Posts Tagged ‘family court’
Table of contents for CPS
- Child Protective Services & the Business of ‘Legalized Kidnapping’
- Former Senator’s Remarks on CPS
- Former Senator Says Child Protective Services Can’t Be Trusted
“The system cannot be trusted” is a phrase former Georgia Senator Nancy Schaefer (NS) continues to use in reference to Child Protective Services (CPS), a.k.a. Child Welfare, a.k.a Social Services. Government child welfare agencies are out of control, she maintains, as a result of President Walter Mondale’s 1974 Adoption and Safe Families Act which has turned “child welfare” into big business. Financial incentives – into the millions of dollars – are benefiting most states and come in the form of assistance for foster care and adoption services.
Schaefer’s battle against CPS began five years ago and led her to introduce Bill 415 in 2008, calling for significant changes in the CPS system. She continues to fight today, although no longer an elected official and she serves as President of Georgia’s Eagle Forum and is the group’s National Chairman for Parents’ Rights. She recently spoke with The Black House News’ (BHN) Adeeba Folami about her current views and advocacy efforts.
(BHN) – You were an advocate, when you were a senator, of reform in the CPS system. Give a summary of what you’re doing in that area now that you’re no longer a senator.
(NS) – I am hearing from so many people across the country that are having great difficulty with Child Protective Services and many people have lost their children, many people are losing their children and it’s just continuing to keep me busy in this issue. I am working on some publications about it, am also considering writing a book about this as I have quite a lot of resources that I have put together. It’s a situation that looks as though [CPS] is just a protected empire built on taking children and separating families.
This is not to say that there are not those children who do need to be removed from horrible, wretched situations. I think all of us do agree that those children need to be removed but what I’m concerned about now is the fact that [CPS] is taking children from families unnecessarily. Many of them are taking children for the money. There are financial incentives that come down from the federal government and it’s just been turned into a business.
When I first went to the Senate in the state of Georgia, I was not aware of this but I had several mothers and a grandmother, in particular, that came to me about their situation and I listened to them and they were telling me the truth. That was 5 years ago and one grandmother, to this day, has still yet to be able to get her grandchildren back to her and to their mother who was so traumatized when her 2 little girls were taken from her. That was the beginning of my coming into play in this issue. Those 2 little girls were literally placed in a foster home where there were 18 children and there was a pedophile case worker who lived in the home. The situation was absolutely horrible and was covered up and is covered up to this day.
Then there was another county in my district that had an unbelievable rate of removing children and so I got involved in that county. I had some officials come in to listen to 37 in this ONE county tell their story and it was heart breaking and heart wrenching to hear them tell the story of how their children had been removed off of school buses, out of hospitals, out of their homes in the middle of the night; how terrorized this county had been because of [CPS]. They even had a business operating within the Department of [CPS] where they were making extra money by requiring parents to have 10 or 15 drug tests and the parents had to pay for it. They already had made over $100,000 and that was just in one county in my district.
From there, I have gone to cases all over the state of Georgia, now cases all over the United States and even into foreign countries who are patterning themselves after [CPS] in the United States, so it is a situation that has got to be dealt with and it probably needs to be dealt with on a federal level. The financial incentives that are there to take children, move them around in foster care and adopt them out for bonuses needs to be brought to an end.
(BHN) – The Manager of of Human Services in Denver calls it an outrage to suggest that CPS, Child Welfare, is making money off of the system. What would you say to that statement coming from someone in her position?
(NS) – Maybe she is a very fine person and maybe she does not do anything like this. I’m sure there are pockets across the country where the employees with [CPS] are good people and want to protect children and do the right thing but the overall picture across the country is taking children unnecessarily for the money and it is everywhere and it is rampant. As a matter of fact, I was just reading over the weekend about something …. the finances that are going through the family court where many of these deprivation cases are presented, families are never allowed to speak up, the parents are never allowed to say anything at all. This was a report made by the Census Bureau in 2002 where they stated that $40 billion in transfer payments were made between households and that money is under the direction and control of Family Court judges. That’s 40 billion [dollars], so money’s involved here and if anyone wanted to go back, look at the formula that is developed for individual states based on a baseline number of expected adoptions, which is based on the population of the state, you can begin to see how the finances come into play. All of that goes back to the Adoption and Safe Families Act that was set in motion in 1974 by Walter Mondale. Later, in 1997, Pres. [Bill] Clinton enlarged upon that act and offered cash bonuses to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care.
