Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Busine$$ of Child Protection

Nobody likes a child abuser and with good reason. We have seen some horrific cases over the past several years, from Polly Klaus to Megan Kanka (Megan's Law) to Jon Benet Ramsay and now to Danielle Van Dam from San Diego. Whether it is a parent or a stranger who kidnaps, harms, molests and/or kills a child, Siberia is too good for that individual.

Yet over the past 30 odd years, since the fruition of the Mondale Act (Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act), we've seen an actual backlash in child abuse cases. What does this mean?

This means that since 1963, when there were only 163,000 reports of alleged child abuse or neglect, to 1995 when there were over 3.2 million reports of alleged child abuse or neglect, we've witnessed an approximate 2,000 percent increase in the number of reports of alleged child abuse or neglect in America.

So, you want to talk about heightened awareness of an issue?

The point is that the astronomical increase in the number of reports does not automatically mean there's a substantial problem with child abuse in America. A quick phone call to 1-800-FYI-3366 (National Center on Child Abuse & Neglect) will show that 55 percent to 75 percent of all alleged child abuse and neglect reports are unfounded.

Of the same, about 8 percent are false, made with deliberate, premeditated forethought to "get" someone. For every four reports of alleged child abuse in America today, one is confirmed. That one case is unacceptable, of course, but what happens to the other three wounded innocents caught up in the throes of the system?

This writer was wrongly accused of molesting his 3-year-old daughter in 1985. Although the state of Florida dropped criminal charges against me and I took countless tests to prove my innocence, I was denied normal contact with my children by the family courts. And, because social workers and therapists planted a seed that I "must have done something," my now-20-year-old daughter still has her doubts.

Here's a case in point: Four-year-old Amber told a social worker and police sex crimes detective that her Daddy put his pee pee on her pee pee. When I received a call on the case, the father had been arrested for GSI (Gross Sexual Imposition) and was in jail.

After the defense hired a forensic expert in linguistics and suggestibility who interviewed Amber in a structured fashion, they gleaned that what Amber meant was that her Daddy urinated on top of her urine in the commode she forgot to flush.

In psychology, this is called a "source misattributions" error. In other words, the child's statements were taken out of context and actually meant something else. Well-meaning, well-intentioned social workers will interview young children allegedly molested, using guided imagery, stereotype induction, scripting, confirmatory bias and even anatomically exaggerated dolls.

These same children will give, over time, the desired responses the interviewers are seeking.
Doctors misdiagnose rashes and urinary tract infections for child sexual abuse. As mandated reporters under the Mondale Act, they often call social services from hospital emergency rooms if they're in doubt about the cause of a child's injuries.

Here's a case in point: Little 5-year old-Johnny fell from a pine tree and broke his tibia (lower leg). The parents rushed Johnny to their local emergency room, in their angst forgetting to tell the doctor that Johnny suffered from OI (osteogenesis imperfecta), a condition known to exacerbate broken bones. Need I say more?

What we don't know in alleged child physical and sexual abuse cases is coming back to haunt us. Social workers, police officers, therapists, guardians-ad-litem, lawyers, judges, teachers and legislators need a wake-up call that all is not well in America's child protection system. And the errors committed are hurting the very individuals we are trying to save from harm, our children!

Dean Tong, forensic consultant in the Elian Gonzalez case and author of the new book Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide for the Falsely Accused, has been retained by parents and lawyers in 32 states across America in abuse and custody cases. Contact Dean Tong at DeanTong@aol.com or visit his Web site Abuse Excuse

Benefits for foster parents

Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) and affiliates rewarded for breaking up families
No happy ending for these children.

Child "protection" is one of the biggest businesses in the country. We spend $12 billion a year on it. The money goes to tens of thousands of:
  1. State employees,
  2. Collateral professionals, such as lawyers, court personnel, court investigators, evaluators and guardians, judges, and
  3. DSS contracted vendors such as counselors, therapists, more "evaluators", junk psychologists, residential facilities, foster parents, adoptive parents, MSPCC, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, etc.
This newspaper is not big enough to list all of the people in Massachusetts who have a job, draw a paycheck, or make their profits off the kids in Department of Social Services (DSS) custody. In this article I explain the financial infrastructure that provides the motivation for DSS to take people's children — and not give them back.

In 1974 Walter Mondale promoted the Child Abuse and Prevention Act which began feeding massive amounts of federal funding to states to set up programs to combat child abuse and neglect. From that came Child "Protective" Services (CPS), as we know it today. After the bill passed, Mondale himself expressed concerns that it could be misused. He worried that it could lead states to create a "business" in dealing with children.

Then in 1997 under President Clinton Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act. The public relations campaign promoted it as a way to help abused and neglected children who languished in foster care for years, often being shuffled among dozens of foster homes, never having a real home and family.

In a press release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dated November 24, 1999, it refers to "President Clinton's initiative to double by 2002 the number of children in foster care who are adopted or otherwise permanently placed." It all sounded so heartwarming. We, the American public, are so easily led. We love to buy stereotypes; we just eat them up, no questions asked. But, my mother, bless her heart, taught me from the time I was young to "consider the source."

In the stereotype that we've been sold about kids in foster care, we picture a forlorn, hollow-eyed child, thin and pale, looking up at us beseechingly through a dirt streaked face. Unconsciously, we pull up old pictures from Life magazine of children in Appalachia in the 1930s. We think of orphans and children abandoned by parents who look like Manson family members. We play a nostalgic movie in our heads of the little fellow shyly walking across an emerald green, manicured lawn to meet Ward and June Cleaver, his new adoptive parents, who lead him into their lovely suburban home. We imagine the little tyke's eyes growing as big as saucers as the Cleavers show him his very own room, full of toys and sports gear. And we just feel so gosh darn good about ourselves.

Now it's time to wake up to the reality of the adoption business. Very few children who are being used to supply the adoption market are hollow-eyed tykes from Appalachia. Very few are crack babies from the projects. [Oh, you thought those were the children they were saving? Think again]. When you are marketing a product you have to provide a desirable product that sells. In the adoption business that would be nice kids with reasonably good genetics who clean up good. An interesting point is that the Cape Cod & Islands office of DSS leads the state in terms of processing kids into the system and having them adopted out. More than the inner city areas, the projects, Mission Hill, Brockton, Lynn, etc. Interesting.

With the implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, President Clinton tried to make himself look like a humanitarian who is responsible for saving the abused and neglected children. The drive of this initiative is to offer cash "bonuses" to states for every child they have adopted out of foster care, with the goal of doubling their adoptions by 2002, and sustaining that for each subsequent year. They actually call them"adoption incentive bonuses," to promote the adoption of children.

Where to find the children

A whole new industry was put into motion. A sweet marketing scheme that even Bill Gates could envy. Now, if you have a basket of apples, and people start giving you $100 per apple, what are you going to do?

Make sure that you have an unlimited supply of apples, right?

The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) administers Child Protective Services. To accompany the ASF Act, Clinton requested, by executive memorandum, an initiative entitled Adoption 2002, to be implemented and managed by Health & Human Services. The initiative not only gives the cash adoption bonuses to the states, it also provides cash adoption subsidies to adoptive parents until the children turn eighteen.

Everybody makes money. If anyone really believes that these people are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, then I've got some bad news for you.

The fact that this program is run by HHS, ordered from the every top, explains why the citizens who are victims of DSS get no response from their legislators. It explains why no one in the Administration cares about the abuse and fatalities of children in the "care" of DSS, and no one wants to hear about the broken arms, verbal abuse, or rapes. They are just business casualties. It explains why the legislators I've talked to for the past three years look at me with pity. Because I'm preaching to the already damned.

The legislators have forgotten who funds their paychecks and who they need to account to, as has the Governor. Because it isn't the President. It's us.

How DSS is helped

The way that the adoption bonuses work is that each state is given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population. For every child that DSS can get adopted, there is a bonus of $4,000 to $6,000. But that is just the starting figure in a complex mathematical formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the state has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. The states must maintain this increase in each successive year. [Like compound interest.] The bill reads: "$4,000 to $6,000 will be multiplied by the amount (if any) by which the number of foster child adoptions in the State exceeds the base number of foster child adoptions for the State for the fiscal year."

In the "technical assistance" section of the bill it states that, "the Secretary [of HHS] may, directly or through grants or contracts, provide technical assistance to assist states and local communities to reach their targets for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care."

The technical assistance is to support
"the goal of encouraging more adoptions out of the foster care system; the development of best practice guidelines for expediting the termination of parental rights; the development of special units and expertise in moving children toward adoption as a permanent goal; models to encourage the fast tracking of children who have not attained 1 year of age into pre-adoptive placements; and the development of programs that place children into pre-adoptive placements without waiting for termination of parental rights."
In the November press release from HHS it continues, "HHS awarded the first ever adoption bonuses to States for increases in the adoption of children from the public foster care system." Some of the other incentives offered are "innovative grants" to reduce barriers to adoption [i.e., parents], more State support for adoptive families, making adoption affordable for families by providing cash subsides and tax credits.

A report from a private think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis, reads: "The way the federal government reimburses States rewards a growth in the size of the program instead of the effective care of children." Another incentive being promoted is the use of the Internet to make adoption easier. Clinton directed HHS to develop an Internet site to "link children in foster care with adoptive families." So we will be able to window shop for children on a government website. If you don't find anything you like there, you can surf on over to the "Adopt Shoppe."

If you prefer to actually be able to kick tires instead of just looking at pictures you could attend one of DSS's quaint "Adoption Fairs," where live children are put on display and you can walk around and browse. Like a flea market to sell kids. If one of them begs you to take him home you can always say, "Sorry. Just looking."

The incentives for government child snatching are so good that I'm surprised we don't have government agents breaking down people's doors and just shooting the parents in the head and grabbing the kids. But then, if you need more apples you don't chop down your apple trees.

Benefits for foster parents

That covers the goodies the State gets. Now let's have a look at how the Cleavers make out financially after the adoption is finalized.

After the adoption is finalized, the State and federal subsidies continue. The adoptive parents may collect cash subsidies until the child is 18. If the child stays in school, subsidies continue to the age of 22. There are State-funded subsidies as well as federal funds through the Title IV-E section of the Social Security Act. The daily rate for State funds is the same as the foster care payments, which range from $410-$486 per month per child.

Unless the child can be designated "special needs," which of course, they all can

According to the NAATRIN (now NACAC) State Subsidy profile from DSS, "special needs" may be defined as: "Physical disability, mental disability, emotional disturbance; a significant emotional tie with the foster parents where the child has resided with the foster parents for one or more years and separation would adversely affect the child's development if not adopted by them." [But their significant emotional ties with their parents, since birth, never enter the equation.]

Additional "special needs" designations are: a children twelve years of age or older; racial or ethnic factors; child having siblings or half-siblings. In their report on the State of the Children, Boston's Institute for Children says: "In part because the States can garner extra federal funds for special needs children the designation has been broadened so far as to become meaningless." "Special needs" children may also get an additional Social Security check.

The adoptive parents also receive Medicaid for the child, a clothing allowance and reimbursement for adoption costs such as adoption fees, court and attorney fees, cost of adoption home study, and "reasonable costs of food and lodging for the child and adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoption process." Under Title XX of the Social Security Act adoptive parents are also entitled to post adoption services"that may be helpful in keeping the family intact," including "daycare, specialized daycare, respite care, in-house support services such as housekeeping, and personal care, counseling, and other child welfare services." [Wow! Everything short of being knighted by the Queen!] The subsidy profile actually states that it does not include money to remodel the home to accommodate the child. But, as subsidies can be negotiated, remodeling could possibly be accomplished under the "innovative incentives to remove barriers to adoption" section.

The subsidy regulations read that "adoption assistance is based solely on the needs of the child without regard to the income of the family." What an interesting government policy when compared to the welfare program that the same child's mother may have been on before losing her children, and in which she may not own anything, must prove that she has no money in the bank; no boats, real estate, stocks or bonds; and cannot even own a car that is safe to drive worth over $1000. This is all so she can collect $539 per month for herself and two children. The foster parent who gets her children gets $820 plus. We spit on the mother on welfare as a parasite who is bleeding the taxpayers, yet we hold the foster and adoptive parents [who are bleeding ten times as much from the taxpayers] up as saints. And the adoptive and foster parents aren't subjected to psychological evaluations, ink blot tests, MMPI's, drug and alcohol evaluations, or urine screens as the parents are.

Adoption subsidies may be negotiated on a case by case basis. [Anyone ever tried to negotiate with the Welfare Department?] There are many e-mail lists and books published to teach adoptive parents how to negotiate in order to maximize their subsidies. As one pro writes on an e-mail list:
"We receive a subsidy for our kids of $1,900 per month plus another $500 from the State of Florida. We are trying to adopt three more teens and we will get subsidies for them, too. It sure helps out with the bills."
I can't help but wonder why we don't give this same level of support to the children's parents in the first place? According to Cornell University, about 68% of all child protective cases "do not involve child maltreatment." The largest percentage of CPS/DSS cases are for "deprivation of necessities" due to poverty. So, if the natural parents were given the incredible incentives and services listed above that are provided to the adoptive parents, wouldn't it stand to reason that the causes for removing children in the first place would be eliminated?

