Tags Michelle D. Chan
Tag: Michelle D. Chan
Unpacked with her own lived experiences, Michelle D. Chan, founding director of California Families Rise, makes the call for repeal of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), causing harm and trauma to families instead of providing safe haven, compassion and love essential to every child’s, and parent's, wellbeing.
This is the story of the enduring and ineffable bond between a homeless mother and her homeless child and of their noble struggle to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world.
Much of the argument surrounding the controversy is that R. Kelly’s victims have given themselves to him willingly. But I am here today to tell you that a 14-year-old cannot consent, does not understand the consequences of following powerful men into dark places. My abuser’s only power was the power he had over me. And yet, I was utterly powerless on that bitter day to fight back, to find a will of my own. Can you imagine how much power and control a man of R. Kelly’s status and wealth must have over his victims?
The little girl in the photograph is happy. The little girl sitting on Daddy’s lap knows she is loved, knows she is wanted. The same little girl is on the telephone four years later – desperate, terrified, traumatized, begging for help. The little girl is Sophia Grace Hope Merrill, Barry White’s daughter. When Sophia fell into San Mateo County’s child welfare system, Barry thought that maybe everything would be OK because she was placed under the care and supervision of his sister, Ka’misha Crittendon. Barry White was wrong.
If only I’d known on that day, as I taped onto the front door of apartment 11 on 575 Berk Ave. in the Monterey Pines Apartments in Richmond, California, a flyer that read, “Fight CPS and COURT CORRUPTION. Recall Judges Rebecca Hardie, Lois Haight, and Jill Fannin” – if only I’d known that behind that door would be the scene of a gruesome and senseless murder just three months later.
How is it that a social worker was caught committing perjury and yet no one has held her accountable? Where is the oversight of our child welfare system and juvenile courts? Where is the outrage that this is happening and American families are being unnecessarily destroyed in court proceedings that operate under a shroud of secrecy, in court proceedings in which criminal misconduct is covered up and the best interests of children are ignored?
The March for Family Rights was a CPS and Family Court protest on May 8, 2018, in Walnut Creek, California. A diverse group of over 200 attendees rallied, marched, protested and then celebrated. On Thursday, June 28, 2018, we will hold another March for Family Rights to raise awareness of corruption and injustice in our child welfare system and in our courts and to further demand the removals of bad judges.
It was September of 2016. I was currently under CPS supervision from an unfortunate case that had been opened due to domestic violence (I was the victim) and substance abuse. Initially, CPS was going to award me full custody but chose to place my son in foster care after I allowed my domestically-abusive husband to see our son on my birthday. After Maryela Padilla was assigned to our case, things changed for the worst.
In today’s climate, “No Child Left Behind” has greater implications than just test scores and poor individual outcomes. Dennis Lockett and Lillian Somarriba allege that San Francisco school teachers abused, bullied and neglected their special needs children and the San Francisco Unified School District, Child Protective Services and the SFPD made no significant efforts to safeguard their children from future harm or to protect the public by holding the perpetrators accountable.
While Bartholomew was incarcerated, he was deprived of his right to be present at his CPS hearings. During his incarceration, Bartholomew reports that a parent educator from Child Haven sent out a letter to Mark Wasacz that Bartholomew had written; in the letter, Bartholomew stated that he wished to be present at his court hearings and that he did not want to give up his parental rights. He never received a response from Wasacz.
Parents are people. We are imperfect. We make mistakes. We struggle. And, sometimes, in the heat of the moment we say and do things we do not mean. For Donna Levey, her mistake was calling San Francisco Child Protective Services, or CPS, for support when her family was in crisis. If only she had known that that phone call would come to represent the point of no return. If only she had known that CPS would catapult their family crisis into a life-altering nightmare.
The abuse and traumatization of children strikes a chord in our society, perpetuating a vicious cycle that results in poor outcomes in adolescence, adulthood and beyond. Victims often end up in abusive situations again as adults and are more prone to substance abuse, incarceration and mental illness. For many children who have been abused, the trauma unfortunately does not end after Child Protective Services intervenes. Failure to Protect laws serve to remove these children from nonoffending parents, revictimizing the same children the system is supposed to safeguard.
Jennifer Ford has been fighting since February of 2015 to have her grandson placed in her custody. She passed the kinship home assessment, submitted five character letters, passed the criminal background check, and took parenting classes and a foster care class – all of which resulted in her approval for kinship care. In the end, none of Jennifer’s efforts or good intentions, nor the best interests of the child, mattered.
Our children are our future. We must nurture them, protect them, give them the tools necessary to survive in this harsh and unforgiving world. What if I told you that the very system designated to care for and safeguard abused and neglected children is in gross and willful negligence of its role as “protector of innocence?” Why would Child Protective Services remove children from parental custody that have not been abused or neglected? The answer is simple and incredibly sad: financial incentives.
Eight years ago, Melinda Garrett was induced into labor a month and a half before her due date. To Melinda, the baby represented a new beginning, a way to right all the wrongs and trauma and abuse she herself had endured as the survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, sex trafficking and a previously stillborn birth. She swore to break the cycle of abuse and to give everything she never had as a child to her newborn baby. She was never given that chance.
Most people who have never been through it have no idea how easily it can happen to them. Everyone has heard of Child Protective Services, or CPS. Many envision them as saviors of horribly abused children, guardians of innocence. But an accidental fall, a medical misdiagnosis, a difference of belief or values, a choice to homeschool, domestic violence, or a vindictive partner, family member or neighbor can trigger CPS to swoop in and shatter your entire world.
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 alleges that CPS and family court corruption is hurting children and families more than helping them.