A fight is raging across Arizona – parents, foster parents, activists, lawyers and even the Arizona Republic are refusing to back down against the state’s apathetic resistance to real, meaningful solutions for its outrageous record as the top state in the nation for child removals. Arizona has taken children out of their homes at a rate far higher than any other state in the country. And Phoenix (Maricopa county) ranks as the city with the highest rate of child removals by CPS – higher than New York, L.A., or any other major U.S. city. The state’s shameful record goes back a decade or more, and frequently opposition has been disconnected or silenced. More and more families have been destroyed, children lost, and lives broken. But no more – activists, legislators and local media are gaining strength and momentum.
House Republicans beat back an effort by Rep. Kelly Townsend to protect Arizona’s parents’ constitutional rights by amending SB1003. Townsend’s amendments would have prohibited Department of Child Safety caseworkers from lying to the court or withholding exculpatory evidence. Townsend asked her fellow lawmakers how they could oppose the amendments as they appeared to be preoccupied with their laptops and cellphones. The principles behind Townsend’s amendments were clear; parents have a right to due process and social workers cannot lie to parents.
Baby’s Health Rapidly Declines After Receiving 13 Vaccines at One Time – Mom Accused of Abuse for Disagreeing with Doctors
A young Georgia mother had no idea that a routine trip to the pediatrician's office for her son's 1 year check-up would change her son's life forever, and leave her fighting the state for custody of her own son. When the nurse-practitioner told her that her son was a little behind on his shots and they would need to catch up, Durenda Whitehead didn't question the need for the vaccines. She did, however, question the safety of giving 13 vaccines at once. Durenda's pediatrician assured her that it was fine: "I can give up to 20 at one time." She said that they told her at the pediatrician's office to give him some Tylenol, and to "play extra hard with him when he gets home." Over the next few days, Durenda reports that KJ was sleeping much more than usual, only waking to eat. She describes his rapid decline: "I noticed my son didn't attempt to follow me as usual and he started to cry. I called his name so he would come to me, but his cry only got louder. When I came back in the room to see why he wasn't coming, he leaned his body forward and reached for me... He had this 'help me' look in his eyes while he continued to cry." However, Durenda soon learned that doctors are reluctant to look at vaccines as a cause of harm, and she soon found herself in the hospital being confronted with law enforcement taking away her son because she dared to disagree with a doctor.
California Mom Who Lost New-born Baby at Hospital Cleared of Drug Charges, but Still Does Not Have Children Back
A beloved California schoolteacher is still fighting to get her children back 9 months after they were ripped away from her by Child Protective Services. Lori Ibrahim's two-day old breastfeeding baby was seized by Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) after Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center accused her of drug abuse. The only drugs in her system were properly prescribed medications, but social workers used the positive drug screen as grounds to seize baby Youssef and his 5-year old brother Kian. Since that time, Lori has allegedly cooperated with every demand that DCFS has placed on her, including submission to a gag order to be silent and take down her Facebook page. Social workers have created an image of the mother to present to the court which seems to serve their apparent agenda of keeping the family apart. The reports, however, from the psychologist and other therapists that Lori has been compelled to see paint a vastly different picture. That picture is consistent with the reports from those who have worked with Lori and the parents whose young children Lori has taught in school during her 15 year career, a career that is now closed to her because of the DCFS allegations. Lori Ibrahim presented evidence to Health Impact News and to the court that she was innocent of the charges that were used to seize her children. The court has reportedly dismissed the substance abuse allegations, finding that, as she said from the very beginning, she was only taking properly prescribed medications. Yet, it hasn't made a difference - her boys are still not home.
Pennsylvania Court Attempts to Censor Social Media Exposure of Former Amish Mom Fighting to Get Kids Back
A mother who is fighting the Child Protective Service system to get her children back was threatened during a mediation hearing last week. Elizabeth Byler of Pennsylvania, who grew up in an Amish community, appeared at the hearing without her lawyer present, due to her attorney's scheduling conflict. Byler was allegedly given an ultimatum by court officials—to take down the Justice4theBylers Facebook page "or else," they would “come after” her. Elizabeth told them that she did not start the page and does not have administrator access to the page. However, she was reportedly called a liar, and they demanded that she delete the account right there. As she pulled up Facebook on her phone to try to access the page settings, she told the officials: "I can’t access it. I’m not an administrator." Later, the administration of the page posted: "We have the utmost respect for Elizabeth Byler, but understand that, though you may be able to control her with threats, you cannot control us. She is powerless to compel us in any way to take down this page. And we are watching. We just want you to do the right thing. This is about the Freedom of Speech of fellow Americans to speak about the injustice that is happening to the Byler family, and to thousands of other families across the United States, and, indeed, the world. This is about Freedom of the Press, as well. Social media IS media. As such, we have the Constitutional Freedom to report on news that is happening to this family and others."
