Child Protective Services

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"Department of Social Services" redirects here. For the Australian department, see Department of Social Services (Australia).

Child Protective Services (CPS) is the name of a governmental agency in many states of the United States that responds to reports of child abuse or neglect. Some states use other names, often attempting to reflect more family-centered (as opposed to child-centered) practices, such as "Department of Children & Family Services" (DCFS). CPS is also known by the name of "Department of Social Services" (DSS) or simply "Social Services."

Laws and standards[edit]

Federal[edit]

U.S. federal laws that govern CPS agencies include:

History[edit]

In 1690, in what is now the United States, there were criminal court cases involving child abuse.[1] In 1692, states and municipalities identified care for abused and neglected children as the responsibility of local government and private institutions.[2] In 1696, The Kingdom of England first used the legal principle of parens patriae, which gave the royal crown care of "charities, infants, idiots, and lunatics returned to the chancery." This principal of parens patriae has been identified as the statutory basis for U.S. governmental intervention in families' child rearing practices.[3]

In 1825, states enacted laws giving social-welfare agencies the right to remove neglected children from their parents and from the streets. These children were placed in almshouses, in orphanages and with other families. In 1835, the Humane Society founded the National Federation of Child Rescue agencies to investigate child maltreatment. In the late-19th century, private child protection agencies – modeled after existing animal protection organizations – developed to investigate reports of child maltreatment, present cases in court and advocate for child welfare legislation.[4]

In 1853, the Children's Aid Society was founded in response to the problem of orphaned or abandoned children living in New York.[5] Rather than allow these children to become institutionalized or continue to live on the streets, the children were placed in the first “foster” homes, typically with the intention of helping these families work their farms.[6][7]

In 1874, the first case of child abuse was criminally prosecuted in what has come to be known as the "case of Mary Ellen." Outrage over this case started an organized effort against child maltreatment[8] In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt convened the White House Conference on Child Dependency, which created a publicly funded volunteer organization to "establish and publicize standards of child care."[6] By 1926, 18 states had some version of county child welfare boards whose purpose was to coordinate public and private child related work.[7] Issues of abuse and neglect were addressed in the Social Security Act in 1930, which provided funding for intervention for “neglected and dependent children in danger of becoming delinquent.” [8]

In 1912, the federal Children's Bureau was established to manage federal child welfare efforts, including services related to child maltreatment. In 1958, amendments to the Social Security Act mandated that states fund child protection efforts.[9] In 1962, professional and media interest in child maltreatment was sparked by the publication of C. Henry Kempe and associates' "The battered child syndrome" in JAMA. By the mid-1960s, in response to public concern that resulted from this article, 49 U.S. states passed child-abuse reporting laws.[10] In 1974, these efforts by the states culminated in the passage of the federal "Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act" (CAPTA; Public Law 93-247) providing federal funding for wide-ranging federal and state child-maltreatment research and services.[11] In 1980, Congress passed the first comprehensive federal child protective services act, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-272), which focused on state economic incentives to substantially decrease the length and number of foster care placements.[12]

Partly funded by the federal government, Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies were first established in response to the 1974 CAPTA which mandated that all states establish procedures to investigate suspected incidents of child maltreatment.[13]

In the 1940s and 1950s, due to improved technology in diagnostic radiology, the medical profession began to take notice of what they believed to be intentional injuries.[14] In 1961, C. Henry Kempe began to further research this issue, eventually identifying and coining the term battered child syndrome.[14] At this same time, there were also changing views about the role of the child in society, fueled in part by the civil rights movement.[7]

In 1973, Congress took the first steps toward enacting federal legislature to address the issue of child abuse. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act[15] was passed in 1974, which required states "to prevent, identify and treat child abuse and neglect."[8]

Shortly thereafter, in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed in response to concerns that large numbers of Native American children were being separated from their tribes and placed in foster care.[16] This legislation not only opened the door for consideration of cultural issues while stressing ideas that children should be with their families, leading to the beginnings of family preservation programs.[17] In 1980, the Adoption Assistance Act[18] was introduced as a way to manage the high numbers of children in placement.[7] Although this legislation addressed some of the complaints from earlier pieces of legislation around ensuring due process for parents, these changes did not alleviate the high numbers of children in placement or continuing delays in permanence.[17] This led to the introduction of the home visitation models, which provided funding to private agencies to provide intensive family preservation services.[7]

