DHS took illegal actions in removing child

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Marina
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DHS took illegal actions in removing child

Postby Marina » Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:59 pm

http://gazetteonline.com/breaking-news/ ... rom-mother

Attorney claims DHS took illegal actions in removing child from mother

Posted on Nov 18, 2009 by Angie Holmes.

An attorney says the Department of Human Services illegally placed a 5-year-old child in foster care based on a document signed by the father who has no parental rights.

Attorney Natalie Cronk of Iowa City said DHS violated the law when it took the child away from her mother, Jessica Wilbur, 20, of Guernsey, after her non-custodial father, Robert Nino of Iowa City, who has been convicted of assault with intent sexual abuse, made child abuse allegations against Wilbur’s mother.

He then signed a voluntary foster care placement contract with DHS, and the child was placed in foster care last week.

Cronk filed a petition Friday, asking the court to return the child to the mother’s custody. A hearing is set for Dec. 1 in Johnson County District Court.

Cronk said a voluntary foster care contract has to be signed by the person who has custodial/parental rights. Cronk questions why the department didn’t use other options like filing an order of removal, which is the common action in abuse cases, or getting the police involved to remove the child if it was a welfare or safety issue.

Cronk said there still hasn’t been an investigation opened regarding the child abuse allegation. DHS, she charges, circumvented procedural safeguards and the mother’s constitutional rights.

DHS officials in Des Moines declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

Wilbur said she feels helpless not knowing where her child is living. All she knows is her daughter was placed with Nino’s aunt in Iowa City.

“I don’t really know her,” Wilbur said.

The removal happened when Wilbur went to Texas with her fiance in October to care for his ill mother. She left her daughter with her mother, where she and the child have always lived, Wilbur said.

Nino took the child for a weekend visit Nov. 6 but refused to return her and called DHS and made an the allegation of abuse, Cronk said.

Nino pleaded guilty to a sexual abuse charge as a result of Wilbur’s pregnancy, when he was 18 and she was 14. He’s never had custody of his daughter or been around much, Wilbur said.

Nino couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wilbur said DHS came to her home today to look at the living conditions and talk with her. Nino had claimed the child’s living conditions were poor. The investigator said her daughter might be back home by Friday, she said.

Cronk said Wilbur was told that last week by DHS.

Neither Wilbur nor her mother have been given any documentation of any of the actions taken, Cronk said.

Cronk said Wilbur doesn’t have any money for legal services but that she accepted the case because of the “egregious” actions of DHS. Wilbur isn’t eligible for a court-appointed attorney because there hasn’t been any legal proceedings initiated in this case.

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