of the 17-month-old girl who died in foster care this week filed a wrongful death claim Friday against the agency responsible for the child's welfare – on the same day her caretaker was charged with murder.

In a Sacramento courtroom crowded with members of both the defendant's and victim's families, Tamekca Walker, 34, was arraigned on charges of felony assault resulting in the death of a child and the murder of Tamaihia Lynae Moore. Walker did not enter a plea.

Tamaihia, who was placed in Walker's south Sacramento home last month, died on Monday. The cause of her death has not been determined.

But outside the courtroom, Debra Oliver, the child's grandmother, accused the county's Child Protective Services of being negligent in Tamaihia's care and culpable in her death.

"They didn't do their job," she said, as others close to the family fought back tears. "CPS can't say they're not at fault."

Oliver said CPS officials and social workers were repeatedly made aware of her concerns that her granddaughter was not being cared for properly and was in need of medical attention.

The grandmother, who last saw Tamaihia two days before her death, said she pleaded with a social worker on Saturday to take the child to a hospital. She said Tamaihia had a large bruise along her forehead near the hairline, and scratches on her back. The toddler appeared to be disoriented, she added.

According to a document CPS sent to the state Department of Social Services, Tamaihia had two noticeable bruises after she died. One was across her forehead and other was behind her left ear.

"Bruises were inconsistent with the explanation provided," the report says. "Coroner investigation is continuing."

Oliver said her granddaughter had deteriorated from an Oct. 7 visit, during which the toddler appeared dehydrated and malnourished. She left messages with CPS officials and was "reassured that the matter would be looked into and taken care of," according to the claim.

No medical care was sought in either instance, according to the claim.

CPS officials on Friday declined to comment on the case, citing the pending lawsuit. But on Thursday, CPS director Laura Coulthard confirmed that Oliver's request on Saturday had not been fulfilled.

Oliver's attorney, Bruce G. Fagel of Beverly Hills, who is also representing Tamaihia's aunt and father, said the claim was meant to spur changes in how CPS responds to urgent concerns.

The claim, filed against the county as a precursor to a lawsuit, seeks unspecified damages.

"This is not an indictment of foster care ... . The concern here is with CPS services," Fagel said after the arraignment.

The attorney and family members did not want to discuss why the child was placed in foster care, but a relative told The Bee earlier that Tamaihia had tested positive for cocaine exposure after her birth.

Walker was scheduled to return to court Nov. 15.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Nov 03, 2007 7:47 pm

.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/134693.html

Dutch social worker on trial for failing to protect client

Posted : Thu, 01 Nov 2007 15:29:08 GMT
Author : DPA



Amsterdam - A Dutch public prosecutor requested a court in The Hague on Thursday to impose a sentence of community service on a social worker who is charged with failing to protect her client, a toddler who died from abuse and neglect. The woman, a family guardian, is standing trial on suspicion of failing to provide a safe haven to a client. In 2004 three-year-old Savannah died following prolonged abuse and neglect by her mother and two of her former partners.

The family guardian, her supervisors and a number of social aid organisations had been aware of the girl's situation. Nevertheless the girl was not removed from her parental home by the local Youth Care Bureau.

Prior to the trial, the public prosecutor had charged the family guardian with second degree manslaughter. However, on Thursday public prosecutor Nicole Vogelenzang said those charges were off the table.

No causal relationship could be established between the family guardian's failure to remove the child from her parental home and the girl's subsequent death.

Vogelenzang, however, added that the family guardian had focused primarily upon the mother's perspective. "Savannah's interests subsequently moved to the background," he told the court Thursday.

The new charge is complicity in inflicting serious physical harm. The prosecution has requested the court to impose a conditional sentence of 150 hours of community service.

The family guardian's lawyer Simeon Burmeister welcomed the reduction in the charges against his client, but also told reporters "we want more. The prosecutor uses civil jurisprudence to argue its case. But these arguments deal with money, not with intentions."

"Our client never intended for anything bad to happen to Savannah," Burmeister said.

In 2006, a court in The Hague tried and convicted the toddler's mother Sonja de Jong, her former boyfriend Mario Bijleveer, as well as another former boyfriend Reffles Mulders for their involvement in Savannah's death.

The mother and Bijleveer received sentences of six years and two years imprisonment respectively and were also placed in mental health custody. A psychiatric evaluation showed that the second boyfriend could only be held accountable to a limited extent.

The family guardian is the first social worker to be prosecuted in the Netherlands in a criminal suit for failing to protect a client.

On Monday the social worker's lawyers told reporters it was "unfair" that the family guardian and not her superiors - the management of the Youth Care Bureau in North Holland - was standing trial.

The trial was set to continue through Friday.



.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:53 pm

.