In addition to family preservation services, the focus of federal child welfare policy changed to try to address permanence for the large numbers of foster children care.[17] Several pieces of federal legislation attempted to ease the process of adoption including Adoption Assistance Act;[18] the 1988 Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption, and Family Services Act; and the 1992 Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act.[19] The 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which was revised in 1996 to add the Interethnic Placement Provisions, also attempted to promote permanency through adoption, creating regulations that adoptions could not be delayed or denied due to issues of race, color, or national origin of the child or the adoptive parent.[20]

All of these policies led up to the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), much of which guides current practice. Changes in the Adoptions and Safe Families Act showed an interest in both protecting children’s safety and developing permanency.[20] This law requires counties to provide "reasonable efforts" (treatment) to preserve or reunify families, but also shortened time lines required for permanence, leading to termination of parental rights should these efforts fail.[7][20] ASFA introduced the idea of "concurrent planning" which demonstrated attempts to reunify families as the first plan, but to have a back-up plan so as not to delay permanency for children.[21]

Comparison to other similar systems[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

The United Kingdom has a comprehensive child welfare system under which Local Authorities have duties and responsibilities towards children in need in their area. This covers provision of advice and services, accommodation and care of children who become uncared for, and also the capacity to initiate proceedings for the removal of children from their parents care/care proceedings. The criteria for the latter is 'significant harm' which covers physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. In appropriate cases the Care Plan before the Court will be for adoption. The Local Authorities also run adoption services both for children put up for adoption voluntarily and those becoming available for adoption through Court proceedings. The basic legal principle in all public and private proceedings concerning children, under the Children Act 1989, is that the welfare of the child is paramount. In recognition of attachment issues, social work good practice requires a minimal number of moves and the 1989 Children Act enshrines the principle that delay is inimical to a child's welfare. Care proceedings have a time frame of 40 weeks and concurrent planning is required. The final Care Plan put forward by the Local Authority is required to provide a plan for permanence, whether with parents, family members, long-term foster parents or adopters. Nevertheless, 'drift' and multiple placements still occur as many older children are difficult to place or maintain in placements. The role of Independent Visitor, a voluntary post, was created in the United Kingdom under the 1989 Children Act to befriend and assist children and young people in care.

In England, Wales and Scotland, there never has been a statutory obligation to report alleged child abuse to the Police. However both the Children Act 1989 and 2004 makes clear a statutory obligation on all professionals to report suspected child abuse.

The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 created the role of Local Authority Designated Officer, This officer is responsible for managing allegations of abuse against adults who work with children (Teachers, Social Workers,Church leaders, Youth Workers etc.).

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB's) are responsible ensuring agencies and professionals,in their area,effectively safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In the event of the death or serious injury of a child, LSCB's can initiate a 'Serious Case Review' aimed at identifying agency failings and improving future practice.

The planned ContactPoint database, under which information on children is shared between professionals, has been halted by the newly elected coalition government (May 2010). The database was aimed at improving information sharing across agencies. Lack of information sharing had been identified as a failing in numerous high profile child death cases. Critics of the scheme claimed it was evidence of a 'big brother state' and too expensive to introduce.

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 (updated in 2010) and the subsequent 'The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report' (Laming, 2009) continue to promote the sharing of data between those working with vulnerable children.[22]

A child in suitable cases can be made a ward of court and no decisions about the child or changes in its life can be made without the leave of the High Court.

In England the Murder of Victoria Climbié was largely responsible for various changes in child protection in England, including the formation of the Every Child Matters programme in 2003. A similar programme – Getting it Right for Every Child – GIRFEC was established in Scotland in 2008.

Canada[edit]

In Ontario, services are provided by independent Children's Aid Societies.[23] The societies receive funding from, and are under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services.[24] However, they are regarded as a Non-governmental organization (NGO) which allows the CAS a large degree of autonomy from interference or direction in the day to day running of CAS by the Ministry. The Child and Family Services Review Board exists to investigate complaints against CAS and maintains authority to act against the societies.[25]

Costa Rica[edit]

The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (PANI) is responsible for Child Protection in Costa Rica.[26]

The agency was founded in 1930 by Dr. Luis Felipe Gonzalez Flores, a Costa Rican magnate at the time. It was founded to combat infant mortality, that at the time, was rampant in Costa Rica. The idea was to put infants up for adoption that the mother could not afford to support (abortion is a crime in Costa Rica).[26]

In 1949, after the Costa Rican Civil War, a new constitution was written, it called for the agency to be an autonomous institution in the government, autonomous from any ministry.[26]

Today the focus is on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The agency still favors adoption, since abortion is illegal in Costa Rica.

