This is a guest post about ways that Child Protective Services could be changed for the better.
By Cyndee Weir
Stipulate specific laws and guidelines for CPS to follow that comply with our federal laws and US Constitution and its Amendments.
Have CPS work directly under the supervision of LAW ENFORCEMENT to ensure these guidelines are being followed.
Child abuse and neglect is a crime and should be treated as such, Crimes against children should be moved from family and juvenile court to criminal court. This would force CPS to get a warrant before seizing children. It would also force them to have to provide factual evidence before they could sever parental rights. It would ultimately ensure due process.
Force CPS officers to inform parents or guardians of their right to remain silent before they are interviewed.
Take away adoption bonus incentive or match them with equal bonus incentives given to reunification.
The goal for permanency should be the best interest of children rather than financial gain. And reunification should always take precedence over severance. Family preservation should be the primary goal. Severance should not be rushed and should only be considered when all other options have been exhausted.
Define imminent danger.
Removing children from their home is emotionally devastating for both children and their families and should only be considered when absolutely necessary.
The case plan for reunification must be based on when the initial cause for removal is alleviated.
Set up specific case plan goals and requirements with a projected timeline and make sure parents or guardians are aware fully aware of them as well as the consequences for non-compliance, so they know what is expected of them.
Periodic checkpoints need to be integrated into case plans requiring frequent consultations with parents regarding their progress.
Completely reform the federal budget for CPS focusing on necessary expenses rather than basing it on child removal.
Give equal financial assistance to poverty stricken families whose children are in dependent care for the purpose of neglect because their parents couldn’t afford to supply them with their monetary needs, as is given to foster care. This would help alleviate the number of children in CPS custody, and it would help strengthen families rather than destroying them.
Change the time-frame of severance. Severance should be based on each individual case and the circumstances surrounding it.
Parents who have children under the age of three should be given equal time to alleviate their shortcomings as is given to parents who have children over the age of three. They shouldn’t have less time to better themselves or their circumstance simply because their children are more adoptable.
Family should always be the first considered to adopt when severance is necessary, before foster placements.
Government officials should be held accountable for their actions on a criminal level. Fines and incarceration aren’t unreasonable especially considering the impact their decisions can have on families.
Federal and state funding needs to be set up specifically for the purpose of CPS and its services. Currently they are taking funding from other agencies intended for a different cause: Agencies such as DES designed for low income families and their children to help them gain financial stability, and also from Social Security for the elderly and disabled who have worked their lifetime so that they could have an income to fall back on. Another example: Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board which helps children from families with low income with health and learning disabilities.
Cyndee Weir can be found at her websites: Revise CPS and Coalition Against Racketeering Children For Profit.
Any questions? Comments? Further reform suggestions?