by Health Impact News Staff
Health Impact News and MedicalKidnap.com has previously reported how the FBI saying that Kentucky is “the most corrupt state in the country,” and urged families to share their stories involving alleged corruption in their dealings with Child Protective Services, or the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), as it is known in Kentucky. It appears that corruption in Kentucky continues to run deep and wide. See:
Kentucky is Being Investigated for Corruption: Will the State’s Sordid History of Legal Kidnapping Finally be Punished?
Is DCBS Really Just a Government-Funded Adoption Agency That Steals Children for Profit?
Many believe that the corruption of CPS is rooted in a for-profit adoption system created by the Title IV bonus funds from the Federal Government given to States when they successfully adopt children. There is great financial incentives for the States to remove children from families and place these children for adoption, for what many would call questionable allegations, false accusations, or even downright egregious violations of parental rights, basically using children as a transferable commodity to increase the State’s budget.
One Kentucky mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how the corruption is motivated by money, by using children as commodities in a for-profit business:
Truly abused children are considered ‘damaged goods’ and are not ‘sellable,’ whereas those from good homes are much more adoptable and profitable to the State.
On its website, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and its “family services” agency, DCBS, claims to work toward family reunification:
While children are in temporary foster care, the main goal of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is to reunify the child(ren) with their birth parents as soon as the parents have received services to provide a safe and stable home. While working toward the goal of reunification, the child’s worker will complete a relative search and possibly place the child with relatives. The main focus is for children to have a permanent home, where they can be healthy in mind, body and spirit.
In some cases children may not be able to be reunified with their parents or placed with relatives. The courts may terminate the parents rights and legally free the child for adoption.
And yet DCBS boasts on its website that it is also the primary adoption agency in the state:
The Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) is the primary adoption agency in Kentucky. DCBS places hundreds of children and youth for adoption each year. DCBS is involved in nearly every adoption that occurs in the state.
Why would an agency whose stated goal is family reunification or placement with relatives, purportedly do neither? Could it be that family reunification and kinship care are not profitable?
The anonymous Kentucky mother shared that when her children were initially removed, she was given a case plan for reunification, but how after 6 months has passed, her case plan changed from “reunification” to “adoption” for her daughter, because the foster family filed paperwork wanting to adopt her daughter. She explained that a child must be in foster care for 6 months before the foster family can apply for adoption, but that once they do apply for adoption, case plans are quickly changed to “Terminate Parental Rights (TPR) and proceed to adoption,” even when the birth family is working their original case plan and doing everything they can to get their children back.
According to this anonymous Kentucky mother, her case plan was dragged on for 3 years so that her daughter would fully bond with the foster family and not with her, the birth mother. This “bonding” with the foster family would then be used as the reason to allow the adoption to proceed, not because the birth mother was unfit or negligent, but because her daughter, who was removed as a baby, had now bonded to another family! Her older son was eventually returned after 3 years of being in the foster system, and the mother was told that the reason she was being given her son back was because he was “un-adoptable.”
So one one hand, the reason the birth mother didn’t get one child returned was simply because her baby girl was”adoptable” and another family wanted her daughter, and on the other hand, the reason the son was returned to his mother’s custody was because he was deemed “un-adoptable.” The decision was not based on whether or not this mother was working her case plan (which she allegedly was), or whether or not this mother was a good mother (which she allegedly was), or whether or not this birth mother wanted both of her children (which she does) – but it was based solely on the fact that another family wanted to adopt her daughter, and the State would make money from this adoption. Even more disturbing is the fact that this mother says she was given a “choice” at her final TPR hearing:
“Willingly (under coercion) sign over custody of your daughter to the foster family and we’ll let you keep your son, or lose both of your children.”
Based on stories like this, where a mother is granted custody of an “un-adoptable” child, but not the “adoptable” infant, it would appear that adoption (profitable) is really the end-game for DCBS and not family reunification (not profitable), because if a mother is truly negligent or abusive or a harm to her children, why would DCBS return any of the children to her care? See:
Could this also explain why we hear comments that some social workers will allegedly leave truly abused children with families – simply because they’re “un-adoptable”, but remove the ones who are apparently in loving homes with caring parents – simply because they are “adoptable? Could this be why Kentucky DCBS appears to not be really interested in family reunification, but boasts itself as an adoption agency? Is this a conflict of interest?
In another report covered by Health Impact News, Attorney Julie Ketterman describes the problem like this:
“The role of CPS has changed over the years,” Ketterman said. “They have become too powerful and have shifted their focus from offering guidance and support to acting as a punitive force.”
Historically, CPS would provide in-home services to help stabilize families in need of assistance and maintain children in their home. Preventing child abuse and ensuring a safe home environment was the ultimate goal.