How many less children would enter foster care in the first place?

The child protective budget would be reduced from $12 billion to around $4 billion. Granted, tens of thousands of social workers, administrators, lawyers, juvenile court personnel, therapists, and foster parents would be out of business, but we would have safe, healthy, intact families, which are the foundation of any society.

That's just a fantasy, of course. The reality is that maybe we will see Kathleen Crowley's children on the government home-shopping-for-children web site and some one out there can buy them.

May is national adoption month. To support "Adoption2002," the U.S. Postal Service is issuing special adoption stamps. Let us hope they don't feature pictures of kids who are for sale. I urge everyone to boycott these stamps and register complaints with the post office. I know that I'm feeling pretty smug and superior about being part of such a socially advanced and compassionate society. How about you?
These cases are not aberrations, and they are not due to incompetence. They are about a well orchestrated corrupt enterprise; the trafficking of children for profit. We have all the evidence necessary to prove this. We only need to find someone intelligent enough to understand the scheme and honest enough to do something about it. In the meantime, we continue to expose everything we can, pull the covers off those who are hiding under the blankets of "confidentiality," and the invisible armor that black robes provide.

* * * * * * * *

A federal judge ruled that Illinois families were deprived of their constitutional rights when state child welfare officials threatened to separate parents from their children during abuse investigations.

In a decision made public Monday, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer found "ample evidence" that families suffered emotional and psychological injuries because the separations lasted "for more than a brief or temporary period."

The judge didn't fault the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for erring on the side of caution in such cases, but she held that parents had a right to know the length of the expected separations and how to contest the restrictions.

In telephone interviews with the Tribune, families described being shocked, paranoid and frightened by the allegations that some thought would result in them losing their children. Parents felt that caseworkers assumed them to be guilty.

A father from Skokie spent almost a year away from his family, and the effects of the rift that developed between them remain years later.

"I don't think it can ever be repaired. We are all broken up; we are not bonded the way that we used to be," said the father, who requested that he only be identified by his first name, Patrick. "I cannot get over what they did to me. It devastated my whole entire life. I can never be the same again."

The ruling shows the dilemma facing the oft-criticized DCFS in its charge to protect children from harm but also keep families together when possible.

At issue are safety plans, part of the wholesale reforms instituted by DCFS after the public uproar over the horrific 1993 death of 3-year- old Joseph Wallace, who was killed by his mentally-ill mother after he was returned to her by the state.

In her decision, Pallmeyer essentially held that DCFS had gone too far in protecting children and had eroded the constitutional rights of parents.

The safety plans are supposedly voluntary agreements by parents in most cases to leave their home indefinitely or stay under constant supervision after investigations into child abuse or neglect are launched, often based on tips to DCFS.

But most of the families who testified at a 22-day hearing in 2002 and 2003 said the investigators threatened to take away their children unless they agreed to the safety plans.

"When an investigator expressly or implicitly conveys that failure to accept a plan will result in the removal of the children for more than a brief or temporary period of time, it constitutes a threat sufficient to deem the family's agreement coerced, and to implicate due process rights," Pallmeyer wrote in the 59-page opinion.

"Significantly, [DCFS] has not identified a single family that, faced with such an express or implied threat of protective custody, chose to reject the plan," the judge said.

Pallmeyer gave DCFS 60 days to develop "constitutionally adequate procedures" for families to contest the safety plans.

Diane Redleaf, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, said about 10 families were involved in the court case, but that Pallmeyer's decision would affect thousands of families who agree to safety plans each year.
"Instead of protecting children, the state is actually destroying families and hurting children," Redleaf said.

Diane Jackson, a DCFS spokeswoman, said Pallmeyer's review of safety plans was limited to 2002 and before and didn't consider changes since then.

"We have definitely made changes," said Jackson, declining to be more specific until DCFS can report to Pallmeyer.

No real due process

Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris applauded Pallmeyer's decision. "It's abridging both the children's and the parents' rights to have that amorphous safety plan that could go on forever," he said. "There is no real due process. There is no [procedure] to complain unless you have some money to hire a lawyer."

This is the second significant ruling by Pallmeyer to go against DCFS stemming from the same lawsuit. In 2001, she found that DCFS investigators often made findings of child abuse on little evidence, unfairly blacklisting professionals accused of wrongdoing. The judge extended new protections to teachers, day-care providers, nannies, social workers and others who work directly with children. Those protections are intended to keep the falsely accused from losing their jobs.

As part of assessing whether a child is in danger, DCFS specialists determine whether one of 15 safety factors is present, including if a household member is violent or sexual abuse is suspected. For DCFS to determine a child to be unsafe requires the finding of only one safety factor, some of which require little or no evidence of risk of harm — a fact that drew the criticism of plaintiffs.

But Pallmeyer defended that practice, concluding that "it is not improper for DCFS to err on the side of caution given the significant state interest in protecting children from harm."

But the plans can't remain in place indefinitely, she held.

According to the decision, one day-care worker accused of improperly touching a child was forced out of his own home for nearly a year before a judge at an administrative hearing cleared him of the charges — based in part on information available early on.

Patrick, the father from Skokie, spent 11 months away from his three children and his wife, missing their birthdays and a wedding anniversary.

Even though the allegations concerned his workplace, a DCFS investigator threatened to put his children — a boy, then 10, and two girls, then 12 and 13 — in a foster home unless he moved out of their home, Patrick said Monday.

He went home, grabbed a few belongings and later moved in with his sister in Chicago.

"I was put out on the street," said Patrick, crying. "I was just totally violated."

It wasn't until a month later that he was able to explain the circumstances to his children after the caseworker allowed a visit.

Heart-wrenching goodbyes

Soon, the father was able to see his children at church and later had supervised visits. The goodbyes were heart-wrenching, Patrick recalled.

"I would have to come here after my wife got off work, and then I would have to leave," the father said. "It was really emotional every time I left, every single night. And my kids didn't understand why I had to leave. They were very confused and very hurt. They still are."

At the time, his son was acting up at school. His daughters cried in class, their grades falling, he said.

After he was cleared of the allegations in December 2001, Patrick was unable to find a job in child care, despite about a decade of experience. The lengthy separation changed his relationship with his family, he said.

"I never got any type of apology, any type of thing to say your kids might be messed up, let us give you counseling," Patrick said of DCFS.

In another case, James Redlin, a teacher, was accused by a passenger of inappropriately touching his son, Joey, then 6, who suffers from a mild form of autism, during a Metro train ride to the Field Museum in the summer of 2000.

Joey's mother, Susan Redlin, said Monday that her husband was tickling their son, carrying the boy on his lap and holding him up to look out the window.

DCFS required that the father not act as an independent caretaker for his son until the case was resolved, effectively leaving the family "prisoners" in their own home, according to the court ruling.

Joey's mother, responsible for supervising her son under the safety plan, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. "My husband and son could not be out of my sight," she said.

The husband was cleared of wrongdoing by September. Until then, father and son were forced to forgo trail hikes, carnival adventures, movie outings — and plans to teach Joey how to ride a bike.

"It made Jim awfully leery of being alone with Joey, even hugging him, even holding hands," Susan Redlin said. "That was the worst. If I enjoy hugging my [son], am I a pervert?"

Just Sunday, Susan Redlin said, she was out with her son and was about to swat him jokingly on the rear when she stopped herself.

"I did not do that," she said. "What if someone is watching?"

It is child abuse, slavery, and rape all rolled into one pretty package, marketed to wealthy infertile couples as the answer to all their prayers and forced upon unsuspecting members of the lower classes. It is an industry that earns $1.4 billion each year shamelessly promoting its product with no regard for the damage it is doing to children and their parents. Surprise! It is not the tobacco industry, nor is it a chemical company polluting our air and water. It is adoption, and it is toxic to America's families.

Deemed a "loving option" by social workers, agencies, and anti-abortion crusaders, adoption puts children at risk for a myriad of psychological problems that range in severity. That may sound like love to the people who receive a portion of the $1.4 billion, but it should scream child abuse to anyone else. After all, parents can be prosecuted for child neglect over something as simple as a messy house. And in reality, adoption workers are guilty of more than neglect. Since the 1940s, professionals have known about the damaging effects of adoption on mothers and children. In fact, the Florence Crittenton Home brochure from 1942-1956 responded to suggestions of adoption with the statement, "Motherhood, and the love and care of a baby, strengthens the character of every girl who has the mentality to grasp it. As to the child: psychologists and social workers have learned that no material advantage can make up for the loss of its own mother." In spite of their knowledge, the Florence Crittenton homes went on to become some of America's biggest adoption proponents, once supply and demand made it more profitable to sever a mother's rights and sell her infant to a wealthy but sterile couple.

The abuse that adoptees suffer throughout their lives comes in many forms. As infants, they are separated from the only person they have ever known: their mothers. They're born into the world expecting the familiar scent of family and the warm voice that they grew accustomed to in utero, and instead they're handed over to strangers masquerading as "mommy" and "daddy." Because this severing of the world's most natural bond occurs at a time in a child's life when he is unable to communicate his emotions and experiences, it is a trauma that will stay with him into adulthood. Adopted people also report struggling with their identities, as the legal lie that they are "as if born to" their adopters works far better on paper than it does in the real world. Already a trying time for any young person, adolescence presents a special challenge for adoptees who lack knowledge of their heritage, family traits, and other critical factors for establishing one's self. Perhaps this explains why adopted children are over-represented at both in and out-patient psychological treatment facilities.

As if it's not bad enough that every adopted child is at risk for the complex psychological problems that seem to come with the territory, these children are also more likely to be physically or sexually abused. One fact that the adoption industry would love to ignore is that children are more likely to be abused by people other than their true parents. Perhaps we should evaluate this as common sense. Mothers especially have a primal instinct to care for their children and ensure the survival of their family trees. For true families, a baby is not valuable for profit but for the fact that he is living proof of a connection to the past and future. As parents, our instinct is to protect, rather than abuse something so precious and rare.

However, the abuse of the adopted child is not the only crime committed against him. Adoptees, stripped of their families, given new names and even falsified birth certificates, make up a new generation of slaves in America. In a society where the average cost of a private adoption is $60,000, agencies and social workers see infants only through the dollar signs in their eyes. The child's welfare takes second place to the profit he can bring in; otherwise, parents would be informed of the risks of adoption before they could surrender their babies. Instead, children are sold like miniature slaves. Their birth records are altered to reflect the names of their purchasers rather than their parents, and their true birth certificate is sealed away. They are the only Americans who are denied the right to know their own name and the names of their parents.

Some are abused, tortured, or killed at the hands of those who claim to love them. Others, like the "fortunate" slaves of the 19th century, are treated well by their adopters. But we all know that once you've been stripped of your rights, taken from your family, and forced into an uncomfortable lie, there's no such thing as being fortunate. In their adopter's homes, children are the ones expected to do the care-taking, to compensate for the babies they couldn't have, to fill a void in the marriage that's gone stale, or to guard them emotionally from the harsh realities of the world. Adoption's smallest victims become slaves to the lies that surround them and protectors of the only caregivers they have been granted. Denied knowledge of their true parents' whereabouts, they have nowhere to run. And they know what's expected of them: to be "as if born to"their adopters, to act out the role they were purchased to play.

Investigating why any parent would knowingly surrender their child to abuse and enslavement, we learn about a third crime in adoption. Since the 1950s, fathers have been exiled while mothers have been raped of their infants. Their bodies have been used as incubators, and once their purpose has been served, they are expected to fade silently into the shadows. The common defense of the rapist is the simple statement, "She asked for it," and the same has been said of the woman who dared to experience her sexuality outside of marriage. Adoption is the punishment she "deserved" for getting caught in defiance of our puritanical ideals. A life-time of grief, regret, depression, and trauma to make amends for one night of passion (which could have just as easily been a physical rape itself). Used, abused, and discarded, these mothers have been raped of their children and their souls.

Unlike the victim of a physical rape, the mother of adoption loss is not permitted to grieve. She has been told, by the same "professionals" who spied her baby with dollar signs in their eyes, that she is doing the"best thing," the only thing to do, and if she truly loved her baby she would do it. No one tells her what's down the road for her, or for her child. No one mentions the grieving that both will endure. No one speaks about the immense gap that will fill their lives once they've been separated. Instead, she is told that she is "giving a gift" to an infertile couple, as if it is her responsibility to meet the demands of a barren stranger. Like something out of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, she is expected to quietly serve her purpose and promptly disappear.

