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Representing parents in child protective services cases

REPRESENTING PARENTS IN CPS CASES

“Other than that, what do you have against them?”

Prepared By:

Marc D. Isenberg
Miriam J. Riskind
ISENBERG & RISKIND

21st Annual Juvenile Law Conference
February 18-20, 2008
Corpus Christi, Texas

ISENBERG & RISKIND
12 Greenway Plaza
Suite 1100
Houston, Texas 77046
(713) 940-0640 Telephone
(713) 880-0780 Fax
IsenbergM@aol.com

Biographical

Marc D. Isenberg

Educational Background:

Bachelor of Arts, University of Texas, 1971
Doctor of Jurisprudence, University of Houston Law Center, 1974
Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law, 1991
Board Certified, Juvenile Law 2003
Former Board of Directors, Houston Bar Association Juvenile Law Section

Major Accomplishments:

Eagle Scout
Hiked out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon during a snow storm
Took scuba lessons while my wife was in law school and sky dived after she graduated
Married for twenty-eight years
Only husband and wife team in Texas both certified in Juvenile Law

Miriam J. Riskind

Educational Background:

Bachelor of Arts, History, University of Texas, 1970
Master of Arts, Urban Studies, University of Houston, 1976
Doctor of Jurisprudence, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, 1990

Major Accomplishments

Board Certified in Juvenile Law, 2001
Former Chair, Houston Bar Association Juvenile Law Section
Currently Treasurer, Houston Bar Association Juvenile Law Section
Married to Marc Isenberg for more than 28 years



REPRESENTING PARENTS IN CPS CASES
“Other than that, what do you have against them?”

You may receive a fax or a telephone call from a court advising that you have been appointed in a case involving the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (also known as “CPS”). In some instances, the only notice you will receive about your appointment will be a printout from the District Clerk. It may be obvious, but always carefully read through any printouts from any court or personnel. The printout will not tell you who you represent so an immediate trip to the courthouse to examine the file is in order. Be aware that in some instances the file may not contain anything indicating you have been appointed; the order appointing you may not yet be available. Clerks of the court can help you to determine your client.

1. Who do you represent?

You have been retained or appointed to represent a parent or parents in a case in which the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“CPS”) has filed an Original Petition for Protection of a Child, for Conservatorship, and for Termination in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. Your client may be either the mother, father, the presumed father, the alleged father, or the unknown father.

If you have been retained or appointed to represent both parents, you must be exceedingly careful about conflicts which are likely to arise during your representation. You must advise both parents of possible conflicts and disclose all of this prior to beginning your representation. You must also advise them that in the event of a conflict, you may have to withdraw from representing either of them because you have received confidential information from both. There are countless examples of one parent’s actions or inactions which could greatly effect the status of the other parent. Because time lines are to critical in CPS cases, it is important to advise the Judge as soon as possible of a conflict and set a hearing for your release and substitution of another counsel to represent one or both of the parents. The better rule of representation is to represent only one of the parents.

2. Communication with your client

Does your client speak English and even if he or she does, can you effectively communicate with them? It is important to establish a relationship with your client as quickly as possible. Your client’s first reaction to the taking of their children by CPS is shock, disbelief, frustration and anger. Even as you identify yourself as their attorney, the client is likely to see you as part of “them” meaning CPS. It is critical that you establish trust with your client. This is easier said than done. How you approach them determines your working relationship throughout the case. As difficult as this can be while working with an English speaking client, the difficulty is increased when there is a language barrier between attorney and client. While the court must provide an interpreter during court proceedings, you will need to find some method to effectively communicate with your client outside of the courtroom. It may be that you have to move the court for an interpreter to be present to interpret when you meet with your client. This may be the only effective way to communicate with your client. This occurred in a case where both parents spoke only Bosnian.

Keeping track of your client during the pendency of the case can be a major problem. In addition to getting your client’s address, telephone number, social security number and driver license number, ask for the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your client’s relatives and friends so that when your client seems to have vanished, you have some way of attempting to locate him or her.

3. Know the investigative process and explain it to your client.

A. Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse or Neglect

An individual having “cause to believe” that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person must immediately report the abuse or neglect. TFC §261.101(a). A professional must report if a child has been or may be abused or neglected, or if the child is a victim of the offense of Indecency with a Child under § 21.11 Texas Penal Code, and the professional has cause to believe that the child has been abused as defined by §261.001 or §261.401, the professional must make the report not later that the 48th hour after the hour the professional first suspects the abuse or neglect. TFC § 261.101(b). Both failure to report and making a false report carry criminal penalties. TPC §38.17.

B. CPS Investigation Objectives

The primary purpose of the investigation shall be the protection of the child, TFC §261.301(d). The objectives of the investigation are to (1) ensure the safety of the child; (2) determine whether abuse or neglect occurred, and the nature, extent and cause of the abuse or neglect; (3) determine whether the children are at risk or abuse or neglect in the future; (4) provide the family or children needed safety services; and (5) refer the family for services in the community that reduce the risk of abuse or enhance the well being of the family.

C. CPS Investigation Types and Procedures

The Texas Family Code requires a preliminary investigation of any anonymous report before CPS proceeds to a thorough investigation, TFC § 261.304(a). Unless CPS determines that there is some evidence to corroborate the report of abuse, CPS may not conduct a thorough investigation or take any action against the person accused of abuse. TFC § 261.304[c]. In a preliminary investigation of an anonymous report, the worker must stop the investigation as soon as he or she can reasonably determine that the child is safe and the report cannot be corroborated. A preliminary investigation under this statute may include an interview and examination of the child, visit to the child’s home, interviews with the parent, and an interview with any other persons the worker believes may have relevant information. TFC §261.304(b)

D. Investigative Tools and Statutory Requirements

Consistent with the child’s protection, the department’s investigation must determine: (1) the nature, extent, and cause of the abuse or neglect; (2) the identity of the person responsible for the abuse or neglect; (3) the names and conditions of other children in the home; (4) an evaluation of the parents or persons responsible for the care of the child; (5) the adequacy of the home environment; (6) the relationship of the child to persons responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child; and (7) all other pertinent data. TFC § 261.301(e).

The investigation may include a visit to the child’s home and an interview and an examination of the child, as well as an interview with the parents and other children in the home. An interview by the department of the alleged child victim of physical or sexual abuse must be audiotaped or videotaped. TFC § 261.302. If the department needs to transport the child for purposes of the interview or investigation, the department shall attempt to notify the parent or other person having custody of the child of the transport. TFC §261.302(b-1). A parent who is notified of, and attempts to interfere with the transportation can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. TFC §261.302(f).

If a parent or another person who is responsible for the child’s care refuses to consent to the department’s request to interview a child or refuses to consent to a medical, psychological, or psychiatric evaluation of the child, the department may seek a court order to assist its investigation.

