How Shockingly Easy it is For Child Protective Services to Ruin a Family’s Life


This piece dtkrydhdei
in The Nation
by Michelle Goldberg proves how easy it is for parents to get labeled abusive, or even have their kids taken away, thanks to overzealous, under-trained, excessively suspicious and persnickety child protective service workers. She begins with a story you’ve read here:


On July 29, 2013, a Latina mother in Illinois named Natasha Felix sent her three sons, ages 11, 9, and 5, out to play with a visiting cousin, a young girl, in a fenced park right next to her apartment building. The oldest boy was charged with keeping an eye on his siblings, while Felix watched them all from the window. While they were outside, a local preschool teacher showed up at the park with her class. She saw the 9-year-old climb a tree. Felix’s youngest son fought with his cousin over a scooter and, at one point, ran with it into the street. Based on this, the teacher called the child-abuse hotline, and Felix received a visit from the Department of Children and Family Services.

According to legal filings in the case, the investigator, Nancy Rodriguez, found that Felix’s kids “were clothed appropriately, appeared clean [and] well groomed,” and that Felix “appeared to be a good mother.” Felix’s oldest son seemed like a “mature young boy” who “certainly could be allowed to go outside by himself to the park next door.”

However, when Rodriguez asked Felix if the boys had any special needs, Felix replied that the 11-year-old and the 9-year-old had been diagnosed with ADHD. On the advice of their doctor, they were off their medications for the summer. Rodriguez later wrote that “based on the mother not knowing that the kids were running into the street with the scooter, based on the children having ADHD,” she recommended that Felix be cited for “Inadequate Supervision” under the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. As a result, Felix was placed on the state’s child-abuse registry, which led to her losing her job as a home healthcare aide and ended her dreams of becoming a licensed practical nurse.

“She’s been devastated,” says Diane Redleaf, executive director of the Family Defense Center, who is representing Felix before a state appeals court. “I’ve been talking to her about how this impacted her, and it’s heartbreaking. She couldn’t send her son to take the garbage out—she was afraid to do that.”

One ray of hope? Believe it or not, it’s our movement! When we’ve publicized the way the state is second-guessing Free-Range families, the public woke up to CPS overreach! This was true with the Debra Harrell case (the mom thrown in jail for letting her 9 year old play in the park), and also in the most-read story on last year, of the kids taken away from the family because the 11 year old was playing alone in his backyard for 90 minutes, and of course the Meitiv Free-Range case that made headlines worldwide.

“I’ve worked in this field for 35 years, and I can’t remember when child-welfare cases like this have been in the news,” says Redleaf. “We’ve been trying and trying to get that to happen.”

Adds NYU Professor Martin Guggenheim:

Advocates for families caught up in the child-welfare system hope that the national debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement will draw attention to the threats and intrusions that poor and minority parents endure all the time. Child-neglect statutes, says Martin Guggenheim, a New York University law professor and codirector of the school’s Family Defense Clinic, tend to be extremely vague, giving enormous discretion to social workers. “The reason we’ve tolerated the level of impreciseness in these laws for decades,” he notes, “is that they tend to be employed almost exclusively in poor communities—communities that are already highly regulated and overseen by low-level bureaucrats like the police. For somebody like me, the ‘free-range’ cases that are hitting the paper today are a dream come true, because finally people who otherwise don’t care about this problem are now calling out and saying, ‘Aren’t we going too far here?’”

And one more lovely shout out, from the University of Pennsylvania:

“Certainly, prior to this, I don’t think most white people knew very much about the child-welfare system, or were afraid that someone was going to knock on their door and say, ‘Let me see your kids,’” says Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and the author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare. “Whereas in black neighborhoods, especially poor black neighborhoods, child-welfare-agency involvement is concentrated, so everybody is familiar with it.”

So now that this injustice has reached some sort of boiling point, it is time for us all to demand that our leaders re-visit the way CPS operates, especially the fact that what constitutes “abuse” or “neglect” seems to be so capricious. That’s what happened in Maryland after the Meitiv case, and the guidelines actually changed…in that one state.

But in the meantime, I recently heard from one mom being investigated because some of her kids were in the car — sleeping — while she and her other kids ate at a picnic table FACING THE CAR. She just didn’t want to wake the others up.

That’s endangerment?