In 1974, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which provided federal funds to the states for the prevention of physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. Then, in 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which established strict timelines for returning children in foster care to their parents or for terminating parental rights, thus freeing the children for adoption. In some cases, states are authorized to dispense with efforts to reunify the family and move directly to termination of parental rights.
“This legislation started with good intentions,” Ketterman said, “but it was the seed for corruption.” Ketterman alleges that CPS frequently oversteps their boundaries, opting to remove children from their homes, placing them outside the home and in to foster-to-adopt homes for monetary advantage. “CPS profits every time they place a child outside the home for adoption,” Ketterman said. “It has stopped being a resource for families in need and has instead turned into an adoption mill.” Source:
Health Impact News has previously published whistleblower stories from social workers and former foster parents in Kentucky, as well as heart-breaking stories from families who have had their children removed by what appears to be an abuse of power and corruption in very high places.
For an eye-opening look into some of the history of DCBS corruption in Kentucky, watch these investigative reports by John Boel exposing corruption in Family Court, retaliation tactics by DCBS, and the money-making adoption business:
See our other stories covering Kentucky DCBS:
Destroying Families in Kentucky via State-sponsored Child Trafficking: United We Stand, Divided We Fall
Below, we share new stories of Kentucky DCBS corruption from local Kentucky news sources: whistleblower social workers and family court attorneys exposing the corruption with Kentucky’s Child Protection Service department, as well as news of illegal, unethical behavior of Kentucky social workers, exposing a broken and corrupt system, fueled by money, administered by corrupt officials, and destroying families.
We should ask ourselves, why does such a corrupt system continue to exist?
Whistle-blower Exposes a System Out of Control
According to an article by The Courier-Journal, Tim Williams, who worked for the Kentucky DCBS for 14 years, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, claiming that he was harassed from supervisors after he reported problems. Williams says when he reported that 93 cases of alleged child abuse and neglect were either misplaced or had not been investigated for months, he experienced retaliation – a sudden job transfer – despite his prior exemplary record.
Although the Cabinet for Health and Family Service denies that it took disciplinary action against Williams, and Williams has since returned to his original work site, Williams claims in his lawsuit that his problems started after he sent a detailed letter on April 27 to top officials at the cabinet outlining his concerns. Williams reported that over the 93 child abuse cases were “missing,” and complained of an “atrocious” employee turnover rate and a backlog of more than 1,000 “past due” cases that had missed deadlines because of staff shortages.
Williams also alleged that some social workers lied in court, or made serious errors. In one example, Williams alleged that a case worker identified the subject of a case as a male with no disabilities, when in fact the the subject was a female with Down’s syndrome. In another case, Williams alleged that false information submitted by a social worker in court prevented relatives from obtaining custody of children removed from their parents, and instead, placed the children in foster care.
Sharing his concerns for families and the ethical practices of DCBS in Northern Kentucky, Williams declared,
“If the management or workers cannot be accurate or truthful, if the leadership cannot ensure families are protected, if reports are not initiated and addressed, then the public must demand better.”
Are Social Workers Who Do “The Right Thing” Being Punished?
In another article by The Courier-Journal, a social worker got suspended and faced possible termination, simply because she followed up on alleged abuse of a 7 year-old girl in foster care after the case had been transferred to another social worker. The new social worker, Paula Addington, allegedly ignored the abuse allegations and closed the case, so family members contacted the former social worker, Karey Cooper, and pleaded for her to investigate reports of sexual and physical abuse.
The worker who allegedly ignored the abuse complaints only got a two-day suspension while Cooper was suspended for three days. Kelly Wiley, Carey Cooper’s attorney, remarked,
“It’s worse treatment for the person who did the right thing.”
Cooper claims the case was closed too soon, adding that Addington did not follow up on serious allegations of abuse by family members. Cooper stated that she didn’t realize that Addington had closed the case until later, and thinks the case was closed too soon. Cooper’s attorney also says that the Cabinet (DCBS) did not close the case according to their policy, and has learned that DCBS has since reopened the case with yet another social worker.
Are Retaliation Tactics Used to Punish Good Social Workers Who Question DCBS?
In a continuation article by The Courier-Journal, Cooper says she filed a report after she visited the girl, stating that she found the child looking unkempt and uncared for, and that the child told her that she was often not being fed, that she came home to an empty house after school, and that she was not being taken to her court-ordered therapy sessions.
Cooper, who thought she was “doing her job” by following up on alleged abuse, on a case she had worked on for nearly a year before it was transferred to another worker, explains,
This was my job — at least I thought it was. Here they’ve lost track of 92 cases and I’m in trouble because I went to see one kid.
