Friday, September 30, 2011

More CPS Incompetence: Lakeland mom charged with negligence, manslaughter in 3-month-old daughter’s death

Blog authors note:
The gross negligence and incompetence by CPS is so horrible - children are injurred and killed daily - while under the watch of CPS. Why? If CPS is truly doing the job that they are trained to do, how does this happen so frequently? They are trained professionals in the field of child abuse, right?
By: Jeff Butera

LAKELAND, Fla. - A Lakeland mother is charged with negligent manslaughter in the death of her 3-month-old daughter, and is also accused of lying to police about what happened.

Kylee Copeland, 21, was arrested earlier this week after her daughter, Nataley Agee, was found dead at their house in Briarwood Estates near the county line.

Copeland claimed she had found Nataley dead at 9 a.m. on Monday. Investigators said that was a lie. They said evidence on Nataley’s body indicated she had been dead for at least eight hours before Copeland called 911.

They also said roaches, which “infested the residence,” had bitten Nataley after she died but well before Copeland called for help.

Multiple neighbors at Briarwood Estates confirmed that the house was infested with roaches, including in Nataley's crib.

The medical examiner also determined Nataley's cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head, consistent with child abuse.

Copeland told detectives in a subsequent story that the child had fallen on the couch cushion and bounced to the floor, but investigators determined that to be false based on the trauma Nataley received to her brain.

Copeland faces a first-degree felony charge of negligent manslaughter.

“I don’t know how a mother could do that,” said Samantha O’Neill, a neighbor.

“I didn’t know that Kylee. I don’t want to know that Kylee. I just want justice for Nataley,” said Ashley Leath, Nataley’s godmother and neighbor.

According to law enforcement, Copeland disappeared for a few days in 2009 while raising her then 6-month old son. She did not come home from her job as a nightclub dancer, but turned up a few days later.

Copeland has two sons in addition to Nataley. They are now in foster care, according to Carrie Hoeppner, director of communications with the Department of Children and Families.

Hoeppner said DCF was currently investigating the family after an incident in August involving the childrens’ father. That investigation remains open. DCF also has four other reports about the family on file.

A social worker visited the family as recently as last week, Hoeppner said, but the social worker had not found any evidence of abuse and did not believe there was reason to suspect future violence.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grandma: CPS removed grandbaby from home because I smoke

Looks like the executioners aren't the only busy state employees in Texas!

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

"Off-label" Use of Antipsychotic Drugs for Some Conditions Not Supported by Evidence

Blog Authors Note:
When children in foster care are put on psychotropics for various "mental health" and/or "behavioral disorders," most of the time, that use is "off label." These are horribly powerful drugs that basically create a chemical lobotmy. We feel that you should protect your children from these drugs at all costs, even if it means that you have to get an injunction against the state to do so. That is why the following article struck us as important to post.

"Off-label" Use of Antipsychotic Drugs for Some Conditions Not Supported by Evidence
Press Release Date: September 27, 2011

There is little evidence to support the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs for some treatments other than their officially approved purposes, even though many clinicians continue to commonly prescribe these drugs for so-called "off label" uses, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). An article based on information in the report will be published in the September 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The report finds that atypical antipsychotic medications—approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and, in some cases, depression—are commonly prescribed to treat other behavioral conditions.

The report, which is an update of a 2007 report, found some evidence to support the off-label use of atypical antipsychotic medications. Evidence was strongest, for example, for the off-label use of risperidone, olanzapine and aripiprazole to treat symptoms of dementia; quetiapine to treat generalized anxiety disorder; and risperidone to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

However, evidence was lacking to justify the use of these and other atypical antipsychotic drugs to treat substance abuse problems, eating disorders or insomnia, the report noted. Atypical antipsychotic medications have been linked to some harms, including a small increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia, according to the report.

The report, a comparative effectiveness review prepared for AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program by the Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center, based at the RAND Corporation, is available at

"While atypical antipsychotic medications are not for everyone, many patients who suffer from psychiatric conditions have found these drugs to be very helpful," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "However, their off-label use, while in some cases beneficial, is of concern because we just don't know enough about their effectiveness and safety for multiple behavioral conditions. This report will give clinicians and patients additional information they can use to make the best possible decisions."

