This Sunday morning, at about 6:08 a.m., I received a text from a client – a mother. She’s currently in Georgia, but her children are in Los Angeles County foster care. She texted that she had been contacted by authorities, and that her 12 year old daughter had been raped by an adult male (who did not live in the home, but lived down the street). And I thought I had problems to complain about! Can you imagine being faced with this foster care nightmare scenario?

So Many Foster Care Nightmare Scenarios

It reminded me of thoughts I often have when I’m sitting in juvenile dependency courts around the State of California. Our juvenile system routinely places children in foster homes based on allegations that parents are abusive, or worse yet, are a “risk” to be abusive to the children. Sometimes I think that the system substitutes their personal judgments on parenting rather than applying what I believe to be a more objective measure of whether the parent is actually abusive, or actually a risk of being abusive to a child.

…She texted that she had been contacted by authorities, and that her 12 year old daughter had been raped by an adult male (who did not live in the home, but lived down the street). And I thought I had problems to complain about! Can you imagine being faced with this scenario?

The typical scenario is where the parent tests positive – one time – for illegal drugs, or the parents are involved with “domestic violence” (even though the children aren’t around at the time of the incident). But I digress.

Foster Care and Foster Parents are viewed as the “safe place” to place children away from their parents who might be a risk to the children. What the system doesn’t consider is, “who are these foster parents?” And I get the feeling that most of the people recommending placement in foster care, don’t realize that foster parents are sometimes abusive. They are just people, with all the positive and negatives of other human beings.

When Foster Parents get in trouble

When Foster Parents get in trouble for abusing children, they are disciplined in a judicial system that is separate and apart from the Juvenile Dependency system. They are taken to court at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).

Here’s the problem: Many times when a foster parent has abused a foster child, the Juvenile Dependency Court players are not informed about what has happened. (Although, in many instances -but not all- the Juvenile Dependency Court is informed.) And, I sometimes get the feeling that the CPS worker does not want to be implicated in a civil lawsuit, so they allow the case to play out in the OAH without anyone in the Juvenile Dependency Courts finding out.

An example where this could happen is where the CPS worker should have known about the abuse to the foster child, but did not, because the CPS worker wasn’t making her monthly visits to see the foster child in the foster home.

The reason I know this happens is, because for many years I’ve represented foster parents in the OAH, and been involved in cases where the foster parent is being sued. I have represented foster parents who have been accused of causing the death of a child, sexually abusing a child, physically abusing a child and emotionally abusing a foster child.

And many times I look at the case from the foster child’s perspective and ask, “Was this placement in a foster home really better than leaving the child with the parent who tested positive once for meth? Or better yet, was this placement in a foster home really better than placement with the grandmother who had a DUI conviction 20 years ago?”

Worse yet, is the foster home, which does not technically do anything wrong, but is emotionally devastating to the foster children. Just recently, a client, a mother, stated to me, “Davis, you have to get my kids out of foster care.” I asked her to tell me what was going on, and she stated that on visits with her children, they report:

  1. The foster parents are mean to them, giving examples of harsh, non-physical, discipline
  2. The children are made to do, what the mother believes, to be unreasonable house-hold chores for the foster family
  3. The two youngest children have stated they want to kill themselves, because they believe the mother doesn’t love them anymore (since the mother won’t take them home with her, and keeps sending them back to the foster home after the visits).

FYI – the children were ordered to be in counseling by the Juvenile Dependency judge, but the counseling is not happening. Are the foster parents at fault? Is it the CPS worker’s fault? Is it the children’s attorney’s fault? Is it my fault as the mother’s attorney? Who knows? What I do know is that every time the mother brings up the issue of counseling with either the CPS worker or the foster parents, she is just ignored.

Interestingly enough, the mother has un-monitored day visits. And, I foresee the CPS worker blaming the mother for the children feeling like this, rather than acknowledging that we have a mediocre foster care system. The CPS worker may also justify the refusal to not provide counseling based on the system’s budget woes and other transactional costs. As her attorney, we have filed a Welfare and Institutions Code Section 388 petition requesting the children be returned to the mother. However, the judge has decided not to hear that petition for about 60 days.

Parents are not perfect – who is?

Parents are not perfect – who is? But, we have to realize that foster care is not perfect either. And, I believe the system should acknowledge this when making decisions about the placement of children.

If you have a juvenile dependency case, and need a free consultation, case analysis, or legal representation, please call me.

Vincent W. Davis
Juvenile Dependency Trial Lawyer

When you talk to me, Vincent W. Davis, you can be sure of one thing, that I am listening. Child Protective Services (CPS or DCFS) and your accusers have their story, and it is our job to make sure that your story is heard and we keep your family together. If your kids or grand-kids have already been taken, we will find the best and fastest way to reunite your family.

Call me personally - 888-888-6582 - I am waiting to hear your story now, to defend you and keep your family together or reunite you and your precious loved ones.

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