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/762541.html

Published: Nov 06, 2007 05:31 PM
Modified: Nov 06, 2007 05:39 PM

NC appeals court: county can't use child's Social Security money

By ESTES THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. - A county child welfare agency must use a teenager's Social Security benefits to pay the mortgage and upkeep on a home he inherited, and the agency can't use the money in its budget, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The teen, identified in court documents as "J.G.," has been living in a foster home but is likely to move into the house when he turns 18 next year, said his lawyer.

Attorney Lewis Pitts of Legal Aid of North Carolina, which represented the teen, said the ruling means a state judge "has the power to order (the Department of Social Services) to use his money to pay his mortgage and not stick it in their pocket."

Pitts said the case was the first to go to court in the state. He also said it is common across North Carolina and in other states for Social Security benefits to be used in a similar way.

"Hopefully this case will help the general public realize that we have starved the budget of the child welfare agency such that they have an incentive to steal from the kids they are responsible for," Pitts said.

Pitts said the youth will leave the Guilford County foster care system next year.

The county is exploring its options in the case, said Lynne Schiftan, deputy county attorney.

Schiftan said the law allows use of benefits "for his living expenses, maintenance, current care and that's exactly what we did."

The case highlights what happens to children in the child welfare system, said Amy Harfeld, executive director of First Star. Her group is a Washington-based child welfare nonprofit that filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

Harfeld said federal figures show that 24,000 children aged out of foster care nationwide in 2005. Congressional testimony shows that 13.8 percent of foster children are homeless two years after they leave the system.

"This case has national implications and is a major victory for foster children across the country," Harfeld said. "This ruling is a step in the direction of banning the practice of intercepting foster children's benefits to reimburse states for the costs of foster care - costs that they are mandated to cover in any event."

Daniel Hatcher, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law who testified before Congress and written on the issue, said states may be taking more than $100 million in Social Security payments to foster children.

"It's a bad practice," Hatcher said. "I understand why states are doing this because state foster care agencies across the country are cash-strapped. They're not high on the priority list for funding."

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Nov 10, 2007 1:27 pm

.

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2 ... cies/3802/

Parents of starved boy may sue agencies


Published: Nov. 7, 2007 at 5:51 PM
DENVER, Nov. 7 (UPI) --

The parents of a 7-year-old boy whose stepfather allegedly starved him to death are planning to sue child welfare agencies in Colorado over the tragedy.

As part of their planned lawsuits against the state and county agencies, Christina Grafner and Josh Norris are accusing child welfare officials of not taking action to protect their son, Chandler Grafner, the Rocky Mountain News said Wednesday.

The child died in his stepfather's home in Denver on May 7, after allegedly being forced to live inside a closet until he weighed little more than 30 pounds.

The stepfather, Jon Phillips, along with his common-law wife, Sarah Berry, have been accused of not feeding the young boy for extended periods while in he was in their care.

They both have pleaded not guilty to homicide charges and their trial will likely begin next March, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Grafner and Norris have filed a letter of intent regarding their impending lawsuits, in which they are seeking $150,000 each.

"The complete failure of (the state agencies) to do their jobs on multiple occasions directly led to the premature and horrific death of 7-year-old Chandler Ashton Grafner," that letter said.

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Nov 10, 2007 1:37 pm

.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/11/prweb567782.htm

Orange County Judge Orders Social Services to Pay Mom $1.6 Million in Attorney's Fees

On October 31, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) awarded Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick over $1.6 million in attorney's fees to help defray the cost of litigation against Orange County Social Services. The fee award arises from Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick's recent court victory against the Orange County Social Services and two of its social workers, Marcia Vreeken and Helen Dwojak, earlier this year.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) November 8, 2007 --

RE: Fogarty-Hardwick v. County of Orange, et al.
Superior Court of California, County of Orange
Case No. 01CC02379 (Trial before Hon. Ronald L. Bauer, Dept. CX103)

On October 31, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) awarded Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick over $1.6 million in attorney's fees to help defray the cost of litigation against Orange County Social Services. The fee award arises from Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick's recent court victory against the Orange County Social Services and two of its social workers, Marcia Vreeken and Helen Dwojak, earlier this year.

The case was brought by Deanna Fogarty against the County of Orange, Marcia Vreeken, Elaine Wilkins, and their supervisor Helen Dwojak to recover damages arising from these defendants' alleged falsification of evidence, perjury, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during a juvenile dependency action back in February of 2000. On March 23, 2007 after over six years of litigation and a seven week trial, an Orange County Jury found against Orange County, social worker Marcia Vreeken, and social worker supervisor Helen Dwojak and awarded monetary damages of $4.9 million. Elaine Wilkins was found not liable.