Antipsychotic drugs are commonly divided into two classes, reflecting two waves of development: conventional (or "first generation") and atypical (or "second generation"). Currently, nine atypical antipsychotic drugs have been approved by the FDA: aripiprazole, asenapine, clozapine, iloperidone, olanzapine, paliperidone, quetiapine, risperidone and ziprasidone.

The report's authors also cautioned against assuming that all atypical antipsychotic drugs are similar, because they vary in effectiveness and side effects.

The report, Off-Label Use of Atypical Antipsychotics: An Update, is the latest comparative effectiveness review from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program. The Effective Health Care Program helps patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others choose the most effective treatments by sponsoring the development of evidence reports and technology assessments to assist public- and private-sector organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of health care in the United States. More information about the program can be found at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1892 or (301) 427-1998.


Internet Citation:

"Off-label" Use of Antipsychotic Drugs for Some Conditions Not Supported by Evidence. Press Release, September 27, 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Abducted children found, claim city abuse


The search for eight children taken from a foster care facility in Forest Hills on September 19 ended at around 10:30 p.m. Monday evening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Police officials say that Shanel Nadal, 28, of Manhattan, and her husband Nephra Payne are awaiting extradition back to New York City after being found with their eight children – seven boys named Nephra and one 11-month-old girl – preparing to spend the night in a van with no license plates. The Daily News has reported that a joint police effort between NYPD, South Carolina State Police and the FBI were able to track the family through their cell phone and swipes on their welfare benefits card.

While the eight-child escape from a supervised visit with foster parents and Forestdale officials was dramatic enough, Norman Steiner – the parent’s attorney – claims that while in the city’s custody the children were abused. He states that the planned abduction was in the best interest of the children.

“The children were sexually molested while in the care of the city,” said Steiner to The Daily News. “You can’t blame the parents for acting in the children’s best interest. It’s a shame the city failed them.”

Steiner did not release any details regarding the alleged abuse but says he fully expects his clients to be exonerated from any crime.

An attempt to visit and interview Riverdale officials was refuted by workers at the agency who said the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) would speak on their behalf. They issued two statements regarding the apprehension of the family and the allegation of abuse on the city’s behalf:

“It is wonderful that the Payne children have been located and are now safe. Specially-trained staff from ACS will bring the children home to New York City. . . An investigation by ACS is already underway into how the children could have been abducted from the foster care agency during a supervised visit. ACS is reviewing with the foster care agency the protocols it has in place for supervised visits and its campus security system. We will share the results of that investigation once it is completed . . . We are aware of the allegations currently being made by the parents and we take all allegations of abuse seriously. Our immediate concerns are for the well being of the children. We have appropriate mental health professionals working with the children, including experts in trauma and a range of other disciplines.”

The parents will be charged with kidnapping, custodial interference and child endangerment, according to Associated Press reports. Nadal was arraigned and bail was set at $200,000.


Chicago psychiatric hospital cited for chaotic conditions in report

By DEBORAH L. SHELTON - Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO - In a damning new report, experts from University of Illinois, Chicago paint a grim portrait of conditions at a Chicago psychiatric hospital, describing an environment of chaos, physical attacks and sexual assaults that regularly puts its young patients in harm's way.

The report, released Tuesday by the state Department of Children and Family Services, found that Hartgrove Hospital, on Chicago's West Side, often was understaffed and overcapacity - a dangerous combination that created opportunities for frequent attacks by patients on other patients and hospital staff.

In some cases, hospital employees physically harmed patients.

Reviewers from UIC interviewed children and teens who expressed fear for their safety or that of more vulnerable peers.

After reviewing findings of a preliminary report, DCFS officials in June put an "intake hold" on the facility, meaning they will not authorize the placement of state wards at Hartgrove.

"It's our duty to ensure the safety of children in state care, and we will take whatever action is necessary to keep our kids safe," said Kendall Marlowe, DCFS spokesman.

Experts from UIC's department of psychiatry spent about six months investigating conditions at Hartgrove, a 150-bed private psychiatric hospital that treats adults, children and teens.

The psychiatry department's mental health policy program has been conducting reviews of psychiatric hospitals on behalf of DCFS since 1995 pursuant to a federal court consent decree involving DCFS and the ACLU. The reviewers serve as independent experts.

