Illustration of Kentucky

by Health Impact News/ staff

Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State, famous for breeding horses, tobacco farms, fine bourbon, the Kentucky Derby, and CPS corruption.  It is hard to imagine that in a State full of picture-perfect rolling hills, dotted with grazing cattle and big red barns worthy of  postcard covers, that so many of its residents’ families have been destroyed by CPS.

When reading stories about children being removed from their homes and placed into foster care, most people want to think that CPS is acting benevolently and in the best interest of the child, and that CPS would only use this sort of extreme measure in situations where there is imminent danger to the child, an immediate threat to the child’s life.  Most people want to believe this rhetoric, because they want to believe that our government agencies are there to protect our rights, our families, and our children.

But, as we have shown repeatedly, CPS removes children when no imminent danger exists and when no criminal charges are filed against either parent.  Children are placed into traumatic situations by being forced to live with strangers, and they are rarely returned to the home from where they were removed. Sometimes the foster homes are dangerous and deadly, in which there is no escape.

It is ironic that the State Flag of the Commonwealth of Kentucky reads, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Families are being divided. Kentucky is falling apart.

It’s time for families in Kentucky (and all across America) to wake up and demand that the corruption of CPS be investigated and criminal social workers be prosecuted. It’s time to stop CPS from stealing our children and selling them to foster families for federal funds.  It’s time to demand that our local Sheriffs and law enforcement stop being the strong arm of CPS.  It’s time to require that law enforcement follow the Constitution regarding criminal allegations of abuse and neglect, and that Due Process be followed, and to stop treating allegations made against parents as “guilty until proven innocent.”

The following stories reveal corruption, scandals, lies, & money that even Hollywood couldn’t make up.  While some of these stories may be older, they still expose the inherent scandals of a system motivated by profit rather than charity, and depict how federal funding leads to a love of money rather than to benevolent works.

Black-Market Selling of Children: How Kentucky Got into the Adoption Business

In 2006, Kentucky’s inspector general investigated complaints that some CPS officials were using foster children as “bartering items” in an adoption push equated to the “black-market selling of children.”

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, was intended to move children into more stable adoptive homes, rather than moving them from home to home in foster care. In 2003, Kentucky faced $1.7 million in fines if the Cabinet didn’t comply with these new adoption standards.  In 1999, Kentucky was investigated by Federal authorities for allowing children to languish in foster care rather than proceed to adoption. One Lexington attorney called this “the family law equivalent of the death penalty,” and noted that “low-income families are especially vulnerable because they don’t have money to pay for legal representation or expert court testimony.”

Before Federal funding for adoption bonuses, the trend was to keep children in foster care and not terminate parental rights, as long as children were safe. When Federal laws passed in the late 1990s, there was added pressure to place children in adoptive homes more quickly and to terminate parental rights. This type of adoption system, which is motivated by federal incentive money, encourages the state to quickly move children into adoptive homes, without evidence to justify the removal of the children from their parents in the first place.

The number of children moved from state foster care to adoption in Kentucky increased from 384 in 1999 to 902 in 2005. That resulted in $1 million in bonus money paid to the state in 2004 under a federal program designed to encourage states to move more children into adoptive families. The state gets paid a bonus of $4,000 for each child that is adopted out, more if it’s a special needs child.

Social workers who have become whistle-blowers have reported on numerous occasions how supervisors have hand-picked adoptive families based on “owing favors,” and how they are coerced into intentionally destroy families in order to increase the number of adoptions of foster children, especially infants, who are being used as “bartering items in the black-market selling of children.”

In 2006, Fayette Family Judge Tim Philpot said the push for foster care adoptions was so new that problems were just beginning to come to light. He stopped an attempt by the Cabinet to terminate a mother’s parental rights because she hadn’t been given a “fair shot” to get her kids back.

Today, in 2015, the push for foster care adoptions is not so new anymore, and the problems have been coming to light for years. Now, we are shining a spotlight on them. We continue to hear stories about CPS corruption. Parental rights are being terminated rather than being recommended for reunification. Parents are still not given a “fair shot” to get their children back.

Adoption Pays & CPS Workers Get Praise

After receiving repeated calls from Kentucky residents about CPS wrongdoings in 2004, a local news station launched a 3 year investigation.