Orders in aid of an investigation under Sub-chapter D, Chapter 261 may include an order prohibiting interference with access to the child or the child’s records. TFC §262.303. The court may also prohibit removal of the child from the state during an investigation. TFC §261.306.

In addition to orders relating to the child and the child’s records, the court may order a parent or caretaker to submit to medical or mental examinations and provide access to related records. TFC §261.305. An indigent parent is entitled to appointed counsel in the hearing relating to examination or release of the parent’s medical records. TFC § 261.305[c]. Contumacious refusal to submit to orders in aid of investigation may be grounds for termination of parental rights in a subsequently filed SAPCR. TFC §161.001(1)(I).

4. Reason to believe after investigation

A governmental entity with an interest in the child may file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship requesting an order or take possession of a child without a court order. TFC § 262.001.

When a child is taken into possession without a court order, the person taking the child into possession, without unnecessary delay shall: (1) file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship; (2) request the court to appoint an attorney ad litem for the child; (3) request an initial hearing to be held by no later than the first working day after the child is taken into possession. TFC § 262.105. At the initial hearing the judge shall order the return of the child unless the court is satisfied that there is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child if the child is returned to the parent or care giver who is presently entitled to possession of the child. TFC §262.107.

If the child is not returned to the parent or care giver at the initial hearing a full adversary hearing (Show Cause) shall be held within 14 days after the child was taken into possession by the governmental agency. TFC §262.201.

5. Preference of placement

If the child is not returned to the parent at the show cause hearing the court shall place the child with the noncustodial parent or with a relative unless they are deemed to be inappropriate. TFC § 262.201(e). It is therefore very important that you obtain a list of relatives or kinships so that CPS can conduct home studies for possible placement. In some cases, your client may not have good communication with — or actually be estranged from– their family. Your client may be ashamed, embarrassed, may feel family members do not understand, and may be unwilling to give CPS and you names. You must communicate very clearly to your client that it is almost always better for the children to be in the home of a relative or kinship than in foster care while the case is pending. Delay in providing this information may effectively keep children from family and in foster care. This is especially critical when the children are babies or infants; foster parents bond quickly with these children, and your client may be facing an intervention in the case by a foster parent in addition to battling with CPS for their children.

TFC §262.114 provides the procedure and time frames for conducting the evaluation of identified relatives and other designated individuals. Before the full adversary hearing, CPS must perform a background and criminal history check of the relatives or other designated individuals identified as potential relatives or designated care givers. CPS shall evaluate each person listed on the form to determine the relative or other designated individual who would be the most appropriate substitute care giver for the child and must complete a home study of the most appropriate substitute care giver, if any, before the full adversary hearing. TFC §262.114(a). CPS typically has not done this before the adversary hearing, and it can take more than 30+ days to get this done. Even if the home study is written, it may be sitting on a supervisor or program director’s desk , so you may need to set a hearing to get this done in compliance with the statute.

Also note that CPS rules state the preference for relative placements over other placements. See 40 Tex. Admin. Code §700.1320. The Texas Family code requires at each hearing in the CPS case that the Court place the child with a noncustodial parent, or if not appropriate, with a relative, unless that placement is not in the best interest of the child. TFC §§262.205(e); 263.306(a)(4)(5). If, at the time of the hearing, placement with a relative is not possible or is not in the child’s best interests, the Court must require, among other things, that the parent help locate other relatives who may be willing and able to care for the child. This means that CPS must continue to look for appropriate relatives during the case. As the attorney for a parent, you must ask your client to think of other relatives and contact information. You must be insistent about this because CPS often makes no further effort to locate relatives once the child is placed in an appropriate foster home.

6. Service Plan or “Jumping Through the Hoops

Within 45 days of the date the court renders a temporary order appointing the department as managing conservator CPS must file a family service plan. TFC §263.101. The plan must be in a language that the parent understands and must set out in detail the goals of the department and the steps necessary for the parent to demonstrate his or her ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child. TFC §263.102. The plan has been developed by CPS staff based on the allegations of the removal of the children and the perceived needs of the parent. The plan will set out a series of tasks or courses for the parent to complete.

All of the plans call for your client to take a psychological evaluation, usually a drug and alcohol evaluation, and parenting. Some call for anger management, and a psychiatric evaluation.

The plan will typically state “… and follow all recommendations”. All of the plans call for stable employment, and a safe and adequate place to live. Your client must understand that this is a lengthy process, involving therapy, drug counseling, and any other services deemed necessary. Your client will be asked to sign a “release of information” form which will allow the caseworker to receive monthly reports from all the service providers as to the extent of your client’s participation. Your client needs to understand that they cannot be late for any appointments, miss any meetings, or miss any visitation with their children.

Be aware that CPS does not have to prepare a family service plan if the court finds that the parent(s) has engaged in an aggravated circumstance as set for in TFC §262.2015. The court must hold a status hearing within the first 60 days after CPS has been named as temporary managing conservator in order to review and approve the family service plan. TFC §263.201(a). The court must conduct a permanency hearing within 180 days of CPS being named as temporary managing conservator to monitor the goals of the agency and the status of the parents compliance with the family service plan. TFC §262.304.

It is critical to explain to your client that the family service plan is the road map that CPS has established which could result in family reunification. It is the parent’s duty to make the appointments for the services once CPS has made the referral. Problems typically arise for any number of reasons after a referral has been made. It is important that the lawyer explain to his client that the responsibility is on the client to advise the lawyer of the problem so that corrective steps can be taken before time runs out.

7. Time limits

The court must make a final ruling on the case within one year of the date of the original order appointing CPS as temporary managing conservator. TFC § 263.401. The court has the discretion to extend for six months its jurisdiction of the case. TFC § 263.401(b)

8. It looks like its going to be a trial

The termination of parental rights involves fundamental constitutional rights. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651 (1972). The natural rights that exist between parents and their children are of constitutional dimension, Hollick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d, 20 (Tex. 1985).

BEWARE: INEFFECTIVENESS OF COUNSEL. The Texas Supreme Court has held that §107.013(a)(1) necessarily includes the right to effective assistance of counsel in termination of parental rights cases in In Re M.S.115 S.W.3d 534 (Tex. 2003), and that it is also extended to the area of appeals. In Re T.V. 8 S.W.3d 448 (Tex.App-Waco 1999).

Your client hates the case worker or vice versa. Your client has had a relapse or is in jail. The foster parent has bonded with the child and has filed an intervention for adoption. You get the idea, it looks like a trial – now what do you do?

Request mediation. Sometimes a neutral third party can bridge the gap between the intransigent parties. At one time, mediation was ordered at the beginning of the case. It was very helpful at that time because the parents were able to meet all the caseworkers, supervisors, attorneys and other parties in a neutral setting. As the attorney for the parents, this was very helpful in setting the tone of communications for the case. CPS has largely done away with mediation at the beginning of the case; now there are Permanency Planning Team (PPT) meetings at CPS offices, which are not as beneficial. Nevertheless, any attorney can request mediation at any time. It has proven to be a useful tool in getting the parents to understand the process and verbalize their concerns.

