A Culture of Fear An Inside Look at Los Angeles County's Department of Children & Family Services

Image from Sbpra Books.

Health Impact News

Tammi Stefano of the National Safe Child Show interviewed Melinda Murphy in late 2014 regarding the abuses of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.

Melinda Murphy has worked in Child Welfare for over 20 years. She has a master’s degree in counseling and educational psychology. She is co-author of the book A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County’s Department of Children & Family Services by Sbpra Books.

She worked for DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) in LA County for 10 years in various capacities, including: social worker, supervisor, investigator, and court officer. She was known for handling tough cases that other social workers could not handle, and when she left the agency, she left on good terms.

So why did she leave after working there for nearly 10 years?

Because I had a conscience. I wanted to be able to sleep at night. I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror.

When I went to work for them, I thought I’d be working for the children, I’d be working for the families, building on their strengths. I discovered no, what I am doing is I am working for the Department of Children and Family Services. I am a PR agent. I’m not protecting the children and the families. I am protecting the Department of Children and Family Services.

And I couldn’t live with that.

Tammi Stefano then asks: “Isn’t DCFS supposed to be working for the children?” Melinda replies:

No. The Department of Children and Family Services is a political organization. And you cannot be a political organization and do social work.

Tammi then asks: “So in your opinion, would it be fair to say that you don’t think that the department really is looking out for the best interests of the children?” Melinda replies:

No. Not at all. That’s just a mantra. That’s just something you hear, “in the best interest of the children.” But that’s not what’s practiced.

Programs to Preserve Families Defunded in Favor of Federal Funds for Adoption

One of the alarming trends Melinda revealed was that programs in place to preserve families were being defunded at an “alarming rate” in favor of receiving billions of dollars in federal aid for adoption services. She states that group foster homes get an average of $8000.00 per child per month (just in LA County.)

Melinda Murphy is now a “Social Work Investigator” for Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers:

Mission Statement

Care, custody and control of a child are fundamental parental liberty interests. Courts must provide a parent with fundamentally fair proceedings wherein the parent has a fair and reasonable opportunity to retain or regain care, custody and control of his/her child.

It is our mission to assure that parents receive their substantive and procedural rights and that they are provided legal representation at low or no cost affording them a fair and reasonable opportunity to parent their child. Too many children are lost to the foster care system, and it is our goal to provide legal assistance to our clients to preserve the family and, in those instances where required, reunify the family through the use of innovative, effective, affirmative, and ethical legal principles and skills.

Fraud Revealed at LA County DCFS

In her new role, she is called in by the parents’ attorneys to investigate cases where children have been removed from their homes. She will make in-home visits with the caseworker. Melinda reports that 80% of the time she sees something which is completely different than what the social worker is reporting. She will write up a report on what she sees, such as parents who really are trying hard to do what is best for their children, and children who have no desire to leave their parents. The caseworker, meanwhile, is reporting that the parents are not capable of taking care of their children, and that the children need to be removed from the home.

Unfortunately, her information seldom gets heard in court. Most parents have court-appointed attorneys who do everything they can to block her testimony, so the judge only hears what DCFS is reporting, which, according to Melinda, is erroneous information about 80% of time.

Melinda goes on to state that once a child is in the system, DCFS has no intention of returning the child to the parents. That is not the goal. She explains how often statements are made to her such as “those kids are never going home,” and that if a social worker objects, or disagrees, they are taken off the case.

Parents Have No One to Turn to Who Will Defend Their Rights

One of the most shocking and disturbing aspects of the show was when a caller called into the show to report her experience with DCFS, and explained how a supervisor in DCFS was able to basically “do whatever she wanted to do” and was accountable to no one, even after allegations of wrong-doing by DCFS were reported. Tammi Stefano asks Melinda Murphy about this, and she replies:

There are no checks and balances. So what you are saying I hear every single day. A social worker or supervisor can make or break a case.

The caller then asks where can they go to report DCFS abuse? If they call the police, the police just calls DCFS.

Tammi then asks Melinda: “Where does a parent turn? Is there anywhere (to turn)?” Melinda replies:

No. It’s doomsville… The system is not working. It’s a very sick system. It’s failed, it cannot heal itself.

This is what I always say to my parents, this is my advice: I always say don’t give up. Because you know deep in your heart that you are the person who loves your children the most… The social worker is not your friend, not by any stretch of the imagination.

If you want an insider perspective on what goes on inside CPS, please listen to this shocking interview, and share this video far and wide:

See Also:

LA County DCFS Whistleblower Reveals how Parents are Losing Their Children to a Corrupt System

Medical Director of LA Child Welfare Testifies Under Oath That He Does Not Know the Law Regarding Seizure of Children