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My Letter to Senator William Frist, M.D.

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The following is a letter to then Senate Majority Leader William Frist, M.D. regarding the changes needed in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (also known by CAPTA and the Mondale Act).  This same statement was emailed to the US House Ways and Means Committee on May 15, 2007 and is a part of the Congressional Record for the calendar year 2007.

 

Dear Senator Frist:

 

The Congressman and legislators from Arizona, New Mexico and California sat and listened as parents, lawyers, a physician, child welfare experts and a foster parent shared horror stories of CPS malpractice.  They spoke from a giant horseshoe table (normally used by the City Council) and the lawmakers sat facing them in staff table in front of the stage.  Throughout the day, groups of 7 speakers at a time were led up to the horseshoe table and each took their turn speaking for 10 minutes.  They worked straight through lunch and the lawmakers were very attentive.  The hall was packed with an audience -- standing room only -- and four video cameras from assorted media taped the entire thing.

 

All speakers were harshly negative about CPS.  Some of the speeches were very emotional (one played an audio tape into the microphone of a child screaming as police ripped him away from his mother).  As part of their presentation, each speaker offered possible solutions (reforms) to the problems many had documented so well.  Here are some of the most common themes:

 

1)         Almost all the speakers said that CPS needed to be dismantled and rebuilt. (A view shared by many social work researchers and other published experts).

 

2)         That police assume the role of investigating child abuse.  (One lawyer suggested that the social work roles of "helping" and "investigating" should at least be divided and separate -- the same worker should not do both jobs)

 

3)         Funding be changed -- especially Title IV-E funds. The congressman agreed that it needed to be capped and be used by the states for services other than foster care.

 

4)         That parents receive effective legal representation. (Speaker after speaker explained the dismal, sell-out work done by public pretenders.  Juvenile court judges were called to task.)

 

5)         Almost all speakers wanted all child welfare hearings opened to the public. There were two excellent reports on what had happened in those states that had opened up their courtrooms (none of the CPS "chicken little predictions" have proven true.) It was the general feeling that if courtrooms were opened, the public would learn how unjust and abusive the system is to children. It was accurately reported that states who have opened up their juvenile and family courtrooms are experiencing more just, family-friendly procedure and decisions.

 

6)          That anonymous reporting be stopped.

 

7)          Repeal of mandated reporting laws.

 

8)         .Removing the qualified immunity protection given CPS caseworkers and imposition of criminal sanctions for perjury, false reporting, holding back favorable information, etc. (even local, county, and state police departments do not enjoy this protection afforded the CPS).

 

9)         Rewriting state statutes to clearly define child abuse and child neglect.

 

10)      An investigation into therapist's practice of pseudo-science.

 

11)      Court orders (from an actual judge, not officers of the court) for all removals and the requirement that such "juvenile pick up orders" be issued only after a showing of probable cause that actual abuse or neglect has occurred.

 

12)     That the cloak of secrecy be lifted from Child Protective Services (only the child's name and other identifying information should be withheld from the public).

 

13)     That state laws make malicious false reporting a felony punishable by prison time.

 

14)     That CPS workers give a full and complete disclosure of rights and responsibilities to parents at the onset of an assessment or investigation.

 

One parent was a former Navy Seal.  He gave a moving testimony of how all of the rights he thought he once fought for were denied him as a father of a child who was abused by CPS.  The man drove out to the conference from the East Coast.

 

REFORM IN CALIFORNIA

 

The governor has taken seriously the complaints reaching his office from parents across the state.  He is committed to using Title IV-E funds to keep families together rather than to fund foster care.  The imposition of a totally new family meeting plan piloted with help from a foundation will be funded with Title IV-E, for instance.

 

He has appointed an ad-hoc commission to develop concrete, action steps to accomplish the mission of reducing foster care incarceration by 60%.  The funding change alone should reduce the foster care population by more than that.  The commission's position is that patchwork reforms will not work -- that a total revamping of the system is required.

 

The same revamping of the entire CPS system is long overdue and is warranted now.  Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

Robert Littlejohn

Still father of Diane and Charlie Littlejohn under the will of God, though taken away by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

 

P.S.  WASHINGTON, DC AND ALL STATES AND COMMONWEALTHS OF THIS COUNTRY - WE ARE WATCHING YOU AND WILL VOTE EVERY POLITICIAN OUT WHO DOES NOT HEAR THEIR CONSTITUENTS!  DON'T COME CRYING TO US FOR ANOTHER TWO YEARS OR SIX YEARS IN OFFICE WHEN YOU'VE DONE NOT A SINGLE THING ABOUT REPEALING THE LAWS THAT HURT THE GOD-ESTABLISHED TRUE AND NATURAL FAMILY (see picture below)!

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