Last week (February 2017) we published the story of Shanley Devlin of Walker County, Alabama, and how her family was torn apart by the Department of Human Resources (DHR). Shanley was removed from the custody of her parents at the age of 14 after she became pregnant during the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. Her parents were housing many people from the neighborhood during the storms. In spite of the fact that the family wanted to raise the baby in their home, Alabama DHR allegedly charged the parents with “inadequate supervision,” and both their daughter and grandson were placed in foster care. Their daughter Shanley is now 20 years old holding a steady job and has place to live, but because she grew up in foster care, DHR will not allow her son to live with her. When we posted Shanley's story on our Facebook Page, the story quickly went viral with many people in Alabama sharing their own horror stories with DHR in Alabama on our Facebook Page. Someone posting as Margaret Morgan Silbernagel and claiming be "a member of the Esc. Co. DHR Board," apparently decided (or was appointed) to stand up for DHR and asserted: "This story cannot be accurate." But Ms. Silbernagel was apparently not prepared for the firestorm of comments that was about to come her way, as she later admitted: "This conversation has certainly been an eye opener. I do not do what I do for recognition or for any of your approvals." One of comments came from someone identifying herself as "the former mother-in-law" of the DHR social worker Judy Kitchens' daughter. Judy Kitchens is mentioned in our story as the social worker that removed Shanley and her baby from her parents home. Linda Motes Pullins stated that she did not think Judy Kitchens should be a social worker given the problems she alleges exist in Judy's own family, which she alleges includes a history of drug abuse.
The Texas Tribune is running a series of articles this month highlighting the problems of child sex trafficking in Texas. They point out how: Eighty-six percent of runaway children in the United States suspected of being forced into sex work came from the child welfare system, according to a 2016 analysis of cases reported to the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children. Of the 79,000 child sex trafficking victims estimated to be in the state, the vast majority were in foster care or had previous contact with Child Protective Services, according to a recent University of Texas study. We applaud the Texas Tribune for covering this issue. However, as in most mainstream media reports on issues such as this one, the corruption in Child Protective services is seldom, if ever, reported, or the fact that the majority of children taken from their homes are NOT for reasons of abuse, but for "neglect." Children taken into custody by the state represent a significant source of income for those employed by the state for "child welfare." In a recent report from Connecticut, for example, we see that 90% of children entering the system are NOT for abuse, but "neglect." This is generally true in every state, and "neglect" is such a broad category, that we have seen children taken away from parents for disagreeing with a doctor over the care of their children, allowing the children to run around outside barefoot, taking a child out of school to start homeschooling, having a dirty house, etc.
The Department of Children and Families is seeking to terminate the parental rights of a New London (Connecticut) couple whose son nearly died in a Groton foster home — an outcome, advocates say, that highlights the downward spiral of poor families who become trapped in the child welfare system. Once poor parents become involved with DCF, they don’t have the legal resources to fight; they’re required to fix housing and financial problems to get their children back and there’s no public scrutiny or recourse if they feel they’re treated unfairly within the confines of private, juvenile court, advocates said. “The confusion of poverty with neglect is the single biggest problem in American child welfare,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. Poor parents are more likely than middle-class parents to have their parental rights terminated because they’re more likely to have their children taken in the first place, he said. The department served 73,360 children in 2016 and had 2,310 children enter DCF care, or 3 percent of the total served. Of the substantiated investigations by DCF, 90 percent are for neglect and 10 percent are for abuse. Martin Guggenheim, a professor of law at New York University and co-director of the Family Defense Clinic, said the only children in foster care in the United States come from poor families. People turn a blind eye to the same behavior or inadequate parenting in middle-class neighborhoods, he said.
