for Foster Parents
The DO’s and DON’T’s WHEN Falsely Accused
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“Courage is not the lack of fear; It is acting in spite of it.”
YOU are a foster parent! Things are going along well. Each day brings a new challenge but you take it all within stride. You deal with whatever comes your way and you love your children in spite of the turmoil they cause in your home. Suddenly, someone decides you are doing “too well” or they get mad at you for some unknown reason. They file an allegation, usually anonymously, and DCFS/CPS marches in and takes your children “without” warning. YOU now stand accused…”Falsely accused.”
What do you do?
You immediately contact your attorney. You don’t have one you say! This is not surprising because you simply never thought anything like this would ever happen to you.. After all, you are honest, hardworking and a very caring, loving person. How CAN this be happening? You are hurt, confused, and angry, at this turn of events. Foster care providers are vulnerable. They are vulnerable to the fallacies of a broken system. They are open to allegations from the children they care for as well as from the biological birth parents that are angry at having been denied custody. These care providers have no recourse when these allegations occur so they need to protect themselves prior to anything happening. But because so many of these foster care providers are trusting and na´ve, they simply never think that this could ever happen to them. And IF something does come about, the typical caretaker naively believes that the caseworkers and the system who have been buttering them up over the years will surely stand with them, but when it comes right down to it, this is NOT what happens. Due to this na´ve thinking the foster caretakers have taken no steps to protect themselves. When the bureaucratic nightmare strikes, they are devastated. It takes willpower, a strong mindset and an experienced attorney to counter false child abuse allegations. You are now in for the fight of your life.
What should you do?
Please remember that these are mainly options that are open to biological parents but many of them can be applied to foster parents and adoptive parents who have been falsely accused as well.
DON’T INVITE LAW ENFORCEMENT OR SOCIAL SERVICES INTO YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT.
When you do this it waives your rights under illegal search and seizure in the Constitution of the United States.
If you are a foster parent CPS will probably tell you that this only applies to biological parents but you still need to fight this illegal entry into your home. CPS will probably tell you that you have no rights but remember…The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are still in place and YOU ARE still an American citizen.
You DO still have rights so insist on them. I learned, too late, that I should have put up more of a fight to keep our foster daughter from being taken in the first place. Insist on the warrant and if they do not have one tell them to go and get one. If nothing else, it will buy you some time to get your thoughts together instead of reacting out of instinct. By not insisting on a warrant in the beginning this will allow the Department of Social Services caseworkers or Law Enforcement officers the right to come into your home at ANY TIME and search and seize your children or belongings. Most people don’t know their rights when something like this happens (I know I didn’t and I was so shaken up by the happenings of the moment I couldn’t think straight). When faced with a crisis such as this, you are visibly shaken and you invariably try “do the right thing.” You cooperate, thinking this is just some mistake and it will soon be over. Nothing could be farther from the truth…This is “just the beginning” of the “nightmare.”
DON’T SPEAK TO ANYONE ABOUT YOUR CASE
-without first consulting a lawyer. Everything you say “can” and “will” be used against you.
If you are arrested and you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you IF you are a biological parent. But if you are a foster parent you are on your own. However, in most cases such as these mentioned in this book, the case falls under “family law” and is considered a “Civil case” and in this instance you are NOT appointed an attorney. You must retain and pay for your own attorney and this is where your trouble begins. In many instances these foster caretakers that have been “falsely accused are forced to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves against these false allegations. This in turn often forces them into bankruptcy or financial devastation. Finding a competent attorney to help you fight for your rights is not an easy task…Most attorneys don’t have a clue of what they are up against when they take on “the System” and therefore are not adequately prepared to defend you. However, the fact remains…YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU TALK TO ANYONE OR MAKE ANY STATEMENTS IN AN ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF.
DON’T TRY TO CONTACT THE ALLEGED VICTIM, THEIR FAMILY OR ANY OF THE PROSECUTIONS WITNESSES.
This is not a good idea because any such contact could be construed as an attempt to bribe or threaten these people into silence or recantation (I found this out the hard way).