About 100 violent incidents were documented between December 2010 and mid-June 2011, which included physical attacks, uncontrolled threatening behavior and sexual assaults.

In one case, an "aggressive" male patient, a DCFS ward, who had been discovered receiving oral sex from a female patient a day earlier, was observed "stalking females" on one of the units, according to records.

In another incident, one girl assaulted another, "tearing out her hair and punching her in the face," according to the report. The victim sustained a swollen eye.

The Chicago Tribune previously has reported on violence and sexual assaults at psychiatric facilities for youth, including Hartgrove.

In a statement, officials from Universal Health Services Inc., the Pennsylvania-based parent company of Hartgrove, said: "Despite the findings in the UIC report, Hartgrove is proud of its track record and has many more success stories to its credit than the negative ones highlighted in the report."

The statement said hospital officials are working with the appropriate agencies "towards a resolution which will allow Hartgrove to serve DCFS wards again."

Other hospitals owned by UHS have come under scrutiny in recent years, including facilities in at least eight states.

Among the chilling details in the UIC report on Hartgrove were descriptions of some hospital employees who appeared to be indifferent or too poorly trained to treat seriously mentally ill youth.

One case involved a 16-year-old girl with severe sickle cell anemia who was forced to cope with intense pain for long periods of time. When she became overwhelmed and had emotional outbursts as a result, staff blamed her for not being able to control herself.

A psychiatrist at the facility labeled her behavior as "med-seeking," according to records.

In another case, employees in May reportedly fractured the arm of a 16-year-old boy, who was not a state ward, apparently because they were not properly trained in restraint techniques.

The UIC experts said hospital staff and company officials at times tried to mislead them by attempting to cover up problems or keep reviewers from finding out about them.

"Perhaps most disturbing," the report said, "Hartgrove staff were reportedly told by UHS (parent company) officials that anyone suspected of providing information to the UIC reviewers would be fired."

However the reviewers said they were heartened that a number of employees stepped forward and provided them with much of the data in the report. A section of the report is devoted to comments from employees.

Among the litany of problems detailed were: inadequate training sessions and falsified certification records, psychiatrists spending too little time with patients, extended medication delays and inadequate treatment and discharge plans that frequently were boiler-plate and not individualized to patients' needs.

The report cited "a consistent pattern of unacceptable risks of harm" and "questionable clinical management practices by hospital and corporate officials at all levels of the organization."

The UIC experts found that overcrowding was commonplace, with many young patients regularly forced to sleep on cots in hallways or day rooms.

In many cases, patients were worse off at Hartgrove than they were in the facilities from which they were transferred, which typically had higher staff to patient ratios, the experts said.

"Their opportunity to receive needed mental health treatment in a safe environment suffered as a result of hospital-induced trauma," the report said.

In a letter to DCFS, Steven Airhart, CEO and managing director at Hargrove, denied sleeping kids in hallways, routinely understaffing the hospital and threatening to fire employees who talked to reviewers.

He said the "overwhelming majority" of those involved in training "met the time requirements and competency assessment procedures for the facility."

In its statement to the Tribune, the company said: "While we may not agree with the findings or conclusions of this report, we welcome the input and feedback from the UIC team and will embrace the appropriate recommendations to enhance our services and improve the quality of care we provide."

Virtually all of the UIC findings on Hartgrove were confirmed by surveyors from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A CMS spokesman said that the federal agency had threatened to pull funding from the hospital but has accepted the hospital's plan of corrections to fix the problems.

The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization, that accredits and certifies health care facilities and programs, said it found significant violations when it conducted an unannounced survey for cause earlier this month.

A spokeswoman said the group is working with the company to bring the hospital up to standards in two areas: its processes for assessing patients and its processes for providing care and services. "Our goal is to make sure the organization fixes what they need to do," she said.

No one at the Illinois Department of Public Health, which licenses Hartgrove Hospital, was available to comment on the report.

Ben Wolf, an ACLU attorney, said he was deeply troubled by the situation. The ACLU oversees the services provided to the state's estimated 15,000 foster children as part of the consent decree.

"The scope of the problem and some of the issues of violence and inadequate training were even more troubling than expected," Wolf said. "These are kids who come to a psychiatric hospital in a very vulnerable situation. We need to make sure, either that Hartgrove improves or we stop using it for our clients."