So let’s hear it for Michelle Goldberg’s masterful piece on this topic. And for Diane Redleaf whose Family Defense Center is appealing Natasha Felix’s case. As her filing puts it:

“The appeal raises a question of great importance to parents and children of this State: may a parent who allows her school-aged children to play in a nearby park for thirty or forty minutes, without remaining in her line of sight at all times, avoid being registered in a State-run database as a child neglector?”

If not, goodbye freedom for kids. And parents.

Read the whole piece here. — L


If only we hadn't let him play in the park across the street!

If only we hadn’t let him play in the park across the street for half an hour!



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43 Responses to How Shockingly Easy it is For Child Protective Services to Ruin a Family’s Life

  1. theresa hall October 11, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    i think cps does this so they can grab kids. they get paid over 1000 bucks per kid. plus no money for them to send to family or back to their parents. but if kid is adopted cah ching money time. it even better if the kid has a medical condition even more money.

  2. Abigail October 11, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    It is odd to be punished for an offense not defined. Placing Felix on a registry was punishment, had intervention been a teachable moment – we would have seen the encouragement that helicopter WASP values be employed through classes, etc…

    I have to say, these stories about CPS and expert intervention remind me of my brother and ex-sister-in-law’s experiences. Their 10 year old daughter is old enough to be home alone and go to the park unsupervised, but should not think her opinion matters in which home she resides primarily in. The details of her case are inconsequential for my point…my point is the application of another’s values on our families. Why does a childless expert get to assert that a child’s opinion doesn’t matter to a family? There are many, many ways to parent. Different isn’t bad. Unless you ask CPS I suppose.

  3. Dee October 11, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    The thing I hate most about this is the way it practically criminalizes ADHD. Kids with ADHD struggle enough. They need MORE opportunities to be responsible not fewer.

  4. Diana Green October 11, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    All cases of “worst-first” thinking. Years ago a subject called LOGIC was widely taught. Now everyone’s seen too many horror flicks. It would be silly and unbelievable in fiction, but in the real world of what Eleanor Roosevelt–whose birthday is today–called our police state, child-hating has become big business. In some states like Texas, CPS is privately contracted like prisons. We the People have given away the over sight we once had. Are the victims minorities? Yes, mostly. But not all.

  5. Aimee October 11, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I used to live in Texas and worked for CPS 4 years ago. Let me tell you, that industry is corrupt, sick, and still scares the crap out of us. I worked there for about 3 years. The actual workers were taught how to get the kids yanked, I was a conservatorship worker that managed the kids that were already put in foster homes and “worked” with the parents to get their kids back. Out of the 120 cases I had, only 2 families I know of got their kids back. The more I dug the more I realized it was a money game. The foster parents made A LOT of money and lived in huge houses so they could have 10 foster kids. So many kids were hurt, raped, or murdered by foster parents. Caseworkers molested kids. These kids were destroyed, I was lied to and found out I never had a chance to help. When I raised my voice they tried to lie and get me fired. Needless to say I got out. It still bothers me today that caseworkers never get the money. We thought we were helping, only to find out it was never possible. The turnover rate is horrid because some humans cannot live in a web of lies and watch people get destroyed. I live in a new state and constantly worry some idiots will call CPS and that nightmare will happen to us. The minorities never have a chance and the system loves to yank the kids from parents with drug problems. They never really give parents a chance to get better or help. It is a sick and disgusting system run by money. If you are white and can hire an attorney, they have a chance at getting their kids back. Everyone else is screwed.

  6. Jana October 11, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    Aimee, so sad and disgusting. I bet that social services concerning children are similar in all developed countries. Look at Norway and its Barnevernet, for example. Yes, money certainly matters.

  7. Troutwaxer October 11, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Start with a white, Protestant, very frightened ideal of how to care for children, explicitly exclude dissenting voices, set up the system so it is run by college-educated psych majors and bureaucrats without cultural or practical knowledge, stew for twenty years and bam! Watch the structural racism happen.

    This defect is not a bug. It is a feature.

    Combine your newly minted bureaucracy with privatized childcare and the lobbying that goes with it… pretty soon you’ve got a police state.

    Also a feature, not a bug. “Come see the violence inherent in the system!”

  8. A Dad October 11, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    Always like a “Holy Grail” reference thrown into the mix.