These people will most likely claim “intimidation” and this will definitely go against you when taken to court. In my case, it ended up costing me my job. Any contact must be made through a private investigator that will be working through or with your attorney. It is only natural to want to confront these individuals but it is not a wise choice. CPS will deny you any and all contact with your foster children that have been taken away. They will tell them all kinds of stories…Things like you don’t care any more, or that you don’t want them any more. By forbidding this personal contact with your foster children, they re-enforce the fact that “they” are the saviors and “you” are the demon. The children don’t know what to think and they naturally believe that IF you won’t talk to them, then they no longer mean anything to you. They will NEVER know just how hard you are fighting to get them returned.
DO GO SHOPPING FOR A COMPETENT ATTORNEY.
This is of major importance.
You must make it your #1 priority to seek out an attorney that is experienced in defending against false allegations of child abuse. To find help in this area you might contact VOCAL or NASVO at 916-863-7470. If your case is considered a criminal one you can be appointed an attorney if you cannot afford one, but if your case is assigned to civil court or family court then YOU must pay for your own attorney. This is where most foster parents find themselves…responsible for their own defense. The system has the availability of attorneys paid for by the state taxpayers (of which you are one). The child is assigned an attorney…”pro bono.” But the foster parent is left to stand alone which often leads to financial devastation, the ruin of an otherwise unblemished reputation and frequently the loss of your job due to the “false allegations.” A possible solution here might be to seek out the services of a Pre Paid Legal service. There is one in particular that services Foster Parents and gives you 24-hour access to attorneys and their advice and services. It’s called Foster Parent Legal Solutions
DON’T TURN TO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL.
These substances are not a wise direction to follow. They are depressants and most likely will become “habit-forming.” Use of these substances can cause you to jeopardize your case as this can be used against you in court. This is true at any level you might be involved in…no matter what the stature of your case.
DO KEEP ACTIVE AND BECOME INFORMED
Knowledge is Power and “power” is what you need to win your case.
Physical and social activities are a must as the situation you are finding yourself in could bring on a major cycle of depression. Staying active socially and physically is a healthy way to keep depression at a minimum. Start putting your energies into learning as much as you can about what you are being charged with. You most likely will find that most of the allegations that are lodged against you are either totally “false” or simply ridiculous. You will be dumbfounded at the totally ridiculous nature of the allegations “made up” by the social workers or the States attorney in order to “win” their case. Take an active part in your own defense. Search the library for information and other similar cases and pass on any information you find to your attorney. If you have a computer search the Internet for support groups or other legal information that could be used to help your case. There are support groups out there that have made it their purpose to give advice and support in this time of need. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Thousands of others have gone before you and they are ready to assist in any way they can. A list of some of these groups can be found at the end of this book. DON’T give into depression and defeat. That is what DCFS/CPS counts on and when you fall into this trap you might as well give up as you most likely have lost your case.
DO ARRANGE TO HIRE A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.
Some attorneys have their own private investigators but this is not always true. Private Investigators can be costly but they can be your salvation too. The trouble with most of these cases is that the foster parents involved financially cannot afford the cost so this option is frequently ruled out. It is very important to have an Investigator assigned to your case…especially if you are “hit” with serious allegations of abuse or sexual abuse. If your attorney does not have one on staff, call NASVO for references. (Note: This should be as a last resort. Please consult your attorney, before using a Private Investigator. Be very careful, since gathering information on a Prosecutor's Witness, may be considered intimidation)
DO KEEP A JOURNAL FOR DOCUMENTATION.
This should be a daily documentation of what you do, where you go and people you are in contact with.
If you have been smart during the time you had your foster children in your home you have kept this documentation as on-going proof of what was happening in the home with each of these children. But many of the foster parents involved in foster care are na´ve and never think about ways to protect themselves. Once the allegations are made you need to provide as much evidence of documentation as you can to your attorney. To do this, go through your old receipts, checks, photos, letters, calendars, notes, cards and holiday experiences to back-date a journal. Try to reconstruct everything you did or said and where you were at the time of the allegation. Give a copy of the journal to your investigator and attorney so they can use it toward evidence to help you.
DO A STRIP-SEARCH OF THE CHILD’S ROOM.
If the child lived in your home (which most foster children do) you might find some small piece of evidence to help your case. The search can provide proof of your child’s activities and sexual and social habits. Take pictures of things that might benefit your case. Give “copies” of what you find to your attorney and private investigator, but always keep the originals for your own records. Look for notes, letters, diaries, photos, telephone numbers drug or sexual paraphernalia. It may well be, as in my case, that CPS/DCFS will accuse you of “invasion of the child’s privacy” but in the long run you might just find the one item that will prove valuable to your defense.