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Children's Right: Texas' Rick Perry defends dismal treatment of foster care kids

AUSTIN, September 27, 2011—Last March, a child advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, claiming serious problems in that state’s foster care system.

The 89-page lawsuit was filed by the New York-based child advocacy group Children’s Rights on behalf of nine Texas children between the ages of nine and 16.

Among the most common abuses in the Texas system under Governor Perry’s stewardship, is the uprooting of foster care children. Statistics show that, as of 2009, children who had been in the state's custody more than three years had been in an average of 11 different homes or shelters.

The lawsuit alleges that under the leadership of Governor Rick Perry, the state of Texas has allowed these children, and, reportedly 12,000 others, to be bounced from home to home under the foster care system, systematically denying them a right to a permanent family.

The suit also claims that children in the state’s foster care suffer both physical and mental abuse, are denied mental health services, and are routinely separated from siblings.

The suit cites specific examples of the detriment caused by Perry’s administration to foster kids, like one child who wound up in a hospital in Belton, Texas so severely medicated that he was brought in on a stretcher unable to stand or communicate. Another incident is detailed involving a child who was consistently sexually abused by his foster care family chosen by the state.

While the suit seeks no damages, it asks that the state reform and improve its foster care system, which during Perry’s tenure has been seriously compromised due to negligent supervision and outsourced contracts to third parties without accountability.

Governor Rick Perry, who is officially one of the defendants in the suit, had his office issue this innocuous statement in response:

Child protective services has continued to be a priority for the governor, including declaring CPS reform an emergency item in the 2005 legislative session, and taking other steps to further improve the system since then.

The governor believes the elected members of the Texas Legislature, rather than a New York interest group or a federal judge, are better suited to determine how the State of Texas should care for some of our most vulnerable Texans – our children.

The governor expects the agency to continue ensuring Texas children are safe, and receive the proper care and services they need.


New law to benefit state’s foster care program

Federal rules will let funds be used to keep kids in homes

By Paris Achen

As of Monday, September 26, 2011

A bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature would give new federal support to state programs like Washington’s that help keep children out of foster care, according to the bill’s sponsors.

Senate Bill 1542 would reform rules that now prohibit states from using federal foster care funding on programs that help keep children at home with their families. States that reduce the number of case- loads now lose federal dollars for foster care, called Title 4-E funds. Under the bill, those states could tap that stream of money for programs that help keep children at home or reduce the duration of their stay in foster care.

The changes could significantly benefit Washington, which wasn’t able to claim about $2.7 million in federal appropriations between 2008 and 2010 because it reduced its caseload by 13.8 percent.

“We have been implementing innovative programs to improve (the) foster care system for years,” said bill co-sponsor Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., during a speech on the Senate floor Friday. “Unfortunately, instead of being rewarded for these actions, we were penalized, and that is what this legislation has helped to correct.”

The existing federal funding system reimburses states for the number of children placed in foster care. When a state decreases its caseload, it loses money from the federal government. The bill’s supporters said the system offers no incentive for reducing caseloads and penalizes states that have developed innovative programs to keep children out of foster care.

“We do a good job of preventing kids from being taken out of their home in the first place or unifying children with their families,” said Rich Pannkuk, finance director for the state Children’s Administration. “What happens is we lost those Title 4-E funds. This bill gives us the ability to focus on the front end by preventing out-of-home placements while using (federal) Title dollars.”

Sharon Osborne, chief executive officer for the Children’s Home Society of Washington, said keeping children with their permanent family is crucial to emotional and mental development.

“Giving the child the ability to bond is extremely crucial,” Osborne said. “To the extent at which that is interrupted it can cause problems with the child throughout their lives.”

Children’s Home Society, which has offices in Vancouver and Washougal, offers parenting skill development programs to families referred by Child Protective Services. The bill could benefit those programs.

States that want to use the new option for spending the federal dollars have to apply for a “flexible funding waiver” from the federal government and may do so beginning in 2012. The application includes a plan and goals for reducing caseloads. Between 2012 and 2014, 30 states will be awarded the waiver, said Dan Ashby, chief of federal funding at the Children’s Administration. The waivers last for five years, he said.