The tactics that are used to rape the new mother vary. Without anyone to tell her otherwise, and wanting to fulfill her child's needs, she may believe the social workers when they tell her about the "loving institution"of adoption. After all, they work in a helping profession, and wouldn't they want to help her? She isn't told how much money will change hands along with her precious child. If she does become suspicious or recoils at the idea of adoption, she won't be left alone to care for her child. Instead, they will pressure her when she's most vulnerable, when she's just delivered and is groggy from labor or medication, when they lie and tell her that she can't revoke the pre-birth consent that she signed, when they batter her verbally and accuse her of being selfish for wanting her own baby. Selfish! Yet the adopters, standing at the door with their wallets open, begging to take home someone else's baby — they are regarded as saints.

Once a mother has been raped of her child by the adoption industry, her torture is just beginning. Every time she turns around, she'll be reminded of society's stereotypical "birth" mother; the drug-addicted, child-abusing tramp. In reality, she is none of the above. Yet, when reading the newspaper, she will be confronted with offensive language, labeling her a "birth" or "biological" parent, degrading her by tearing away her right to be regarded as her child's true mother. Television shows will present sappy stories of happy adopters, and she'll watch, knowing all the while that for every gloating adopter, there is a mother who grieves over the loss of her child. Mother's Day will come and go, and while other mothers receive cards and home-made gifts from their children, she receives nothing. At the mercy of the adoption industry, she gave away all her love and has only heartache to show for it.

These raped mothers and their enslaved, abused children are secrets in America. To report on them is to damage a sector of our economy, an industry that earns $1.4 billion a year through coercion, dishonesty, and suffering. We don't like to recognize that there are people in this world who put on the facade of a helper while working behind the scenes for their own benefits. We shy away from acknowledging pain and suffering, especially when it appears on the face of someone who "should" have gone on with her life. We are cowards when it comes to allowing the truth to disrupt an easier, fantasy life. But continuing down this path will only lead to further destruction of children and their families. We must prosecute those responsible for the crimes of adoption, and we must work harder to ensure that these abusive practices are discontinued. These secret crimes cannot be hidden forever at the expense of our mothers, fathers, and children. The adoption industry may be a money-maker, but the value of family cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Hire an ombudsman.
Sweep away overlapping layers of bureaucracy.

Those are among the suggestions for dealing with the problem of children abused in the very foster care system intended to protect them. But they won't help.

The problem of widespread abuse in Colorado foster care won't be solved until Colorado faces up to the elephants in the room — the issues that no one wants to talk about.

Elephant No. 1:  Colorado is in deep denial about the rate of abuse in foster care.

Most foster parents want to do the best they can for the children in their care — like most parents, period. But the abusive minority is significant and probably growing. And abuse in foster care doesn't just include abuse by foster parents; often it involves foster children abusing one another.

Several rigorous academic studies, and several independent analyses of case records, called "case readings," suggest that there is abuse in at least one in four foster homes, and the real figure probably is higher.

In most states, foster parents are not defensive about this — on the contrary, the many good ones are the first to blow the whistle on abuse. Not so in Colorado, where some leaders in the foster-parent community prefer to pretend the problem doesn't exist.

They point to official government statistics showing that "only" one-half of 1 percent of abuse is in foster homes. But "only" about one-half of 1 percent of all children live in foster homes. So even by this measure, there is as much abuse in foster care as in the general population.

More importantly, before a case makes it into the official statistics, child welfare agencies must themselves investigate — and reveal what they found out. Obviously, there is an enormous incentive to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and write no evil in the case file. Furthermore, in many states, official figures don't even count it when foster children abuse one another. That's why the academic studies and case readings are far more reliable.

Elephant No. 2:  The so-called shortage of foster homes in Colorado is largely artificial.

It results from the fact that Colorado takes away, proportionately, more children than almost any other state.

When you compare the number of children removed in 2003, the most recent year for which comparative data are available, to the total child population, only about nine states took away proportionately more children than Colorado. When you factor in the states' poverty rates, only five states took more children than Colorado.

Factoring in poverty, Colorado took away, proportionately, more than five times as many children as Illinois. Yet court-appointed monitors in Illinois say that as that state's foster care population has plummeted, child safety has improved. That's because Illinois rebuilt its system to emphasize safe, proven programs to keep families together, programs that are less expensive, more humane and safer than foster care.

Yes, methamphetamine is part of the explanation. But California has one of the worst meth problems in the country, and California takes children at less than half the rate of Colorado.

Unless there is some logical reason to believe that Colorado has five times more child abuse than Illinois and twice as much as California, Colorado is filling foster homes with children who don't need to be there. That encourages agencies to overcrowd foster homes and lower standards for foster parents. It also means that Shari Shink, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center, is only partially correct when she says that too often removing a child doesn't end the abuse. Sometimes, removing a child begins the abuse.

The reason Illinois succeeds while Colorado fails is because most foster children are not who we think they are. Most of their parents did not brutally beat, torture, rape or starve them. Often, a family's poverty is confused with "neglect." Indeed, the director of intake for child protective services in Denver has acknowledged that children sometimes are taken away just because their parents are down on their luck, out of work, or unable to provide adequate shelter.

But there is no need to look to another state to find better answers. El Paso County recognized the widespread confusion of poverty with neglect. They effectively turned child protective services into child poverty services, and in the process became a national model of reform.

El Paso County takes children at a rate less than one-quarter the state average. Yet it had less re-abuse of children left in their own homes than the average for the state's 10 largest counties. And it has one of the lowest rates of children having to return to foster care after being sent home.

If the entire state followed El Paso County's lead, all children would be safer, the foster care population would plummet, there no longer would be any need to turn a blind eye to abuse in foster care, and there would be plenty of room in good, safe foster homes for the relatively few children in real danger.

But first, someone is going to have to notice the elephants in the room.

Richard Wexler is executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Virginia.

* * * * * * * *

Police detective Victor LaBrecque found 9-year-old Michelle Moore slumped over her clarinet, beside the music she was practicing when she died.

The body of her little brother Charlie, 6, lay nearby in the living room. Their mother was sprawled facedown in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. All three had been shot twice by the children's stepfather, Christopher Colvin, who then reclined beside Michelle and fired a .45-caliber bullet into his right temple as police arrived.

"You don't forget those faces," said LaBrecque, who led the investigation of the city of Fountain's deadliest shooting. "It's something that's always burned into your brain. The innocents — they never had a chance."

The official story always has been that the child protection system could not have prevented this tragedy. Five days after the December 1996 killings, El Paso County human services director Barbara Drake was quoted as saying her department had no active file on the Colvin children until it responded to a child abuse complaint one week before they were killed.

A state fatality review quietly delivered to El Paso officials nine months later tells a much different story of the county's involvement.

There had been a series of reports to El Paso human services about Colvin, including one from a therapist saying that Charlie said his stepfather made him lick up his own urine and shoved a dirty diaper in his face. There had been about 16 police visits to the Colvins' mobile home for domestic violence — and no documented referrals from police to El Paso human services.

Drake declined to discuss the case with The Denver Post but said she never intended to mislead anyone about her department's prior involvement with the Colvins.

"I certainly would have said what I would have believed to be the truth at the time," she said.

In Colorado, tragic mistakes in child abuse cases can remain hidden for years.

From 1995 to 2002, 12 children died in El Paso County alone, despite repeated warnings that they or their siblings were in peril, according to state records obtained by The Post through a public-records request.

The Colvin case reveals another critical error besides the dismissed child-abuse complaints. An El Paso child protection worker who decided Michelle was making up stories of abuse by her stepfather lacked important information about Colvin's past in Fort Collins.

Colvin had served five years in prison for beating another stepson so badly that his brain was damaged and he was paralyzed for the rest of his abbreviated life. Yet Colvin's Larimer County crime never was recorded in a statewide child abuse registry.

"This particular case is a prime tragic example of a lack of coordination within the community," the state report says, and of the county's failure "to conduct a thorough investigation into the family."

Confidentiality shields errors

El Paso and other counties responsible for child abuse investigations keep all records of their involvement in fatal cases confidential after a child's death.

But the state may issue a fatality report that examines a suspected death from child abuse with an eye toward correcting mistakes by county-run agencies. Such reports detail errors in El Paso — and other counties — struggling to cope with growing child abuse case loads.

In one fatal case, El Paso human services waited 10 days to check a nurse's report of bruises on a 1-year-old boy. In another, the county had received 14 reports in less than three years concerning the mother of a 9-month-old girl.

The 1-year-old boy was Isaiah Oliva.
He drowned in a bathtub, eight days after a hospital sent him home with a fractured skull. That was preceded by a long series of other injuries, some of them reported to the county by a doctor, a therapist and others: His teeth were falling out; he was limping from hip pain; his face, buttocks, ear, arm and thigh were bruised; he had broken blood vessels in his eyes; and he had a broken ankle.

Ashlee Wedor drowned when she was 9-months old in October 1996, after El Paso County was called repeatedly about children in her mother's care. The calls ranged from custody disputes to "reports of neglect, drug use and supervisory issues."

The state concluded the county missed "critical opportunities to intervene," including a child neglect accusation two months before Ashlee died that was not investigated partly because the supervisor lacked the file.

"Reportedly, the file remained at the caseworker's home for a period of 10 months," a state report said. "The record was finally returned to the county department after the child's death."

Also in state reports:

In February 2002, Pablo Santiago was showing his children how to use a handgun when he shot his 13-year-old son, Jeremiah, in the head. Before the fatal accident, El Paso County fielded five reports of suspected child abuse or neglect concerning the Santiago family. "There were significant risk factors in this case that were not identified and addressed."

In June 2000, Robert Dunn killed his 7-year-old daughter, Aaren. After slitting her throat from ear to ear, he told police that she was possessed and he had killed the devil. El Paso County had received five previous child abuse accusations concerning Dunn. The last, a month before Aaren died, documented marks on one of her sisters and found they "were not consistent with the explanations given." Yet El Paso County"determined that no abusive or neglect incident had occurred," the state report said.

In April 1998, 5-month-old Selina Alvarado died of head injuries. El Paso human services had been warned about risks to Selina since the day after she was born. Despite a family history of domestic violence and the parents' noncompliance with therapists, "there appears to have been no clear assessment of whether a (custody) petition should have been filed."

Nobody has been convicted of killing Selina, but her father pled guilty to causing "serious bodily injuries" to her and was sentenced to probation.

El Paso County officials said confidentiality laws prevent them from discussing their actions.

But "I don't recall there was anything in any of these cases that would have led me to strongly sanction anyone," said Lloyd Malone, the county's child welfare administrator.

"It is a tough job," he said, to divine which child abuse case may take a fatal turn. "People are people. They're not perfectly predictable, but we do our best."

A decade-long history of abuse

Five days before the Colvin murders, the state fatality report says, county social workers opened a case on the family after Charlie told a school counselor his stepdad had kicked him in the head and spanked him with a ruler after stuffing a dirty sock in his mouth.

Colvin was jailed for a day for failing to comply with court orders from a previous charge of assaulting his wife. A judge barred Colvin from his family's mobile home in Fountain.

At the news conference after the killings, then-acting human services director Drake answered a question many were asking: Why didn't her agency do more?

"The only 'more' is to remove children from their mother, who had never perpetrated any abuse and who felt in many ways she could protect them," she told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Drake also said there was no active case until the previous week. The agency did get one call in September 1994 alleging a risk of child abuse in the household, she said, but she didn't know who called, and the allegation could not be substantiated.

But the state fatality report, delivered to El Paso in late September 1997, detailed a series of child abuse calls concerning Colvin.

The report traced Colvin's history of child abuse to the 1985 beating of his stepson in Larimer County. It noted "there was no record" of this abuse in Colorado's central registry, even though it "resulted in permanent and severe harm to the victim who eventually died...from residual complications" of those injuries.

The report also noted six subsequent allegations against Colvin in El Paso County spanning two years:
On November 17, 1992, the county received a call "alleging domestic violence toward Mr. Colvin's second wife Cynthia and mistreatment of (name deleted)."

On January 28, 1994, a report was made of "a round circular burn" on 3-year-old Charlie's face and that Colvin was abusing his third wife, Sandra. "Case not assigned," the state report says.

On April 8, 1994, a day care provider reported "numerous stories of domestic violence toward Sandra" and Charlie saying, "Daddy hit me in the stomach." "Case not assigned," the state report says.

On June 23, 1994, Sandra Colvin's therapist reported this from her client: Christopher Colvin had bruised Charlie, and Charlie had told his mother that his stepfather made him lick up his urine and had shoved his face into a dirty diaper. "Case not assigned," the state report says.

On September 6, 1994, a school counselor reported that Michelle said her stepfather had slapped her, punched Charlie in the eye and legs and had previously broken her mother's wrist.

This case was assigned. But the caseworker concluded Michelle "was making up stories and the family should examine why she was doing this. Case was closed as unsubstantiated," the state report says.

On September 27, 1994, the paternal grandmother of Charlie and Michelle reported that Colvin had been abusive to his wife, hit the children, locked them in their room and called them "bitch" and "bastard." "No documentation to indicate how the allegation was handled," the state report says.

The child abuse calls mentioned in the state report may not be a complete list.