Effects of early maltreatment on children in child welfare[edit]

Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, are at risk of developing psychiatric problems.[27][28] Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.[29][30][31] Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms,[32] as well as depressive, anxiety, and acting-out symptoms.[33][34]

Standards for Reporting[edit]

Generally speaking, a report must be made when an individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect. These standards guide mandatory reporters in deciding whether to make a report to child protective services.[35]

Persons Responsible for the Child[edit]

In addition to defining acts or omissions that constitute child abuse or neglect, several states' statutes provide specific definitions of persons who can get reported to child protective services as perpetrators of abuse or neglect. These are persons who have some relationship or regular responsibility for the child. This generally includes parents, guardians, foster parents, relatives, or legal guardians. Once taken away from home, the stated goal of CPS is to reunite the child with their family. In some cases, due to the nature of abuse children are not able to see or converse with the abusers. If parents fail to complete Court Ordered terms and conditions, the children in care may never return home.[35]

Child Protective Services Statistics[edit]

The United States government's Administration for Children and Families reported that in 2004 approximately 3.5 million children were involved in investigations of alleged abuse or neglect in the US, while an estimated 872,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected, and an estimated 1,490 children died that year because of abuse or neglect. In 2007, 1,760 children died as the result of child abuse and neglect.[36] Child abuse impacts the most vulnerable populations, with children under age five years accounting for 76% of fatalities.[37] In 2008, 8.3 children per 1000 were victims of child abuse and neglect and 10.2 children per 1000 were in out of home placement.[38]

On September 30, 2010, there were approximately 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. of which 36% percent were ages 5 and under. During that same period, almost 120,000 birth to five year-olds entered foster care and a little under 100,000 exited foster care.[39] U.S. Child Protective Services (CPS) received a little over 2.5 million reports of child maltreatment in 2009 of which 61.9% were assigned to an investigation.[40] Research using national data on recidivism indicates that 22% of children were rereported within a 2-year period and that 7% of these rereports were substantiated.[41]

Child Protective Services Recidivism in the United States[edit]

In order to understand CPS recidivism in the U.S., there are several terms that readers must familiarize themselves with. Two often-used terms in CPS recidivism are rereport (also known as rereferral) and recurrence. Either of the two can occur after an initial report of child abuse or neglect called an index report. Although the definition of rereport and recurrence is not consistent, the general difference is that a rereport is a subsequent report of child abuse or neglect after an initial report (also known as an index report) whereas recurrence refers to a confirmed (also known as substantiated) rereport after an initial report of child abuse and neglect. Borrowing from the definition used by Pecora et al. (2000),[42] recidivism is defined as, “Recurring child abuse and neglect, the subsequent or repeated maltreatment of a child after identification to public authorities.” It is important to highlight that this definition is not all-inclusive because it does not include abused children who are not reported to authorities.[42]

Recidivism Statistics[edit]

There are three main sources of recidivism data in the U.S.—the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), and the National Incidence Study (NIS)—and they all have their own respective strengths and weaknesses. NCANDS was established in 1974, and it consists of administrative data of all reports of suspected child abuse and neglect investigated by CPS. NSCAW was established in 1996 and is similar to NCANDS in that it only includes reports of child abuse and neglect investigated by CPS, but it adds clinical measures related to child and family well-being that NCANDS is lacking. NIS was established in 1974, and it consists of data collected from CPS as well. However, it attempts to gather a more comprehensive picture of the incidence of child abuse and neglect by collecting data from other reporting sources called community sentinels.[43]

Criticism[edit]

Brenda Scott, in her 1994 book Out of Control: Who's Watching Our Child Protection Agencies, criticizes CPS, stating, "Child Protective Services is out of control. The system, as it operates today, should be scrapped. If children are to be protected in their homes and in the system, radical new guidelines must be adopted. At the core of the problem is the antifamily mindset of CPS. Removal is the first resort, not the last. With insufficient checks and balances, the system that was designed to protect children has become the greatest perpetrator of harm."[44]