It is very important to document everything that could help your case.
If at all possible, tape record or video tape all conversations that would be involved in your case. Also, record any visits you may have with your child. If this is not possible, write down your total recollection of the incident as soon as you can and date it. Include as much detail as you can remember. Send a copy, certified mail where they must sign for it, of your understanding of the event in question to DCFS/CPS workers. Give them a “time limit” to respond and if they don’t respond then document this also. Federal law says that is legal to make tape recordings, so long as one person being taped consents to it. This is NOT true in “all” states so check out what is legal in your own state. California is one state where you must advise the other person (people) that they are being recorded. If they object they have the right to remain silent and you don’t have the right to tape-record the conversation. In this case, use written documentation as your source of recall.
START A PAPER TRAIL.
Each time you talk to Social Services or Law Enforcement officers or anyone else connected with your case, document what was said and write a letter to that person asking them to confirm or deny the contents of the letter within 10 calendar days.
In your letter state that “failure to respond, confirming or denying what you state in the letter, will constitute that they agree with the information contained in the letter as being accurate. Send the letter by certified mail or Return Receipt requested. You can send a fax documenting the same things IF you can provide verification that the fax was sent and received. It is important to have copies of everything you send or document and make copies for your attorney. Ask your attorney (in writing) to send copies of these letters and information to the County Counsel and to the other attorney’s involved in the case. Also, send copies to the judge IF your attorney deems it advisable and appropriate. This might be to your advantage in the long-run.
ARM YOURSELF…WITH POWER AND KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge is POWER and power is what you need to fight the system when you are falsely accused.
Knowing how the system works and what is required of social workers can help you put them on the defensive when you force them to do their job properly.
If you are in California, call the State Department of Social Services. The number is (916)657-3661. Request a copy of DIVISION 31, CHILD WELFARE SERVICES PROGRAM Manual of Policies and Procedures. Request to be put on their update list and you will then be eligible to receive updates to the manual. The copy of the Policies manual will be FREE and should arrive in about two weeks. It contains the regulations that CPS is supposed to follow. Each state has a place to go for this information. Check out what is applicable in your state.
Once you receive the manual, read it and document all the violations you can identify. Give your attorney a copy. In court, your attorney can basically use this information to put CPS “on trial” and force them to defend their actions. This will take the focus off you. Then, if your attorney puts you on the stand, make certain the information focuses on “your concern for the child”…i.e. your concern for poor grades, regressions, behavior changes, etc.). This will not guarantee you a win in court but it will have the strong possibility of changing the “court’s empathy” into your favor.
You can also fax copies of the violations along with a cover letter to the following agencies. This “could” start an internal investigation into your case.
Children’s Operation Bureau, Attn: Bill Lamb; Fax- (916) 445-2898 or (916) 445-2836.
US Commission of Child & Family Welfare; Attn: Kevin Costigan; Fax- (202) 401-5539
Call the Administration for Children & Families and ask where to send or fax your letter for their attention in this matter. The phone number is (202) 401-9200.
LEARN TO TALK THEIR LANGUAGE
CPS uses key phrases such as: “indicates,” “seems to think,” “appears,” “could be” and several others to gain an advantage in court. (Note: See our Legal Terminology Chapter)
It is recommended that you learn to use their “key” words in your everyday language so it feels natural to you. Then use them to your advantage on the witness stand. When CPS uses these phrases it is not an accident…They are well aware of HOW it looks and sounds to the judge. In most instances the judge doesn’t look at their statements as implications and opinions. Instead, he simply accepts their information as “fact” and that is where you are at a disadvantage. Whatever you do, DON’T LIE but DO use their “key” words to further your cause. This will confuse them as they are not used to the average every day person challenging their authority and their methods. CPS is used to reigning “supreme” when they take on another family. They MUST be able to cover themselves…especially when they have done the unspeakable and fabricated stories to make their case and cover their mistakes. It is important to be better prepared than they are! That is your goal and that will be your saving point.
CHECK YOUR COURT RECORDS
Check all court documents for mistakes.