  9. Anonymous October 11, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    Here’s our experience with CPS. Our baby son was injured at daycare, but daycare didn’t tell us and blamed his whimpering on teething. Since we were young inexperienced parents, we took him home and didn’t see a doctor till the next day when it was obvious it wasn’t just teething. The injury was serious enough to have CPS involved. Fortunately, we didn’t lose custody. But even though the police cleared us within a few days, CPS mandated that we never be alone with our children until months later. During the investigation we learned that the daycare had had they license suspended, but was allowed by CPS to operate without a license.

  10. WVPrGIQggEgfaJB October 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

    gludYKwdrdmYyCGPSa 2103

  11. MichaelF October 11, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    In my state there have been cases over the past year of kids dying while under CPS care, so how is this making them safer than their homes? Isn’t CPS now a victim of worst first? Though because the kids come from poor and disadvantaged homes there is little that changes for CPS whenever these incidents happen. Sure, some change at the top but its another bureaucrat who watches the system, no reform.

    As the saying goes, who watches the watchmen?

  12. Katie October 12, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    If helicopter practices are white Protestant values, then what does that make us white Protestants who are not helicopters?

  13. Jeff_Birt October 12, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    It really surprises me to see folks trying to lay the blame for this situation on racism and/or religion. Being of a certain religious persuasion or ethnic background does not make you a good or bad parent by default, or a good or bad person by default.

    You do have to consider that the breakdown of the family structure, fueled by the welfare state, has created the perfect opportunity for these ‘family services’ busybodies to wreak havoc. If you are a CPS agent then your job is to find problems, so you WILL find problems no matter what. (For example this past year the ‘safety inspector’ where I work had a fit over a 3D printer in my office. I had supposedly violated some rule (which did not exist), and he had no idea what the machine actually was or how it operated (but he knew if broke a non-existent rule). After I explained to him what it was, how it worked, the different types of 3D printers (which includes some that do need special venting), he dropped the issue. It was his job to ‘find’ a problem so he did, even if one did not really exist.

    The problem is the belief by many that the ‘state’ can do a better job at running our lives and raising our kids than we can. This is a very liberal/progressive viewpoint and tends to be in vogue with the educated elite who believe that they are soooo intelligent and omniscient that they should run your life for your own good. From this belief we get a myriad of rules and regulations and little common sense. The state regularly traumatizes kids for silly things like chewing pop tarts into the shape of a gun, defending a blind student who is being beat up, not letting a student in obvious medical distress to use their inhaler, etc, etc. CPS going overboard is just par for the course.

  14. Jim Collins October 12, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    One of the main problems with CPS is that there is no oversight or accountability. I’ve posted here before about the CPS worker who had a woman’s baby removed from her because of something that happened between them in high school. If she hadn’t been bragging about it and if a certain person hadn’t heard her do it, the baby might have never been returned to it’s Mother.

    In our area the Family Court Judge is supposed to oversee CPS. The problem is that it is an elected position. If the Judge doesn’t go along with CPS the local newspaper starts running stories about how the Judge doesn’t care about children and how he is jeopardizing their lives by not heeding the recommendations of CPS.

  15. Andrea October 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    “If helicopter practices are white Protestant values, then what does that make us white Protestants who are not helicopters?”

    @Katie — Answer: White protestants who subscribe to different values.

    (But if you want explanation as to why helicopter practices are considered white Protestant values–even though not all white Protestants aren’t helicopters and some non-white Protestants are–I think in some ways helicoptering came to be, in part, as a counter to the “Where are the parents?” refrain you here when kids are doing things that kids do, and usually in reference to non-white Protestant families. In an effort to distance themselves from “those people,” you find white Protestant parents are mostly likely — but, again, not always – the ones doing everything in their power to avoid anyone ever asking the question of them.)

  16. Andrea October 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    “You do have to consider that the breakdown of the family structure, fueled by the welfare state, has created the perfect opportunity for these ‘family services’ busybodies to wreak havoc”

    This is got to be one of the most clueless things I’ve seen written on this topic and it wholly underestimates the power of the state. Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it’s because of your strong family structure and the fact you’re not on welfare. “If only you had strong family ties this wouldn’t happen to you” — really? The Meitivs seemed to have a strong family structure and it didn’t do squat for them.