An ongoing case about the Nastić family living in U.S. has received an intervention from the Serbian government. Children were taken away from their parents after their naked photos were found on the father's computer. Such photos are common in Serbia culture. Furthermore, parents claim that their ethnic and religious rights have been violated – children are not permitted to speak Serbian, nor to meet with their parents for orthodox Christmas. They can meet only mother once a week. Children have suffered psychological traumas due to their separation from parents. Polygraph showed that father did not abuse children. Trial is set for January 26. Psychologists from Serbia stated that few hours of conversation with children are enough to see whether they have been abused. Children were taken from their family 7 months ago. FBI started an investigation against the CPS.[45][46][47]

Senator Nancy Schaefer stated "The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times :as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to :suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!"

The NCCAN report on "Perpetrators of Maltreatment"provides the following figures
Maltreatment per 100,000 US children CPS Parents
Physical Abuse 160 59
Sexual Abuse 112 13
Neglect 410 241
Medical Neglect 14 12
Fatalities 6.4 1.5

Senator Schaefer also stated

  • "that poor parents very often are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers;
  • that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean your children are to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to be, with family;
  • that parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes and on and on are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system even while the parents are at work and while their children are separated from them. (some times parents are required to pay for the programs) This can take months or even years and it emotionally devastates both children and parents. Parents are victimized by "the system" that makes a profit for holding children longer and "bonuses" for not returning children to their parents;
  • that caseworkers and social workers are very often guilty of fraud. They withhold and destroy evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights unnecessarily. However, when charges are made against Child Protective Services, the charges are ignored;
  • that the separation of families and the "snatching of children" is growing as a business because local governments have grown accustomed to having these taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets;
  • that Child Protective Services and Juvenile Court can always hide behind a confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions and keep the funds flowing. There should be open records and "court watches"! Look who is being paid!

There are state employees, lawyers, court investigators, guardian ad litems, court personnel, and judges. There are psychologists, and psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, therapists, foster parents, adoptive parents, and on and on. All are looking to the children in state custody to provide job security. Parents do not realize that the social workers are the glue that hold “the system” together that funds the court, funds the court appointed attorneys, and the multiple other jobs including the “system’s” psychiatrists, therapists, their own attorneys and others.