California civil rights attorney Shawn McMillan recently sat down and spoke with Tammi Stefano of the National Safe Child show regarding his work in litigating against corruption within Child Protection Services (CPS). McMillan gained national headlines at the end of 2016 in a case against Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when a jury awarded his client, Rafaelina Duval, $3.1 million in damages for wrongfully seizing her child. In this interview with Tammi Stefano, McMillan explains how he makes his living by exclusively suing county and state agencies that are involved in child abuse investigations, and violate parents' and children's Constitutional rights by misrepresenting facts to the court, either when they remove the children from the home, or afterwards. When Stefano asks McMillan why he does this, why he is so passionate about it, McMillan states: "They're stealing kids."
Reporter Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic has published an expose on the atrocities of Arizona child kidnapping happening within the state's Department of Child Safety (DCS). We welcome this new report from the Arizona Republic, who has reported over the past several years that Arizona has the highest percentage of children taken out of their homes of any state in the U.S. Only Texas, a state with 4 times the population of Arizona, removes more children from their families. MedicalKidnap.com, part of the Health Impact News network, originally started because of parents in Arizona reporting to us that the state of Arizona was kidnapping their children, usually through medical kidnapping where parents were disagreeing with doctors and then losing their children. We were among the first ones to report the alleged travesty of justice regarding one Arizona mother, Melissa Diegel, who lost her two children because she disagreed with doctors over their care. Health Impact News has published more stories about alleged corruption in child kidnapping in Arizona than any other state
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a study comparing "mental and physical health outcomes of children placed in foster care to outcomes of children not placed in foster care." The study claims to be the first of its kind looking specifically at these health outcomes. Similar to other past studies looking at outcomes comparing foster children to those not placed in foster care, the results of this new study were predictable: "We find that children in foster care are in poor mental and physical health relative to children in the general population, children across specific family types, and children in economically disadvantaged families... Children in foster care are a vulnerable population in poor health, partially as a result of their early life circumstances."
A South Florida business owner recently received a visit from a CPS social worker and police officer at his place of business. A former disgruntled employee had allegedly called a child abuse hotline to complain that the business owner was abusing his children by "doing drugs, narcotics, in front of his children." The social worker and police officer were apparently trying to get access to the man's children to take custody of them. The business owner asked the officer if he had a warrant, and if he was under arrest. When the officer answered "no" to both questions, he stated that they did not have permission to enter his private business (a Call Center), and that he was not going to answer any questions. He offered to let them talk to his attorney. They refused, and forced their way into his business anyway. When back up police arrived, they assaulted the man and threw him to floor inside his own place of business, handcuffed him, and took him away. They probably did not realize that this business owner also maintains Facebook Page called "South Florida Copwatch" which documents police abuse of power. The entire incident was captured on video, and posted to his Facebook page.
A woman identifying herself as Debora HOLCHIN has contacted Health Impact News stating that Judge Nancy Vernon has ordered that all photos and Internet stories about the Byler children in Pennsylvania are to be removed. Our original story was published on December 11, 2016. Ms. Holchin also supplied MedicalKidnap.com with a copy of the alleged court order. Elizabeth Mason is apparently the name of the former Amish mother before marrying her current husband, Rudy Byler. Debora HOLCHIN is also apparently the woman referred to as "Betsy" in the original story. She stated to Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com: "This is a FALSE STORY. She was given a court order to get all of this off the internet Story & pictures it has also been turned over to the DA"s office... [sic]" Health Impact News has a healthy respect for the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, and the protected right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
For the first time, a New York appellate court has ruled that evidence once used to convict people in shaken-baby cases may no longer be scientifically valid. The ruling, which came in the case of René Bailey, a Greece woman convicted of causing the death of a child in 2001, has implications for a number of other people in state prisons for shaken-baby offenses. In this area alone, several dozen people have been convicted of murder or assault in such cases. The appeals court decision, released Thursday, changes the legal landscape in New York for alleged shaken baby cases, said Brian Shiffrin, a local appellate lawyer who was not involved in the case. “It makes it both easier for defense attorneys to argue the science and it puts the burden back on prosecutors to show there is evidence to support the theory of shaken baby syndrome,” said Shiffrin, who has handled appeals of shaken-baby convictions.