    What has created the perfect opportunity here for CPS to wreak havoc is the fact that the people who have the power to stop this haven’t known or cared that this is a problem, allowing the monster to get bigger and more powerful and grow into what we are seeing today, where it’s beginning to go after the type of people it used to leave alone. So really, it’s your fault. And mine. So really the question is what, if anything, do we do about it. And, no, the answer isn’t “lament broken families and welfare” because THAT’S NOT WHAT CAUSES THIS and, more importantly, it doesn’t fix it.

  17. Andrea October 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    “The problem is the belief by many that the ‘state’ can do a better job at running our lives and raising our kids than we can. This is a very liberal/progressive viewpoint …”

    Actually, this is more a viewpoint you find at both ends of the spectrum — the other end being the side that supports the state in the role heavily enforcing law and order to keep the people in line, with threats to take their children, suspend them from school, harass them, etc. — generally targeted toward people of color.

    Unfortunately I think things are going to get worse before they get better. Anyone who is familiar with our laws (and mean anyone who understands that the “statute” is only a small part of the law and the rest is hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations and guidelines) probably sees the writing on the wall — our current system is unsustainable, and will end either in anarchy or a 1984-esque existence. I’m not trying to be dramatic or hyperbolic, but we’re headed toward a big mess.

  18. lollipoplover October 12, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    When we investigate and spend Child and Family resources on non-crimes, we’re taking precious time and attention away from REAL abuse and neglect. That is the biggest problem with all of these cases.

    I only know of one family that asked for help from CPS and didn’t get it. The child abuse was reported by multiple parties( (the school, family members, babysitters, etc.) on different occasions. It was persistent and bad and the father was investigated repeatedly and never charged. He received 50/50 custody in the divorce and used the children against their mom and continued to abuse them. Subsequent murder suicide left these kids orphaned. Thanks CPS for totally ignoring glaring red flags and placing children in imminent danger.

    When I read the stories of parents charged with “Inadequate Supervision” and put on child abuse registries I want to throw rotten tomatoes at my computer screen. Abuse and neglect are NOT letting your kids play in parks! Start domestic violence registries with red dots of these crimes which usually occur with child abuse. Help those families, not the ones letting their kids play outside as part of a normal, healthy childhood.

  19. Dot October 12, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Having worked in the system, the frustrating thing is that not everyone is like this! I worked as a public health nurse for a county in Minnesota, doing mom/baby home visits. Our program was a family partnership model – we could stay with a family from pregnancy through the 3rd birthday. Having worked with many at-risk families, my criticism would be that often it to TOO much to get CPS involved. Our CPS workers were realistic and generally implemented every possible option before taking the kids (including referral to our program).

    On the department website, they actually have listed the bare minimum for having CPS investigate a child left alone. For example, a 7 year old left alone for less than 2 hours in a normal situation will illicit NO investigation, a 10 year old left for 12 hours, etc. This department has won awards for its work and the community is safe and the kids are healthy. The money and resources are put where they are needed. If this exists there, why does it have to be so terrible in other places?

    (Incidentally, Minnesota health/social service agencies generally have to be government run or non-profit, the state budget is pretty stable, and the government is mostly devoid of ideological nutjobs. I suppose that helps.)

  20. hineata October 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    @Jeff – your statements are hilarious. I’m just trying to envision those good ‘ol down home conservative types standing up for poor Latinos and Blacks….oh, that’s right. They don’t ! But now upperclass whites are being targeted, suddenly it’s the fault of liberals?

    Anyway am pleased for poorer communities that this issue is reaching the general public. What we call ‘deficit thinking’ (the propensity to assume that the poor, and minorities, just can’t quite cut life) has got to stop.

  21. Jeff_Birt October 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    “@Jeff – your statements are hilarious.”

    What exactly did I say that you find so funny?

    What Jeff said -> ‘It really surprises me to see folks trying to lay the blame for this situation on racism and/or religion. Being of a certain religious persuasion or ethnic background does not make you a good or bad parent by default, or a good or bad person by default.’

    So the fact that I think a persons religion or ethnicity should not immediacy brand them as good or bad?

    Jeff also said -> ‘You do have to consider that the breakdown of the family structure, fueled by the welfare state, has created the perfect opportunity for these ‘family services’ busybodies to wreak havoc. If you are a CPS agent then your job is to find problems, so you WILL find problems no matter what’

    There is also nothing in this statement that is unique to folks of a certain religion or ethnic background or income level. The ‘family structure’ is not a religious construct or at least not a construct of a singular religion, it has evolved over thousands of years of human experience. I work with folks from all over the world, of many religions and ethnicities and one thing we all have in common is the fundamental/basic idea of family structure.