One of the state services that could receive federal funding under the bill is the Intensive Family Preservation Services Program. That state-backed program provides in-home crisis intervention, education, assistance and skill development to families whose children are at imminent risk of being removed from their home. The skills and resources given to families through the program often can make it safe for the children to remain with their family instead of being placed in a foster home, said Cindy Hardcastle, an area administrator for Child and Family Services in Clark and Skamania counties.

Clark County now has money to serve about 100 families in the program, Hardcastle said.

“We have just so many families we can serve, and that’s it,” Hardcastle said. “We have many, many more who could benefit from the in-home services. If we don’t have capacity to provide intensive at-home services to keep children safe, then we really have to weigh if the child should remain in the home.”

The state has been a national leader in innovative child welfare reform. Cantwell wanted the state to be able to keep federal dollars to support its proactive approach, said Janeen Heath, Cantwell’s deputy press secretary.

The bill was passed in the Senate and House Thursday and Friday and is now in queue for the president’s signature. Obama could sign it by the end of the week, Heath said.

About 600 children are in the foster care system in Clark County, and another 200 families are in the Child Protective Services program, Hardcastle said.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Termination of Parental Rights

The Disability and Parental Rights Legislative Change Project was initiated at the University of Minnesota as a collaborative project in the College of Education and Human Development between the School of Social Work and the Institute on Community Integration. The collaboration developed following the identification of discriminatory legislation within child custody and terminaton of parental rights statutes. The goal of the project is to assist interested groups in removing disability from these statutes to eliminate discrimination, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of children. This guide provides an overview of the problem; key principles for protecting parents with disabilities; model statutory language and accompanying definitions; a legislative change strategy; practice suggestions for modifying services and providing parental accommodations; frequently asked questions and answers; and resources.

Read more by clicking this link

Dr. Lorandos explains how to protect yourself by gathering data

CPS Quotas How Child Protective Services is Incentivized To steal Children

Oklahoma Department of Human Services worker testifies in trial concerning foster child's death

Edmond foster parent has been charged in the death of a child she was caring for in 2009.

Published: September 23, 2011

GUTHRIE — Attorneys cross-examined a state child welfare worker Thursday in the child abuse trial of Amy Holder. Holder is accused of abusing Naomi Whitecrow, 2, who died after four months in foster care with Holder, of Edmond.

Holder has been charged with felony child abuse in connection with the death. Investigators said Naomi had been living with Holder for four months before her death on January 20, 2009, at 7751 Prairie View Road in Edmond.

The Oklahoma medical examiner's office found recent scrapes and bruises on Naomi's face, chest, back legs, right buttock and head, as well as old and new scabs.

Her death was first ruled undetermined, but an Indiana pathologist was able to review the evidence and reported the girl died of blunt-force injury to the head, abdomen and extremities.

The trial for Holder began this week with jury selection Tuesday and opening statements Wednesday.

Prosecutors called Lashelle Humphreys, a Department of Human Services worker, to the stand Thursday to talk about her interaction with the child and her foster parents.

Humphreys said she became involved in the case in 2008 when DHS was asked to intervene when a baby boy tested positive for cocaine at a hospital.

She said the mother, Kayla Whitecrow, also had cocaine and marijuana in her system, according to medical staff.

As the primary worker on the case, Humphreys said Kayla Whitecrow's two children, including Naomi, were removed from the household in February 2008. They were placed with foster parent Alicia Taylor in Garfield County, she said.

When Kayla Whitecrow checked into the Chi Hullo Li Rehabilitation Center, a Choctaw Nation substance abuse facility, to receive treatment, her two children were placed there with her, Humphreys testified.

A facility worker testified Thursday that Naomi seemed healthy when she was placed there. With only two incident reports of her smashing her finger and hitting her head on a water fountain, the woman said she seemed like a normal child.

Another worker who used to interact with Naomi said she didn't have a problem eating or walking.

“She would play with her little brother and put her face on his,” the worker said. “She was a sweet little girl.”

Humphreys told the jury many times that DHS has a policy to try to reunite families; therefore, she made a plan to help the parents receive treatment.

Scott Adams, Holder's attorney, said that his client began fostering Naomi in September 2008 after Kayla Whitecrow left the facility and abandoned her children.

He said Holder believed the girl might have been abused because she would shake and act distant. Adams said this was made known to DHS, however, they proceeded to try and reunite the girl with their birth mother.