The paternal grandmother, Inge Moore, told The Post she called El Paso County's child abuse line "at least three times" to warn that Charlie and Michelle were in danger.

"They never did anything about it," she said.

She recalled a day when she took Charlie and Michelle swimming and then to Burger King, and how the children reacted when she asked what they wanted to eat. They told her Colvin "locked them in a room for hours, and they could only eat and drink what he let them," she said. "You don't do that to little children."

The state fatality report says it is impossible to determine whether "a different case approach" in 1994 could have prevented the killings two years later. However, it notes that until December 5, 1996, three days before the murders, "no one had taken actual steps to clarify the criminal and social service history" of Colvin.

The fatality team also questioned why, with 16 domestic violence visits to the Colvin home, police never called the county child protection agency. "The failure of law enforcement to notify the county," their report says, "was extremely concerning."

Fountain's new police chief, John Morse, said Colorado does not specify when police must notify child protection agencies about domestic violence incidents witnessed by children, and policies vary among police departments.

He also said his department has become much more aggressive about protecting children in such cases. "I would just die if the same thing happened today," he said.

For some families, system to protect children comes up short

Since December, Kiddelina Stafford, a 32-year-old single mother of four, has been working the government system that's designed to protect children, but she says the system has not been working for her. [Part of the problem here, and in many similar cases is with single mothers.]

It took five months and dogged persistence on her part before the Colorado Department of Human Services and local police took the type of action Stafford thought was warranted after her 7-year-old son received facial bruising and a bloody lip while at a local day care center.

"Everyone dropped the ball, and I'm so enraged. I want an overhaul of the system because it doesn't," said Stafford.

El Paso County leads the state in the number of calls made to a 24-hour child abuse and neglect reporting hotline, which had a record 11,010 calls last year, and police and local and state child protective services say they follow protocol in investigating reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, including at child care centers.

Although authorities acknowledge understaffing is an issue, they say that if there appears to be an element of danger to a child, they move quickly to shut down a center. [DHS fails to note that staff turnover among caseworkers approaches 100% per year due to bad management.]

But the system is difficult to negotiate, according to Stafford and another local parent whose child also was injured while at a local day care center. They say issues of confidentiality that surround allegations of child abuse and the complexities of proving wrongdoing when a child is involved act as roadblocks that leave parents feeling less than confident that child care facilities are being properly monitored and held accountable. [The basic problem is poor administration by County Commissioner Sallie Clark, who is responsible for oversight of DHS.]

'I might have told her I popped him one'

According to a police report Stafford filed December 4, 2008, her son told officers "very clearly and concisely" that his day care provider had "struck him five times in the face with an open hand in a shoving-type motion."

And Stafford told police that the owner of Little People's Playhouse, Barbara Myrick, told her she had struck her son.

Ms. Myrick told police she saw bruising under the boy's eye but that she did not hit the boy in the face and had "no explanation for the injury." Yet, when police asked Ms. Myrick if she had told the boy's mother that she had hit him, Myrick responded: "I might have told her I popped him one."

Another worker at the day care center told police that Ms. Myrick said she "popped the victim on the hand for talking back to her about having to do his homework."

The case was sent to the Crimes Against Children Unit, but police did not make an arrest because of lack of evidence, said police spokesman Lt. David Whitlock.

Police referred the case to the El Paso County Department of Human Services, which investigated and sent Stafford an e-mail in mid-February 2009 saying "the report is inconclusive for abuse and is closed."

The local DHS office would not discuss details of the case, because the agency is required to maintain confidentiality around all child abuse and neglect reports, said Rick Bengtsson, acting director. [DHS routinely hides behind this bureaucratic wall.]

The state DHS licensing office, which monitors health and safety issues, also investigated, and in April determined "harsh treatment" had been involved in the incident.[Why can state investigators see the obvious, but local DHS/CPS workers can't?]

Police then served Ms. Myrick with a summons to appear in court for arraignment June 10, 2009, on a complaint on misdemeanor child abuse.

Ms. Myrick's lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Stafford said she doesn't understand why months passed before she saw results.

Lt. Whitlock's reply: "The length of time it took was a standpoint of our staffing and the simple fact that there wasn't an endangerment situation because it wasn't a felony crime."

Another family frustrated

Stafford is not the only parent who finds the system frustrating.

Beth Timbs believes a day care worker at the Child Nursery Center at Chelton broke her 4-year-old son's leg by pulling him across the playground after he had fallen. But she can't prove it, and it's her word against the center's staff, who told police and Timbs that the boy had tripped on a ball on the playground. Although the boy's thigh was "swollen," according to the police report, the center did not call an ambulance or take the child to a hospital.

Diane Price, chief executive of the Child Nursery Centers, a nonprofit that operates five local centers, including the Chelton location, and advises 20 day care homes, said the organization's policy was to not call emergency services if an injury was not life-threatening. [A broken leg doesn't warrant emergency services?]

Police closed the case under "suspicious circumstances," according to the police report.

About six weeks later, as he got his cast off, the boy told his mother that a day care worker had grabbed his leg, twisted it and broken it, and that workers told him to say he hurt it on the ball.

Timbs again contacted police, who reopened the case but did not find enough evidence to make an arrest.

Ms. Price said the accident occurred in late afternoon, and when an aunt came to pick up the boy, center staff asked if they wanted her call to an ambulance. She declined.

"We take these things very seriously," Ms. Price said, "and we had seven children on the playground with four teachers — well beyond the teacher/child ratio requirements. All of our teachers documented what they saw, and it was just an accident. He was kicking a ball, the ball went out from beneath him and he fell."

The center paid for the boy's medical care and changed its policies after the incident, Ms. Price said, and now requires that parents and 911 be called simultaneously if a child is injured but can get up on his own.

As a child care provider, Ms. Price said she welcomes investigations and inspections of her centers because having oversight helps her staff improve the services they provide.

During the time of Timbs' son's injury, the Chelton center was on probation for six months for "consistently failing to maintain standards prescribed and published by the department," according to a letter the state licensing division sent parents.

Problems mainly stemmed from a "breakdown in communication between the inspector and us," Ms. Price said. The center responded, she said, by improving communications, reviewing internal policies, doing its own monitoring for licensing compliance and taking other measures.

"The majority of our industry wants to work with licensing because we want our industry to have a positive impact in our community," Price said.

"I feel confident in our licensing system — the department [DHS] does a good job given its limited resources. [EPCO DHS has a budget of $50+ million a year.]

Parents are purchasing a service, asking us to care for their children, and we constantly monitor and upgrade our policies and practices to ensure a safe, nurturing, high-quality environment."

Colorado's system earns poor marks

Roger Esquibel, administrator of child care licensing for the state, said his department is working to improve Colorado's system, which earned an "F" in a study by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies that was released in March 2009.

The study ranked Colorado's child care system 41 among the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Department of Defense. Among Colorado's weaknesses: child centers are inspected, on average, once every two years, when the national standard recommendation is four times a year, and licensing inspectors handle an average of 140 programs each. The national average is 75. The state also does not meet the organization's ratio and group size requirements for any of seven age groups.

Esquibel said a low number of licensing inspectors — about 75, of which 40 are contracted workers — contribute to the state's shortfalls. Colorado's 9,000 licensed child care programs, which serve about 220,000 children and include centers, family homes, preschools and 24-hour group homes, are inspected on a risk-based assessment approach.

Facilities on probation, for example, are inspected at least monthly and perhaps weekly, Esquibel said. Others that have had a history of good inspections may only be inspected once every three years.

The state's actions are based on the possibility of harm, Esquibel said: "We have several legal avenues — if the children are in danger and it's corroborated by county social services or law enforcement, we can shut them down immediately."

Also expected to help the system is new state legislation that on May 19, 2009, created a Child Welfare Training Academy to train child protection caseworkers. The academy, run by the state DHS, also established statewide standards for competency, assessment and training of child welfare staff. [More bureaucracy!]

To add a "level of transparency," Esquibel said, the state DHS lists on its Web site complaints, actions and other information on child care facilities in all 64 counties. Parents can request full reports on investigations and results.

Esquibel recommends parents choose licensed centers because "then you have another pair of eyes watching, along with background checks and some kind of training."

He also said parents should do unannounced visits of the center or home, talk with other parents who have children at the provider and report complaints.

"It's a partnership with law enforcement, state licensing, local county agencies and the parents, that all of us in child care need to be vigilant in making sure children are safe," Esquibel said.

* * * * * * * *

In my 70+ years in this incarnation I have learned to deeply distrust those with pious intentions. And if those self-same individuals take the government's coin in payment for their piety I have come to truly fear them.

There is no question that the human race has produced monsters at all times throughout the world. But the worst exist using the power of government. Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, are obvious examples. But it is the thousands of petty monsters under them who carry out their destruction.

Most humans will not deliberately do evil as an individual. Typically they must be trained and part of a special team, even among military or police. Toward that end uniforms are important and have been used by tyrannical governments throughout history. And promoting such evil, even by specially-trained teams, typically requires a defined "enemy." In Nazi Germany it was Jews, Gypsies, and non-Aryans. To be successful and sustainable, the "enemy" list must always grow. In America, as an example, for special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams and drug enforcement agents more and more "drug fiends" must be identified even though the principal substance their victims use is medically safe and even beneficial.

So today we find SWAT teams ever more widely used in the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and the war on American citizens. Only a SWAT team is likely to be breaking down your door at 2 AM because some anonymous informer said you had an 1/8 th of marijuana in your possession. Or shooting you in front of your wife and child after breaking down the door.

However, unconstrained and vicious their actions may become in a tyrannical state, and though they are the most visible, police are simply too few in number to carry out the multitude of tasks essential to oppressing a people. And the problem isn't just those who are openly trumpeting for tyranny, e.g., our Congress and President, who are the real danger, but all the little termites progressively gnawing away at freedom in their bureaucratic cubicles; who obey without question or thought the outrageous actions they are told to take; or take on their own initiative for the "good of the children," or some other "greater good." They are the real danger to our freedoms.

As Adolf Hitler pointed out:
"As long as government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the people happily will endure almost any curtailment of liberty."

Department of Human(?) Services

The wicked snatch fatherless children from their mother's breasts, and take a poor man's baby as a pledge before they will loan him any money or grain.
Book of Job 24:9

America is financially bankrupt but that is not the worst of our problems. The basic units of human society and our economy are our families. That strength is not a secret to those who would destroy us and for 50 years progressive neo-Marxists in America have set their sights on destroying patriarchal families and returning to the primitive state of matriarchy in the name of women's liberation.

In the United States today such petty fiends, all good robots simply obeying orders, can all too commonly be found in what are euphemistically called a "Department of Human Services" (DHS), while nothing could be further from the truth. Like many, if not all government-funded social programs, little or no effort is made to determine whether or not the program works and certainly no effort is made to determine if the program is cost effective. No effort is ever made to distinguish possibility from probability. And if saving the lives of children is a prime objective of DHS the Child Maltreatment 2010 report (p. 60) states that: "In 33 reporting States, the children whose families had received family preservation services in the past 5 years accounted for 12.1 percent of child fatalities." Thus, for all the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of social workers, contact is only made with the parents of about 12% of child fatalities. The socialist answer, of course, is that more money and more social workers are required. The more likely solution would be to have DHS caseworkers cease their current practices of fear and intimidation that makes parents deathly afraid of them. That would almost certainly reduce the total fatality rate for children and cost less.

These progressives wholeheartedly believe, despite millennia of experience proving that families on average do the best job of raising their children, that the State must direct each and every parent who doesn't conform to the outrageous demands of DHS bureaucrats and commissioners, who frequently have no children of their own.

Among "human services" we find teams of "case workers," typically with a minimalist ideological education, often no parental experience, dedicated, i.e., paid, to preventing vaguely-defined "child abuse" without regard to the long-term consequences of their actions, or the use of such niceties as warrants and court orders. This despite the fact that their actions all too often increase the "problem" they are ostensibly solving. For example, "child abuse" cases are often associated with single mothers or divorces. One then finds DHS ideologues threatening to take a mother's children away unless she will testify against or divorce her children's father. Those practices promote and require divorce and fatherless-children in an ever-expanding feedback loop.

For DHS the definition of "child abuse" is ever-broadening and they cast a widening net for children supposedly suffering from neglect and abuse even though statistically children are much safer with their biological father and mother than in the hands of state-approved foster parents. And those parents who dare to defy our defunct public education system and home school their children are prime suspects for neglect and abuse allegations by DHS. As a result, DHS is widely regarded by many parents as a legalized kidnapping agency operating adoption rings. And numerous mothers have reported being coerced and told by DHS case workers that their children will be taken from them and placed in foster care if they don't "cooperate" with whatever socialist insanity the case worker spouts.

Of course, if there isn't enough crime to justify the budgets and grants government agents are known to create "situations" or replay old ones over and over. And like tyrannical governments everywhere, citizens are encouraged to inform on their neighbors anonymously. In fact, today virtually everyone who comes in contact with other peoples children, doctors, nurses, teachers, pastors, etc., have been made "mandatory reporters" and subject to criminal penalties if they don't report "child abuse" on the slightest suspicion. Of course, as a result of the numerous resulting reports DHS budgets must be increased, an ever-present goal for all bureaucrats.