  22. James Pollock October 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    “I’m just trying to envision those good ‘ol down home conservative types standing up for poor Latinos and Blacks”

    Try harder.
    While there are absolutely some racists amongst the ranks, there are also plenty of non-racists, with whom the “the government isn’t solving the problem, the government IS the problem” message resonates. Plus, of course, some of those good ol’ down home conservative types ARE poor Latinos and Blacks.

  23. theresa hall October 12, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    those who poor or different watch out cps has it eye on you. homeschoolers and free rangers even off the grid folks are great targets for cps. hardly any issues perfect for adoption. check out medical kidnapping to see horror.

  24. andy October 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    @Jeff_Birt Divorce rates in USA were going down for like 20 years. The marriages are getting more stable then they were generation ago. The “family breakdown” crisis may be just another pointless moral crises people like to throw around to cause fear and push their agendas.

  25. James Pollock October 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    The challenge of society is that the decision of whether or not to remove children (or vulnerable adults) from a family is a major one, but it’s hard to determine what the right answer is. If there was some kind of magic database that you could just look up a family and it would tell you “yes, take those kids!” or “no, leave them alone!” definitively, then that would be one thing. But people who are facing investigations have substantial incentive to lie, conceal evidence, evade, etc… even if the answer would have been “no, leave them alone”.

    We’re back to that point that bad information tends to lead to bad decision-making. It takes considerable time and effort to obtain reliable information about what happens inside a family home. We, the public at large, don’t want to pay for it. We don’t have the patience. We just want them act on those cases that require action (how we’ll rip into them if they miss a case where the child(ren) should have been removed but they were left in the home and suffered harm as a result), and leave the rest of us alone (how we’ll rip into them when they decide to remove the child(ren) and it turns out there was no need to do so.)

    Sometimes abuse doesn’t look like abuse, or is successfully covered up. Sometimes stuff that isn’t abuse can look like abuse, and needs a closer look to tell the difference. I don’t think anyone thinks they’re perfect, or going to be perfect, at sorting out the abuse cases from the not-abuse cases. So, rather than wailing about how they’re not perfect, what suggestions are there for actually making them any better?

  26. James Pollock October 12, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    “Divorce rates in USA were going down for like 20 years.”
    Because fewer people were getting married in the first place.

    With fewer people seeing the point of getting married, you have fewer of them growing disenchanted with it later on.

  27. hineata October 12, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

    @Jeff – what I found hilarious was the idea that it is, once again the liberals causing the problems. And liberal as a label seems to apply to anybody who thinks the government should have any say in anything at all.

    The Minnesota set-up sounds fantastic. Model agencies on that and you might get somewhere.

  28. James Pollock October 12, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    “The problem is the belief by many that the ‘state’ can do a better job at running our lives and raising our kids than we can. This is a very liberal/progressive viewpoint”

    Unless the topic is reproductive health, in which case the positions flip. Conservatives want the state to teach that abstinence, and only abstinence, provides proper contraception, and believe that the state knows better than the individual whether or not they want to terminate a pregnancy.

  29. Puzzled October 12, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    If only there were ideologies in existence other than conservatism and liberalism. Who knows what could happen? There could be no end to the collapsing of false dichotomies.

  30. Donna October 12, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    “And liberal as a label seems to apply to anybody who thinks the government should have any say in anything at all.”

    Which is funny since it is the conservatives welcome plenty of government control over things that they are opposed to.

    I handle CPS cases in two different counties – one highly conservative and one as liberal as they come. The liberal judge is far more supportive of free range children – has even referred to herself as a free range parent (her kids are grown and she has grandkids now) – than the conservative judge. The liberal judge goes against what CPS wants regularly. The conservative judge wastes hours arguing the law and regulations with CPS, but then ultimately just rubber stamps everything it wants to do 99.9% of the time.

  31. Donna October 12, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    Articles like this fail to consider the ways that poor lives are actually different and the impact that that has on the safety of children. Life isn’t just as black and white and simplistic as some want to make it.