Quite often just simple little things like names and birth dates are wrong. Sometimes the mistakes are more inconspicuous so you MUST go through the documents slowly and deliberately. The allegations are often incorrect and/or simply distorted versions of a real happening(s). Believe me, that is NO mistake…CPS does that deliberately. Make a list of ALL the mistakes you find and give your attorney a copy. By doing this you can establish a pattern of inefficiency, which might be used in your favor at the hearing or trial. This will substantiate your contention of social worker incompetence, etc. In our case the social workers from both agencies were in major violation of their policies for the entire five years that we had our foster daughter. They consistently made mandates and then never followed up to see that they were carried out, nor did they ever make any effort to assist us in meeting the mandates. When it came down to it, the social workers had made frequent untrue entries into their records in order to cover their slovenly work over the years. They NEVER properly investigated the allegations that they alleged and when they did false information was entered into the records. They then used this “false” information to illegally report me to the State Child Abuse Registry BEFORE any hearing or trial was held. Nothing was ever proven and all allegations were dropped… Yet, my name remains on the Registry and has cost me my teaching job of 39 years.
Read through the court documents carefully. Look for opinions that are stated as “facts,” i.e. “The child was not happy, indicating he/she did not wish to return home.” Social workers are well known for making these types of statements because they know exactly how it will sound to the court. Social workers are well-known for inserting “their opinions” as fact and when entered as evidence in court the judge listens unless special attention is called to question it. This is strictly the opinion of the social worker as he/she has absolutely NO idea of how your child acts when he/she is happy, sad, scared, confused, tired or sick. This is especially true IF the social workers never came to your home for their monthly visits and inspections and if the State licensing agents never came for their yearly inspections for re-issuance of the Foster Care License. The opinion didn’t prove anything but a judge may see it as fact: i.e. “The child is happy at the new foster home and does not want to go home.” It is a known fact that the judge will NOT side with you IF this fact is not clarified! List every opinion that is presented as fact and give your attorney a copy. Ask your attorney to clarify them in court. It just might be enough to “tip the scales” in your favor. And, if nothing else, CPS will have some mighty tall explaining to do in court!
WHO IS SAYING WHAT?
If you are involved with CPS, you have the legal right to look through your case file and to have copies of it. As in our case social services my tell you that you have to petition the court and you must pay for the copies, or you must have your attorney request that information in writing (this is NOT entirely legal for them to do but you may not have many options here). If this happens, get right on it and ask your attorney to request a copy of ALL case notes and any other documentation that CPS has against you. Ask your attorney to give you copies of ALL the information that is obtained so that you can list the errors and omissions in the documentation. By law, CPS is required to list every contact they have had with you, including all phone calls, but they seldom document these contacts unless they can use it against you. This is one step that could well help in your defense. In most instances CPS will do their best to restrict or cut off all contact between you and your foster child(ren). They do this in order to strengthen their case when they attempt to prove that the child is doing “okay” in the new foster situation. Remember…CPS will do anything to win in court.
MAKE THEM PUT IT IN WRITING
CPS is good at forcing their “will” on people and they will use any trick or lie to enforce their mandates on you.
So, any time that DCFS/CPS tries to force you to do something that is not in the plan…i.e. Reunification, Family Maintenance Plan, Foster Care Correction, etc. be strong and tell them to “put it in writing.” An example would be that CPS will tell you that you cannot talk to your child about the past or the future. Tell them to “put it in writing” and they will probably tell you, “I don’t have to put it in writing. I told you what to do.” That is when you stand up to them and state emphatically that you are under no legal obligation to do as they request (or order) unless you have a court order. Make certain that you tell them that you don’t feel these actions will be in your child’s “Best Interests.” Remember…When “false allegations” of any kind occur with foster parents…You have NO rights. And CPS makes it a point to let you know this. There are some attorney’s that will tell you to go along with CPS just to keep the peace. The attorney wants to make things run smoothly and he/she doesn’t want to make the judge mad. To be honest, there is some justification to this way of thinking but you must weigh the facts and decide if it is in YOUR “best interest” to follow this line of thinking. If not,
FIGHT! GET FRESH BLOOD. IF POSSIBLE, ENGAGE AN ATTORNEY FROM OUT OF THE AREA.