In a Facebook Live video, Michael Brooks gave an update on his case in Tennessee. He and Jamie had been in court that morning and were expecting Judge Clayburn Peeples to terminate their parental rights to their two sons. But, in an interesting turn of events, the couple left court that day with their parental rights still in place. Also, due to not having a lawyer present, Michael was given a 60-day window to prepare to present his case to the court again. Michael Brooks is dying from Hepatitis C. His disease was under control while using medical cannabis, but he was forced to give up his medication due to Tennessee laws as he tried to meet requirements to get his children back from the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS).
Matthew Marble was not even in the state when his 10 month old daughter was hospitalized for abuse. Little Hailey was in the care of her mother and her mother's boyfriend when someone smashed her head into a table. The head injury left her with cerebral palsy, and, due to the alleged actions of Tennessee social workers, the incident left her without her father. Matthew, who is disabled himself, has been fighting to get his daughter ever since that fateful day in June 2013. His parental rights have been severed by the state of Tennessee, primarily due to his disabilities, but he and his attorney Connie Reguli hope to reverse that decision and have filed a lawsuit against the state for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Matthew is not alone in his fight. His family has been by his side throughout the whole ordeal. His aunt Bobbi Dubois contacted Health Impact News to ask for help in telling their story. Bobbi and her husband Will, Jr., have been willing to take care of Hailey and facilitate the relationship between father and daughter, but they have allegedly been blocked by Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) at every turn. The Dubois are certainly well qualified - they have long been advocates for others, and have even been asked by their own state to take in disabled children. Because of his disabilities, Matthew has never claimed that he could parent alone, but he just wants the opportunity to be a part of his little girl's life. However, DCS set up a permanency plan for him which, according to Reguli, was "discriminatory and failed to accommodate his limitations." This story is about a father's right to parent his child. He loves his daughter, and he did nothing wrong. He was not involved in the abuse that happened when she was in her mother's care. DCS knows that, but still they have kept him from his daughter and have demonstrated that they prefer that she live with strangers rather than her own family.
Indiana Couple Loses over 2 Years of Their Babies’ Lives because of Testimony of “Child Abuse Specialist”
It has been nearly three years that Ally Allen and John Kremitzki from Terre Haute, Indiana have been waiting for their two boys to come home after a trip to the emergency room (ER) turned into a parent’s worst nightmare, resulting in the medical kidnapping of their children. Despite having a medical explanation from medical experts for the injuries, the couple is being accused of child abuse based on the testimony of one Child Abuse Specialist. June 28, 2014, is a day that John and Ally will never forget. It set off a series of events that caused not only their baby son Jaxon to be medically kidnapped, but their second child was also seized at birth, simply because the case regarding Jaxon was still ongoing. Their second son, Jameson, exhibited many of the medical problems that their first son did, but they had no say in his medical care, and he has suffered in foster care. Ally, a heart-broken mother laments: "CPS has stolen what can never be returned and that's time—two and a half years of milestones and life. And, Jameson's entire life has been stolen. His entire infancy has been spent apart from his parents." Ally and John feel that this medical kidnapping of their children has gone on way too long. They are ready for their boys to come home, where they belong.
Caseworkers often claim they are “damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t.” But when it comes to taking away children, caseworkers are only damned if they don’t. It’s one of the reasons so many children are needlessly consigned to the chaos of foster care. Now, a leader of a union representing caseworkers has admitted as much. It happened last June when a committee of the Philadelphia City Council examined problems at the Department of Human Services, the agency that runs child welfare in the city. Among the issues: the fact that Philadelphia takes away children at one of the highest rates of any big city. Vanessa Fields, vice president of District Council 47 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, cut right through all that b.s. With commendable candor, she declared: "Workers are afraid that they're going to be disciplined if anything goes wrong on a case. So their thing is, Well, I'm just going to take the kid out of the home and put them in care. That way, I don't have to worry about being written up or disciplined because I left the children in the home and something happened to them. … You place that kid outside of that home, because you do not want to be in a situation where you left a child in a home and something happened to them." As interesting as what Fields said is what she did not say. She expressed no fear of discipline for taking away too many children. Nor should she. In 40 years of following child welfare I have never seen a caseworker fired, demoted, suspended or even slapped on the wrist for that. On the rare occasion when a family harmed this way brings a civil suit, caseworkers have “qualified immunity.” In layman’s terms that means they’re immune from damages unless they do something incredibly malicious or incredibly stupid. In one case, a worker actually claimed what amounted to a constitutional right to lie. Fortunately, that claim failed, but the worker in question wasn’t fired. She was promoted.
Terminally Ill Father Finds Cure in Cannabis Oil but Now on Death Bed After Complying with CPS to Get Children Back
For nearly three years, Michael Brooks of Northwestern Tennessee has been fighting for his children and for his life. Faced with terminal Hepatitis C, he finally found a treatment that saved his life and brought him into remission. However, Child Protective Services of Tennessee is using the very thing that brought him from the brink of death - cannabis oil - as grounds to take his children and place them into foster care. He has been forced to choose between staying in Tennessee and accelerate towards his death or leaving to continue treatment in Colorado and risk being accused of abandoning his children.