I think it was Walter Mondale, when he passed that act he said, ‘I hope this doesn’t turn into a business.’ Well it is a business and if you’re gonna get cash bonuses for every child you adopt out, then you’re gonna need more children and as I have said in my report, from all the cases that I have seen, I would say the majority, it’s those who are poor, who cannot afford to hire an attorney and cannot afford to fight the system, who are targeted. I have seen children removed because the mother fed her children three times at McDonalds in one week; children have been removed because the family didn’t have bunk beds; children have been removed because the home was not as adequate as it ought to be according to [CPS]. But some of the money that [CPS] has could go to helping a family improve their home and keep their children; help a single mom who is struggling to keep a roof over her head and food on the table and keep up a job and look after her children, but the situation is completely out of control and there is no place for these families to turn to get help.
(BHN) – For some of those reasons you were citing that children were taken out of homes, was that completely up to case worker discretion or were these things written into policy?
(NS) – There are all different kinds of ways. Nearly every [CPS] Dept. in every state is probably different. They’re even different from county to county but what is so incredible is the power they have. They can come into the home, they can knock the door down and come in even without a warrant and take these children and remove the children even in the middle of the night or with children kicking and screaming, because they have the power to do so and [CPS] should not have that kind of power. There should not be that financial incentive for social workers to take children.
(BHN) – When you mentioned bonuses, does that have anything to do with block grants?
(NS) – There are state grants and there are federal grants and the cash bonuses are given to the states for every child that is adopted out to foster care and then, in order to receive the adoption incentive bonuses, local [CPS] has to have the children and so some counties are known to give 4000 to 6000 [dollar] bonus for each child adopted out to strangers and an additional 2000 for a special needs child. Then, of course, if you have special needs children, you adopt them out, often times those children are put on medication – then Medicaid comes into play and then there’s more money.
(BHN) – If someone wanted to track this, if you looked at an agency’s records, would something show up as “bonus” or what would you be looking at specifically?
(NS) – You could possibly go to the state and get a recording, a record, statement of the funding that comes into the state, where the funding comes from, how much [it] is. Sometimes that is hard to get but the funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. There is funding when the child is placed with a new family and then if the child is to be adopted out, adoption bonus funds are available. When the child is placed in a mental health facility and is put on drugs, and I had a family in my own district where 2 children in one family were on 16 drugs a day. The cases are unending and the program is ordered from the very top, it’s run by Health and Human Services.
(BHN) – In the video address available on YouTube, you said something like, sometimes you wonder if there’s any hope that the system can be changed. Is there really any hope?
(NS) – Well, I really feel that it should be completely closed and start over without financial incentives and strictly to protect those children who are truly abused and need to be removed and find the proper care for them. As it is now, there is such injustice, they just use the words “in the best interest of the child” over and over and over when the child has never even been considered. In the best interest of the child has now been redefined. It’s really not in the best interest of the child. I don’t think any child that comes out of the foster care system can ever be really whole again. They suffer so terribly and if I gave you case after case after case, you would just be overwhelmed because of the tragedy of it.
I really do not believe that reform of the system is possible, it cannot be trusted as I put it in one of my reports. It does not serve the people, it obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so and honestly, I don’t think the taxpayers understand the big picture of [CPS]. If they did, they would pull the house down because all of these financial incentives are taxpayer dollars and that’s why this whole situation with [CPS] needs to be completely exposed and dealt with. I really think, more than likely, that having gone on so long that it probably should be completely shut down and started over.
(BHN) – What kind of opposition and backlash did you receive for taking the stance that you did as a senator and even now?
(NS) – I had a bill in the General Assembly here in Georgia, in the Senate, that got sidetracked because of what it was talking about. It was trying to open Family Court and I was trying to remove immunity from case workers so they would have to be held responsible for what they’ve done and it had 4-5 very good points and at the last minute, it was sidetracked, a substitute was written in place of the one I wanted to have introduced and of course, the substitute just stripped my bill of the important points. It also cost me my next election as we have learned in many different ways that the powers that be had bearing on that election, but I haven’t worried about that at all because I really have felt like it freed me up to spend some time on this issue, to work on a book so that I can get the truth out and can really give some real illustrations of what different families are going through and what they are dealing with.
As it is right now, it’s like CPS is out of control and we need to change it but no one ever really focuses on the exact examples of what families are going through and I would like to put some real illustrations of what I’ve seen and what is happening and how really desperate these families are.
(BHN) – Is the Eagle Forum a group advocating for reform of CPS?