El Paso County, Colorado, Department of Human Services (EPC DHS)

I happen to live in this county so I'll use them as an example of socialism gone wild. EPC DHS is the first stop on your way to becoming a dependent of the State and victim. DHS in your county may well be worse than mine but it is almost certainly not any better.

There is nothing new in my complaints. In the year 2000 citizens petitioned the El Paso County Commissioners for relief from these same abuses by the county Dept. of Human Services. In their petition they noted that:
1) DHS routinely removes children from homes that are not abusive and where the children are in no danger of abuse or neglect, and does not prefer to keep the children in their own homes or to place them in the homes of relatives as required by law. DHS merely has to cite the phrase 'in the best interests of the child' to justify their abuse of the family. 
2) Repeated violations of...'To preserve and strengthen family ties whenever possible.' DHS has been more effective in breaking down and destroying family ties. 
3) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-1-102(b) 'To remove a child from the custody of his parents only when his welfare and safety...would otherwise be endangered.' DHS fails to use this standard for the removal of children from their homes. They traumatize children by forcing them into foster care and then drug them when the children act out due to the cruel separation from their loving parents.
...They ignore, and conspire to cover-up the abuse of children in foster care. 
...There are other cases where the children and their non-custodial parents beg for DHS to remove them from an abusive home, and DHS will not. These children continue to be abused. 
4) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-1-103 which defines abuse or neglect extensively and mandates that these standards be applied to the decision for removing the child from the home. These requirements are often not met before the child is removed from the home. Conversely, where the statutory definition of abuse is met, often the children are not removed from that home, especially if it is a foster home. 
5) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-1-103(b)(89) which mandates the agent to provide, purchase, or develop the supportive and rehabilitative service to the family to prevent foster placement and with the goal of reunification. The services provided by DHS are detrimental to many unwilling participants. The system is fraught [with] fraud, with conflicts of interest, and built upon keeping the child and the family in the system as long as possible. The effects of this intervention has been overwhelmingly negative to the families involved. 
6) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-3-208(2)(a)(1) which says the services are to 'promote the immediate health and safety of children...' DHS has not only failed to provide services to promote the immediate health and safety of some truly abused children, but they have also subjected non-abused children to abusive and intimidating interviews and therapies. There are documented cases of healthy, happy children being removed from the home and as a result of the trauma induced by the removal from their loving parents and the traumatic therapies forced on them, of being declared emotionally unstable, or medically fragile, or any number of diagnoses that entitle the department to obtain additional funding. Is this promoting the health and safety of children? 
7) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-3-208(2)(a)(II) '...to reduced the risk of future maltreatment of children who have previously been abused or neglected.' We assert that more children are abused by the system that is supposed to be protecting them than are abused by their families...DHS does nothing to reduce this risk and even contributes to the risk by their inaction with abused children, and by their abuses against non-abused children. 
8) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-3-208(2)(a)(III) 'Avoid unnecessary placement of children into foster care.' DHS does the opposite of this statutory requirement, in practice they place children in foster care whenever they can get away with it and then work diligently against reunification of the family. 
9) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-3-208(2)(a)(IV) 'Facilitate...speedy reunification of parents with their children...' There is nothing speedy about what DHS does when it intervenes with a family, especially when the allegations are false. 
10) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-3-208(2)(a)(VI) 'Promote the best interest of the child.' DHS fails to recognize that the best interests of the child could mean that the child stays with the parent. DHS does nothing to promote the best interests of the child, they promote the best interests of DHS. 
11) Repeated violations of C.R.S. § 19-3-208(2)(a)(IX) 'Family preservation services, which are brief, comprehensive, and intensive services provided to prevent the out-of-home placement of children or to promote the safe return of children to the home.' There are documented cases of where the children have been removed without any evidence of abuse or neglect and the children are still, months and years later, not reunited with the parents. DHS services are neither brief nor designed to promote the return of the children to the home. Additionally, the services provided by DHS are incompetent, unreliable, sub-standard, and fraught with deceit and fraud.
An increasing number of these violations are resulting in the termination of parental rights, making these children available for adoption. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 25% of children adopted through state agencies are returned like so much defective merchandise. Considering that their biological parents, in many cases, fought their termination of parental rights, this is unconscionable..."

The response to this petition, and the outrage expressed at the time by a number of state representatives, was to remove Loyd Malone as the director of El Paso County Children and Family Services. Does it surprise you to learn that the same Loyd Malone is now the state director for the Division of Child Welfare Services?

As one might expect in the radical-feminist world of today, DHS sponsors a Center on Fathering but not a Center on Mothering, though a visit to their facility clearly shows the great majority of their clientele are (presumably single) mothers. Maybe I've missed something, but most of the problems with child abuse are associated with females. But coming at a problem from the wrong end seems to be a requirement for socialist programs illustrated so well by EPC DHS.

Cost of this protection racket

I have previously documented the history of this pious absurdity and turn now to the cost in human lives and scarce resources of executing this insanity.

It is a bit difficult to determine total funding for El Paso County DHS since they piously receive funding from federal, state, and county budgets, as well as other sources. But the 2012 county budget allocates $54 million to DHS, the largest single budget item by a factor of two. Apparently they get another $2-3 million from general funds as well.

DHS also gets additional funding from grants, $3.7 million in 2011. There are apparently also special funds to deal with children placed in foster care, particularly if the children can be classified as "disabled."

Like many government problems the roots lie in unconstrained and essentially unmonitored spending. In El Paso County, and most other counties, the responsible elected body for oversight is the county commission. The commissioner here specifically tasked with DHS control is supposedly-Republican Sallie Clark (District 3 in which I live).

This is hardly the first complaint I've lodged with her about problems with DHS.
The situation today is aggravated by the inaction of Commissioner Clark, who clearly lacks understanding of the many problems and failings of DHS. Over many years I have repeatedly brought problems with DHS to Commissioner Clark's attention involving:
• Errors in child support collection that have frequently resulted in men being jailed;
• Paternity fraud being endorsed or enforced by DHS;
• Excessive turnover in staff and lack of training;
• Unjustified bias against fathers in custody cases and disputes;
• Multiple case workers assigned to the same case leaving the parents dazed and confused;
• Illegal issuance of orders by DHS case workers;
• Threatening mothers with taking their children if they don't cooperate with DHS case workers;
• Overstepping the bounds of their jurisdiction, particularly with military families;
• Condoning, if not actually enabling guardianship/conservatorship fraud of the elderly and infirm;
• Failing to respond to inquiries from parents;
• Modifying and altering agreements reached with parents without the parent's knowledge or consent;
• Unnecessary, destructive, and costly dependency and neglect cases;
• Obfuscation and outright lies by case workers.
Commissioner Clark has been unresponsive to these complaints, has constantly made excuses, denied, and temporized; she has blamed others especially the courts for DHS' problems; and claimed that the safety of children demanded draconian actions. Yet, despite the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars, children still die on a regular basis in El Paso County and often after DHS has been notified and supposedly intervened. All too often the child is in foster care at the time of death but that sad fact isn't mentioned by Commissioner Clark in her pious defense of her sorry record.

Recent press reports

As I was writing this essay the Colorado Springs Gazette published a series of articles by Barbara Cotter describing the El Paso County DHS. In her first article she describes the failure of CPS to help an obviously maltreated boy for 17 months after his condition was reported in June 2008 by an electrician doing some repair work on a townhome. And the neglect had previously been reported in Georgia and then in 2005 to DHS by a school social worker after the family moved to Colorado Springs. And that is but one example she quotes of how dysfunctional DHS is. And when questioned DHS generally hides behind a screen of privacy concerns, points the finger at other agencies like law enforcement, or by blaming "home schooling" for masking child neglect from authorities. However, in the experience of the EJF it is fear of DHS that prevents parents from seeking help even when they know it is needed for their children. That is particularly true of disabled parents. Ms. Cotter also notes the high turnover of personnel in DHS and the inadequate training for case workers.

Cotter's second article is basically a whitewash for El Paso County DHS. She quotes Director Bengtsson as stating: "In 2010, El Paso County had 752 children removed from their homes, some for only days, and the reunification rate was 90 percent." A reasonable person might suppose that if a problem in the home was so minor that it could be fixed in a matter of days that it is ridiculous to traumatize children by removing them from their parents. Cotter also notes that court approval is needed before a child can be removed from its home. But that is also a confidence game. In talking with parents one quickly learns that DHS judge shops until they find one who consistently rules in their favor. One doesn't spend much time in Judge Thomas Kennedy's court before noticing the multitude of DHS cases that come before him, the parade of parents whose rights are being terminated, the hallway full of children being adopted and placed in foster care, and how seldom he rules against DHS.

In her third article Cotter notes that in 2007 alone thirteen children died while enduring the tender mercies of the Colorado child welfare system. I have previously posted an article noting that from 1995 to 2002 that twelve children died in El Paso County alone after DHS neglected warnings of abuse. In 2010 apparently seven children died from abuse or neglect. It is reported that at least eight children in El Paso County have died in 2011 despite DHS' best efforts, three of them while this essay was being written over a two week period. The socialist solution trumpeted by Cotter is that more laws, regulations, and another layer of bureaucracy will, in time, fix the problems. As a realist I think that the first step would be to determine whether the tens of millions of dollars spent on social services in the county provide a statistically significant reduction in the deaths of children from neglect. At present I am skeptical and suggest that the parental fear induced by the present draconian actions of DHS, together with the many documented cases of murder-suicide of children after DHS becomes involved, actually increases the number of child deaths.

In a fourth article Cotter points out that the large military presence in Colorado Springs, together with the repeated deployments troops have endured over the past decade, do not result in a statistically significant increase in child abuse among our veterans compared to the general population. However, despite supposedly limited resources, DHS has formed and manned a separate unit to deal with the special needs of the military population but two children of military families have been murdered in just the past month.

However, Cotter's reporting lacks a critical component. She does not anywhere report that she has talked directly with parents who are dealing, or have dealt with the DHS dictatorship. In large measure that is because case workers threaten to take the children of any parent with the temerity to tell their story.

For balance, let me bring forward just one example of many of the injustice done to but one soldier recently. And his story is by no means unique or rare in this military metropolis:

Army Specialist and former Marine Corporal Deonte Carter

In order to understand the injustice in this case it is essential to present some background. The following are details and a timeline of events in case number 2011 JV 1220 brought by EPC DHS child protective services (CPS) against Army Specialist Deonte Carter alleging strangulation of his 2-year-old son. At all times pertinent Spc. Carter, his wife Whitney, and son were on Fort Carson, a federal military reservation, and initial examinations were carried out by Army doctors at Evans Hospital on base. The release of medical information about the case has been specifically given by both parents to the Equal Justice Foundation.

After spending about six years in a foster home as a child where he and his brother were severely abused Deonte Carter joined the United States Marine Corps on September 5, 2005. After completing boot camp at Parris Island he was assigned to the Second Marine Air Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina. From there he was deployed to Iraq on his first combat tour from September 2006 to March 2007.

After a two-year courtship he married Whitney Pressley on August 5, 2008. Shortly thereafter Deonte was deployed to Iraq again in September 2008. While he was in Iraq Whitney stayed with relatives in Magee, Mississippi, and gave birth to their son on February 19, 2009, in Jackson, Mississippi. The hospital there arranged for Deonte to be present for the birth of his son via Skype. It shames me to state that blacks are now treated better in Mississippi than in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We stand for equal justice for all throughout these United States and that is the point of this defamatory screed.

Marine Corporal Carter returned from his second combat deployment in March 2009. With a newborn son the couple had some adjustment problems after his return, as virtually all military couples do after a spouse returns from combat. They completed a joint parenting and relationship class together in June 2009 and have had only the usual minor problems couples have since then. From personal observation they enjoy each others company when together.

Deonte's Marine Corps enlistment was up on September 6, 2009, and, as many former Marines do, he joined the Army a few days after in order to preserve his pay grade (E-4). The Army then sent him for training to Fort Lee, Virginia, while Whitney and their son remained in Beaufort, South Carolina. Mrs. Carter has always suffered from eczema and skin problems and while Deonte was in training at Fort Lee their son was first seen for a skin rash in November 2009. As with most first-time mothers, Whitney was probably over-anxious about the boy's health, and with free medical services available through the military the child was frequently seen by doctors. Her nervousness about her child was no doubt compounded by the frequent absence of her husband for training and combat.

Following training at Fort Lee Deonte spent December 2009-January 2010 completing a military drivers course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

In early February 2010 the entire family moved to base housing on Fort Carson, Colorado. Shortly after the move to base housing was completed they took their son to the base hospital (Evans) on February 13, 2010, with red dots under his eyes, a condition known as petechiae, for which there are many causes, e.g., viral infections, coughing, vomiting, or crying. The boy was seen again at Evans Hospital on February 25, 2010, for coughing and congestion.

