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.
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.
Khlood cannot imagine life without her son, cannot accept losing this child forever and knows her son is hurting even more. Imagine being a boy who is loved like no boy has ever been loved before and then suddenly losing that love forever. Nothing can ever replace a mother’s love. If this child is not allowed to reunite with his mother, he will always be empty inside. The 1997 creation of incentivized adoption, which severely limited the amount of time parents have to reunify with children, has been the biggest desecration to the American family since slavery.
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.
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.