In addition to seeking damages, Ms. Fogarty-Hardwick also sought to enjoin the Orange County Social Services Agency from continuing its allegedly unlawful practice of making allegations of wrong doing against parents in dependency proceedings without supporting evidence. On May 14, 2007 Orange County Superior Court Judge, Ronald Bauer (Dept. CX-103) issued an injunction against the Orange County Social Services Agency requiring the agency to obtain "reasonable and articulable evidence" prior to initiating dependency proceedings alleging abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child.

San Diego Lawyer Shawn A. McMillan, of the Law Offices of Shawn A. McMillan, was lead trial counsel in the case.

For additional information, contact:

Shawn A. McMillan, Esq.
The Law Offices of Shawn A. McMillan, A.P.C.
4955 Via Lapiz
San Diego, California 92122
Telephone: (858) 646-0069
Facsimile: (206) 600-4582
Website: www.mcmillan-law.com

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:46 pm

.

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/lo ... t=&sid=101

Ann Fisher commentary: Conflicts are of interest to all
Monday, November 12, 2007 3:39 AM
By Ann Fisher

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

When a Franklin County social worker is assigned to investigate allegations of child abuse at a day-care center -- or anywhere -- you might assume that any conflict of interest would be revealed to everyone involved.

But don't assume.

A Franklin County social worker was assigned to investigate allegations that a 2½-year-old boy had been abused at a day-care center operated by World Harvest Church.

The results of her investigation were used by a doctor at the Center for Child & Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital to conclude that the boy had a rash on his buttocks, thighs, back and legs, rather than marks from being beaten. The doctor never examined the child.

Columbus police relied on the same information and the doctor's opinion to decide against filing criminal charges.

One problem: The social worker had a conflict of interest because she's also a long-standing member of World Harvest Church. She told her supervisor in the Institutional Abuse Unit about the conflict. But because the unit was short-handed, the supervisor assigned her to the case anyway.

That decision was unfair to the public and the social worker.

Michael and Lacey Faieta, the boy's parents, sued. On Oct. 18, a jury awarded them nearly $6 million, finding World Harvest Church and the worker liable for beating the child. The World Harvest day-care center has since closed. The accused worker has left the state. And the jury award has been appealed.

But the appearance of impropriety has squandered precious public trust. That's why we have codes of ethics and rules about potential conflicts. Lawyers routinely juggle cases to avoid such conflicts.

Children Services Director Eric Fenner said agency policy does not mention church affiliation as a potential conflict of interest. In fact, the policy doesn't detail any potential conflicts.

The Faietas should have been told immediately.

The social worker might well be a respected investigator. She could have protected that reputation by showing her supervisors the conflict-of-interest section in the National Association of Social Workers' online Code of Ethics.

It reads, in part:

"Social workers should inform clients when a real or potential conflict of interest arises. … In some cases, protecting clients' interests may require termination of the professional relationship with proper referral of the client."

Even the doctor was concerned after being deposed for the civil trial. He wrote the church's lawyers on May 29: "I would like to add that, as a result of questions that were posed to me during that deposition, information that was provided to me may not have been accurate and, as a result, I have less confidence in my opinion rendered in February 2006."

Most of the information provided to him came from an interview the social worker conducted with the parents before they were told of her conflict of interest. And when the social worker was replaced, they weren't told why.

That's just wrong.

Ann Fisher is a Dispatch Metro columnist. She can be reached at 614-461-8759 or by e-mail. See her blog Furthermore… at blogs.dispatch.com/ann/.

[email protected]

.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:09 pm

.

http://www.kentucky.com/171/story/230269.html

Posted on Wed, Nov. 14, 2007

Social worker suing bosses

'Whistle blower' in Jessamine

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
[email protected]


A state social worker based in Jessamine County filed a "whistle-blower" lawsuit against her supervisors yesterday, saying they are retaliating against her because she cooperated in state investigations of alleged office misconduct.

Jami Hall alleges that within the last several months, Melanie Taylor, Hall's field supervisor at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, falsified documents, violated cabinet policies and failed to protect children by not removing them from their home, according to a complaint filed in Fayette Circuit Court.

The complaint also focuses on what Hall's attorney, Shane Sidebottom, described as the cabinet's unrealistic emphasis on paperwork in a regional office that was understaffed 98 percent of the time. "I think children are losing out and being put at risk in some cases," said Sidebottom, a Covington lawyer.

Hall said that when she reported the problems to Arthur Hayden, Taylor's supervisor, he simply told Taylor and did not investigate them, the complaint said.

The complaint names Taylor, Hayden and the cabinet as defendants.

Cabinet spokeswoman Vikki Franklin said cabinet officials could not respond yesterday because they had not seen the lawsuit. Hayden and Taylor could not be reached for comment.

The complaint said that Hall was denied a transfer and given a negative performance review after she cooperated with the cabinet commissioner's office, which was investigating the Jessamine County management team for misconduct. Hall has also contacted the cabinet's inspector general's office.

Hall says in the complaint that the retaliation put her under so much stress that she had to take a three-week medical leave in August and September.