Permanency Planning Team (PPT) meetings are held at least twice during the case. CPS typically schedules these meetings at times which may be inconvenient to attorneys, such as 9:00 a.m. Your client must attend all of these meetings. You should be at all PPT meetings to act as an advocate for your client and keep lines of communication clear. If you find that you cannot attend due to any scheduling conflicts, participate by telephone conferencing. It is critical.

In some cases, if your client has family members who are supportive, you can request that a Family Conference be held instead of a PPT. Although a Family Conference is held at CPS offices, it is lengthier, includes family members, and in some ways, resembles a mediation. Family members are included in the planning; they contribute information and information about placement with relatives. It gives all the parties an opportunity to meet face to face in a less combative environment, and it can be a useful tool in facilitating communication among all the parties. Again, it is important that you make the time to be present at a Family Conference, or at least attend by telephone. It can set the tone for the entire case.

Discovery.

At the very least you need to file a request for disclosure, request for production, and interrogatories to CPS and to the attorney ad litem if you feel that the ad litem is adverse to your client. Once you get the case file, read it . . . Be alert if this discovery is not supplemented prior to trial. Object at trial!

You may also want to consider filing Special Exceptions to clarify which grounds CPS is alleging. The petitions filed by CPS have alleged everything in them including the kitchen sink. While many attorneys do not do this, it is an option.

Jury or court trial?

Explain to your client that the option is his or hers and explain the advantages and disadvantages in their particular case. CPS typically calls the parent as their first or second witness. Your client needs to understand and appreciate that. Depending upon the client, it is helpful to meet in the courtroom and have your client sit in the witness chair and react to questions from you. Advise them there will be questions from all of the attorneys on the case.

A parent whose rights are subject to termination in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship and against whom criminal charges are filed that directly relate to the grounds for which termination is sought may file a motion requesting a continuance of the final trial in the suit until the criminal charges are resolved. The court may grant the motion only if the court finds that a continuance is in the best interest of the child. TFC §161.2011(a).

The Texas Supreme Court has upheld the use of broad-form submission in jury questions relating to termination of parental rights cases. Texas Dept. Of Human Services v. E.B. 802 S.W.2d 647 (Tex. 1990). Be alert for hearsay statements and uncorroborated information at all court hearings. Carefully listen to testimony from Child Advocates, the caseworker, and any other witnesses and object where appropriate. Make timely and relevant objections and get a ruling on the record. If you do not preserve the error and get a ruling on the record, you have not protected the record for your client should they desire to appeal.

Bench warrant your client?

Many times if you are appointed, you do not know where your client is located. Even if your client is incarcerated, it may not be clear where they are within the prison system. In spite of “due diligence” CPS may not know where your client is. You will likely need to call the TDCJ information line, or get the information on your client on-line. You will need name, date of birth, driver’s license number, spin number if possible. Once you have located your client, if your client is incarcerated you should be in written communication with them regarding the status of the case. CPS is supposed to have prepared a family service plan even if he or she is in jail.

Your client needs to inform you whether he or she wants to be present during the trial. In your communication with your client consider the practical aspects of your client being present. Will it be easier for CPS to make its case if your client is present to respond to questions? Your client has an absolute right to be present if possible and participate even if by telephone.

Ongoing law enforcement investigations?

It is not unusual for the police to be investigating an offense for injury to a child or the like with your client a prime suspect while the CPS case is pending. Often your client feels that he should talk to the police because they continue to call or because another family member thinks it’s a good idea. The simple answer which is sometimes hard for the client to understand is “No, don’t talk to the police.”

It has been our experience that the police are particularly persistent and the client becomes uneasy and panics. In addition, CPS caseworkers and the police take the position “if they didn’t do anything, why shouldn’t they talk to the police?” If criminal charges are filed or pending, your client has an absolute right to remain silent.

If they can participate in parts of the Family Service Plan without making incriminating statements, they should. The other option is to simply not participate in the Family Service Plan until the criminal charges have been resolved. You may be appointed after the investigation by the police has begun and your client may have already spoken to the police. If your client has, you need to know what they told the police. A thorough interview with your client is a necessity. You need to get the time line and sequence of events from your client, statements, and any witnesses as soon as possible before memories fade. If your client has not been charged, he or she may be at any time. If at the time of your appointment your client has been incarcerated, you must interview your client in jail without delay. You need to obtain the name of your client’s criminal attorney and confer with him or her. If your client has made a statement, the criminal attorney should be able to provide you with a copy of the statement.

Advise the criminal attorney of the implication of any plea your client may take. Specifically, if your client enters a plea involving sexual abuse or injury to a child, that conviction will be offered in evidence by CPS to show your client met the grounds alleged in TFC §161.001(E), “engaged in conduct”, one of the most utilized grounds for termination.

Does ICWA apply?

Congress in 1978 created the Indian Child Welfare Act 25 USC § 1901 et. seq. The Act regulates placement proceedings involving Native American children. If one of the parents is a member of a Native American Tribe or is eligible to be enrolled in the tribe, the tribe must be notified and given an opportunity to intervene in the case before it can go to trial. This is an issue that many attorneys fail to address until the eleventh hour. ICWA §1912(f) provides that no termination of parental rights may be ordered in the absence of such determination, supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. In Re W.D.H. 43 S.W.3d 30 (Tex.App-Houston {14th Dist}. Clearly ICWA has proven to be a valuable tool for attorneys representing parents.

9. Your client wants to appeal.

The Texas Legislature decided that appeals of cases involving termination of parental rights brought by CPS are to be expedited. The attorney representing a parent whose rights have been terminated must read and understand TFC §262.405 even if that attorney does not plan to handle the appeal.

You must make your client aware of the possibility that even if they were declared indigent for purposes of the CPS case, that not be the case for an appeal. If they are declared not indigent for the appeal, your client will be responsible for the cost of the court record, the reporter’s record and the attorney fees. Your client needs to be advised that if the case was a court trial, the same judge who terminated their parental rights will, in all likelihood, then make the determination of whether or their appeal is frivolous TFC §263.405(c)(3). If the judge decides that the appeal is frivolous, then the only review by the appellate court is on the issue of whether the case is frivolous, and not on the merits of the case. Finally, you must advise your client that the appellate process may take a year or more before there is a decision by the appellate court.