On March 11, 2010, Spc. Carter was deployed for a third combat tour in Iraq by the Army where he drove trucks in convoy most days. During his deployment Mrs. Carter took the boy to Evans Hospital on Fort Carson a number of times for shots, sinus infections, balance problems probably associated with sinus/ear conditions. But on August 25, 2010, the boy was seen for a rash (petechiae) on his face and again for the same problem on September 22, 2010, while his father was in Iraq.

In late October 2010 Deonte came back to Fort Carson on a mid-tour leave. While here the parents took the boy shopping with them at the Outlets in Castle Rock, Colorado, on October 28, 2010. While there the boy became tired and began crying uncontrollably. His father then took him back to their car and tried to get the child to sleep while his mother finished shopping. The next day Whitney took her son to Evans Hospital for swollen cheeks and a rash (petechiae) around his mouth and under his eyes. Recall that a common cause of petechiae is crying. A follow-up visit on November 1, 2010, for the petechiae found the rash going away and no further treatment needed.

Spc. Carter returned to Iraq on November 11, 2010. While away his son was seen at Evans Hospital on January 4, 2011, February 16, and March 3, for discharge from nose and eyes, elevated temperature, constipation, and the usual conditions any parent faces with a young child. Of course her concerns were exacerbated by the fact her husband was in combat in Iraq.

Deonte returned safely from his third tour in Iraq on March 11, 2011, and took up family life again in base housing on Fort Carson. Aside from problems with sleeplessness, I have seen little evidence of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and he was not wounded or injured on any of his combat tours.

A few weeks after Deonte returned the boy was seen again on April 4 th for a rash (petechiae?) at Evans Hospital. The boy's two-year exam on April 7 th finds him normal and near the top for height and weight for his age. Hardly what one expects with a neglected child.

On June 14, 2011, the boy is seen for congestion, runny nose, and snoring consistent with past history of sinus problems.

On July 25 th the boy's eyes are red and he again has a rash (petechiae). Despite the previous history, on this date Benjamin Choate, M.D., at Evans Hospital decides the petechiae are the result of choking (not uncommon for little boys to choke on something) and Army Social Work Services (SWS) were called. The medical report indicates the mother expressed "...concerns about the possibility that his father is trying to hurt him." Mrs. Carter has denied under oath making any such claim but it is probable that under questioning at the time she became confused and her statements were twisted to conform to the preconception that the boy was being abused. That would hardly be the first time that has been reported to me by parents. Social services are noted for misquoting and misstating events so that the Equal Justice Foundation strongly recommends that every time parents talk with DHS they record everything. We are hardly the only advocates who make that recommendation to parents dealing with DHS.

Following the call to the base SWS, Army CID was also called in. As a precaution Deonte was removed from base housing and put in barracks for one night.

A follow up visit to Evans Hospital was made by Mrs. Carter on July 26 th and the rash (petechiae) was scarcely visible. The CID investigation found no cause for action and Spc. Carter was allowed to return home the next day.

Federal installation, federal investigation, end of story. Right? With no witnesses, no medical evidence other than a rash, a history of such rashes on the child, the mother denying any abuse, no bruising or marks on the child, and Army CID unable to find any further reason to investigate, one would assume case closed.


Fort Carson, like many military bases, has a Memorandum of Agreement between the Army and the El Paso County Department of Human Services (EPC DHS) that grants jurisdiction to the Fourth Judicial District in cases of suspected child abuse and authorizes EPC DHS to investigate all cases of suspected child abuse on Fort Carson. As you might suspect by now, any remote rumor of "child abuse" is presumed to be accurate and the father is to blame.

In testimony at trial, once Fort Carson SWS was notified there began a series of telephone calls that can best be likened to the telephone game we played as children. After about five relays the choking reported by Dr. Choate had become strangulation and Spc. Carter was now suspected of attempted murder of his son by EPC DHS.

Now the proper procedure in such cases is to bring the parents before a magistrate and, if sufficient evidence of child abuse exists, the magistrate issues a restraining order on a standard form provided by the state court administrator spelling out the terms and conditions the parents must meet and, if necessary and in rare cases, places the child in the care of DHS (foster care).

I have repeatedly heard that DHS was not following this procedure and, instead, case workers were issuing orders on their own. In a meeting with EPC DHS Director Bengtsson and Karen Logan, as well as representatives from Fort Carson, on October 27, 2011, that problem was raised and emphatically denied by the director (see p. 6 of meeting minutes).

Apparently there is a disconnect between DHS management and their case workers. On August 1, 2011, Spc. Carter and his wife were summoned to court where a lowly DHS case worker wrote out a restraining order preventing Spc. Carter from returning to his home and family and requiring no contact between Deonte and his son except under supervised visitation. Note that this "order" is not on a standard court form, is not signed by a magistrate or judge, and was not even submitted to her supervisor for review and approval. In other words one of the most basic rights a man has, that of living with his family and children, was taken away with impunity and without even court authorization by a mere DHS case worker acting on her own. Recall also that Spc. Carter had just spent six years of his life, including three combat tours, in defense of these rights that were so blithely taken away with a few strokes of this bureaucrat's pen. And there is no counting the cost to the boy of the time since lost with his father.

Spc. Deonte Carter has honored this specious and illegal order, which has kept him from his family since August 1, 2011.

I regard that as one of the most egregious violations of a man's civil liberties imaginable.
These disgusting and illegal destructions of families need to cease and it is little wonder that I write of great evil!

At the first scheduled trial date on October 5, 2011, Whitney showed me petechiae on her leg and stomach and reported the boy also had the rash on his face again. Unfortunately, the rash on the boy disappeared before it could be documented. Whitney did get photographs of the rash on her legs however.

Inexorably the case proceeded to trial on November 30, 2011, since Spc. Carter steadfastly refused to admit guilt to a crime he had not committed. At trial prosecution was only able to show a 15-30 minute window on July 24, 2011, during which Deonte Carter was even alone with his son when the abuse was alleged to have occurred. And when the mother returned she found the boy fast asleep, an unlikely result for a child who had just been brutally abused by strangulation.

To my eyes the trial was a mockery of jurisprudence.

The DHS case worker was not sequestered as a witness but allowed to sit with the prosecuting attorneys. She was then admitted as an "expert" witness despite the fact she has only a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science and just six years experience as a case worker. No résumé for her was submitted but she professed no publications or learned writings, there was no evidence produced that she has any managerial or project management experience, or any other background that qualifies her in any way as an expert on any subject. Yet as an "expert" witness she was allowed to introduce what amounted to hearsay and apparently gossip. She produced no evidence to substantiate any abuse of the child but made it clear that if the boy was abused it was the mother who had the most opportunity as the father was mostly absent with his military duties.

The guardian ad litem (GAL), paid for by the county to defend the best interest of the child, instead acted as an attorney for the prosecution.

Despite the mother's testimony that she had never had any concerns about her husband abusing their son, three doctors from Evans Hospital were put on the witness stand to testify that the petechiae were the result of abuse and no other potential causes were likely despite the child's history of such rashes.
Given that only a preponderance of evidence was required in this dependency and neglect case, the jury found him guilty on December 1, 2011.

Now lets review the known and likely effects of persecuting this soldier:
• The mother was coerced into taking a plea bargain and admitting guilt as to dependency and neglect. However, the court left the boy in her custody. 
• The mother, like all parents who have had to deal with DHS, will be very reluctant now to take the child to a doctor for fear of being reported again. Since it often is not the parents who are abusing the child such reluctance to seek help for fear of being blamed increases the danger to children. Draconian DHS policies thus have the opposite effect of their expressed intent. 
• The couple is scheduled for another family planning conference on January 21, 2012. Inevitably DHS will require the boy not leave El Paso County until all conditions of the department are met on the basis that the State knows more about raising the child than the parents. Likely DHS oversight will be continued for at least two years. 
• Deonte is only allowed to see his son under supervised visitation and must continue to submit to expensive therapy for which there is little money. 
• As a result of this conviction the Army CID is apparently reopening their investigation and it appears that Spc. Carter will be discharged from the Army (chaptered out). 
• If he is discharged, in today's economy there is little chance he will find work and benefits to match what he receives from the military and he will be forced to seek work elsewhere. However, his son must remain here. 
• Divorce in such cases is very common and it is unlikely Deonte will be able to pay child support if discharged from the Army. Thus, his drivers license will be taken away making it even more difficult to find or maintain employment. As a result he is likely to be jailed for non-payment of support. 
• I hardly need elaborate on the dismal future of a black boy without a father in today's world.
I find this case to be horribly shameful treatment of a man who has reached down and pulled himself up by his bootstraps after a childhood in a corrupt foster home, and who has endured three combat tours in the service of his country!

And how has DHS stopped child abuse in this case, even in the unlikely event it existed? However, they have created more clients for their services in the future by their misguided actions and almost certain destruction of this family, and thousands of others like the Carters.


I have found no evidence that DHS practices in El Paso County have changed, except perhaps for the worse, from the disgraceful practices citizens petitioned for relief from in the year 2000.

The basic and unanswered question is whether, at a cost of tens of millions, DHS actually reduces child abuse and neglect either in the short term or in the long run. What and where is the evidence? I have certainly not found it and the children keep dying to the point where the county is forming yet another committee to investigate, no doubt formed of the same apparatchiks who are at the root of this evil.

I have found abundant evidence that EPC DHS has destroyed the lives of many children and families. If their objective is to instill fear and loathing into parents reminiscent of the Nazi SS and Soviet KGB I'd have to give them credit and rate them a success.

Disappearance of the rule of law

Human actions that can be controlled or limited by law are relatively few in number and that number was reached a long time ago. Laws today are largely based on emotions and feelings rather than logic and results. And where laws don't go far enough, bureaucratic regulations are quickly generated to fill in any gaps in government control.

Blurred, if not eliminated is the once bright line between criminal and civil law. That is most noticeable to citizens with civil restraining orders that carry criminal penalties.

"Crimes" today no longer require a victim, they are for the most part simply actions the State doesn't like and if you are male you are presumed guilty, particularly if you are black.

Of course the courts must cooperate to give the proceedings a patina of legality. But there are many examples of corrupt and infamous courts and actions that ring down through history. Star Chambers in England, Dred Scott, Courts of Honor under Stalin in the Soviet Union, People's Courts in Communist China, and "family" courts in America today such as the one where Spc. Deonte Carter was tried. And the bar for admission of an ideologue as an "expert witness" has been lowered to ground level.

Of course these actions make lucrative careers for every bottom-feeding attorney, politician, bureaucrat, child or victim advocate, social worker, psychologist, and other court cronies. So reform attempts are met with great resistance.

Obviously, as public resistance to these outrageous practices grows it is necessary for these parasites to change tactics and redefine terms. As one example, shown above, petechiae has become a new buzz word for the abuse industry. Like "cycle of violence," "batterer," "power and control," "trained killers," before it. And petechiae need only be observed, or claimed to have been observed to be considered proof and the family destroyed.

Three pillars of evil

Any system of such blind stupidity that is granted the power to take our children virtually at random constitutes a great evil. Though the primary focus of this essay has been on child protective services there are three pillars of evil under DHS:
Child support enforcement — depends on ever more divorces, single mothers, stupidity of fathers, jailing, taking away drivers and professional licenses. 
Child abuse — depends on an ever-broadening definition of "abuse" such as petechiae in the case cited above. 
Elder abuse — conservatorship/guardianship abuse of the well-off as they age
These programs were unquestionably established with the most pious intentions. But, like virtually all government-funded socialist programs, they quickly morphed into the imposition of draconian penalties for those who did not "cooperate."

Through it all no distinction is made between possibility and probability. Extreme events are treated as though they are the norm. And since the bureaucrats "know" the events will happen they must take steps to prevent them irregardless of how remote the probability of their occurrence or the cost/benefits of such steps.

And amongst it all it is the children whose families are destroyed by DHS who suffer the most by the great evil done in their name. And all parents who have had to deal with DHS are very reluctant now to take the child to a doctor, and frequently even to school, for fear of being reported again. Since it often is not the parents who are abusing the child such reluctance to seek help for fear of being blamed increases the danger to children. Draconian DHS policies thus commonly have the opposite effect of their intent.

In the miasma of propaganda generated to justify their increasing budgets in the face of the patent failures of their practices, even DHS statistics are ridiculous. For example, Health and Human Services statistics for child fatalities in Child Maltreatment 2010 reports on p. 58: "Fifty-one States reported a total of 1,537 fatalities. Of those 51 States, 44 reported case-level data on 1,262 fatalities and 42 reported aggregate data on 275 fatalities."

Can we trust our children to agencies who cannot even keep the number of states in the United States straight? I say not!