    Poor people, especially those who live in the city, tend to live in high crime areas. There may not be a threat of child abduction, but there are definitely threats that don’t exist in middle and upper class neighborhoods. Their neighborhoods are full of drug addicts, active criminals, and violence, not quaint grandmas who will bandage their knees and give them cookies when they fall off their bike. Gangs who want to lure kids in. Peers who want to form gangs. We have 11 year olds who have been repeatedly molested while free ranging in the ‘hood. Tweens who are selling drugs and burglarizing houses while mom is at work. Elementary school age children smoking weed at crack houses. Hundreds of kids who are engaging in behavior beyond their maturity level because they are running with way older kids who are encouraging them to join in the “fun.” To what extent does the character of neighborhood around them determine their need for supervision? To what extent are parents responsible for protecting their children from the negative influences of the environment around them?

    Further, at the heart of the free range movement is the belief that parents have made a conscious decision that their children are able to handle the responsibility of free ranging and let them go to develop independence and skills. That couldn’t be further from the truth for any of my clients. They aren’t free ranging as a parenting philosophy. They are most often free ranging, despite knowing and acknowledging the negative impact on their children, because they have no other options. They can’t afford babysitters. The local middle schools don’t have after school programs and even at the elementary school level, busing is not provided after those programs, a huge problem for parents without cars in a town with a poor public transportation system. A parent who gets off work at 5 may not be able to the make the 6pm pick up time if reliant on the city bus. The Boys and Girls Club after school program will provide transportation home, but that has limited availability. So we have a situation where everyone – CPS and the parent – would like things to be different, but what is the answer? Do we continue to allow children to be in actually dangerous situations because the parents are not acting maliciously and are doing the best that they can?

    These are the questions that juvenile courts have to answer on a daily basis, not whether middle class kids can play at the park. My local juvenile judge is well aware that my not quite 10 year old is a latchkey kid and is fully supportive. She knows where we live and has now even met my child. Last week she found inadequate supervision in a mother allowing a 12 year old who has already been molested twice to be a latchkey kid in an extremely high crime area (a large number of my clients live in this trailer park and shootings, armed robberies and other violent crimes are regular occurrences there). Facts matter and spouting off that ALL 10 year olds can stay home alone after school just shows a complete ignorance of the actual issues surrounding poverty that do come into play in these decisions. I don’t know the answers – most of them are beyond what a juvenile court has the resources to handle – but I do understand that there are questions and these decisions are not simple.

  32. Andy October 13, 2015 at 4:56 am #

    @James Pollock It is not only that. It is also that people marry later: The median age for marriage in 1890 was 26 for men and 22 for women. By the 1950s, it had dropped to 23 for men and 20 for women – this group divorced a lot. In 2004, it climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.

    It is also that shotgun marriages do not happen all that often and those tended to be unstable a lot. It is also that people live together or at least date longer before making commitment, so they know better what they are going into before marrying.

    Divorces peak had also to do with women suddenly having access to work. A couple that work perfectly under societal assumption that she is homemaker, he earns and they both have basically different lives with no much common interests may break when marriage expectation (of society and their own) change.

  33. Just a Mom October 13, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    CPS do destroy families and no one is stopping them. When are we as parents going to stand up and say stop. Or are we going to hide in our houses. Afraid to let our kids play outside or to get our trash and mail without taking all the kids out of the house. Afraid to get reported while dropping books at a library bin or dropping kids at a sports fields leaving a kid in the car for a minute.
    CPS needs to be stopped. They override all the laws of the country. The constitution means nothing to them. They barge into your house. Talk to your kids without any other adult present to protect your kids.
    You as a parent have no rights or protection in the USA. When are parents going to wake up and say STOP. You might think it is never going to happen to me. On average everyone knows at least 2 families this has happened too. So how long can you hide and think CPS will never investigate me? Parents make mistakes like any human being but we get no protection and definitely not from your community that will snitch on you in a heart beat. You are guilty until proven innocent and a CPS investigation will destroy your family.

  34. James Pollock October 13, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    “CPS needs to be stopped. […] a CPS investigation will destroy your family.”

    Your claims do not match my experience.

  35. FreedomForKids October 13, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    Yes, I agree that CPS/DCF is a very dangerous institution. It sends shivers down my spine every time I think about how easy it is to call and report somebody for neglect. I find it nerve wracking even to take my daughters to the doctor for their checkups, knowing what I now understand about mandated reporters and what can happen if they disagree with your parenting choices or if they misunderstand what they see and hear. My pediatrician had a royal fit when she learned about my “unschooling” my children.