Since the Cabinet has more serious problems to address, like missing cases, attorney Kelly Wiley finds it hard to believe that the Cabinet would seek to punish Cooper simply because she visited a girl after the case had been closed, saying,
She was acting to protect a child. If we had more Karey Coopers, we wouldn’t have all these missing cases and children at risk.
Although social workers are only supposed to carry an average of 18 caseloads, Cooper was managing over 102 cases, but always received praise reports from her supervisors, before this case. Cooper acknowledged that she violated policy by checking on the girl after the case had been transferred, but says she felt she had no other choice, saying,
I guess my problem is that I went out to help a child when nobody else would and now my job is in jeopardy.
Cooper says she filed a full report about her visit and the family members’ concerns over the new social worker “dropping the ball,” and now feels that she is being punished. The cabinet says it encourages social workers to express concerns without fear of retaliation, yet Cooper states in a second letter to the cabinet,
I have never, nor will I ever, lie on my time sheet or travel voucher and to think that someone is digging to try to come up with dirt on me is extremely overwhelming and stressful. I feel like I am being retaliated against for contacting you and a hostile work environment has been created to the point that it is affecting my health.
Ketterman Criticizes Kentucky DCBS for Retaliatory Actions
The Examiner joins in with a story about Houston lawyer Julie Ketterman, who often criticizes the abuse of power within CPS agencies. Ketterman contends that the Kentucky Cabinet’s DCBS is retaliating against Cooper, because Cooper followed up on abuses on a case that another social worker closed, and now the department is “subject to both embarrassment and liability.”
Ketterman discussed her outrage regarding the disciplinary actions against Karey Cooper for acting out of her concern for a child whom she had previously been assigned, because the current social worker was reportedly not returning phone calls from concerned family members, a commonly reported complaint against social workers.
“This is indicative of how asinine CPS agencies are across the country. This caseworker went to help a child after family members called her to report abuse. Karey Cooper was doing the right thing. This isn’t about the kids anymore and it hasn’t been for a very long time. If it was, this caseworker would be praised for going out of her way.”
Is DCBS a Sinking Ship: Caseloads Too High for Workers to Help Families?
In yet another recent article by The Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s DCBS was described as a sinking ship by former DCBS attorney Kelly Wiley, regarding the 92 mislaid cases, management problems, high caseloads, and high employee turnover:
“The Titanic is sinking and the cabinet is rearranging the deck chairs.”
Social workers complain of being driven to meet quotas and being punished when they speak out about problems. Traci Coleman, 37, who worked as a social worker in Fayette County for 10 years, said she believed that the constant pressure and endless paperwork prevented social workers from actually helping the troubled families, saying she quit because,
“It was the hopelessness of it, the ultimate realization that we had done more harm than good by knocking on that door.”
Although Kentucky law requires the cabinet to report to the governor and legislator if the average caseload per worker rises above 25 for more than 90 days, Coleman said it was typical for social workers to have 30 to 50 cases each. Each case requires monthly hone visits for a parent and child, frequent reports, phone calls, emails, and conferences.
Kelly Wiley claims that the caseload statistics are not followed, and that when the state discovered the “missing 92 cases,” they just added them to already overloaded social workers. Social workers complain that as caseloads grow, so does the pressure from supervisors to close them.
Joyce Graves retired earlier than planned as a social worker, due to stress, and says she also received retaliation from supervisors after she began questioning caseloads. Graves related how that due to the high pressure to close cases, some social workers would joke about doing “drive-by home visits” and assess child welfare as a parent would hold up a child in a window.
Former Kentucky DCBS Attorney Sues: Claims She Was Fired as Retaliation
The Courier-Journal wrote an article about Kelly Wiley, an attorney who is not only representing several KY social workers in lawsuits against DCBS, but is also representing herself in a lawsuit against DCBS. Wiley is claiming that she was wrongfully fired from her job as an attorney representing the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (KY DCBS), after she expresses concerns over high social worker turnover and high caseloads for social workers and herself.
She believes that she was fired as retaliation from the Cabinet because of her complaints, and says she received 9 years of exemplary performance reviews prior to struggles with supervisors regarding her concerns over rising caseloads for social workers. Wiley’s concerns came at a time when the state is also investigating how DCBS lost track of 92 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect for months.
Initially, Wiley was refused unemployment benefits after being terminated, but she won her appeal and was given unemployment benefits because it was determined in her favor that “none of the stated reasons for terminating (Wiley) were legitimate.” Wiley is seeking damages and attorney fees.