Humphreys testified that dealing with Holder was often difficult because of her demands. She said she tried to organize visits between Naomi and her biological mother, but Holder would always cancel the plans.

Adams said that Holder was caring for three other children at the time and needed more notice to plan visits.

He questioned Humphreys' concern for Naomi, asking why she never visited them.

She testified that she only spent five minutes with Naomi at a Christmas party in December 2008, but noticed that her body language seemed distant.

“She kind of looked through me,” Humphreys said. “Her eyes looked hollow. She looked sad.”


Foster care system: broken beyond repair?

By Darcy Spears

CREATED Sep. 22, 2011

Clark County, NV (KTNV) - Desperate parents. Children with no rights. Ruthless caseworkers, and a corrupt system. That's how Clark County's Department of Family Services has been described by child welfare experts who say our system is broken almost beyond repair.

"We are damaging children so much more within the system..." says Anita Stephens of the Clark County Caregiver Advisory Board.

"I think what you're seeing here is exactly what happens when children do not have a voice," says Janice Wolf of the Children's Attorneys Project.

"I believe if anybody should be charged with child abuse and neglect it should be the Department of Family Services," says Vicki Lambou, a foster mom.

Those concerns are echoed across the valley by judges, attorneys, child advocates and parents who are hoping against hope that change comes to Clark County.

"Nevada is woefully behind," says Wolf. She leads the Children's Attorneys Project through the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. She says they only have the resources to represent half of Nevada's 3200 foster children.

"We're catching up, but in so many states the law requires every child to have an attorney."

Matthew and Brandon did not have an attorney. The two brothers lived with UMC emergency room nurse Vicki Lambou for three years. She was supposed to adopt them and says they all dreamed of being a family.

"I told the children I'm not going anywhere. I'm here. I'm mommy forever. Forever. I had no idea that the DFS was capable of something like this."

Clark County's Department of Family Services took Matthew and Brandon out of Vicki's home based on a substance misuse charge that was later overturned in Family Court for "insufficient credible evidence." Despite that, Vicki never got the boys back.

"They've betrayed me and they've betrayed the children. They've used me. And now I'm being discarded like I'm trash."

Child welfare experts believe this case illustrates what's wrong with Nevada's foster care system, which they say is staffed with inexperienced, overloaded caseworkers who often fail to put children's best interests first.

"They're in a fragile little bubble and the slightest thing can pop that and destroy their world," says Anita Stephens, past president of the Foster Parent Association. She currently sits on the Caregiver Advisory Board made up of foster parents and DFS staff. She's been closely following Vicki's case.

"We have to use a little more compassion in my opinion in really looking at the situation and not just saying I'm the almighty authority."

Over seven and a half years, she and her husband have fostered 43 children, two of whom they've adopted.

"I've worked with DFS enough to know that blanket rigmarole that they put out there of the confidentiality."

She believes DFS often hides behind confidentiality laws in order to protect their decisions. That's exactly what they did when Contact 13 asked about Vicki's case.

"It's the nameless, faceless little people that the bureaucracy of DFS and CPS and the County Commission and all these other people make decisions around," Stephens says.

Vicki went to the County Commission for help, and accountability for DFS.

"And I'm asking for there to be an eye on what happens and who's looking out for the best interests of the children in our community. And why are we taking foster parents that are stepping up to the plate to adopt these children and crucifying them?" Vicki asked Commissioners.

She told then that over a three-month period, DFS filtered the boys through five different foster homes, at times separated from each other.

DFS is now trying to get their biological grandparents to adopt them.

"I know in Vicki's case that's kind of what the premise is--they should be able to be with biological family--but that's where they were removed from. No one's addressing that piece," Stephens says incredulously.

Also, there was no transition for the brothers out of the home where they'd lived for three years. DFS left most of their things behind too.

"I think it's a classic example to look at and say this is what goes horribly wrong within the system and it happens more often than not," Stephens says.

County Commissioners are working to at least get Vicki visitation with the boys.

The National Center for Youth Law in San Francisco is also reviewing the case.

And, just this week, the County Commission approved funding to expand the Children's Attorneys Project.

That means every foster child in the system will have an attorney within the next two years.

Vicki Lambou has started a petition to ask our elected officials for accountability and transparency from DFS.

She's gotten over 200 signatures so far. We've posted a link to that along with this story.