  • that The Adoption and the Safe Families Act, set in motion first in 1974 by Walter Mondale and later in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, offered cash "bonuses" to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care. In order to receive the "adoption incentive bonuses" local child protective services need more children. They must have merchandise (children) that sells and you must have plenty so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000 to $6,000 bonus for each child adopted out to strangers and an additional $2,000 for a "special needs" child. Employees work to keep the federal dollars flowing;
  • State Departments of Human Resources (DHR) and affiliates are given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population. For every child DHR and CPS can get adopted, there is the bonus of $4,000 or maybe $6,000. But that is only the beginning figure in the formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the State has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. Therefore States and local communities work hard to reach their goals for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care.
  • that there is double dipping. The funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. There is funding for foster care then when a child is placed with a new family, then "adoption bonus funds" are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16 drugs per day, like two children of a constituent of mine, more funds are involved and so is Medicaid;
  • As you can see this program is ordered from the very top and run by Health and Human Resources. This is why victims of CPS get no help from their legislators. It explains why my bill, SB 415 suffered such defeat in the Judicial Committee, why I was cut off at every juncture. Legislators and Governors must remember who funds their paychecks.
  • that there are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep them together or provide effective care;
  • that the incentive for social workers to return children to their parents quickly after taking them has disappeared and who in protective services will step up to the plate and say, "This must end! No one, because they are all in the system together and a system with no leader and no clear policies will always fail the children. Just look at the waste in government that is forced upon the tax payer;
  • that the "Policy Manuel" is considered "the last word" for CPS/DFCS. However, it is too long, too confusing, poorly written and does not take the law into consideration;
  • that if the lives of children were improved by removing them from their homes, there might be a greater need for protective services, but today children are not safer. Children, of whom I am aware, have been raped and impregnated in foster care;
  • It is a known fact that children are in much more danger in foster care than they are in their own home even though home may not be perfect.
  • that some parents are even told if they want to see their children or grandchildren, they must divorce their spouse. Many, who are under privileged, feeling they have no option, will divorce and then just continue to live together. This is an anti-family policy, but parents will do anything to get their children home with them. However, when the parents cooperate with Child Protective Services, their behavior is interpreted as guilt when nothing could be further from the truth.
  • Fathers, (non-custodial parents) I must add, are often treated as criminals without access to visit or even see their own children and have child support payments strangling the very life out of them;
  • that the Foster Parents Bill of Rights does not stress that a foster parent is there temporarily to care for a child until the child can be returned home. Many foster parents today use the Foster Parent Bill of Rights as a means to hire a lawyer and seek to adopt the child placed in their care from the real parents, who are desperately trying to get their child home and out of the system. Recently in Atlanta, a young couple learning to be new parents and loving it, were told that because of an anonymous complaint, their daughter would be taken into custody by the State DFCS. The couple was devastated and then was required by DFCS to take parenting classes, alcohol counseling and psychological evaluations if they wanted to get their child back. All of the courses cost money for which most parents are required to pay. While in their anxiety and turmoil to get their child home, the baby was left for hours in a car to die in the heat in her car seat by a foster parent who forgot about the child. This should never have happened. It is tragic. In many cases after the parents have jumped through all the hoops, they still do not get their child. As long as the child is not returned, there is money for the agency, for foster parents, for adoptive parents, and for the State.
  • that tax dollars are being used to keep this gigantic system afloat, yet the victims, parents, grandparents, guardians and especially the children, are charged for the system’s services.
  • that grandparents have called from all over the State of Georgia and from other states trying to get custody of their grandchildren. CPS claims relatives are contacted, but there are many many cases that prove differently. Grandparents who lose their grandchildren to strangers have lost their own flesh and blood. The children lose their family heritage and grandparents, and parents too, lose all connections to their heirs.
  • that The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official "safety", these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!
  • That according to the California Little Hoover Commission Report in 2003, 30% to 70% of the children in California group homes do not belong there and should not have been removed from their homes." [48]

Texas[edit]

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had itself been an object of reports of unusual numbers of poisonings, death, rapes and pregnancies of children under its care since 2004. The Texas Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team was created by executive order after the critical report Forgotten Children of 2004.

Texas Child Protective Services was hit with a rare if not unprecedented legal sanction for a "groundless cause of action" and ordered to pay $32,000 of the Spring family's attorney fees. Judge Schneider wrote in a 13-page order, "The offensive conduct by (CPS) has significantly interfered with the legitimate exercise of the traditional core functions of this court."[49]

2008 Raid of YFZ Ranch[edit]

Main article: YFZ Ranch

In April 2008, the largest child protection action in American history raised questions as the CPS in Texas removed hundreds of minor children, infants, and women incorrectly believed to be children from the YFZ Ranch polygamist community, with the assistance of heavily armed police with an armored personnel carrier. Investigators, including supervisor Angie Voss convinced a judge that all of the children were at risk of child abuse because they were all being groomed for under-age marriage. The state supreme court disagreed, releasing most children back to their families. Investigations would result in criminal charges against some men in the community.

Gene Grounds of Victim Relief Ministries commended CPS workers in the Texas operation as exhibiting compassion, professionalism and caring concern.[50] However, CPS performance was questioned by workers from the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center. One wrote "I have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner" after assisting at the emergency shelter. Others who were previously forbidden to discuss conditions working with CPS later produced unsigned written reports expressed anger at the CPS traumatizing the children, and disregarding rights of mothers who appeared to be good parents of healthy, well-behaved children. CPS threatened some MHMR workers with arrest, and the entire mental health support was dismissed the second week due to being "too compassionate." Workers believed poor sanitary conditions at the shelter allowed respiratory infections and chicken pox to spread.[51]

CPS problem reports[edit]

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, as with other states, had itself been an object of reports of unusual numbers of poisonings, death, rapes and pregnancies of children under its care since 2004. The Texas Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team was created by executive order after the critical report Forgotten Children[52] of 2004. Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn made a statement in 2006 about the Texas foster care system.[53] In Fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively 30, 38 and 48 foster children died in the state's care. The number of foster children in the state's care increased 24 percent to 32,474 in Fiscal 2005, while the number of deaths increased 60 percent. Compared to the general population, a child is four times more likely to die in the Texas foster care system. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning from medications; 63 were treated for rape that occurred while under state care including four-year old twin boys, and 142 children gave birth, though others believe Ms. Strayhorn's report was not scientifically researched, and that major reforms need to be put in place to assure that children in the conservatorship of the state get as much attention as those at risk in their homes.

