Arizona Family Rights Project
SUMMARY Initial Reporting • No anonymous reporting should be allowed, with penalties for false reporting. reporting • Clear screening procedures and proper coding for follow-up follow must be established, with penalties, including termination of employment for those who fail to follow protocol. protocol The Investigation police • All criminal activity must be investigated by police, not a CPS police. • Each parent must be evaluated separately and unless both parents or guardians were actively involved in the abuse then the children will remain with the non non-abusive parent. • All children being removed from families must be questioned and all exams completed prior to placing in foster care. care • All reports must be completed in a timely manner and disclosed to all parties. parties • All interviews will be video recorded, recordings done in a manner that clearly shows facial expressions of children, and video recordings will be released to all parties. parties • Two persons shall be present when questioning the child and one must be the same gender as the child, especially in sexually abuse cases cases. • Children shall have the right to refuse physical exams, especially if the child did not make the allegations or has denied any allegations of abuse, and the refusal shall not be used against agains the parents. • The constitutional rights of the children will be protected, the investigation will be conducted using legal and ethical methods only. only • Access to an attorney will be provided to all parties involved, including children and any family members being denied as placement options, options, from the start of the case including the initial interviews. • Penalties, including termination of employment, shall be created and enforced for those who violate the law or their authority authority. The Courts • Children will be permitted itted to attend court hearings if they desire. desire • Foster parents will not be permitted to attend hearings unless severance has been completed against parents. parents • Hearings should be conducted in a manner in which all parties can clearly hear what is taking place during the hearing hearing. All parties in the courtroom must be introduced. • Children must have contact with the GAL prior to each hearing, children old enough to have been assigned a court appointed attorney must also have time to visit with their attorney prior to each court hearing, hearing and they will represent nt the child’s desires and wishes. wishes • Any failure to follow court orders on the part of CPS or the AAG will result in a contempt of court charge against the agency or person(s) involved. involved Arizona Family Rights Project
SUMMARY Placement of Children • “Clear and convincing” evidence must be presented in order to remove any children from the family. • Unless there is criminal activity, the children should not be removed from the family, or at least not from the non-abusive parent. • Parents must be judged separately. • Parent’s constitutional rights must be protected and clear proof must be provided prior to any children being removed from the family. • Federal standards must be used in all cases to determine abuse and neglect. Kinship Placement & ICPC • Family members must be seriously considered as placement and family should not be denied as placement simply because there is an open police investigation. • The appeal process must be shortened to allow family members to take the children as quickly as possible. • Proof of all allegations against family members used as the reason for not placing the children with them shall be made available to that family member and the family member shall be given the opportunity to dispute all allegations. • ICPC’s must be filed in a timely manner and the process shall be trackable and the information shall be made available to the family as well as the family filing the ICPC. Foster Care • Provide family members a mechanism of reporting neglect and abuse taking place in foster homes. • Any foster family that has an adult or child with an incurable, contagious disease should not be licensed. • Remove all safeguards protecting the foster family from being held criminally and civilly accountable for their actions. The statute of limitations should be 2 years after the child turns 18 years old. • Financial accountability to the state must be made by all foster homes and group homes. Foster homes must be able to support themselves without the benefit of foster payments. • Supervision of children must be provided by adults at least 10 years older than the children they are supervising. • When transporting children in group homes, females should never be transported by a male only, and males should never be transported by a female only. • Foster families who refuse to abide by court orders or deny access to the foster child by the GAL or CPS case worker should have their license revoked and all children in their care should be removed immediately. Child’s Education • Parental rights must be maintained with the child’s education, especially if children are in special education. • Children’s enrollment in school should never be delayed because of the lack of school records, school records shall be accepted from the parents with the backup received from the district in order to facilitate school enrollment.
Arizona Family Rights Project
“Technical Assistance Brief, Asking the Right Questions II: Judicial Checklists to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care” put out by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, December 2008, should be used as a guide in forming the safeguards for the children’s education. Foster parents or group homes who fail to enroll foster children immediately should be subject to disciplinary action, including termination of their foster care license.
Services • All services must be available in a timely manner. • Therapy must be made available in a timely manner and timelines must be established to prevent a delay of services. • Services shall be provided at the on-set of the case plan so the reunification process is not delayed. • Services shall not be delayed due to payment issues (such as when the child is placed in a different county than the family resides). • A CPS employee or an employee of a contracted services may not use their position to recommend or refer services to another CPS employee or contracted service provider employee outside of the agency. (No personal gain, no conflict of interest) Forensic Therapy • All therapy should remain confidential. No one should have to give up their patient/doctor confidentiality rights in order to participate in therapy. • A summary report from the therapist should be sufficient information to the court to evaluate progress and fulfill the requirement of therapy. •
Parents, children or family must be able to attend therapy sessions in order to work through the issues, come to terms with the abuse, and change behaviors to make the home safe for the children. They should be permitted to opening discuss the problems with their therapist without the fear of it being held against them in court.
Foster Care Review Board • Members of this board must remain unbiased and be willing to listen with an open mind and no preconceived ideas. • All parties must be given ample time for reporting. Time should be scheduled based on the number of children and parties involved. • All concerns should be taken seriously and all deficits must be reported to the court, even if it involves the failure of the state or CPS agency to provide the appropriate services. Young Adult Program (Independent Living) • Only children who truly do not have any family willing and able to take them shall be accepted into the program. • Any child placed in the program shall not receive state payment if they are living with any family member or any boyfriend/girlfriend, which would include heterosexual or gay cohabitation. • Children who violate the restrictions of the program shall be dropped from the program and shall not be able to reapply to the program. •
An audit must be completed in order to identify and remove all abuses of the program.
Arizona Family Rights Project
SUMMARY Incarcerated Child • Parental rights must be maintained if the child becomes involved with the law while in CPS custody. • The state shall not serve as prosecution and defense against the child. • The family shall be included in the discussions with probation, CPS and the child’s attorney. • The parent shall be able to be present when questioning the child. Life After CPS • Protections must be in place to prevent the state from charging the parents a second time for the same allegations, especially if reunification has been successfully completed. • Each case must be investigated and reviewed independently of other cases. • Unsubstantiated cases should be purged from the records. Even with laws in place CPS, the Attorney General’s office, police and service agencies still fail to follow the laws as written. In all cases there must be consequences for failing to adhere to the law, including disciplinary action, termination of employment, contempt of court charges, and even civil or criminal prosecution.
Arizona Family Rights Project