Hall, who is officially called a social services clinician, has been a state social worker since September 2002. She continues to work in the regional office based in Jessamine County.

Before Oct. 16, 2007, Hall had no disciplinary reports in her file and had received letters of praise from court officials and community agency officials, the complaint said.

The problems began this past spring. In an understaffed office with overworked social workers, the complaint said, past-due paperwork became an issue.

Taylor targeted Hall "for retribution and intentionally tried to harass and embarrass her with such tactics as placing past-due notices on her office door for all of (her) co-workers to see," the complaint said.

Hall alleges in the complaint that Taylor violated policy by refusing to file a report when a foster child ran off with an adult.

Hall told a Jessamine judge in August that Taylor would not remove a child whose parent was abusive and had previously threatened to kill police and Hall for coming to the home, the complaint said.

In the complaint, Hall is asking for a trial, compensatory and punitive damages, costs and future lost wages and benefits.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397.


Link to the lawsuit

http://media.kentucky.com/smedia/2007/1 ... ate.79.pdf


.

Marina
Moderator
Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:01 pm

.

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbc ... /711150398

Thursday, November 15, 2007 E-mail this | Print page



Ky. social worker alleges supervisor overlooked abuse

Whistleblower suit joins similar cases

By Deborah Yetter
[email protected]
The Courier-Journal



State social-service officials face new allegations that supervisors pressured social workers to overlook abuse and neglect and leave children in dangerous situations to meet deadlines and limit caseloads.

A state social worker in Jessamine County has filed a "whistleblower" lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court, alleging that her supervisor refused to accept some reports of suspected child abuse and backdated other reports so it would appear the Cabinet had investigated them promptly.



In one case, the supervisor refused to take a report in which a parent suspected of child abuse "was threatening to kill the police or social workers who came to the house," said the lawsuit filed Tuesday by worker Jami Hall.

Hall's lawsuit comes three months after the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services paid $425,000 to two former social workers in Northern Kentucky to settle similar claims.

Three more Northern Kentucky social workers have whistleblower lawsuits pending. Meanwhile, disciplinary actions are pending against six child welfare workers in the Hardin County region after a state investigation found they falsified documents, lied in court and mishandled cases of child abuse and neglect.

Cabinet officials declined yesterday to comment, spokeswoman Vikki Franklin said.

Shane C. Sidebottom, the Covington lawyer who represents Hall, said he believes children are at risk because of the problems alleged in the lawsuit.

"You are playing with kids' lives," he said.

And David Richart, a longtime youth advocate and consultant on child welfare in Louisville, said it appears the Cabinet simply can't control a social service system that wields enormous power over families its workers investigate.

Though most workers are conscientious and fair, Richart said his work with families subject to state child welfare investigations has convinced him that some workers abuse their power -- including their ultimate weapon, recommending courts remove children from families.

"There's got to be an adjustment of attitude among some -- some social workers," he said.

Clay Clement, a state social worker in Madison County, said he has twice this year reported to officials in Frankfort that some workers are failing to investigate or substantiate seemingly obvious abuse or falsifying records.

In March, Clement said he traveled to Frankfort and met with Cabinet secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell to outline his concerns -- and provided information from specific cases -- but is not aware that anything resulted from that meeting.

Birdwhistell, in an interview earlier this year, confirmed that Clement's allegations were turned over to the Cabinet's inspector general, who was not able to substantiate them. The matter was also referred to the Cabinet's ombudsman to decide whether any further action is warranted, Birdwhistell said.

Clement said the Cabinet needs to dig deeper into some of the allegations he raised about specific cases. "It doesn't seem like anyone is willing to do an investigation," he said.

Hall, who has worked as a social worker in Jessamine County since 2004, said in the lawsuit that she had an exemplary record until she began to challenge some practices she thought were wrong.

Hall alleged that a supervisor was falsifying documents -- including altering dates on reports of suspected child abuse to cover up delays in investigating them.

That same supervisor in some cases refused to accept reports of suspected abuse or violence in a child's home and, to limit paperwork, overturned some of Hall's decisions to remove some children from unsafe homes, the lawsuit said.

The supervisor allegedly was "furious" when Hall told a Jessamine family court judge that the supervisor refused to let her intervene in a case where the parent had threatened to kill police and social workers.

The lawsuit said Hall's actions resulted in retaliation, including a poor job evaluation and a written reprimand. Cabinet officials then refused her request to transfer to another office, citing the reprimand.

On Oct. 19 Hall sent an official letter to the Cabinet's inspector general, detailing the alleged misconduct in the Jessamine County office. It does not say whether the inspector general acted on the information.

Sidebottom said Hall remains on the job.

"She's refusing to quit," he said.

Reporter Deborah Yetter can be reached at (502) 582-4228.

.


Return to “In the News”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest