July 11, 2017 § Leave a comment
For a mother of two daughters in Will County, Illinois, known in legal papers as Kelly, the morning of May 1 began with her being thrown against a wall so hard she saw stars. When she looked up, she saw the man who did that to her — the father of her children — holding a gun and threatening to use it. Then the father took one of the children and fled. Kelly was terrified the father would hurt her child.
Someone — Kelly doesn’t know who and probably never will — called the Illinois child abuse hotline. Even though the father is facing criminal charges and even though Kelly has primary legal custody of the children, caseworkers for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services apparently leaped to the conclusion that, somehow, all this was Kelly’s fault. They coerced her into letting them put both children with the alleged abuser’s parents. A private agency now oversees the case. The alleged abuser has liberal contact with his children while Kelly hasn’t had a visit with them for a month.
Meanwhile, caseworkers are forcing Kelly to jump through all the usual hoops, including a “mental health assessment” and “anger management.” (Remember, she’s not the one who threw someone against a wall, she’s not the one who pulled out a gun, and she’s not the one facing criminal charges.)
Then, according to the complaint, in what may be the single most candid statement ever uttered by a child welfare worker, a caseworker for the private agency explained how the system really works: The case, she explained, is a “maze.” Like mice in a cruel lab experiment, both parents are at the “beginning of the maze.” The children are at “the end of the maze.” She then said that “whichever parent finished his or her services first” wins — that is, he or she would get the children.
By now some may be wondering “where are the courts — aren’t they supposed to approve all this?” But child welfare agencies have ways around pesky nuisances like due process of law. In this case, they effectively blackmailed Kelly into giving up what few rights she had. They told her that unless she agreed to a so-called “safety plan” in which the children were placed “voluntarily” with the abuser’s parents, she’d have no contact of any kind with her children.
There is nothing to suggest this case is unusual. In an almost identical case last year, Illinois reached a settlement agreement to curb the abuse of “safety plans.” They violated the agreement and have yet to adopt the policies they promised to follow.
And Illinois is not alone in blaming mothers for being beaten.
In Utah, a legislative audit report found that children “witnessing domestic violence” is the single largest category for so-called “substantiated” maltreatment.
In New York City the practice of tearing children from their mothers just because the mothers had been beaten was largely ended only after a settlement that followed a federal judge’s scathing 183-page decision in a class-action lawsuit. (My organization’s vice president was co-counsel for the plaintiffs.)
As the decision explains, the lead plaintiff in that case, Sharwline Nicholson was beaten mercilessly by a boyfriend when she decided to break off the relationship.
But even as she was bleeding profusely, suffering from a broken arm, broken ribs and gashes to her head, as she called 911 and waited for an ambulance to take her to a hospital, she arranged for a neighbor to care for her children.
But that wasn’t enough for the city’s child protective services agency. As Nicholson lay in her hospital bed, CPS took the children from the babysitter and threw them into foster care with strangers — where one of the children was abused. Nicholson was charged with “engaging in domestic violence” — presumably by throwing her body into her abuser’s fists.
“It reached the point where I said ‘Oh, why did I call 911,’” Nicholson said.
Cases like this keep happening because of the child welfare system’s penchant for embracing fads — and for always blaming parents, especially mothers, for anything that happens to children.
So a study reports the obvious: Witnessing domestic violence can be emotionally harmful to children. Instead of embracing the obvious solution — arrest the batterer and put him in jail — child protective services rushes to blame the victim — and tear apart the family.
As usually happens when child protective services takes a swing at “bad mothers,” the blow lands on the children. As a succession of experts testified in the Nicholson case, while witnessing domestic violence may indeed be harmful to children, tearing those children from the victim of that violence is far, far worse. One expert called it “tantamount to pouring salt into an open wound.”
Fortunately, the New York City child welfare agency has largely abided by the settlement. And the New York State Court of Appeals effectively extended it statewide.
But that leaves 49 states where battered mothers have to think twice about seeking help — because of what the “helpers” might do to their children. That’s 49 states, where practice in these kinds of cases can boil down to “please pass the salt.”
Richard Wexler is executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
February 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
Controversial DCFS director resigns
|Arthur Bishop was appointed Friday to head the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. 2010 photo (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune / July 16, 2010)|
Ending weeks of speculation, Arthur Bishop today submitted a letter of resignation as director of the state’s child welfare agency.
Gov. Patrick Quinn appointed Bishop last month to lead the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
But, within weeks of the appointment, Bishop’s administration was dogged by controversy over revelations that he pleaded guilty in 1995 to misdemeanor theft for misusing money meant for patients at the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center. Bishop also has been involved in a paternity case since 2003, according to court records.
In a letter to Quinn, Bishop, 61, alleged the governor’s political rivals were behind the controversy.
“I am aware that we are in the midst of a contested election, and that my documented accomplishments, dedication, and almost 20 years of exemplary work are in this environment, simply irrelevant,” he wrote in a letter to Quinn, obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
“While your political rivals may be willing to attack me in an effort to obtain some modicum of political advantage, I cannot agree to be used as a distraction to the real issues that face the State and the children that remain in State custody.”
His resignation is effective Friday.
Bishop, an ordained minister with more than 35 years in human services, began his career at DCFS in 1995 as a caseworker and rose to deputy director. He left the agency in late 2010 when Quinn chose him to oversee the state’s juvenile justice department.
Bishop’s 2010 appointment also was controversial because he lacked a corrections or juvenile justice background, but Quinn then defended his pick, arguing the department was moving in a new direction that focused more on rehabilitation. Facing the most recent criticism, Quinn again defended his pick.
Bishop said the governor did not seek his resignation. He had originally faced a felony in the 1995 theft case but, after two years of court proceedings, Bishop accepted a plea deal in which the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, court records showed.
Divorce Corp what a great movie Documentary It shows what true scumbags they really are without acting!!
January 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
Subject: A must see documentary movie – Divorce Corp
Last night, I watched the premier of the documentary movie Divorce Corp at AMC Showplace, Galewood 14, 5530 W. Homer St, Chicago (773 413 1970), which talks about the ruthless exploitation of divorcing parents, and the lack of oversight over the trial judges and their appointees.
This is a must see movie for each and every one of you so that you could pass the laws which would eradicate this problem, and which would put an end to this “barbaric” era of the family courts. In fact, you have a moral obligation to see this movie, because you, the legislators have created this “monster” by blindly enacting the laws which empower the trial courts to enrich the private attorneys and other appointees at the expense of divorcing parents and their minor children. No trial judge or any governmental employee should ever be put in a position where he or she could generate an extremely lucrative business to the private sector without any recourse available to the citizens.
Here in Illinois, we, the court-abused divorced parents have been bringing to your attention for several years that the family law judges and their appointees are financially destroying us and our children under the most despicable disguise that this is serving the minor children’s “best interests”. In 2010, the Illinois Family Law Study Committee, POD 1 report identified and referred to the present domestic relations system as a “cottage industry”. Our efforts to close down the “cottage industry” have been successfully thwarted by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). That’s not surprising. The ISBA and its attorney members have personal pecuniary interests in allowing the “cottage industry” to grow and prosper.
The Divorce Corp documentary, indeed, evidences that the family courts are profit centers; multi-billion dollar industry; and the nation’s shame and problem. The minor children have become the mere “commodity in trade” in this environment.
Slavery was once legal, profitable and widely accepted by those in power. However, it had to end because it was unethical and inhumane. The brutal exploitation of divorcing parents and their children, under the color of law, must also end.
Therefore, please exercise your conscious, fulfill your moral obligation and go see the documentary so that you could acquaint yourself with the harsh reality, and so that you could enact the better laws.
a system that has falsely accused her of Pediatric Falsification Disorder (aka Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy),
December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment