Virginia-McKale

Virginia McKale. (Photo: P.J. D’Annunzio/ALM – Source.)

Commentary by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

Child Protective Services, funded by American taxpayers, doesn’t believe that they should be held accountable to the citizens who foot the bill.

Repeatedly, we have seen efforts by various state CPS agencies around the country to silence parents who speak out about the abuse that they and their children suffer at the hands of social workers and courts as well as abuse that happens to their children in foster homes, group homes, and hospitals.

CPS social workers and their attorneys sometimes request, and judges approve, gag orders demanding that families keep quiet about what they have seen.

Not content with the violation of the parents’ Constitutional First Amendment rights, social workers frequently retaliate against families members who talk, pushing for quicker termination of parental rights, denying visitation, or making up new fictitious allegations.

The story we share today plays out in CPS cases every single day, all over the county. If Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) has their way, the story will disappear and no one will hear about it.

Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR) asks for the help of our readers to make sure that the story doesn’t disappear.

He published this blog piece on Tuesday, November 27, 2018:

There is a news story that Philadelphia’s child welfare agency desperately does not want the world to read. What do you think we should do about that?

Reporter P.J. D’Annunzio of the Legal Intelligencer has written a series of articles about “the horror show that is foster care in Philadelphia.” The first article (Link) delved into exposing abuse that happens to children at the hands of the state once they are taken from their families and placed into foster care in Philadelphia.

D’Annunzio opened with the story of grandmother Virginia McKale of New Jersey learning to her horror that her 9-year-old grandson in Philadelphia DHS foster care had been raped by another foster child.

Lyris Younge Judge

She had previously petitioned the court for custody of her grandchildren, and she had plenty of room in her 7-bedroom home. However:

…former Philadelphia Family Court Judge Lyris Younge denied that request because McKale lives across state lines. (Source)

Judge Younge has since been removed from the Family Court bench. See:

Philadelphia Family Court Judge Exposed and Charged with Illegal Medical Kidnapping

According to NCCPR:

The younger child, who suffers from severe brain damage, was institutionalized. The older child, age 9, was moved five different times.  In the fourth of those placements he was raped by another child.  The story was careful to use pseudonyms to protect the children’s identifies.

“They know they’ve done wrong,” McKale told the Legal Intelligencer “and every time I turn around they’re trying to cover it up.”

McKale had no idea how right she was.

An agency with a shred of decency would have placed the children with their grandmother and surrounded the family with all the support they needed to heal from what the agency itself, and its private contractors, did to them.

Needless to say, that was not the response from the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. Instead,  DHS got a judge to issue two orders: First, a gag order, so McKale can’t tell anyone any more about what DHS and its contractors have done or are doing to her family.

Retaliation

As happens in many CPS cases, Virginia McKale faced retaliation in the form of visitation with her grandchildren being restricted. NCCPR continues:

Even worse, they got an order rescinding unsupervised visits.  Now all visits must be under the supervision of the very agencies she’s criticized – so you can be sure McKale will be under a microscope as the visit supervisors search for excuses to cut off visits all together.

At a minimum it will ratchet up the stress all around and make visits harder to schedule.  So in effect, Philadelphia is punishing a nine-year-old rape victim because his grandmother dared to speak out about how he was raped in foster care.

See more about the gag order and retaliation in the Legal Intelligencer:

Court Silences Woman Who Spoke Out About Grandchild’s Abuse in Philadelphia Foster Care

How You Can Help

Richard Wexler of NCCPR calls for the public to take to social media and let everyone know what is happening to this family and to countless others:

…there is one thing we can do about this: Make the gag order backfire.

I almost never explicitly urge people to do anything on social media – partly because it angers the social media gods.  But this once, I think an exception is called for.

The Legal Intelligencer published a story that the Philadelphia Department of Human Services desperately does not want the world to see.  So let’s do everything in our power to make sure as much of the world as possible sees it!

He concludes with this:

So, we know that the one thing DHS really cares about is not the children or the families – it’s not having its failings exposed to the world.

What should we do about that?

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