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.
About the authorDr. Corry is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and an internationally-known earth scientist whose biography has appeared in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, among others, for thirteen consecutive years.
After service with 1 st Marines he became involved with the early space program in 1960, doing preflight testing and failure analysis on Atlas and Centaur missiles, including all the Project Mercury birds. In 1965 he switched to oceanography and did research at both Scripps Institution in San Diego and Woods Hole Oceanographic on Cape Cod. He has also taught geophysics at university and worked as a research manager for a Fortune 500 company.
He has climbed high mountains, been shipwrecked and marooned on an unexplored desert island, ridden horseback through Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, among other adventures during his career.
Presently Dr. Corry is president and founding director of the Equal Justice Foundation.
* * * * * * * *

August 26, 2008

Deval Patrick, Governor
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor, Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617.725.4005
Fax: 617.727.9725 [faxed to Governor, 8/26/08]

Re: Children's mental health law signed — Child who spoke at Statehouse later killed self by Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, August 22. 2008

Dear Governor Patrick,

When you and I were children, the symptoms of "anxiety" and "bipolar disorder" were not diagnosed by teachers, were not called "chemical imbalances"/ "diseases," and were not treated with exogenous chemicals/poisons/drugs as if such diagnoses were actual diseases (throughout medicine with the notable exception of psychiatry:
• Demonstrable physical abnormality (gross, microscopic, or chemical) = disease = disorder; 
• No abnormality = disease-free, disorder-free, normal.
However, today, in the lives of Mary Ann Tufts and her now-deceased daughter, Yolanda Torres, diagnoses of "anxiety," "bipolar," "conduct disorder," "oppositional defiant disorder," etc., etc. have become the primary business of the school teachers of the nation, duped and indoctrinated, hell-bent, not to render children behaved, attentive, literate, and educated, but to do the business of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical cartel, which is to see that as many as possible are labeled and drugged as if this was science and medicine, and as if this addressed real diseases and assured something nebulous called "mental health." Elsewhere we are told that Yolanda tried drug after drug — antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antianxiety pills and lithium — some of which caused a weight gain of 50 pounds on her 5-foot frame. Surely this was not good for her either mentally or medically. Eight months after visiting the statehouse on behalf of her "Yolanda's bill," Yolanda Torres committed suicide.

Yolanda's bill it is said, will help train teachers, guidance counselors and nurses to better identify mental health needs in students, and through the state Department of Early Education and Care will provide behavioral health consultation services in early education and care programs to reach children with mental illness earlier. How could they be more efficient at this pseudo-scientific "labeling/diagnosing" than they already are? Will they be taught more coercive measures with which to bully sensible, enlightened parents who see through the scam, who understand that psychiatrists do not diagnose actual physical, organic abnormalities/diseases/disorders, and who never have.

It is hard to imagine that more mental health observation, "diagnosis" and "treatment" is necessary in the schools of Massachusetts or the nation than we see today with 20% of all children in US public schools thus diagnosed and on one or more psychiatric medications and 50-75% of all children in foster care thus "diagnosed" and "treated," quiet as if ill-fortune was a disease.

In your time and in mine, Governor Patrick, there were no such deaths and such "diseases" or "treatments" in any childhood populations.

Where is the proof that more teacher mental health observation, diagnosis and treatment will improve anything much less the educational outcome for Massachusetts's and all US children.

There is no proof that any of Yolanda's psychiatric diagnoses were actual diseases, or that any of Rebecca Riley's (Hull, MA) diagnoses were actual diseases. There is no proof that they had any actual diseases other than the intoxications of the psychiatric drug polypharmacy assured by their every pseudoscientific diagnosis, each of them justification for one or more psychiatric drugs called "chemical balancers" for "chemical imbalances" of the brain — each a terrible fiction.

So it is that the DSM of the APA is a complete and beastly work of fiction, an evil tool with which to justify the drugging of entirely normal children by the millions. While Dr. Joseph Biederman, on the payroll of too many pharmaceutical corporations to remember, would not agree, children are not suffering and dying for want of more psychiatric diagnoses and treatments, but strictly because of those diagnoses and treatments. Tragically, Yolanda's mother does not get it even now. Tragically for all of the children of Massachusetts, you and your state's legislature do not get it. Yolanda and Rebecca Riley and who knows how many thousands of children in your state, and millions in the nation, are dying as never before because of this bogus, fraudulent, evil diagnosing and drugging where there are no actual diseases to begin with, only emotional and behavioral symptoms which can and will abate with nothing more than consistent, common sense, love and the touch of human kindness, while totally rejecting the notion of psychiatric disease

In 1952, in the first edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I), homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder (with abnormality = disorder = disease). However, with scientific information from researchers like Evelyn Hooker and Kinsey, the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder with a vote of 58% (how it is done in psychiatry) of the membership supporting the measure. The current DSM contains a diagnosis of "persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation." Might this become law, as so many of their disorders have, allowing judges to court-order "chemical balancers" for their "chemical imbalances" or otherwise stigmatizing them and rolling back their civil rights. So much for psychiatry as medical science. So much for the notion of psychiatric diseases. There is no escaping the conclusion that the first and only real abnormality/disease/chemical imbalance is that resulting from the drug or drugs that invariably follow the fraudulent labeling — the greatest health care fraud of all time.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Rebecca Riley of Hull, Massachusetts died, not of her fraudulent "diseases/disorders" but rather of the multiple psychiatric drugs with which she was poisoned (what even prescription drugging is called when no disease was present to begin with). Rebecca's parents sit in jail to this day charged with her murder when, in fact, noted Harvard psychiatrists that advance the for-profit fiction that pediatric/childhood bipolar disorder is a bona fide disease, needing/requiring psychotropic drug treatment are the ones at fault.

When teachers themselves are forbidden from making diagnoses and suggesting drugs what they do instead is to urge, suggest, insist, that the parents of pupils they have "diagnosed," go to a physician or mental health professional which accomplishes the same thing — that the child is diagnosed and medicated, as surely as if the teacher had been the one making the diagnosis and referring the child and family to a physician who they know will prescribe the needed "chemical balancers" — drugs. Either way the epidemic of mental disorders, diseases, grows and with it prescriptions for psychiatric drugs — intoxicants, poisons, all detectable in the blood, body and brain — the first abnormality/disease the pupil, now a patient actually has.

In fact, the parents and family should decide if and when to take their children to a physician, or to any kind of a health care professional, with educators speaking their piece on the issue but nothing more.

Today the "mental health" indoctrinated teacher corps requires and coerces until their will and the collective will of the therapeutic/mental health school is done. This bill is just what educators and the "mental health" industry want. It will lead to more diagnoses, more children "treated" and to more deaths such as Yolanda's and that of Rebecca Riley.

Please call or write if I can answer any questions you may have.


Fred A. Baughman Jr., M.D.
Neurology and Child Neurology (Board certified)
Fellow, American Academy of Neurology
1303 Hidden Mountain Drive
El Cajon, California 92019
Telephone: (619) 440-8236
Facsimile: (619) 442-1932

* * * * * * * *

Fifty-three children died between 1998 and 2005 after state child welfare workers assigned to protect them committed serious errors, made lapses in judgment and ignored their own rules.

Children were beaten, burned, smothered, shaken and starved to death by their parents or other adults, even though the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was supposed to be protecting them, according to an investigation by the Belleville News-Democrat.

In one case, a full-term baby girl — posthumously named Vanessa — died in a ramshackle house in Venice when her mentally-ill mother, Jaki Ingram, delivered her into a waste-filled toilet. The DCFS suspended a caseworker and a supervisor for failing to properly assess the case over a five-year period.

In another case, 2-year-old Miracle Moon of Chicago died when someone pushed her head under water because, according to a prosecutor, she was slow at potty training. A medical examiner found more than 50 human bite marks on her buttocks.

State overseers from the DCFS' own Office of the Inspector General investigate child deaths where DCFS worker error or neglect is suspected. The office publishes annual warnings of the consequences of repeated mistakes and offers suggestions to improve care.

But the News-Democrat four-month investigation showed that despite receiving hundreds of specific warnings from July 1998 to June 2005, DCFS caseworkers, child protection investigators, supervisors, and contracted private agency workers made repeated errors and failed to properly gauge danger to children.

"No system should tolerate mistakes that can lead to the death of a child," said Bruce Boyer, a law professor at Loyola University in Chicago and director of its Civitas Child Law Clinic, a specialized school for lawyers who represent children. "It makes you wonder what they might be doing wrong in cases where kids don't die."

Bryan Samuels, director of the DCFS, declined repeated requests for an interview for this series.

Summaries of child deaths, which are published one to three years later in inspector general's annual reports, detail department worker errors but do not contain the names of victims, caseworkers or references to where and when a death occurred.

To put a face on these children, the News-Democrat compared these anonymous child death reports to news accounts, police and coroner's reports and other documents.

As a result, the newspaper identified 41 of the 53 children who died and linked blunders to actual cases.
The newspaper found that DCFS and private agency workers:
• Repeatedly got suspected abusers' names wrong when making criminal background checks, resulting in false "clean" reports. 
• Accepted the word of a suspected child abuser that his son was sleeping and couldn't be disturbed. The caseworker left without seeing the boy, who died an hour later from a beating by his father. 
• Failed to fully investigate a scalding case because a state-supplied thermometer did not come with batteries. The child later died of a beating. 
• Left a sick, 6-month-old baby in the care of a 7-year-old girl. A caseworker said she was in a hurry and didn't have time to wait for the mother to return.
DCFS records are not subject to the state's Freedom of Information Act. This overall confidentiality prevents publicity that could reduce errors by holding DCFS more accountable, said a Chicago domestic court judge.

"Kids get tortured and brutalized, and all we ever get is some sanitized report without names, dates or places," said Patrick T. Murphy, a domestic court judge in Cook County, who as a public guardian in the 1990s fought to protect children in state care. Murphy said the way to eliminate errors is to open the agency's records to public scrutiny.

Kendall Marlowe, deputy chief of communications for the agency, said top administrators are aware of worker errors.

"It's a matter of setting up procedures, policies and practices and monitoring supervision so that if an employee does a bonehead thing, there's somebody right there that catches it before it affects the child,"Marlowe said.

Children still die

Despite these procedures, children continued to die during and after botched DCFS investigations:

• In Aurora, near Chicago, a child abuse investigator allowed 4-month-old Daniel Bowie's mother to smoke crack cocaine as long as she agreed to first drop the baby off next door, according to an investigator's report. The caseworker accepted this arrangement as a "child safety plan" and allowed Daniel to remain with his mother. A few weeks later, the baby died from a beating in his home. No one was charged. 
• In Southern Illinois, 5-month-old Dakota Jean Hedger of Carrier Mills went to the emergency room with "friction burns on her nose, a bruise on her ear, a puncture wound on her foot, a split lip, fingertip bruises on her back and a tear on the underside of her tongue," according to a child death report. A department supervisor sent the baby and her mother to live with a relative, but the two returned to the baby's father without approval. A caseworker could not then locate the family for three days. On the fourth day, a sheriff's deputy called to say the infant was dead. The father is serving 25 years for murder. 
• In Chicago, 6-year-old Alma Manjarrez died after her mother's boyfriend punched the girl in the stomach on Christmas Day and tossed her outside in the snow. A DCFS investigator failed to check with police about a previous episode involving the boyfriend that could have alerted her to potential danger to Alma. The investigator said it was inconvenient for her to talk to the police officer because he worked nights and she worked days. 
• In Blue Island, a department investigator was assigned to determine whether it was safe to allow 3-year-old Kenya Riley to remain at home. But the investigator, who was supposed to contact the family within 24 hours, failed to locate them. He finally got word of Kenya's whereabouts six weeks later when a coroner called to say the little girl died from head trauma.

In September, stories about a young East St. Louis mother whose unborn fetus was cut from her womb and whose other three children were killed and stuffed into a washer and dryer emphasized the importance of DCFS' duty to protect at-risk children.

The mother had been involved with DCFS as a child, as were her three children.

The inspector general's office does not investigate most deaths of children involved with the DCFS. During the period examined by the newspaper, 780 children died while wards of the state or while having some involvement with the department. Most of these deaths were due to medical problems or accidents.

The agency's 18 investigators conducted full probes into 77 child deaths during this seven-year period. The 53 deaths were in cases where the newspaper found significant caseworker error or neglect. In the other 24, there were no serious errors on the part of DCFS workers, even though these cases still ended with the death of a child.

In many of the child death reports, the newspaper found a combination of errors, instances of neglect, and questionable judgment on the part of DCFS caseworkers.

The newspaper's review showed that state child protection caseworkers who commit serious errors are sometimes disciplined, transferred or counseled, but seldom suspended and almost never fired.
In 51 child death cases (one case involved three children who died from a fire), only two department employees or private agency workers were fired. Four employees resigned, six were counseled and seven were disciplined or reprimanded.

In 25 cases, the department took no action against any worker after a child's death.

In one case, 7-month-old Edgardo Martin died in January 2005 in a fire at his family's mobile home in Fairmont City. A DCFS investigator noticed three space heaters hooked up on a single series of extension cords, but failed to warn the family and accepted the word of a Spanish translator that it was OK, according to an investigative report. Three weeks later, Edgardo died in a fire the state fire marshal's office attributed to an electrical overload on the series of cords.