(NS) - No, Eagle Forum of Georgia deals with many issues and there is an Eagle Forum nearly in every state and there’s a national Eagle Forum. I am the Eagle Forum National Chairman for Parents Rights and so I do tie parents rights to this crisis because I feel like parents don’t get a fair shake. We’re seeing judges, guardian ad litems and court appointed attorneys all tied together when money is involved and parents are just left out in the cold and not allowed to speak or they don’t have parental rights and that’s why I believe that Family Court should be open, the press should be able to come in, family members should be able to come in and, before a child is removed from a home, a relative should absolutely be found for the child to at least stay with a little while. Many changes need to be made and many good changes can be made but a lot needs to be accomplished.
The state does not need to become the parent. Parents need to be strengthened, the home needs to be strengthened and our families need to be under-girded by all that we’re doing, not just torn apart at the seams and disintegrated. Families are being disintegrated in [CPS].
(BHN) – Is there any type of network set up or a hotline where people can call to get assistance or what would you advise?
(NS) – Well, I do know that there are little pockets roundabout of people who are trying to help families. I learn more about them all the time and people can go on the internet and find some of those pockets and places where they can get help. Certainly we don’t mind if someone contacts us if they have a serious situation. What we try to do is maybe find someone in their state that can help them.
What has been very disheartening to me is that I have tried to call senators and legislators in other states to see if they would help this particular family or that particular family and they have said no to me because they fear losing their job. I thought I was an isolated case until I talked to other state representatives and senators and realized that they did not particularly want to get involved with this issue because they were fearful of losing their jobs, so it’s been hard to get other state reps and other state senators involved. I’ve been able to accomplish a good bit by working through different ones that I have known over the years in different states who’ve been able to locate some attorneys willing to take these families and help, under-gird and go to bat for them. Some will do a little pro bono work and then there are those attorneys who know that if the family cannot pay them, they won’t take the case at all.
That’s why I feel that the targeting of the poor family, who does not have the wherewithal to fight the system, are the ones that are suffering the most and it has just got to be brought to an end.
(BHN) – Where is the pressure coming from specifically? You say the elected representatives are afraid of losing their jobs. Are we talking about big corporations being involved?
(NS) – We’re talking about money coming into the states, we’re talking about money that makes up the budget in the state, we’re talking about states that don’t want to have to handle this situation. They don’t want to acknowledge that this is going on and it’s coming down from the top, this is coming down from the Dept. of Human Resources, it’s coming down from a federal level and that’s where the incentives were created and those incentives need to be cut off. There shouldn’t be a cash bonus for someone who works for [CPS] to adopt a child out. Eventually, that is going to become a business and the more children you adopt out, the more children you take from the home, the more children that you put in foster care – and there’s money for foster care. There’s money for foster care, for foster care parents, there’s money for the adoptive parents. There’s money as long as the child is there, until he’s 18. The money that we’re talking about is millions and millions of dollars in the states, this is money that the states are dependent on. They don’t want to give up that money. They don’t want anyone investigating [CPS] but the stories that families are going through in losing their children, are horror stories.
What children are going through being put in families with strangers, the statistics are already that many more children are abused in foster care than in their homes, even if their home is not perfect. More children are abused, more children are sexually abused, more children die in foster care than in their own homes, even when their homes are not perfect so .. we just can’t take money and make money off of the backs of children. Children should be protected and we all should be working together to protect these children and be sure that all of these horrible situations are brought to an end.
(BHN) – Have you been moved to tears by any cases?
(NS) – Oh yeah. Oh yeah. In the beginning we had people call and we must have had 50 calls a day, or more, and some of them, we just were moved to tears over the phone talking to parents and then sometimes after I had talked to maybe 20 families in one day, I was so sick that I could barely sleep at night. It was almost more than anyone could stand and it’s almost more than anyone can believe now. That’s why I feel that writing this book is very important because I can start at the very beginning. I can tell the people who came to me right at the very beginning and told me what had happened to their grandchildren. Then, in that same county, I learned of more and more children and then more and more children until I was just absolutely overwhelmed and then it spread and it went all across Georgia and then into other states.
(BHN) – Thank you.
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Tags: adoption and safe families act, adoption bonuses, bill clinton, child protective services, child welfare, CPS, eagle forum georgia, family court, federal department health and human services, federal department of human resources, federal financial incentives, foster care, money for children, nancy schaefer, parents rights, social services, special needs child, walter mondale