Disproportionality & Disparity in the Child Welfare System[edit]

In the United States, data suggests that a disproportionate number of minority children, particularly African American and Native American children, enter the foster care system.[54] National data in the United States provides evidence that disproportionality may vary throughout the course of a child's involvement with the child welfare system. Differing rates of disproportionality are seen at key decision points including the reporting of abuse, substantiation of abuse, and placement into foster care.[55] Additionally, once they enter foster care, research suggests that they are likely to remain in care longer.[56] Research has shown that there is no difference in the rate of abuse and neglect among minority populations when compared to Caucasian children that would account for the disparity.[57] The Juvenile Justice system has also been challenged by disproportionate negative contact of minority children.[58] Because of the overlap in these systems, it is likely that this phenomenon within multiple systems may be related.

Constitutional issues[edit]

In May 2007, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found in Rogers v. County of San Joaquin, No. 05-16071[59] that a CPS social worker who removed children from their natural parents into foster care without obtaining judicial authorization was acting without due process and without exigency (emergency conditions) violated the 14th Amendment and Title 42 United State Code Section 1983. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that a state may not make a law that abridges "... the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" and no state may "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Title 42 United States Code Section 1983[60] states that citizens can sue in federal courts any person who acting under a color of law to deprive the citizens of their civil rights under the pretext of a regulation of a state, See.[61]

In case of Santosky v. Kramer, 455 US 745, Supreme Court reviewed a case when Department of Social Services removed two younger children from their natural parents only because the parents had been previously found negligent toward their oldest daughter.[62] When the third child was only three days old, DSS transferred him to a foster home on the ground that immediate removal was necessary to avoid imminent danger to his life or health. The Supreme Court vacated previous judgment and stated: "Before a State may sever completely and irrevocably the rights of parents in their natural child, due process requires that the State support its allegations by at least clear and convincing evidence. But until the State proves parental unfitness, the child and his parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship".[62]

A District of Columbia Court of Appeals concluded that the lower trial court erred in rejecting the relative custodial arrangement selected by the natural mother who tried to preserve her relationship with the child.[63] The previous judgment granting the foster mother's adoption petition was reversed, the case remanded to the trial court to vacate the orders granting adoption and denying custody, and to enter an order granting custody to the child's relative.[63]

Notable lawsuits[edit]

In 2010 an ex-foster child was awarded $30 million by jury trial in California (Santa Clara County) for sexual abuse damages that happened to him in foster home from 1995 to 1999.[64][65] The foster parent, John Jackson, was licensed by state despite the fact that he abused his own wife and son, overdosed on drugs and was arrested for drunken driving. In 2006, Jackson was convicted in Santa Clara County of nine counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child by force, violence, duress, menace and fear and seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.[64] The sex acts he forced the children in his foster care to perform sent him to prison for 220 years. Later in 2010, Giarretto Institute, the private foster family agency responsible for licensing and monitoring Jackson's foster home and others, also was found to be negligent and liable for 75 percent of the abuse that was inflicted on the victim, and Jackson was liable for the rest.[64]

In 2009 Oregon Department of Human Services has agreed to pay $2 million into a fund for the future care of twins who were allegedly abused by their foster parents; it was the largest such settlement in the agency's history.[66] According to the civil rights suit filed on request of twins' adoptive mother in December 2007 in U.S. Federal Court, kids were kept in makeshift cages—cribs covered with chicken wire secured by duct tape—in a darkened bedroom known as "the dungeon." The brother and sister often went without food, water or human touch. The boy, who had a shunt put into his head at birth to drain fluid, didn't receive medical attention, so when police rescued the twins he was nearly comatose. The same foster family previously took in their care hundreds of other children over nearly four decades.[67] DHS said the foster parents deceived child welfare workers during the checkup visits.[66]