The caseworker received no discipline, while two supervisors received counseling, the report stated.

Finding solutions

Child welfare advocates say openness, increased staffing and less reluctance by prosecutors to bring child abuse cases to court are the keys to reducing caseworker error.

"In the private sector, if someone makes an egregious error, you could probably discharge them. In systems where you have a Civil Service setting, and personnel rules...you can't do that," said Jess McDonald, director of the DCFS from 1990 to 2003.

McDonald acknowledged that while children die under DCFS' watch, including after worker errors, many are helped.

"Thousands and thousands of children over these same number of years have been protected from abuse," he said, adding that eliminating potentially lethal mistakes is probably a matter of increasing supervision and vigilance.

"You know what they say when you walk along the beach," said McDonald. "Don't turn your back to the ocean because that one in a million rogue wave may get you. It's the same with worker error."

Most current and former caseworkers contacted for this series did not want to be identified or talk on the record. They described the work as stressful and said the department, especially in the East St. Louis office, does not have enough caseworkers.

Gary Guadagano, a former DCFS child abuse investigator, said the department pays caseworkers to make "very chancy decisions."

"I found the job excruciating," he said. The state of constant worry about whether he made the right decision led him to leave his DCFS job.

"It's the worst thing. You worry that something might happen to a kid you saw," said Guadagano, who now works as a court liaison for the department in St. Clair County.

A study released earlier this year by Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, which represents DCFS employees, found that despite an 11 percent increase in child abuse investigations from 2001-05, the department lost 23 percent, or 747, of its "frontline" staff statewide.

Murphy, the Cook County judge, said the agency's strict emphasis on confidentiality leads to a lack of accountability and increased caseworker error. He favors making all details in child death reports public except for the names of people reporting the abuse and psychiatric records, unless a judge reviews them.

"They want to keep the whole thing secret, like this investigator who let the mom smoke crack. That stuff goes on across the board. I've seen it repeatedly," Murphy said.

Court involvement

DCFS Inspector General Denise Kane said one of her top concerns is the practice of allowing children to remain in the home in the face of obvious or repeated abuse.

She warned that accepting a parent's word without verification and giving too much consideration to their promises to do better is "fraught with difficulties."

"If a parent is using (drugs) and keeps getting high, there's a risk to those children," she said.

DCFS often tries to steer family drug cases into court, but many state's attorneys won't take them, Kane said. "Our office says that's not correct. You should take them, even if it's only for an order of supervision,"she said.

An order of supervision allows a judge to force a mother into court, where she can be ordered to accept drug treatment or lose custody of her children and state benefits.

In order to remove a child from the home, a judge must find "an immediate and emergent need." That's a problem, Kane said.

"If a mother smokes crack on Monday but word doesn't get to the judge until Thursday, he will probably decline to place the children in protective custody because the immediate need was when the DCFS worker actually saw the mother taking drugs," Kane said.

But Guadagano, who makes recommendations to judges about whether a child should be removed, said most judges are willing to put a child into foster care if there's any chance that leaving them at home will lead to injury.

"Most people will err on the side of caution," Guadagano said. "Who wants to take a chance like that?"

When to intervene and get a court order to remove someone's children is the most difficult part of the job, said Michael Davis, a member of the Illinois Child Welfare Ethics Advisory Board. The investigative office turns to this board for broad answers about why children die in DCFS' care.

"When somebody actually dies, a lot has to go wrong, because DCFS has...a number of back-up systems in place. There are egregious errors, which is why they ended up in the report. Our view is that (child deaths) indicate problems...and we try to figure out what the underlying cause is."

But in some cases, the DCFS allowed children who were being abused to remain in dangerous situations.

In Harvey, Ill., 9-year-old Shanecia McClellan, who suffered from cerebral palsy, starved to death, despite 33 visits to the home by DCFS caseworkers, according to an investigative report.

The girl's mother, a cocaine user who refused free drug counseling, told police that Shanecia had died three days earlier, but she hadn't called authorities because she was "too busy to deal with that."

Waiting too long

William Adams didn't survive childhood, though there were many warning signs that he was in danger.
In April 2002, 3-year-old William died in a Centreville house fire. His mother had a long history of drug use and neglect during years of involvement with DCFS, yet her children were allowed to remain in her care, according to a child death report.

The mother, Rosie Rainey, gave birth to three children before William was born. Two tested positive for cocaine at birth, according to the state report. Three weeks after the birth of her second child, Rainey took her 3-year-old daughter to a hospital emergency room where the infant was found to be suffering from gonorrhea.

Authorities never charged anyone with sexual assault of the toddler.

William also tested positive for cocaine at birth. The DCFS referred the mother to a drug treatment program, but she attended only sporadically and was kicked out, the report stated.

In August 2000, Centreville Police Officer Pat Reliford found Rainey's four children home alone. He found the oldest child, a 6-year-old girl, cooking for her younger siblings. Police charged Rainey with child endangerment.

As required by state law, Reliford called the state child abuse hot line. DCFS took the children into protective custody but later returned them and assigned a second caseworker to the family.

The state investigative report on Williams' death reported that the 14-month tenure of the second caseworker "was characterized by ineffective assessments and lapses in critical judgment."

According to the state report, the caseworker was not concerned about the threat of fire from the use of space heaters and general disarray of the house "... because the mother did not smoke cigarettes."

But Rainey did use drugs, and one afternoon, while she slept, William's older brother found a lighter and accidentally set some blankets on fire, according to a police report.

The older boy tried to awaken his mother to help William escape the smoky and burning bedroom, but Rainey, who admitted to using crack a few days earlier and smoking marijuana the night before, slept on.

Finally, she awoke and tried to rescue the trapped boy, but it was too late.

"I heard William screaming in the room, and I kept calling to him to 'come to momma, come to momma.'"

* * * * * * * *

What is life like for Britain's 59,000 foster children? Cassandra Jardine meets one girl who has lived with seven families in 11 years — and feels damaged

Just before Christmas, I heard about a 15-year-old, whom I shall call Alice, who was desperate to talk. At the time, she was living with foster parents: "I want to tell you what it is like being in care," she said. "I'm strong, so I can speak out on behalf of all those who do not dare because they fear reprisals."

In the past 11 years, she explained, she had lived in seven different foster homes, often feeling like a cash cow and a skivvy. Worst of all had been the six months of last year that she had spent in a children's home in Kent, where she had been hungry and was subjected to violent methods of control. For a teenager who had been through so much, she sounded extraordinarily sane. "That's because I am one of the lucky ones: I have a father who loves me," she said, "though I'm not often allowed to see him."

All year, she had been looking forward to staying with him for her birthday in early December. Plans for the visit had been discussed at several meetings but, at the last minute, a new social worker had said the checks needed to be done yet again, and the visit had been called off. Alice had threatened to go on hunger strike, but her father persuaded her not to do so. Instead, he said he would write to me, as he had read articles I had written about the social services and adoption; he suggested I listen to her story.
Nick, a carpenter, wrote me a long, eloquent letter that detailed the agonies and frustrations he and his daughter had endured at the hands of a care system that seemed more concerned with covering its own back than meeting a child's individual needs. "But it would be wrong of me, much as I love her," he concluded, "to speak on Alice's behalf." I called her and we agreed to meet.

Her story is unique, but not atypical of the situations that fall to social services departments to sort out. Alice was just three weeks old when her mother walked out on her father, taking their two children. Later, she told them their father was dead. She became an alcoholic and the children were taken into respite care. Even though she went into rehab and has been sober ever since, they were not returned to her.

Social services wanted "a permanent secure solution" and a full care order was taken out. It was at that stage that Alice's mother revealed that Nick was still alive. "But it was too late to resist the momentum of the fostering machine," says Nick. His barrister did establish, at the three-day hearing, that if a placement were to break down, he would be considered as a possible carer. That has never happened.

I meet Alice at her father's home, where he lives with her half-brother, the child of his second marriage. The half-siblings have spent very little time together, yet they are happily mucking around with a pet ferret.

With her careful make-up — "she spends hours on it," her brother teases — and her tendency to shoot loving glances at the boots her father gave her for her birthday, Alice comes across as an entirely normal 15-year-old. But she says she isn't:

"I am what foster care and the children's home made me. If I can't be bothered with someone, I ignore them. And if I don't get sugar, I get depressed."

Digging into a strawberry yogurt, and sending her father out of the room, she describes her years in a system in which she never felt anyone really cared for her. Since foster carers are discouraged from becoming emotionally involved — and can have children removed from them if they show signs of being so — this is scarcely surprising.

The picture of fostering that Alice paints is a Dickensian one of being forced to work like a servant for several of her foster carers — sometimes, while being taunted by their natural children — and of being made to eat and watch television in a different room from the biological family. "If the family got a Chinese take-away, I was given chips," she says.

In her teens, she began to question some of her foster carers' motives, calling them "skimmers" and "nickers": "I know how much money they make," she says. The Fostering Network recommends allowances ranging from £108 a week for a baby outside London to £224 for a 16-year-old in London, not including any payment to the carers. Some of her foster carers, she claims, failed to pass on dress allowances and pocket money amounting to several thousand pounds.

Bizarrely, because her mother is half-Indian, light-skinned Alice was invariably placed with black families, the last ones being Jamaican fundamentalist Christians with whom she had nothing in common. For a while, though, she did have some stability. One couple, who asked her to call them "mum" and "dad," looked after her for six years. The woman dressed her in pink because it was her favourite colour, although Alice loathed it. But then they had a child of their own and suddenly she felt extraneous.

"They moved to a smaller house and said they couldn't have me any more." She was so distressed at "being dismissed like a domestic servant," as her father puts it, that she was difficult for the next foster family to manage.

Some of Alice's accusations of "unfairness" could probably be levelled by most teenagers at their natural families. She was not allowed designer label clothes; she was required to do constant housework and not given credit for it. The difference is that she felt powerless, unloved and that no one wanted to listen to her point of view. "I was sent to counsellors, but when they can't help, you feel betrayed," she explains.

Her father tried to see her, but his efforts were frustrated: social workers didn't return calls, he rarely dealt with the same member of staff for more than a few weeks and new ones didn't trust previous background checks. "The buck would be passed until it was lost," he says. "If you blamed them, they discredited the family. Because one parent had failed, the whole family was held in contempt."

"You don't deserve to live with a family," a social worker told Alice, before putting her in a children's home. "In the home, I was slapped, shoved and shouted at, and constantly hungry," says Alice.

"Dinner was from five to six, even if you were out doing a recognised activity, so I often missed it. I lost loads of weight and eventually took to sleeping in the corridor to protest. Then I was picked up and flung against the wall and the ceiling. I've had blackouts ever since."
When she complained about the restraint methods, she was "treated like a freak," placed under constant supervision and bars were erected on her curtainless windows: "That made me want to escape even more,"she says. On her fingers, she wears six rings, her most treasured possessions, as each one comes from a member of her family. They are her security. "They tried to take them off me at the children's home," she says, "but they are all I have."

With all this going on — and living with far more disturbed children than herself — she stopped going to school. The next step would have been a secure unit, but, fortunately, foster carers were found, though they lived far from anyone she knew.

Nick rang his daughter constantly on the mobile phone he gave her and was agonised by his daughter's distress: "Whenever I called her at the children's home, I could hear screams in the background. Social services seemed to be making no effort to get her back to school or plan for her future." He feared that she would end up one of the 60 percent of children who leave care with no qualifications.

His attempts to meet were thwarted, but he was finally given permission to take Alice to see her mother on Christmas Day. On their way back to her foster carers, his car broke down and the rescue service said they could either take them to his home in Somerset or to the foster carers, but not both. At that point, he decided that, despite the care order, Alice was coming home with him.

At first, social services considered a forcible recovery, but Nick's lawyers fought. A social worker came to observe his calm and orderly home, his well-balanced younger son and found Alice happily painting her bedroom. Last week, a court decided that she could stay.

What angers Nick is that he had to break the law to reclaim his own daughter — and that, but for his determination to keep in touch, Alice would have lost contact with her family long ago.

"Social services had been doing everything they could to keep us apart," he says. "My daughter was being kept in captivity. Now, at last, I hope to give her the home she has always wanted." To his great sorrow, his elder son is so disturbed that he cannot look after him.

John Kemmis, chief executive of Voice for the Child in Care, is familiar with such complaints. "Our research shows it matters overwhelmingly to children to keep in contact with those who matter to them — not just parents, but grandparents, siblings, aunts." Numbers of children in care have grown to 59,000 from 44,000 in the past 10 years, as more children are fostered long-term. "But," he says, "many social services departments are in such disarray that they aren't child-centred."

Since she left care, Alice's life has improved dramatically. She not only has the family she longed for, she hopes to have a career, too. Her father is trying to get her into a local college.

"I want to work with disturbed children," she says. "I think I could help them."

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