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African-American children are over four times more likely than Caucasian children to be placed in out-of-home care.

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Single Mother Gets Raw Deal

Posted May 16, 2006

Sarah requested child care assistance to help her keep her job, which allows her to provide for her children alone, the State of California uses her request against her in court to remove her children.

My name is Sarah, and I am a single mother of two beautiful children, my 8 year old son, and my 19 month old daughter. I have been in the California CPS system since November 2001 and have been reported, investigated, and belittled 13 times, and every report was filed by the same person, or by a friend or family member on her behalf.

Anonymous Reports

All but one of these reports have been reported to the central index as either being unsubstantiated, unfounded, or inconclusive due to the fact that the initial reports filed were false allegations stemming from a custody battle, as it was noted in several of the reports. The inconclusive reports were deemed inconclusive because the investigating social workers on those, were truly looking for something, anything, but could not find any evidence against me.

Inconclusive to me is defined as: We cps workers want to believe these allegations, wish we could prove them to be true, have looked thoroughly for anything we could use to justify our cause, but couldn't find anything we could use to assume legal action. Inconclusive leaves us open in the event that this family comes to our attention again, the inconclusive reports may be used in the future to assist in substantiating any allegations that could arise.

On October 4, 2005, I was home sick from work asleep with my daughter and awoke to someone all but breaking down my back door. Groggy from my nap, I scooped up my baby and answered the banging to find a Costa Mesa Police officer and an emergency intake worker from Orange County on my back porch. They introduced themselves, the worker explained that a complaint of general neglect had been filed against me and asked if she could come in to "chat." I sighed, rolled my eyes, immediately stated to her that I know who called and that this was an attempt to get my son from me, and gave her permission to enter.

Now, Let me include that I am the only employed adult (or should I say was employed ...I lost my 50K a year job due to this) and was working an average of 50 hours a week, so my house did not present itself as an Ethan Allen showroom floor (which is what they expect). There were dishes in the sink from the previous nights dinner, a laundry basket of clean clothes on the floor that needed to be folded, and of course the kids room was strewn with toys and my sons clothes don't always make it into the hamper...typical for a male child at the age of 8, right? So what can I say - hey, we live here for goodness sake. There was nothing dirty or unhealthy, just a bit untidy, and when you have 4 people in a 2 bedroom apartment, things tend to get cluttered.

Accusations Fly

We sat down on the couch, the officer inquired as to the whereabouts of my boyfriend, as he was the alleged "perpetrator" I pointed to the bedroom, where the officer found him and requested he come and address the issues at hand. The worker explained that a report was filed two weeks prior and there were allegations of neglect as well as physical abuse that she added after an interview and strip search that she engaged in with my son at his school. The caseworker told me my son had sustained a cigarette burn and that my boyfriend, Casey intentionally inflicted the wound. I knew nothing of a cigarette burn, stated this to her, and also stated that Casey would never do such a sadistic thing, that he loves my son like his own, and that I was certain it was an accident.

I asked her what my son had told her and she stated he claimed it was an accident as well. She asked me how could I not know and was I blind? I replied with, If my son did not bother to mention it to me, it must not have been a big deal, and most definitely was accidental. I also stated that he is 8 years old, bathes himself and lately has been explaining that he needs his privacy and doesn't want me to see him naked because he is growing up and is a boy and I am a girl, which seemed fair enough to me. He knows how to bathe, wash himself, etc, and there was no reason why I should not happily comply with his request to "privacy" while he was using the restroom or taking a shower...he is human too, right? Wrong...

Accidents Do Happen

The other allegation of abuse was in reference to a broken arm my son sustained while playing and roughhousing 2 months prior with my boyfriend and his 14 year old son. I was there when it happened, saw it was in the course of play, and my son also told this woman it was an accident that they were playing too rough and he got hurt, and that it was not Casey's fault - he did not intend for it to happen. I told her the exact same thing my son did, Casey agreed and his son attested to the same as well. It was she who stated the injuries were intentional, despite the fact that all parties she interviewed stated that they were accidental injuries. Also, my son saw 2 different doctors who treated him, one was the attending ER physician at Hoag, the other was the orthopedic that my physician referred me to. Both saw the x-rays, were told how it happened, are trained to be able to identify breaks and fractures caused intentionally, and both are mandated reporters. Neither doctor had any suspicion of abuse, nor did either one report any suspicion.

Subsequently, neither doctor was interviewed, or if they were, the evidence was not in the favor of social services and was deliberately withheld from court because it did not justify their cause. I was adamant that my boyfriend was innocent, and after making a private call outside, she came in to tell me that the kids were being taken into custody, and, as she rolled her eyes, she told me I needed serious help because I "just didn't get it" and was "blinded, therefore neglectful." The report she submitted at the detention hearing was so slanted and lacking fact it was sickening.

She included every report filed against me as part of her petition for removal, and included on the parts of the reports that suited her best interest. She lied, made false allegations, much of which was opinionated, and officially started what would be a series of events causing utter destruction and turmoil in my families life.

Pleading Nolo Contendere

Well, I got my kids daughter after almost 2 months and my son after 4 months, and was persuaded by my incompetent attorney to plead nolo contendere to an amended petition, which was watered down to say nothing of relevance (I threatened trial if it was not worded to my satisfaction)...he stated if I pled nolo I would get custody of my kids that day and all I would have to do to get the case closed is complete my case plan, which I was more than halfway done with already. A word of advice: Never plead nolo contendere when you are not guilty.

