Thursday, September 29, 2011

Texas Child Wins Protection From State Child Welfare Agency

Texas court is sending an urgent message to child protective services agencies across the country: Stop harming children in the name of "protecting" them, according to a national child advocacy organization.

The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform responded Thursday to a decision by a court in Texas ordering the Texas Child Protective Services agency to stay away from a 14-year-old girl.

Such "orders of protection" are common in domestic violence cases. "But we've never heard of such an order protecting a child from a child welfare agency – until now," said NCCPR Executive Director Richard Wexler.

In the Texas case, according to KHOU-TV, a 14-year-old was taken after allegations of neglect, apparently as a result of a misunderstanding. After 18 months during which she was repeatedly abused in a group home, she couldn't take it anymore and ran away. According to the family's lawyer, the caseworker then said something that speaks volumes about whether the child ever needed to be taken:

"The case worker called [her] mom and said she ran away, but you find her, you can keep her," attorney Julie Ketterman told KHOU.

The mother did find her daughter. Then Ketterman went to court and won the family that order of protection. The court ruled that "[CPS] engaged in conduct constituting family violence and good cause exists for issuance of a protective the best interest of the child."

"Sadly the only thing unusual about this case is the outcome," said Wexler. "Tens of thousands of times every year, all across America, children are needlessly taken from everyone they know and love. The emotional trauma is, in itself, devastating. But several studies have found abuse in one-quarter to one-third of foster homes and the record of group homes and institutions is even worse.

"All those cases of children wrongfully removed overload CPS agencies, so workers have less time to find children in real danger who really do need to be taken from their parents.

"We congratulate this family for its courage and we congratulate their lawyer, Ms. Ketterman, for finding an innovative way to protect her client – and send a message across the country," Wexler said.

SOURCE National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

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