    I have often thought how incredibly fortunate Lenore was not to have had a CPS investigation for allowing her nine year old ride the subway alone and navigate his own way home, particularly when it seems the whole country was outraged.

    Thank G-d she was able to carry on and bring so many people to their senses.

  36. hineata October 13, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    @James – have you had a CPS investigation of your family? Would be interested to hear of your ‘experience’.

    @Donna – crap. Sounds like a very difficult neighbourhood. I would imagine it would be better, though, to pour some of the money currently funding CPS in such neighborhoods into after school programmes, subsidized transportation and the like. In other words, support systems for hard up parents.

  37. James Pollock October 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    “have you had a CPS investigation of your family? Would be interested to hear of your ‘experience’.”

    Yep. I had a bitter, protracted, custody fight as part of my divorce.

    Here’s the short version: I had an interview, and a home visit, and an observation. (Total, just less than 2 hours) After which, the report went to the judge, and the custody fight was essentially over (although my ex-wife tried again and again after that for another 4 or 5 years, she never had any kind of realistic chance to overturn the custody award.)

    The only other interaction I’ve had with CPS involved a family that lived down the street. The mother was working a job that required 10 or 12-hour shifts, and leaving her 4-year-old home alone because she couldn’t afford daycare. I didn’t have much interaction with them, because my daughter was an infant and thus not yet playing with other neighborhood children, but there was another family next door that did have a child of similar age, and that’s how I know what happened. They hooked her up with a subsidized daycare program and made her move in with a relative.

    So, my (extremely limited) experiences are 2 investigations, 0 children removed from their parents, 0 lives ruined. YMMV. Neither of the cases I had any involvement in involved substance abuse or domestic violence, either of which changes just about everything.

  38. hineata October 13, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    @James – I’m quite impressed with the CPS caseworker in your divorce case. Over here, only anecdotally, it seems fathers particularly face protracted investigations. Though as I say, luckily I’ve not been personally involved . Thank goodness for your children’s sake that that was not your experience though the protracted dispute sounds like a royal PITA.

    As to the mother, wow, that sounds like an extremely civilised solution. Possibly your area office should serve as a model too….

  39. Warren October 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    Unfortunately you have a powerful state agency that believes the collateral damage to innocent families is acceptable. The minority of cases that end with families torn apart, that should not be, or should not have had CPS involvement in the first place, are considered acceptable losses as long as it is better safe than sorry.

    Then when these families are under investigation, it is by that same agency, that is now solely concerned with getting a win and or covering their ass. When a CPS agent gets police, or hospitals or schools involved in helping with the forced removal of a child, you can damn well bet the farm, that they would rather fight for the win rather than admit their mistake.

  40. James Pollock October 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    “As to the mother, wow, that sounds like an extremely civilised solution. Possibly your area office should serve as a model”

    I rather strongly suspect that, for people who care about what is, rather than what makes a good sensational story, there’s plenty of “social worker shows up, connects family to resources, case closed” non-stories. And also plenty of “family has issues with substance abuse, domestic violence, or both, and therefore doesn’t have relatively easily-solved problems… problems are (amazingly) not easily solved as a result” stories.

  41. Joel Arbic October 15, 2015 at 5:05 am #

    Government over-reach at its highest. We had a horrible and completely unnecessary experience with CPS on the 2nd day of our child’s life. Long story short…a wacky pediatrician thought we were endangering our baby’s life and we left her office telling her we wanted a second opinion. She reported us to CPS, who threatened us with removing our baby unless we admit him to the hospital. We had no choice and our baby was fine, which is exactly what we felt.

  42. Jen Pierce October 15, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    Dot, I also work in a birth-3 program in Minnesota. Glad to hear you’ve had positive experiences with CPS in your county. My coworkers and I have experienced quite the opposite in ours. Most reports get screened out and it is nearly unheard of for a child to be removed from the parents. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened in my county:

  43. SLG October 16, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    I was taken from my family by CAS and spent years of hell being tortured until I aged out aka was dumped on the streets. 15 years later I find out that they can and will use the abuse they inflicted on you as a kid to legally kidnap and sell your children. It is disgusting and it needs to stop.