Within 15 days of the entry of the order terminating the parental rights between your client and his or her child, you must file a statement of appellate points. The statement of appellate points is filed before a motion for new trial, notice of appeal and request for findings of fact and conclusions of law. You can combine a Motion For New Trial and Statement of Appellate Points. The statement of appellate points should be more than “the judicial decision is contrary to the evidence” or that” the evidence is factually or legally insufficient to preserve error” TFC §262.405(I). The only person in a position to prepare the statement of appellate points is the trial attorney. Failure on the part of the trial attorney to do this has the effect of crippling the attorney handling the appeal. By far the best method of assisting your client if they want to appeal is to immediately notify the court that your client wishes to appeal, you do not wish to handle the appeal, and that you wish for an attorney to be appointed for the appeal. At the same time, prepare the Motion For New Trial and Statement of Appellate Points, Request For Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law (if it was a court trial) must be filed (within 20 days of the final order), Motion to Substitute Counsel, and Affidavits of Indigence (within 20 days of the final order). Serve all the proper parties and set the Motions in the trial court for hearings quickly. Be aware that the Notice of Appeal must also be filed with the trial court (the Appellate Division of the District Clerk’s office) and the Appellate Court. In Houston, there are two Appellate Courts: the 14th Court of Appeals and the 1st Court of Appeals. The practice is to file a Notice in each court. Although your name may be on the Notice of Appeal, you can file a representation letter once the appellate attorney has been appointed, and the appellate court will remove your name from the list.

10. Conclusion

There are few cases that an attorney may handle in his or her career that require more effort and emotional investment than in representing a parent in a termination of parental rights case brought by CPS. It requires an extraordinary amount of work to keep on top of your client, the CPS case worker, the service provider, and countless others who are involved in a constitutionally protected right. Your client typically will feel outnumbered and overwhelmed. You may find that your role as counselor becomes critical. There are typically few thanks at the end of the case. Perhaps the best thanks is your knowledge that you were prepared and you did the best you could do.

While your job is to legally represent your client, part of your job is to advocate for your client. Promote clear communication between the CPS workers and your client. Be alert to personality conflicts and work to minimize that as much as possible. The emotions are high and the case is difficult enough without additional problems.

Represent your client to the best of your ability and treat your client with the respect you would expect.

The right to a fair trial is fundamental to our society. Your job in providing meaningful representation to your client in such a sensitive area is a cornerstone of those rights.

HTML Version adapted and enhanced from original PDF version

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Posted by admin - December 1, 2010 at 2:42 am

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Legal Representation for Parents in Child Abuse and Neglect Matters

Legal Representation for Parents

State Programs/Training/Support for Parent Representation

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Posted by admin - November 19, 2010 at 6:15 am

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State and Federal Websites – Abuse Laws

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Posted by admin - November 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

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CPS process flowchart | Child Protective Services

child protective services process flowchart

child protective services process flowchart

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Posted by admin - November 13, 2010 at 4:06 am

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Ten Things You Must Do if CPS Targets Your Family

1) Take the accusation seriously. I don’ t care how absurd or unbelievable the caseworker sounds. Understand that SHE is serious, and likely presumes – no, likely KNOWS that you are guilty as accused. Even if she doesn’ t flat out say that she’ s there to take the children, she is quite possibly intent on doing just that.

In testimony to Congress, Chris Klicka, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, stated that a case worker with 30 years’ experience once confided in him that “When I started working, we tried to prove the family was innocent. Now we assume they are guilty until they prove they are not.”

2) Ask what the charges are. Most of the time, the caseworker wants to keep you in the dark as to what you have been accused of, but she is now required by federal and state law to tell you the nature of the accusation at her first contact with you.

And don’t settle for the answer of “abuse” or “neglect.” Those are categories, not accusations. You are entitled to know what specific actions you are accused of committing.

3) Shut up. Shut up now. It is imperative that you not talk to anyone but your attorney. It is natural that innocent parents who have nothing to hide want to explain everything so that a reasonable person can see there’s no problem here. But CPS agents are not reasonable. You are presumed guilty. That caseworker is there to find evidence to support what she already believes to be true – that you abused your child.

If you say nothing to them, you have taken away their greatest weapon, which is their ability to twist your words. Let me give you some examples of what was done to parents who did talk to them:

The husband of a client of mine had been accused of sexually molesting their autistic, non- verbal daughter. The CPS investigator asked the mother if her daughter had exhibited any unusual behavior lately. The only thing she could think of was that a couple of times the month before, the girl had wanted her mother to come lay down with her for a few minutes. Usually, she would just go in and go right to sleep. The investigator stated to the court that the mother admitted her child had become afraid of her own bedroom.

One father I defended told the caseworker that he had disciplined his daughter over a 20 minute period, where he would talk to her about what she had done wrong, swat her a few times, and then talk some more. The investigator stated to the court that the father admitted to beating his child non-stop for 20 minutes.

4) You must find an attorney who has experience in fighting CPS, as soon as you realize your family is being investigated. Notice I said experience in fighting CPS. Many attorneys- if not most – believe their role is to find out what CPS wants and make sure their clients do it. That way often leads to disaster – and the loss of your children.

5) Be polite. Hostility toward the investigator is considered evidence of guilt. Your perfectly natural angry reaction to being accused of harming your child will be used as evidence of an abusive personality.

6) Under no circumstances should you let any government agent in your home unless he or she has a warrant or order issued by a court. Ask to see the warrant or order, because the CPS worker may lie and say she has one when she doesn’t. When she doesn’t have one, politely but firmly tell her that she will have to stay outside until she gets one. If she claims it’s an emergency, make her tell you what it is. Call her bluff – if it were a true emergency, she would be there with armed police officers, forcing her way in. Do not even open the door to let her look at the children.

There is no compromise on this. There is no exception. If you invite a caseworker into your home, you have waived your fourth amendment protection. And if the caseworker is intent on taking your children, SHE WILL FIND SOMETHING IN YOUR HOME TO JUSTIFY IT. THAT IS A GUARANTEE.

Understand that you may be threatened. You may be lied to. She may tell you that the 4 th amendment doesn’ t apply to caseworkers. That is a lie. She may tell you that she doesn’ t need a warrant. That is a lie. She may tell you that she’ll return with armed police officers. And she will. But that changes nothing. Even a man with a gun on your porch doesn’t change the fact that she still has no right to enter your home.

Listen to the words of an ex-CPS investigator:

“I wish I could shout from the highest mountain to parents to vigilantly learn their rights! If they knew what their legal rights were there would be significantly lower numbers of child removals. Social workers, unlike policemen making an arrest, are not required to inform the parents of their legal rights. All we had to do to remove a child was to show up at the home and tell the parents we came to remove the kids. Often times we would take a police officer with us (never telling the parents he was there for MY protection, not to enforce an order or warrant). 99% of the time we never had to get a warrant or court order to remove kids because the parents would be so intimidated by the officer that they would just hand their kids over and show up for court the next day. But if they had legally known their parental rights, they could simply have told me that I could not take the children unless I had a court order signed by the judge or had a warrant to remove the kids. … the majority of times parents were just intimidated and gave consent for the whole process to begin; completely unknowing of what rights they just waived.”

If officers do force their way in, do not physically resist. Make your objections clear, but stand aside. There’s no point in getting arrested, or risking injury or death. Your children need you. Demand that you not be separated from your children, and that your children be interrogated only with your attorney present. (This demand will likely be ignored, but demand it anyway. The fact that you did may become important in later court proceedings.)

7) Demand that CPS tape any interrogation of your child. They are required by Texas law to do so. Bring your own recorder in case the CPS agent “loses” her tape.

8) If the accusation is one of physical abuse, have your doctor give your child a thorough physical exam. Ask him to write a letter stating that no bruises, marks, or health concerns were found on the child that would create suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Go to a doctor you trust. Never never never go to a doctor recommended by CPS.

9) Gather names of friends and relatives who are willing and able to care for your children if CPS takes them. If your children must spend time away from you, it’s far better that they do so with people you know and trust than in an abusive foster facility.

10) Never admit guilt, even if CPS has taken your children and offers to give them back if you do. It would be immoral to do so if you truly haven’t done anything, and it may be a quick way to jail and to lose your kids forever. CPS agents are not above lying to you to prove your guilt.

Go here to learn more: http://www.bransonlegal.com/Ten_Things.html

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Posted by admin - November 11, 2010 at 1:12 am

Categories: General Abuse Laws   Tags: , , , , , ,

Your Sworn Declaration or Affidavit to fight CPS

DECLARATION OF YOUR FULL NAME HERE IN CAPITALS

State of Your State County of Your County )
)
)


Delete all this SAMPLE text from “1.” down to “
I declare under penalty of perjury” and replace all this with YOUR STORY.

Confused?  See Simple version

1. I, Firstname Lastname hereby state that on Month Day, Year, Ms. Case Worker of CPS came to my front door and told me “there had been a report”. She said that she wanted to “help me get this cleared up”.

2. I thought this OBVIOUSLY was a mistake and I felt I had nothing to hide, so I LET HER IN MY HOUSE and TALKED with her, being unaware of my Constitutional Rights (or in spite of my assertion of them).  Right here is where being ignorant of your Constitutional Rights or not asserting them has already shot you in the foot.  Several important court cases have decided FOR the citizen here and Here. Family courts routinely do not care, but getting it ON THE RECORD is a really good idea.

3. Ms. Case Worker immediately started walking though my house looking in my cupboards, pantry, the refrigerator, closets, bathroom, and every room in my house.

4. Ms. Case Worker left and returned a couple hours later with two policemen and snatched my child(ren) and said this was (whatever she accuses you of)

5. Detail what happened after that.

AND THAT IS HOW YOU WRITE YOUR DECLARATION- The truth, the dates, the facts, the names.  Spend a LOT of time writing this WELL (with spelling and grammar correct) and editing it down to hard-hitting FACTS.  This is NOT a letter to Aunt Martha or a “text message” to your online pals.

SAY ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SELF-INCRIMINATING.
Do NOT admit to anything.
Do NOT agree with anything the CPS worker said.

Stick it in and TWIST IT with the Social Worker’s COLOR OF LAW CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS by getting you to let her into your house without a search warrant and talking with her without knowing about your Fifth Amendment Right against self-incrimination (And your Miranda Rights) and how FRAUDULENT, MENDACIOUS, and under-handed she had been in FABRICATING a FALSE ALLEGATION from a BOGUS “report

The CPS worker is certainly not likely to say anything good about you in HER Affidavit to the court. It will most likely be nothing but Maledicency (evil speaking). She is NOT an “investigator”, she is a Validator. She is not being paid to be “fair” or “honest”. This is the “*lie of omission”. Even if she had “good” things to say to you to your face or over the phone, it isn’t likely to appear in HER Affidavit. Anything “good” would go in the other side of the “Preponderance” balance. They couldn’t have that, could they?

*The Lie of Omission:

A lie of omission is to remain silent when ethical behavior calls for one to speak up.    A lie of omission is a method of deception and duplicity that uses the technique of simply remaining silent when speaking the truth would significantly alter the other person’s (the judge’s) capacity to make an informed decision.

Keep it to FACTS, dates, and names. Leave the emotional parts out.

**New June 5, 2008

Based on recent new court decisions and LAW we have become aware of, we are SUGGESTING you might think about adding:

My children have been wrongfully and unlawfully removed from my physical custody without Constitutional DUE PROCESS, or even the pretext of Reasonable Efforts having been offered AS MANDATED BY 42 U.S.C. § 671 (a) (15) and 672 (a) (1), which removal meets the definition of KIDNAPPING according to18 USC Sec.1203 and are being held-

“…in order to compel a third person …. to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the person detained, or attempts or conspires to do so…”

My CPS worker, (name here) coerced me into signing a “voluntary” Service Plan, which I had no part or input in creating.  The CPS worker, (name here) threatened me that if I did not sign the  “voluntary” service plan that my children would be TPR’ed. Which according to Amanda C., by and through Gary Richmond, natural parent and next friend, appellee, v. Kelly Case, appellant.__N.W.2d__ Filed May 23, 2008. No. S-06-1097 is unauthorized practice of law and acting under the color of law.

Additionally, in the opinion of Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. in the majority Opinion of the Supreme Court of Missouri In the Interest of: P.L.O. and S.K.O., minor children. SC85120 3/30/2004

“The mother voluntarily consented to the court’s jurisdiction over her children, voluntarily transferred their custody to the division and never challenged the circumstances of their removal. Accordingly, she cannot now challenge whether an ‘emergency’ existed to justify removal of the children under (the statute in question) and this court need not address such a challenge.”

I am therefore establishing ON THE RECORD that I strongly challenge that an emergency existed to remove my children, and most certainly do withdraw my “voluntary” surrender of the custody of my children.

Further, the UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT in Smith et al. v. Williams-Ash No. 06-4638, Decided and Filed: March 26, 2008 said-

We do not doubt that the Smiths, as any parents likely would, resented the safety plan from the beginning. But mere displeasure and frustration fails to negate their consent. Rather than remind Williams-Ash of what she already knew—that they disliked the plan—the Smiths needed to explicitly withdraw the consent they explicitly gave, thus requiring Children’s Services to either return the children or file a formal complaint against them. In light of their admitted failure to do so, the Smiths were not entitled to a hearing.

For this reason, I hereby rescind any and all signatures to “voluntary” service plans or any other “agreement”.  Such signature were obtained through duress, threat, and coercion. I had no way of knowing the long-range ramifications of doing so and now explicitly withdraw any consent I explicitly gave.

Therefore, I am requiring Children’s Services to either return the children to my physical custody or file a formal complaint against me.

When you are finished, you get it REALLY NOTARIZED, make a bunch of copies, and SERVE THEM ON THE CPS, THE COURT, THE DA, THE POLICE DEPT, and EVERYONE ELSE that thinks they had any business forcing the great big nose of government into your family.

Your DECLARATION when FILED is your GLADIATOR and it will keep fighting for you for YEARS.

