A recent article on the Reason website calls for more transparency in CPS actions, especially in removal cases.
The article looks again at the Nikolayev case, about which I wrote here earlier this year, in which California CPS workers removed an infant from his parents' custody because they had sought a second opinion on the infant's serious cardiac problems.
From the article:
The Nikolayev's story made national headlines thanks to footage from a camcorder Anna Nikolayev set up on the kitchen table. It also caught the attention of California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who spearheaded an audit of the agency.
"The secrecy by which CPS operates is a massive problem," says Donnelly. "Because when you have secrecy and unchecked power, you have a recipe for corruption and abuse."
The secrecy surrounding CPS stems from the nature of California's juvenile dependency courts which only allow limited press access and seal all court records. While media and other interested parties can petition the court to open the records, this can be a lengthy process and by no means guarantees results. ReasonTV petitioned the court to open the records in the Nikolayev's case and, almost two months later, we have still not received a ruling from the judge.
While the closed nature of juvenile dependency courts is intended to protect the privacy of minors, the effect is an opaque system in which social workers present evidence to judges under the cloak of "confidentiality." Only in extreme or unusual cases - such as when parents release clandestine footage of their child being forcefully removed from their home without a warrant - do CPS stories tend to capture the public's attention.
The article doesn't shy away from the very troubling "funding" factor that complicates the CPS debate. The article quotes Deanna Hardwick, herself no stranger to CPS overreaching, having successfully fought a six-year battle for her children's return. Deanna then successfully sued the officials responsible for her case, and won a judgment against them of over nine million dollars when she proved to the jury that the officials in question had lied to perpetuate the removal and harassment. Hardwick stated:
"The system is set up in a way that it's encouraged to remove the children from the protective parent," says Hardwick. "Because it generates a lot of funding."
This is an article every state legislator and every parent should read.
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