Several lawsuits were brought in 2008 against the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF), accusing it of mishandling reports that Thomas Ferrara, 79, a foster parent, was molesting girls.[68][69] The suits claimed that though there were records of sexual misconduct allegations against Ferrara in 1992, 1996, and 1999, the DCF continued to place foster children with Ferrara and his then-wife until 2000.[68] Ferrara was arrested in 2001 after a 9-year-old girl told detectives he regularly molested her over two years and threatened to hurt her mother if she told anyone. Records show that Ferrara had as many as 400 children go through his home during his 16 years as a licensed foster parent from 1984 to 2000.[68] Officials stated that the lawsuits over Ferrara end up costing the DCF almost $2.26 million.[69] Similarly, in 2007 Florida's DCF paid $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged DCF ignored complaints that another mentally challenged Immokalee girl was being raped by her foster father, Bonifacio Velazquez, until the 15-year-old gave birth to a child.[70][71][72]

In a class action lawsuit Charlie and Nadine H. v. McGreevey[73] was filed in federal court by "Children’s Rights" New York organization on behalf of children in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).[74][75] The complaint alleged violations of the children's constitutional rights and their rights under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA).[76] In July 2002, the federal court granted plaintiffs’ experts access to 500 children’s case files, allowing plaintiffs to collect information concerning harm to children in foster care through a case record review.[74] These files revealed numerous cases in which foster children were abused, and DYFS failed to take proper action. On June 9, 2004, the child welfare panel appointed by the parties approved the NJ State’s Reform Plan. The court accepted the plan on June 17, 2004.[75] The same organization filed similar lawsuits against other states in recent years that caused some of the states to start child welfare reforms.[77]

In 2007 Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick obtained a jury verdict against Orange County (California) and two of its social workers for violating her Fourteenth Amendment rights to familial association.[78] The $4.9 million verdict grew to a $9.5 million judgment as the County lost each of its successive appeals.[78] The case finally ended in 2011 when the United States Supreme Court denied Orange County's request to overturn the verdict.[79]

California[edit]

In April 2013, Child Protective Services in Sacramento sent in police to forcibly remove a 5-month-old baby from the care of parents.

Alex and Anna Nikolayev took their baby Sammy out of Sutter Memorial Hospital and sought a second opinion at Kaiser Permanente, a competing hospital, for Sammy’s flu-like symptoms.[80] Police arrived at Kaiser and questioned the couple and doctors. Once Sammy had been fully cleared to leave the hospital, the couple went home, but the following day police arrived and took Sammy. On June 25, 2013 the case against the family was dismissed adn the family filed a lawsuit against CPS and the Sacramento Police Department.[81]

Effectiveness[edit]

In a nationwide study, researchers examined children in 595 families over a period of 9 years. They discovered that in the households where child abuse was substantiated by evidence, risk factors remained unchanged during interviews with the families.[82]

See also[edit]

Similar organizations in other countries[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pecora et al. (1992), p. 231.
  2. ^ Ibid., pp. 230-1.
  3. ^ Ibid., p. 230.
  4. ^ Pecora et al. (1992), pp. 230-31; Petr (1998), p. 126.
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Notes[edit]

  • Drake, B. & Jonson-Reid, M. (2007). A response to Melton based on the Best Available Data. Published in: Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 31, Issue 4, April 2007, Pages 343-360.
  • Laird, David and Jennifer Michael (2006). "Budgeting Child Welfare: How will millions cut from the federal budget affect the child welfare system?" Published in: Child Welfare League of America, Children's Voice, Vol. 15, No. 4 (July/August 2006). Available on-line at: http://www.cwla.org/voice/0607budgeting.htm.
  • Pecora, Peter J., James K. Whittaker, Anthony N. Maluccio, with Richard P. Barth and Robert D. Plotnick (1992). The Child Welfare Challenge: Policy, Practice, and Research. NY:Aldine de Gruyter. ISBN .
  • Petr, Christopher G. (1998). Social Work with Children and their Families: Pragmatic Foundations. NY:Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510607-5.
  • Scott, Brenda (1994), "Out of Control. Who's Watching Our Child Protection Agencies?". Huntington House Publishers. ISBN paper. ISBN hardback.

External links[edit]

United States[edit]

Canada[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Germany[edit]