Delete all this text from “1.” down to I declare under penalty of perjury (except New June 5, 2008 info, if it applies and IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE IT) and replace all this with YOUR STORY.

Confused?  See Simple version

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and that this Declaration was executed at Your Town, Your State.

Dated: The day, month, year you wrote it.

(You sign it here)
________________________________

Your Town, Your State
Your phone number

DO NOT forget to create the Certificate of Service! If you forget this, they will toss it out!

Simple version of the declaration form

DECLARATION OF YOUR FULL NAME HERE IN CAPITALS

State of Your State County of Your County )
)
)


(Your story goes below instead of the Sample text)

1. I, Firstname Lastname hereby state that on Month Day, Year, Ms. Case Worker of CPS came to my front door and told me “there had been a report”. She said that she wanted to “help me get this cleared up”.

2. I thought this OBVIOUSLY was a mistake and I felt I had nothing to hide, so I LET HER IN MY HOUSE and TALKED with her, being unaware of my Constitutional Rights (or in spite of my assertion of them).

3. Ms. Case Worker immediately started walking though my house looking in my cupboards, pantry, the refrigerator, closets, bathroom, and every room in my house.

4. Ms. Case Worker left and returned a couple hours later with two policemen and snatched my child(ren) and said this was (whatever she accuses you of)

5. Detail what happened after that.

6. Each new paragraph gets a new number

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and that this Declaration was executed at Your Town, Your State.

Dated: The day, month, year you wrote it.

(You sign it here)
________________________________

Your Town, Your State
Your phone number

DO NOT forget to create the Certificate of Service! If you forget this, they will toss it out! (see below)

REAT, got my document done.  Now where and how do I file it?

You go to a Notary, swear to it’s truthfulness, he notarizes it.

You make as many true copies as you need and you file it with the Court Clerk, the CPS, the Police, and anybody else you can think of.  A court clerk may shove it back at you and mumble something about your attorney is supposed to file documents with the court.  BE FIRM, but polite, and insist that you want this filed with the rest of the files on this case. Always “make nice” with the office personnel.

Ask them to please TIME STAMP IT and make you a copy with their TIME STAMP on it. These weasels “lose” documents far too “conveniently”.  This is your PROOF you did file it, and a subliminal message that you are done being screwed with.

The CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE! A copy of this goes along attached at the END of each document you file (to each office or individual)List everybody you are going to serve.

NEVER FORGET THE CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE! A court will happily slime and toss out a document that does not have the Certificate of Service ATTACHED. Of course, you put your own info in this EXAMPLE CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE at the appropriate places.

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I HEREBY CERTIFY THAT ON Month, Day, 20__, I served a true copy of The Name of Whatever you are filing together with (if you have any) Exhibits 1, 2, 3, on the following parties by hand delivery: (or by Registered, Certified, Receipt Requested mail, if so state so)

Lincoln County District Attorney
Bernice Barnette
Lincoln County Courthouse serve
Newport, Oregon

Lincoln County Sheriff
John O’Brien
Lincoln County Courthouse serve
Newport, Oregon

Oregon Services to Children and Families
Branch Office serve
Newport, Oregon

Lincoln City Police Department
Office serve
Lincoln City, Oregon

__________________________________
Your Full Name here sui juris (or Pro Se)

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Posted by admin - at 12:56 am

Categories: Child Abuse Laws   Tags: , , , , ,

No time to lose your CPS case from Fort Worth TX attorneys

Learn the answers to frequently asked questions regarding Child Protective Services (CPS)
investigations in Texas and the concerns that families have.
© Copyright 2004, by Gregory L. Housewirth. All rights reserved

1. A CPS worker has called me and wants to meet with me to talk about my children. What do I do?

You need to cooperate. If you don’t cooperate, CPS will infer that you are attempting to hide something. Try to get some information from CPS about what they wish to discuss with you. Chances are, you probably know why they want to talk to you. Consult a lawyer and have legal counsel with you when you are interviewed. If you do not have time to obtain counsel and must participate in the interview, follow these guidelines.

  • Be polite and helpful
  • Show concern for your children
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Ask for exact information from CPS, they will often use phrases such as “we have concerns” or “it has been alleged” or “we believe”
  • DO NOT GUESS about your answers to any CPS questions
  • DO NOT GUESS about what other people knew or didn’t know
  • DO NOT SAY the following, “he would never do such a thing” “I don’t believe that happened” “my child is telling a lie”
  • Be able to clearly explain how your home is a safe home for your children
  • Be able to provide positive references who have frequent contact with you and your children
  • Do not lose your temper
  • At the end of the conversation ask the CPS worker to summarize her discussion with you, her findings, any actions she is considering taking and her reasons for taking those actions.
  • 2. Do I need to have an attorney with me whenever I meet with CPS?

    CPS workers do not like lawyers. Unfortunately, a lawyer who is not familiar with CPS and takes the wrong approach in dealing with CPS may do you more harm than good. An experienced CPS lawyer can help to clarify the issues, present your case in a positive manner, and minimize the risk of your children being taken into foster care.

    3. CPS wants me to bring my children to their offices for a meeting. What should I do?

    This is a setup. NEVER, EVER take your children to CPS offices without your lawyer right beside you. This tactic is used by CPS to get you to surrender the children to them at there offices instead of them going to the effort of removing the children from your home. To summarize, take your children with you to CPS and chances are you’ll be going home alone.

    4. CPS wants me to sign a “Safety Plan” or they are going to take my children into foster care. What should I do?

    A Safety Plan tells you that you have to follow certain rules to keep your children with you in the home. For instance, in many cases, the Safety Plan will instruct you to remove an alleged abuser from your home, or to clean your home, or to participate in counseling. You must ask yourself whether you can follow the Safety Plan – if you can’t then you are at risk of having your children removed. You must make sure that both you and CPS understand what exactly the Safety Plan tells you to do or not do. Many children are removed each year because CPS interpreted the Safety Plan differently than the parent did. Ask CPS when does the Safety Plan expire. If no expiration date is given, then you are forever at risk of having your children removed. As always, try to review the Safety Plan with a lawyer before you sign it.

    5. CPS wants me to separate from my husband or wife and to keep my children away from him/her. What should I do?

    Just do it. CPS always believes that sexual abuse has occurred, no matter what the facts and logic suggest, and that children always know what they are talking about. The problem is that if you question any of the facts, your child will be out of your home. It is a difficult situation, but you must ALWAYS choose your child over your spouse.

    6. CPS has done an “Emergency Removal” and placed my children into foster care. What should I do?

    Find out as much as you can about why the children were taken into foster care. Ask questions, but volunteer little information at this point. Be helpful. Tell the CPS worker what your child likes and doesn’t like, and inform her of any medications your child might be taking or other special needs he or she might have. Ask for a visit with your child. Typically, you will get a one hour visit one time a week. Do not threaten the CPS worker and try not to show too much anger. If the CPS worker feels threatened by you or senses that you are “unstable” it will only hurt your chances of getting your child home. Suggest relatives who would be willing to have temporary possession of your child. Try to make arrangements to get your child some of his toys, clothing, and other possessions that will make him feel more secure while in foster care.