Social Worker Abuses System: Makes Repeated Anonymous False Abuse Reports on Neighbors
According to another recent article by The Courier-Journal, Corey Chaney and April Rodgers were repeatedly approached by police at their Elizabethtown, Kentucky, apartment due to outrageous claims of child abuse made by anonymous callers. The first anonymous call claimed that the couple was involved in a drunken brawl while holding their child, but when the police arrived the couple were enjoying a quiet evening meal.
The couple asked DCBS to consider that these anonymous calls were false, but DCBS said it had to investigate every call, despite the fact that the police never substantiated any of the abuse calls. Fearing that DCBS might take their baby, the couple would work 6 different “prevention plans” and undergo drug tests and repeated scrutiny by social workers, all because of these false anonymous abuse calls.
By the third call, the police reportedly were apologetic to the couple and began to become suspicious of the anonymous calls’ legitimacy. The couple began to notice a pattern: just as DCBS would be about to close a case, another anonymous call would be made. The brutality of the allegations increased with each call: one call claimed Rodgers was holding the baby upside down over a balcony; another alleged Chaney was violent and high on methamphetamine; and the last call claimed Chaney slammed the child into a wall.
Since a case was about to be closed by DCBS, and the couple anticipated that more anonymous calls would be made, they worked with the local police to prove their innocence. They went to stay with relatives so they would not be home when the false anonymous calls would be made. On the first night they were away, a call was received claiming that Chaney had become violent and thrown the baby against the wall, but when police showed up to investigate, they found no one home, as planned.
After a full investigation, police charged the downstairs neighbors, Beth A. Bond, a social worker in Hardin County, and her fiancè, Joseph W. Applegate Jr., each with six misdemeanor counts of complicity to call in false reports.
“You can tear someone’s family apart and it’s a misdemeanor”
The couple was shocked that the false reports were made anonymously by a social worker, who allegedly told the police that her upstairs neighbors were “too loud.” Rodgers and Chaney moved that very weekend after their neighbors were arrested, and said no one from the Cabinet ever called to apologize, so they went public with their story to expose what happened, not wanting it to happen to any other families.
Barry Sullivan, Chaney and Rodgers’ attorney, questions the legitimacy of all the other child abuse cases handled by social worker Bond, and expressed his concerns where it comes to false, anonymous complaints, saying,
“This could happen to anyone. The bottom line is that there was a social worker allowed to run amok because there’s a system in place to protect anonymous callers.”
“There’s got to be a system in place to protect families. There’s everything in place to protect anonymous callers.”
Louisville Family Sues Social Worker Who Lied About Child Abuse
According to an article by WDRB News, Dr. James Tipton and Rachel Tipton, of Louisville, Kentucky, alleged in their lawsuit against social worker Michelle Isham, that she deliberately lied and twisted witness testimony, to falsely accuse the Tiptons of child abuse. These allegations resulted in “supervised only” visits for Rachel Tipton for over a year with her four children.
Yet, witnesses, including teachers, physicians, and the children, testified in court that their statements presented by Isham were “not true or were misleading or taken out of context.” On September 3, 2014, the Jefferson Family Court Judge Eleanor Garber dismissed the case, and after learning that Isham did not record any of her interview, but only wrote down notes weeks afterwards, wrote in her dismissal order that she
“[C]ringes at the thought that (Isham’s) notes, without a taped record, could alone be deemed a full and accurate record of testimony at hearings.”
The Tiptons attorney, Pete Lay, declares,
“The nightmare that these two (the Tiptons) went through has to be made right. And losing your kids for over a year can never be made right. But we are going to do everything we can to correct it.”
Why Is This Failed System Allowed to Continue?
Molly McGrath summarizes in the article, Baltimore Child Welfare Director: Foster Care is a Bad Idea – Kids Belong in Families
“It’s not the government’s doing it badly; it’s that foster care is a bad idea. The error is the intervention, and the crazy part is – we still believe! We just keep doing it over and over and over and expecting it to work.”
We close with the idea that not only is foster care a bad idea, but the government is doing it badly too, as alleged by these Kentucky stories, and encourage readers to:
- Continue to share your knowledge of DCBS corruption with the FBI’s investigation. (See: Kentucky is Being Investigated for Corruption: Will the State’s Sordid History of Legal Kidnapping Finally be Punished?)
- Continue to expose that CPS is a failed system, and that children belong with their families. (See: Foster Care Children are Worse Off than Children in Troubled Homes – The Child Trafficking Business)
- Continue to require that abuse be handled by law enforcement and that all Constitutional Rights be upheld and protected during investigations. (See: Are Constitutional Sheriffs America’s Hope to Ending Child Protective Services’ Tyranny?)
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