Basically, I found out later that my court appointed attorney lied to me. My children were declared dependents of Orange County at that hearing. I did not know at the time what that meant, and I asked him, he simply assured me that "custody vested in the mother" meant that I had custody of them period. WRONG!!!! This was in February 2006.

Progress Evaluation

A month later, I was assigned a maintenance worker. After almost 2 months of no contact from anyone from the county except for me calling my lawyer on occasion, I got a call from my maintenance worker, who stated she needed to meet with me ASAP. I had a progress review scheduled for April 2006, and she told me the reason she needed to meet me was because there was a hearing in a few days and she had to submit a report in regards to my progress.

Now, how could someone who knows nothing about my case meet with me one time and honestly say that she could reasonable evaluate me? Hmmm...make's ya wonder.

Request for Childcare Assistance

I called and requested assistance for child care, as they made my boyfriend move out as a stipulation to returning my kids, and childcare for 2 kids is $1200 a month. Instead of submitting a referral to an agency that funds assistance, she scheduled a Team Decision Making Meeting, which is a meeting held involving some of the "big wigs" in social services, the maintenance worker, and her supervisor. TDM's are meetings which are held when it needs to be determined if the children are adequately placed or if they should be removed due to extenuating circumstances. They were questioning my competency to care for my children based on a request for financial assistance for childcare and substantiated it with the reasoning that if I could not afford child care, I must be having financial issues, and they need to assure the children are safe and free from harm.

Well, sure there are financial issues, I am a single mom, have rent that is 1300 a month, a car payment, insurance, credit card bills, utilities, and was missing a decent amount of work due to the "required services" I was participating in. Who wouldn't have financial issues in a situation like this? Oh, and although my sons father was court ordered to pay support, he was not paying, even though he lives with his parents, claims to make $400 a day, and has but one bill ....a truck payment , and nothing was ever mentioned about that.

Eventually, I got assistance, but not before I lost my job due to lack of attendance...some pertaining to the fact that I had no child care because I could not afford it, the rest because so much work was missed due to court, services, last minute whims and requests for my immediate presence by different workers, etc. But never mind is the worst part ....After adding to my case plan and insisting I perform the impossible, requesting ridiculous tasks from me and calling and harassing me almost on a daily basis, another "anonymous" call was placed.

Breaking and Entering

On May 5, 2006, four Costa Mesa police officers and 2 women opened my back door, barged into my home, and began a search. Prior to that, they interviewed my son, who was playing outside, inspected him again, and, finding nothing, still found the need to search with no consent or warrant.

I was then threatened by one of the officers who stated he was going to take me to jail if I did not let him see my garage, so, still not consenting to anything, I went out and opened the garage ...while 2 officers inspected, one cop stood there, screaming in my face what a horrible mother I am, demanding to know how I could allow such abuse and how I could knowingly violate the law. At this point I still did not know what they were there for. I later found out that a call was made claiming I was allowing my boyfriend to live there again, and that I was allowing him to be around and abuse my son while there was a no contact order in effect. They searched, they found nothing, not him, not any of his clothes, no marks or bruised on either child ...nothing.

I was furious ...I told them outright that whoever called was lying, he had not been home in months and he did not abuse my son, all of which was the truth. Regardless, they took my kids again, saying I violated a court order. Based on what the same source told the social worker, I violated an order of the court and abuse was occurring. There was no of evidence supporting either allegation, yet, here is what the worker wrote, based on one statement from a single unnamed source:

"Allegations of general neglect by mother, Sarah, toward (child's name) and (child's name) are substantiated and physical abuse by mother's boyfriend, Casey, toward Brendan is inconclusive"

What does that mean, she believes one half of the story and not all of it? She had no more evidence of one that the other, in fact, she had nothing, but somehow was able to substantiate one allegation, the one that supports the kids being removed. Does this seem odd or fishy to anyone else, or is it just me?

Parents Have Rights

Today my kids are still detained at are residing in Orangewood. My next court date is the end of May 2006 and the only reason it is so soon is because I discovered on my own that I have rights, rights that were never explained and I feel were intentionally withheld from me at the initial detention hearing in October 2005.

I spoke to my court appointed attorney today, and asked if he had read the detention report. He admitted to me that he has not read either report, nor has he requested, subpoenaed, or presented any documentation or evidence in my defense. So basically I have been unknowingly stripped of my rights, have not been adequately represented or defended, been coerced into pleading nolo to a bunch of lies, lied to by the person who is supposed to be defending me legally, disregarded, slandered, maliciously prosecuted by the most corrupt agency in the world, and clearly been denied what the consitution states as being due process, a fair trial, and basic human rights.

I have educated myself as much as possible, but any input would be much appreciated. Folks, these people have ticked off the wrong person. I am determined to succeed and will succeed in pleading and proving my case. All I am hoping and praying for is help, support, advice and pointers on how I can make this happen.

I believe the Lord is on my side, since this last incidence, he has put some pretty revelant people in my path, and I do not believe it is by chance. I believe it is God's way of giving me the strength I need to make it happen. He never puts anymore on our plate than he knows we can handle, but He does give you the choice of whether you want to handle it and He provides the tools on how to handle it. The rest is up to me, and I believe that is in part why I am here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you have gotten this far. I know this has been a long story and there is so much more to it, and I know the same applies to pretty much everyone. I have read alot on this site so far, and you are all in my thoughts and prayers, thank you again for your acceptance.