    7. I received legal papers telling me I have a court hearing to determine temporary custody of my children. What should I do?

    Time is critical. You are going to have a Court hearing within 14 days of the date your child was removed from your possession. At the hearing, the Court will determine whether there is a continuing danger to your child in your home. CPS will have their investigators, lay witnesses, doctors and police officers ready to testify. Who will testify on your behalf? Who will present your case to the Court? Do you know how to cross-examine a witness or how to object to improper testimony? You need legal representation. If you lack time to hire an attorney, ask the Judge for an additional two weeks to hire one. Your child will have to stay in foster care, but many times it is better to wait an additional two weeks and be truly prepared for court rather than rushing in unprepared.

    Several things can happen at the initial or “14 day hearing.” Your child can be returned to your care (this rarely happens); CPS can take steps to determine whether a relative would be able to care for the child, or your child can continue in foster care for a period of at least 60 days. A CPS case can be won or lost at this point. Without aggressive representation at the 14 day hearing, there is a very real chance that your child will spend months in foster care – - possibly without justification.

    8. CPS is telling me my children have been sexually abused. What should I do?

    Please do not say, “I don’t believe it” or “that’s not true” or “she tells stories” or anything that gives CPS the thought that you don’t believe sexual abuse has occurred. Show genuine concern. Ask, “what can I do to make sure I am providing my child with a safe home?” Ask the CPS worker questions. Seek detailed answers. Who is the alleged abuser? When did the abuse occur? How many times has the abuse occurred? Exactly what did occur? (you need to get over your embarrassment and ask for graphic details about what happened). You must ask yourself if you knew of the sexual abuse or had any hint that it was taking place. What has your child told CPS? Unless you convince CPS that you knew nothing about the sexual abuse and that you are able to protect the child from the abuser, your child is going to be placed outside your home.

    9. CPS is telling me my children have been neglected. What should I do?

    “Neglect” means different things to different people. Ask questions. Seek specific answers. Try to get CPS to agree to leave the children with you while you participate in parenting classes or other services CPS recommends. If your house is dirty, clean it. If it’s still dirty after you clean, move. You may have to agree to do other things like place the children in daycare, or change your work hours. Remember, you are doing these things to keep your children with you.

    10. CPS is telling me my children have been physically abused. What should I do?

    Physical abuse usually occurs in one of two instances:

    1. The case of the baby who is shaken or beaten by an adult. Cases involving injuries babies and young children are the most difficult mainly because the victim is unable to speak. You need to convince CPS that you didn’t injure your child and that your home is safe. This is very difficult. CPS wants to know who injured the child and until someone comes forward with an explanation, the child is not going home. Do not make up stories, for instance, “he rolled off the bed.” Do not cover-up if you know who hurt the child — unless the person you are protecting is more important to you than your child. Your attorney may suggest you take a lie-detector test. You must attempt to obtain legal counsel.

    2. The case of improper physical discipline of a child.  In the case of improper discipline, you have a chance of keeping your child at home, but you are going to have to participate in parenting classes and counseling. Of course, it will depend too on the type of injuries sustained by the child and if there appears to be a long-standing pattern of improper physical discipline — for example the use of extension cords to administer spankings is abuse and may result in removal of the child.

    11. CPS tells me I don’t need a lawyer at the emergency court hearing. Is this true?

    You need a lawyer. CPS is represented by the District Attorney. Your children will have their own attorney. You will not be successful representing yourself. Also, don’t fall for the line, “this is only temporary.” Many a termination case starts with such a representation.

    12. I am embarrassed to tell my family about my CPS case. What should I do?

    If your family can help you in any way, financial, emotional, or as a temporary placement for your children, tell them. A CPS case could be the most serious legal matter in your life. It is no time to “go it alone.” Show CPS that you come from a good family and that you have their support — it will make a difference.

    13. CPS wants me to take a drug test. What should I do?

    You know whether you will pass. If you will pass, sure, take the test. If you know you won’t pass, consult your lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to refuse to take the test, or admit to your drug usage. These are critical decisions and you need a professional to advise you. The main thing is to get clean! If you are using illegal drugs, find someone in your family to care for the children while you go through a inpatient program. The longer you remain in denial about your problem, the worse things will get. Remember, in a CPS case, you have one year to get your act together. It’s better to start early rather than waiting until you are out of time to save your family.

    Get more questions from this Fort Worth Texas Law Practice

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    Posted by admin - at 12:44 am

    Categories: Child Abuse Laws   Tags: , , , , , ,

    Nancy Schaefer speech video about the corruption of child protective services

    The state government’s have grown accustomed to legally kidnapping children and violating constitutional rights.

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    Posted by admin - November 10, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Categories: Child Abuse Laws   Tags: , , , , ,

    Nancy Schaefer and husband murder report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC.com)

    “Conservative political activist and former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer and her husband Bruce have died of an apparent murder-suicide. Few details were available Saturday, the day after the couple’s bodies were found. It could be weeks before autopsy results are available, Habersham county Coroner Kasey McEntire told the AJC Saturday….

    …GBI spokesman John Bankhead told the AJC there will be a thorough investigation into what happened. He could not say who might have been the shooter. Six GBI agents and two crime scene technicians were at the scene of the Schaefer home in Habersham County Friday night.

    Sen. Don Thomas, a physician and who said he knew the couple well,  said he believed Bruce Schaefer, 74, had cancer.

    “In those moments, you are not at your complete sanity,” said Thomas, of Dalton. “Some people figure the best way is to end it for both of you. They were married for so long. Loved each other so much. When you see somebody that you love so much, every now and then, you think the best way out of it is to go and be with the Lord. ”

    Schaefer, a former Atlanta mayoral candidate and two-term senator, was beaten by Habersham County Commission Chairman Jim Butterworth in a north Georgia Republican runoff in 2008….

    Neill Herring, a veteran environmental lobbyist, said Schaefer came to symbolize “a period in Georgia history where the Christian right was really in the ascendancy. I almost feel like her defeat in the last election was a sign that that power had began to wane.”

    Schaefer and her husband were the parents of five children and moved to Habersham County in North Georgia after living in Atlanta for 35 years. The daughter of a North Georgia Superior Court Judge and granddaughter of a state legislator, Schaefer, 73,  entered the public eye in 1985 when she organized a Constitutional Liberties Rally in Atlanta.

    The following year, she founded Schaefer Family Concerns, Inc., a nonprofit foundation dedicated to issues such as display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and opposition to abortion.

    She was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor in 1994. In 1998, she sought the GOP nomination for governor.

    According to her state senate biography, she was an eight year Trustee of the National Ethics and Religions Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). She represented Family Concerns and the SBC at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul, the U.N. Conference on Food in Rome, Italy and the U.N. follow up Conference to Beijing in New York.