What they discovered is that adoption pays very well. WLKY news revealed stories of detailed corruption, including CPS’ supervisors changing records, rushing adoptions instead of pursuing reunification, and using retaliatory power, all of which has created a very lucrative adoption business for Kentucky CPS.  This lucrative CPS adoption business includes stories of adopting children to foster families with known criminal records, and even to families residing with convicted sex offenders.

A former social worker and whistle-blower, Pat Moore, claims she was fired because she would not ignore allegations of sexual abuse in a foster home, and she would not arrange an adoption to the known abusers (even at her supervisors’ request to do so). Moore filed a lawsuit after she was fired, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky paid $380,000 to settle it.

One CPS worker claimed that she witnessed a family put in an “order” for a child they wanted to adopt. And then there are parents, like Vanessa Shanks, who fought CPS and won, but was retaliated upon by CPS, by having her relatives children and her attorney’s child taken by CPS.

Kentucky adoptions increased in 2004 due to federal bonus money, which jumped from $452,000 in 2003 to more than $1 million in 2004. As one CPS worker stated, “You get praised. The Cabinet praises you for terminating rights and adopting kids out immediately.”

WLKY’s investigation uncovered these shocking truths in 2007, truths that are stranger than fiction, but even more shocking is that today in 2015, things aren’t any better for Kentucky families.

Watch these alarming investigative reports from WLKY:

Social Worker Suspended for Refusing to Adopt Children to Known Sex Offenders

In 2010, Clay Clement, a state social worker, filed a “whistle-blower” lawsuit alleging that he was suspended because he reported violations by fellow social workers who were placing children in the homes of registered sex offenders.  He alleged in the lawsuit that social work managers falsified documents “to justify this dangerous placement of children.”

According to Clement’s attorney, Shane Sidebottom, “It’s a continued pattern. Practices of the cabinet are placing kids at risk, and those who do the right thing and come forward are punished.”

Social Workers Sued for Lying About Sexual Abuse History to Meet Quotas

What kind of child “protection” service would put more value on financial gain and quotas over the needs of abused children and the protection of the potential foster/adoptive family?

In 2010, Beverly and James Hilger from Shelbyville, Kentucky, filed a lawsuit against social workers, William Hardin and Desiree Rhodes, for failing to disclose information regarding past sexual abuse of two foster boys, before they fostered or adopted them. These boys repeatedly assaulted the Hilger’s daughters in the home.

Initially, when the Hilger’s asked social workers if there had been any sexual abuse history in the boys’ files, who were 11 and 15 when they were adopted in 2005, the social workers stated that the boys had not been sexually abused and did not have a history of sexually abusing others.

But the Hilgers learned years later, after the adoption, after the boys began sexually abusing their daughters, that the case file showed a different history.  Mrs. Hilger blames “the system” for failing to protect her family and for failing to place the boys in a home that could meet their needs, by failing to disclose this vital information.

William McMurray, the family’s attorney, said, “I think they lied because it’s all about moving flesh. It’s all about quotas, numbers.” (See: Family sues social workers ‘for lying about sexual abuse history of two adopted sons who went on to assault their daughters for years’)

Father Files Lawsuit against Social Workers for Malicious Use of Power

In 2013, another story reports a lawsuit filed by a Kentucky father against two state social workers, because the father claimed that the social workers violated his rights in an “arbitrary and malicious abuse of power.”

Initially, social workers removed the son’s children from his home after his mentally ill son alleged sexual abuse, however, the prosecutor dismissed the charges of sexual abuse and neglect, and the children were ordered to be returned home by the court. But this decision wasn’t good enough for the social workers, who then filed a document saying the allegations were substantiated, which resulted in the father’s name being placed on a list of physical or sexual abusers.

Retaliation tactics like these are allegedly used by social workers when they don’t get their way, or when Kentucky families fight back for their rights and for their children.

Recent Kentucky Child Trafficking Cases in 2015

Health Impact News has covered two stories this year where abusive power in Kentucky social services seems to be continuing:

These are stories where the families went public, in spite of intimidation and gag orders. How many other families today have lost their children to the corrupt Kentucky child-trafficking business, but are too terrified to report it? How long will the public allow this to continue?