Parental Rights and Child Welfare
Parents are losing custody without cause in far too many cases – and often losing their permanent parental rights, as well. Yet the lack of a sound legal standard leaves the door open for judges and child services investigators to continue the system as it is. The system is failing children, failing families, and failing our country as a whole.
Because of this, ParentalRights.org is working with a bipartisan coalition to amend existing federal child welfare laws to keep families together whenever possible. Two examples include removing anonymous reporting (replacing it where appropriate with confidential reporting) and creating a "quick exit ramp" for cases where case workers recognize early on that no abuse is taking place, but under current guidelines must "complete their investigation" before they can close the file.
Real Stores; Real Problems
One Strike and You're Out
An Arizona appeals court had to overturn a family court termination of parental rights (TPR) order that was based on a single lapse in supervision by a caring parent. The case involved a 6-year-old whose father has joint legal custody with his ex-wife.
Mother Loses Son Despite Completing Requirements
An Indiana Court of Appeals similarly overturned a TPR decision and accused the Department of Child Services of an "extraordinarily troubling pattern of behavior." The case involved a mother who had fled an abusive relationship and completed every requirement set before her for unification, but who lost her son anyway.
Baby Removed Simply Because Mother Has a Disability
Massachusetts was caught committing "extensive, ongoing violations" of the Americans with Disabilities Act in their removing of Sara Gordon's baby simply because Sara has a disability, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice last year.
"More Children Than Ever" Taken into State Custody
The Vermont Supreme Court overturned a TRP order in Caledonia County at a time when "more children than ever are being taken into state custody," according to the Burlington Free Press.
Taking Three Children Per Week in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, a bill has been introduced to halt a "custody for care" scheme (where the state won't provide care for children unless the parents give up custody) that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) denies even exists. According to the Hartford Courant, Judicial department data show the state has used the petitions to take custody of more than 860 children over five years – or an average of three children a week. Three children per week in a state the size of Connecticut is hardly a "last resort."
An article at The Day (also in Connecticut) reveals a system that often confuses poverty for neglect.
Cases Involving Terminating the Parents' Rights on the Rise
A report from KIMT in Iowa in December similarly declared that "cases involving terminating the parents' rights to their children are on the rise."
No Responsibility and No Accountability in Child Perspective Services
The author of “The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services” worked with around 300 cases in Georgia, along with hundreds across the nation. She shares heart-breaking stories of injustices committed, including how children are being taken away unnecessarily and put in very abusive situations. Her conclusion is that “there is no responsibility and no accountability in Child Protective Services.”