Most attorney’s work within their own county. They must face the same attorney’s and judges day in and day out. They have worked together so long that they know exactly “what” to expect from each other and what kind of response to expect from the court for the different situations that will arise. It is a known fact that Judges “can and do” prevent attorneys from providing their clients with the full benefit of their strategies and expertise, so it is advisable for you to “get some fresh blood” into the courtroom. If at all possible, try to hire an attorney that is NOT from your county, or even better, try to hire an attorney that is from the capital city.
The judge has no idea how your attorney operates or where he is from. He will probably wonder why you did not select a local attorney and most likely dislike being “watched” or “evaluated,” especially if the attorney that you select is from the capital city.
As a rule, when an attorney is from out of the area the Judge will allow far more latitude to this new attorney than he would a local one. This is definitely to your advantage.
Opposing counsel will not know what to expect either. This has the advantage of shaking them up to the point that they will make some serious mistakes that will make CPS look bad. This has happened before and you can make it happen again.
When you bring in an attorney “new” to the area, the child’s attorney doesn’t know which way to go. Therefore, he/she will most likely “straddle the fence” through the whole trial. He/she might even switch sides in support of the defense. This is what you want. After all, the child’s attorney wants to be on the “winning” side, as it looks better for his/her reputation.
WHENEVER POSSIBLE, STACK THE DECK IN YOUR FAVOR.
Most likely by now there are probably at least two attorneys fighting against your “one” attorney. In most cases, the attorney for the child will side with CPS because they usually think that will be the “winning” side. It is true that the child’s attorney is getting only one side of the story. They do not talk to you. They do not ask you what you think is best for your child and most likely they are not talking much to the child either. You must think…”How can that attorney represent the best interests of this child when he/she only spends an hour or two at the most with the child? It is evident that they can’t. The child’s attorney relies heavily on the information he/she gets from the therapists, who are usually paid for and appointed by the county, and the information supplied by the Social Workers. The whole case is very “one-sided.”
You need ALL the help you can get. If you can get two or more attorneys in your corner you will measurably increase your chances of success. Of course, that takes money and most foster parents who find themselves in this position have very little of that to help their case. CPS uses the strategy of “divide and conquer.” You must show a UNITED front in order to defeat their efforts. If at all possible, have TWO separate attorneys that are willing to work together. This is very much to your advantage as most likely one of the attorneys has been on the case since the very beginning and the second attorney comes on board much later. The first attorney knows more about your character, your efforts, etc. When the questioning begins each attorney can use his/her personal expertise to cover what the other one has missed. Do yourself a favor…Double your chances of winning and, IF at all possible, get yourself an additional attorney.
DON’T TAKE A PASSIVE PART IN YOUR DEFENSE. BECOME AN ACTIVE “ADVOCATE.” HELP YOUR ATTORNEY. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
Become an informed advocate.
The more you do for your attorney, the better chance he/she has of defending you and the easier it will be to win. When you take an active part in your own defense your chances of winning are very much increased. Don’t just pay your attorney and walk away and expect him/her to do all the work. The more informed you are the fewer surprises you will encounter in the courtroom. Help your attorney defend you. Do your own research, ask questions and most of all…
KEEP YOUR ATTORNEY INFORMED.
Keep a log of everything that concerns your case…phone calls, research, news articles, etc. Get on the Internet and Search…Search…Search. Join any support groups that you can locate and work with their members to become informed. The support groups are out there and they are there to HELP YOU. Use their resources and past experiences to your advantage. Look for cases that have already been won and make copies of what you find and make certain you give a copy to your attorneys. If you prepare your attorney with information, it will make it easier for him/her to defend you. A major victory for Foster Parents who have been falsely accused came about in April of 2001 in Illinois when Judge Pallmeyer ruled in favor of the foster parents in a “class action” suit.
PROVE YOUR CHARACTER:
Get “Affidavits of Character” from your friends, co-workers and clergy.
Take them to the Clerk’s office and request that they be attached to your file. By doing this it puts this valuable information in the file so the judge can read it. Once in the file, the judge is mandated, BY LAW, to read them. And, once entered into the record, these Affidavits of Character cannot be “thrown
out of court.” On the other hand, they do not “have” to be entered into court as “evidence” either. You do not need your attorney to do this. You can do this on your own. This tactic is to your advantage because it allows you co-workers and friends to be able to “testify” for you without being subjected to a cross-examination by the prosecution. Of course, the prosecution can request or require these same people to appear in court, but you have the same right to their witnesses. By using these letters of “Character” it presents a “one-sided” view of you…In YOUR favor!
KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS:
Until you face “false allegation” charges, it is a little known fact that FOSTER PARENTS HAVE NO RIGHTS. You must fight for your rights every step of the way. The Bill of Rights, which is part of the United States Constitution, is the law…But when faced with false allegations by CPS foster parents are coerced and bullied into believing they have NO RIGHTS. You must “fight” to preserve your rights every step of the way. It is unfortunate that we, as foster parents, have allowed ourselves to get into this position. We often do NOT know exactly what our rights are. Through our own ignorance, we have allowed the state courts and the “system” to strip us of those rights. In ignorance, we never raised a voice in our own defense…We never protested the steps taken to deny us the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. You might wonder “how” this could happen. Well, it happened one small step at a time…day after day, year after year…until the system is as it is today. CPS has whittled away at our Constitution and Rights piece by piece and changed it to “fit” their agenda and in doing this they have constructed a “reigning set of laws” that will devastate anyone who dares to question their validity. To challenge CPS is to challenge “GOD”…and anyone who dares to take this path is in for the fight of his/her life. We must take a stand and reverse this trend. WE MUST DEMAND OUR RIGHTS! We must challenge the laws of the state…of the court and its rulings…of the county and its policies…that have been made “local law.” It is evident that the system is “broken” and it “no longer works.” It is “our responsibility” to change this broken system and fix it. We CAN challenge and we CAN change it IF we are persistent in following the American dreams and ideals that we grew up believing. We can no longer rely on anyone else to protect our rights. We must become informed and do it ourselves. LEARN THE CONSTITUTION and keep a list of the rights that were violated in your case. Later on, you might be able to use these violations and information for a civil suit, IF you decide to pursue that road. CPS will tell you that you cannot sue them…That they are immune from prosecution. Don’t believe them. Laws are changing and these unethical, corrupt people are coming under close scrutiny. Their “cloak of unaccountability” is slowly being shredded and they ARE now required to face the consequences of their actions.
CAN I SUE?
Yes! Some states are changing laws so that Social Workers can be sued for violations of Civil Rights. Check your state laws and demand your rights.
As of January 1, 1996 in California, social workers now entertain the same immunity as police officers have. Previously, California social workers had total immunity no matter what action they pursued. This is not true any longer. It’s happening all over the country…Civil Law Suits are springing up everywhere…One by one social workers are being called to be held accountable for their unethical and illegal actions. This is happening all over the country. Some are individual suits and some are “Class Action” suits…But the fact remains that social workers can no longer hide their deceit and unaccountability. They are being called to answer up to their destruction of the American family. In order to find out what suits are forming in or near your area you should contact any parent or family rights organizations such as VOCAL, MASA, Injustices in the Court to name a few. And now, you wonder, just WHO can be sued? The answer is…The State, the county, social workers, police officers, and sometimes judges and the federal government. If you are a biological parent you can add foster parents to this list also. I will not be easy to make this suit stick but IF you are persistent and don’t give up your fight could ultimately help the next set of parents…biological, foster or adoptive…to protect themselves. By making this effort now and setting precedent, you are helping others to avoid the same dangers in the future.
There are many directions you can chose to follow when this situation arises. If you chose to go public with your story, do it in a “BIG” way. Make your child “bigger than life.” Have a picture of your child blown up to poster size (There are several copy stores that charge a minimal charge ($5), for a poster sized color enlargement). You can use it when giving speeches or protesting. You can take it to court with you, although sometimes the judge will not allow this, you can at least try. It really draws people’s attention as the people you are talking to are forced to look at your child and decide if what they are hearing is true. Granted, it is only a picture, but now your child is “no longer” a faceless victim of the system. Your child now becomes “real” to the viewers and ceases to be just a statistic.
use your child’s name when protesting or speaking in public. It is true that the Constitution upholds your right to “free speech” but in the courtroom the judge may not see it that way. It is quite possible that the court will issue a “gag order” against you for going public claiming you are endangering your child with your actions and words. You will most likely be advised that for “your child’s protection” these proceedings are confidential. These are all tricks that CPS and the system uses to bring more validity to their side and beat you down. It is conceivable that you could be fined or jailed for refusing to obey these orders. Only YOU can decide if it is worth the risk.