    She is a former First Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, a frequent speaker to churches of all denominations, a speaker to civic and political organizations, and a frequent guest on radio and local and national television programs across the nation. She was also a Sunday School Teacher.

    Nancy Schaefer was chosen as a Gracious Lady of Georgia, served on numerous advisory boards and directorships and in 2001 became the first woman Trustee for Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, Georgia.

    As a state senator, Schaefer represented the 50th district, including Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Rabun, Stephens, and Towns Counties, as well as part of White County.


    (WSB Radio/AP) Investigators with the GBI and the Habersham County Sheriff’s Department can’t find any evidence that the husband of former State Senator Nancy Schaefer was suffering from a terminal illness when he shot her in the back and then killed himself in their Clarksville home.

    Habersham County Sheriff Joel Terrell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution “talking with the family, talking with the daughter who saw them about every other day, they didn’t know anything about it (an illness).”

    Bruce Schaefer, 74, shot Nancy Schaefer, 73, once in the back while she slept and then shot himself in the head.  Investigators believe the murder-suicide occurred sometime Thursday night or Friday morning.

    GBI spokesman John Bankhead said in a prepared statement that investigators found a handgun near Bruce Schaefer’s body and several letters written by Schaefer to family members, including a suicide note.

    Sheriff Terrell said “some financial problems were mentioned” in the notes left behind by Bruce Schaefer.  But he said “he had seen nothing so far that establishes a clear motive.”

    AJC

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    Posted by admin - at 9:56 pm

    Categories: Child Abuse Laws, Foster Care and Adoption Laws   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Abused by the System – University Arkansas Report

    Child Abuse Victims Abused Again by System

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Children who survive the trauma of sexual abuse are likely to experience a second violation — this time at the hands of the very people intended to protect them, says a University of Arkansas researcher.

    Parents, child protection officials, even the system that records and processes sexual abuse cases can unintentionally inflict additional trauma on young victims, states Rebecca Newgent, assistant professor in the department of education leadership, counseling and foundations.

    “Not only do these kids endure the sexual assault. They then have to face a whole crowd of strangers — from policemen to medical professionals and lawyers — prodding them, asking them to relive the assault again and again. On top of that, they may return to families who don’t understand what the children went through or how to cope with it,” Newgent said.

    These factors not only lead to additional trauma, but they also increase the risk that children will be victimized again, according to Newgent.

    In an article titled “The Retraumatization of Child Sexual Abuse: the Second Insult,” published in the most recent issue of the journal Trauma and Loss: Research and Interventions, Newgent identifies the practices and procedures that hurt young victims even as they attempt to help. But she also suggests that parent education as well as minor modifications in the reporting and recording process could greatly reduce subsequent trauma and risk.

    In 1997, Child Protective Service agencies received more than three million reports of alleged child maltreatment. Among these reports, 15 percent — representing nearly 480,000 children — indicated some form of sexual abuse. In her article, Newgent lists the potential threats that await children after reporting a sexual assault and offers advice on how to ameliorate those threats or avoid them altogether. Some of these threats include:

    THE CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM:
    In the effort to record and process cases of sexual abuse, the very system designed to protect children may submit them to unnecessary, additional trauma, Newgent said.

    The most obvious mistake is that the system requires children to retell, and thereby relive, the experience of sexual assault over and over again for a variety of different officials. A child may be questioned by medical doctors during the initial exam, then by social workers and finally attorneys — all trying to gather the evidence they need to perform their role in the child’s case.

    Furthermore, the examination and investigation processes are often more invasive than necessary, causing the child greater fear and distress, perhaps even additional feelings of shame.

    Newgent recommends that child protection agencies streamline the process and work collaboratively with other officials so that children recount their experiences only once. Facilities should be arranged so that a non-invasive medical examination can be completed and a single interrogation conducted in a child-friendly environment. Use of one-way mirrors would allow all relevant officials to witness these procedures without intimidating the victim, and videotapes of the procedures could provide a record for future reference.

    Another common mistake relates to the officials themselves, rather than the system. Newgent cites past studies, which show that cultural and gender biases may skew how counselors and other professionals treat and perceive victims of sexual assault. Their attitudes may be transmitted unknowingly to the child, resulting in greater guilt and self-blame.

    To counteract such biases, Newgent emphasizes the importance of proper training and competence among those who interact with sexual assault victims. She notes that an unbiased and supportive environment is particularly crucial in the initial stages of assessment and treatment.

    PARENTAL REACTION:
    The circumstances of a child’s abuse and the symptoms that a child displays afterward can greatly influence the way parents subsequently relate to their child. Parents may be ashamed of their child’s experience or embarrassed by the hyper-sexuality that many children exhibit after sexual trauma. Alternatively, parents may misperceive the sexual assault as normal interaction or may be overly tolerant of inappropriate sexual behavior following the assault.

    Though seemingly opposite, these reactions can lead to similar outcomes: callous attitudes toward the child, greater blame of the child and decreased emotional support. Such family environments not only scar the child, but they also may feed into the cycle of violence that traps many victims. Family dysfunction can lead to deviant behavior, which increases the risk that victims of abuse will one day become abusers.

    “It’s not enough to treat the child. Parents have to be educated too. It’s essential that support agencies provide family counseling even if none of the family members were the perpetrator,” Newgent said. “It’s also important that parents take the initiative to inform themselves.”

    Education is not just important for the parents of victims, Newgent added. Parents should be doing more to learn about dangers and protect their children before an assault occurs.

    “Schools and clinics often have wonderful educational services, but very few parents take advantage of them,” she said. “Every bit of information that you can get to help your kids — that’s certainly not asking too much.”

    ——————————————
    “The Retraumatization of Child Sexual Abuse: The Second Insult”
    Rebecca A. Newgent
    University of Arkansas

    Lisa K. Fender-Scarr and Jamie L. Bromley
    University of Akron

    ABSTRACT:

    The traumatization of child sexual abuse does not end with the criminal act itself. Young victims’ participation in the multiple systems purporting to assist them can lead to retraumatization, the second insult. Counselors who work with children need to be aware of how variables such as prior child sexual abuse, the male as victim, victim characteristics, caregiver and family characteristics, and whether or not the crime was reported can affect the level of emotional health and recovery for these children. Current literature examines the effects of many of these variables on an individual basis. In order to help reduce the chances of young victims being revictimized counselors need to look at how these variables interact with each other and manifest themselves in the systems helping children. Assisting young victims of abuse includes having an understanding of the theories of child maltreatment. Implications for counselors in regard to the second insult include the development of competency in the realm of child sexual abuse and treatment, collaboration between multiple systems, and implementation of specialized programming. Case vignettes are provided to illustrate the variables of retraumatization.

    —University of Arkansas

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    Posted by admin - August 30, 2010 at 11:43 pm

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