Oppression is multi-faceted and disproportionately affects the homeless and people of color residing in the outer districts of San Francisco. Discrimination in the child welfare and family court systems is especially prevalent.
When state and federal statutes and guidelines are adhered to, Child Protective Services safeguards children and promotes family preservation and well-being. However, Parents Against CPS Corruption, a human rights activist group, alleges that CPS and family court corruption is hurting children and families more than helping them.
By law, children should be removed from their families only if they’ve been neglected, abused or abandoned. Yet more and more tax dollars are pouring into expansion of the child welfare industry, and children who were never abused, neglected or abandoned end up in the system. Instead, more money should be allocated to supporting families in crisis, not unnecessarily tearing them apart.
To address the social injustices and human rights violations plaguing the Black community and others as well, Michelle Chan and Shonte Foster formed the activist group Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, to combat corruption in Child Protective Services and the Family Court division of San Francisco Superior Court. Although they acknowledge that ethical workers most certainly exist in both industries, they also allege that widespread corruption is hurting children and families.
Among their goals are greater oversight and accountability and stricter enforcement of state and federal guidelines and statues, including but not limited to: removal criteria, kinship placement, timely reunification and increased support for families.
To address the social injustices and human rights violations plaguing the Black community and others as well, Michelle Chan and Shonte Foster formed the activist group Parents Against CPS Corruption to combat corruption in Child Protective Services and the Family Court division of San Francisco Superior Court.
PACC is also striving toward court reform. They allege that some Family and Dependency Court judges and court-appointed attorneys are discriminating against low-income and vulnerable clients by depriving them of due process and, more significantly, of their constitutional right to parent and be parented.
The habitual, involuntary separation of children from their parents is detrimental to the emotional health of our future generation and to society in general and is an extreme violation of the fundamental principles this country was built on.
Beginning on Valentine’s Day 2017, PACC began holding protests at the San Francisco Superior Court and 170 Otis St. The protests were successful at raising awareness; however, there were some glitches in the group’s opening week.
Clients at Jelani House allege that the inpatient treatment facility violated their First Amendment rights by not allowing them to protest. Michelle Chan also says that many of their supporters are scared to protest in fear of CPS retaliation.
“We can enact positive and lasting change, but we must stand together and stay together,” she says. “Fragmentation leaves us ripe for victimization. This is just the beginning. Have faith because justice for families and children is well within our reach.”
The case of Marjory Levine, one of the founders of PACC, was opened in June of 2015. Domestic violence was the primary safety concern. Substance abuse was secondary.
Her husband has a long and serious history of substance abuse and had been arrested numerous times for felony possession of hard drugs. Although the couple had used together when they dated in NYC, she quit long before she became pregnant.
She alleges that he continues to use hard drugs till this very day and now has full custody of their child – and San Francisco CPS has refused to mandate drug tests. In the very beginning, CPS was going to award full temporary custody to Ms. Levine. After the emergency protective order against her husband expired, she allowed him to see their son on her birthday.
For this violation, their then-2 ½-year-old son spent six traumatizing months in foster care. When he returned home, the child had deep emotional scars and experienced nightmares for months; his evening screams and hysterics pierced the heart like a searing hot sword.
Then, in September of 2016, the social worker, Maryela Padilla, committed multiple crimes in the process of removing Ms. Levine’s son from her custody again; among these crimes are forgery, falsification of documents, and Guardian Ad Litem fraud.
A Guardian Ad Litem is a type of conservatorship intended to provide a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves due to a mental impairment. It was instead used to take away that very voice and silence dissent.
Moreover, CPS and the Dependency Court covered up serious domestic violence and allowed Ms. Levine’s husband to continuously abuse her during a time that she had yet another emergency protective order against him. She alleges that the evidence she presented to the department against her husband is far more damaging than any of the unsubstantiated allegations made against her.
Among PACC’s goals are greater oversight and accountability and stricter enforcement of state and federal guidelines and statues, including but not limited to: removal criteria, kinship placement, timely reunification and increased support for families.
PACC will continue to protest in front of the Courthouse at 400 McAllister St. every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. until their demands for greater oversight and accountability, fair hearings and trials, due process and equal protection under the law are met. They are urging all victim-parents and sympathizers to join them.
PACC is currently working to grow their membership. To the community, they are offering peer support, court attendance, weekly meetings and advocacy. They will be hosting a barbeque in March.
For more information, email protest@ParentsAgainstCPSCorruption.com or call 415-815-9415. To find out more about their cause, visit ParentsAgainstCPSCoruption.com or follow them on Twitter @ProtestCPS.