WHEN YOU ARE RIGHT…YOU “WRITE”:
A great tool to use in these events is to begin a “letter writing” campaign. Write to everyone who you think might be able to help you. Write to your politicians AND to the politicians that represent every member of your extended family (parents, siblings, etc.). Write to the politicians who represent your friends too. When you sit down and begin to make your list you will find that you will come up with quite a list of Assemblymen, Congressmen, State Senators and U.S. Senators around the country. Keep your letter simple, but be concise…Two page maximum is suggested. You might say something like…CPS is trying to force us to lie to get our children back; or CPS is conducting an illegal, unethical investigation which has taken our child and not given us a chance to respond honestly. Include a cover page to the politicians who are out of your area that might state…”I know you do not have the jurisdiction to help me but you represent people in my family that are directly affected by the situation described herein.” Also include a cc. page with the names of ALL the politicians you have sent this letter to…The more the better. You might think that contacting politicians out of your immediate area is a waste of time, but really, it isn’t. This is how laws get changed. Your own politicians may “sweep” your concerns aside but when you send letters to politicians across the country you hold your own politicians accountable and they must face their peers and explain what they are doing about your problem. It puts pressure on them to “do something.” It also keeps you focused on helping yourself. You are doing something positive and it proves to your child how hard you fought for them, whether it did any good or not.
CHECKING FOR PHONE TAPS/PHONE TRAPS:
If you believe that your phone may tapped, call the phone company’s repair center and ask them to check the line for taps or traps. Tell them about the unusual sounds (humming, clicking, etc.) you may be hearing. The phone company may be willing to run a signal that can detect most devices. If they refuse to run a check for you it could be an indication that your phone is tapped or it may just be company policy. But, still be careful because even if your phone lines are clear, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to talk freely. It is still possible for someone to listen in at the phone company rather than through the lines near your home. Be careful of what you say on cellular phones, cordless phones and car phones. Those calls can be monitored using a scanner. In other words, just BE CAREFUL at all times when using the telephone.
PARANOID??? THINK AGAIN! Due to the stress you find yourself under at these times, you may think you are losing your mind or that you are becoming Paranoid! Don’t discount this theory, as they “really are” out to get you. Make copies of everything that relates to your case. If you have a friend or relative that lives out of the area or state that CPS is NOT aware of send copies of everything to that person for safekeeping. Do NOT rely on things like safe deposit boxes because CPS can get a court order to or warrant to open the box and take whatever evidence you have against them. Ideally you should have at least three copies of your evidence…one at home, one copy close by and one copy safely hidden out of state.
CONTACT YOUR COUNTY GRAND JURY.
Many Grand Jury investigations of Child Protective Services are being done. The investigations are confidential and CPS or the public may not even be aware that they are being investigated. It is important to notify the county Grand Jury if CPS is violating your rights or NOT following their own regulations. It might be that the Grand Jury needs to acquire a certain number of complaints before they can act and your letter just could be the one that will make the difference. By contacting the Grand Jury you will be helping yourself as well as those past and future.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO “BE A BROKEN RECORD:”
This goes for your biological/adopted children as well as your foster children. If this situation that you find yourself in involves your children, you need to teach them that IF they are happy where they are and they do not want to be moved then they have the right to stand up for themselves. They have the right to speak out and tell their side and express their wishes and demand to be listened to. When a government official, whether it be a law officer or a social worker from CPS, wants to question your child, he/she can legally answer their questions with…”According to the Privacy Act of 1974, I don’t have to answer any questions without ‘my parents’ being present.”…or…”I have the right to remain silent until my parents, or foster parents, are present to advise me.” Of course, this takes pre-planning on your part. Parents, be them biological, adoptive or foster, simply never think that anything like this will ever happen to them so they all too often are ill-prepared to face the situation. More often than not they do not prepare their children either. Do yourself a favor and start now to prepare your children for unforeseen circumstances. This will help the children face the authorities with the right answers should false allegations ever become a part of their lives…or your life.
Make up a card for your children to carry with them at all times and teach them to read it to anyone who tries to question them without you being present to protect them. This includes your foster children. They have the right to make decisions affecting their life and if they are happy where they are, they have the right to remain where they feel safe and secure.
I have the right to remain silent until
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