Moms Against Child Molesters


YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS- Your guide to the system

CPSWATCH.COM is not always up. I want to save the information on this page to benefit others.


by Cheryl Barnes


Demand a Copy of the Search Warrant 

You do not have to speak with a Government Agent or allow them to enter your home without a search warrant! 

When a government agent (social worker, police officer, etc) comes to your door, they are seeking your consent to allow them into your home.  Remain calm.  Say something like:

I understand your concerns and I'm happy to cooperate.  May I see your search warrant please?

The agent may try to tell you that a search warrant isn't required because you can give voluntary consent or he may try to make you believe you are required to allow him into your home. The agent might say, Im required by law to come into your home to investigate. It is true that the agent is required to make an investigation which may include entering your home. However, this doesnt give the agent authority to break the law. If the agent needs to enter your home as part of his investigation, he needs to obtain a search warrant.

Remember that the agent is the one asking you to circumvent the law.  You are acting within the law and he is asking you to ignore the law, skip procedure and just do things his way.

Don't be intimidated. Keep a proper perspective of the situation; you are willing to cooperate within the law.  The law dictates that a search warrant is required before entering a private home.  Your position should be:

I do want to cooperate.

I do not want to ignore proper procedure.

Why would you want to circumvent clearly established laws and procedures? 

Do not allow the agent to peer inside of your home or view your children. Do not answer any questions without seeing the search warrant and verifying its authenticity. Even minor questions such as your date of birth, name, number of children, etc. should not be answered without seeing a search warrant.


It is unlawful for the agent to coerce entry into your home by threatening or intimidating you. Federal courts are increasingly finding for parents who sue state agents for coerced entry.  The 9th Circuit recently ruled:

Any government official can be held to know that their office does not give them an unrestricted right to enter peoples' homes at will.

[It is] settled constitutional law that ... police could not enter a dwelling without a warrant even under statutory authority where probable cause existed.  The principle that government officials cannot coerce entry into people's houses without a search warrant ... is so well established that any reasonable officer would know it.

appellants' claim, that "a search warrant is not required for home investigatory visits by social workers," is simply not the law.

[N]owhere is the protective force of the fourth amendment more powerful than it is when the sanctity of the home is involved. Therefore, we have been adamant in our demand that absent exigent circumstances a warrant will be required before a person's home is invaded by the authorities."

Calabretta v Floyd 189 F.3d 808 (9th Cir. 1999)

In the above case, a social worker and police officer coerced entry into the Calabretta home by threatening to break the door down. Even though the mother ultimately opened the door and allowed them to enter, she did so by coercion which is unlawful. Thus, the agents were held personally liable.

We recommend that you print the highlights of this case and other "warrantless entry" cases to hand to government agents who attempt to coerce entry into your home.  You may find these cases on our caselaw page.


In order to get a search warrant, the agent needs some sort of evidence.  It can't be an anonymous phone call or allegations without any supporting evidence.

Even when the agent has enough evidence to obtain a search warrant, he is restricted to looking for specific things listed on the warrant. As an example, the warrant may give the agent authority to interview one of your children, this wouldnt allow him to interview siblings or look through your home. It also wouldnt require you to answer any questions.

Agents typically do not seek warrants because; a) they dont have enough evidence to obtain one and b) they dont wish to be restricted in their investigations.

This constitutional protection was put into place to protect families against unwarranted governmental intrusion into their private lives.  Don't waive it! When properly used, this protection is adequate to protect innocent families but will not serve to conceal genuine child abuse.


While families are safe from warrantless governmental intrusion in their private homes; most states require that school and day care personnel allow state agents access to children without informing the parents either before or after contact has been made.

A way to overcome this is to teach your children to exercise their right to have their parents present before answering any questions. The easiest way to do this is by making up a laminated card and instructing the child to hand it to government agents. A sample card might look like this:


You are hereby informed that I have a right to have my parents present prior to answering any questions. I am now exercising that right and request that you contact my parents immediately.

The back of the card should have the childs name, parents names and contact information. Several numbers should be listed; home, work, pager and an extra emergency number. Home and work addresses should be given as well. The more contact information, the better. This will eliminate the possibility of the agent claiming he didnt know how to reach you.

By utilizing a written card, the child need only hand it to the agent rather than memorizing what to say. Since its in writing, the agent cant say the child didnt properly exert his right to have parents present prior to answering questions.

You may be asking; How do I explain to my child what a government agent is? Most of us teach our children not to talk to strangers. Government agents are strangers! Its okay to tell your child not to talk to any adult unless youve given permission.

The reason we teach our children not to talk to strangers is because we dont know what their motives are; they may be seeking to harm them. This couldnt be more true with government agents. We dont know their motives and we cant presume they are pure because the child welfare system has irreparably harmed many children in the past.

Because children sometimes cant tell the difference between government agents and regular people, it is a good idea to teach children about the types of questions they shouldnt answer rather than the types of people they shouldnt talk to.

Basically, no person should ask about things that happen at home; what they eat, who they associate with, who visits, what type of discipline is used, etc. If an adult has a legitimate need to knows these things, he/she should ask the parent, not the child.


Public and private schools are increasingly requiring children to participate in group surveys that ask intrusive questions about private home life. These surveys are often a fishing expedition to find indicators of abuse.

The so-called indicators arent what youd expect them to be. Low income, no telephone, residence outside the city limits, more than three children, use of corporal punishment or grounding, both parents working, single parents, religious practices and other common things are seen as indicators of abuse and could generate a report to a child welfare agency.

By law, children may be excluded from these invasive surveys if the parents have a Hatch Letter on file with the school.

The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (The Hatch Amendment) to the General Education Provisions Act, which became effective November 12, 1984 allows parents to exclude their children from basically anything that isnt reading, writing or arithmetic.

The Hatch Amendment provides a procedure for filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Education and then withholding of federal funds for those in violation of the law.

Order a Copy of the Agency's Policy Manual

Under federal law (Title IV-B & IV-E of the Social Security Act), state child protection agencies are required to have a policies and procedures manual in place and to make it available to any citizen upon request.

If the agency refuses to honor your verbal request, send a formal written request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Under the FOIA, each agency is required to determine within 20 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) after the receipt of a request whether to comply with the request. The FOIA permits an agency to extend the time limits up to 10 days in unusual circumstances.

Sometimes the agency will ask you to come to their office and look at the manual instead of providing you with a copy. Continue to insist on a copy. You need your own copy so that you can read it at your leisure and have it on hand as a reference.

If your written FOIA request is denied or not answered within the time frame allowed, send an appeal letter. An agency is required to make a decision on an appeal within 20 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays). It is possible for an agency to extend the time limits by an additional 10 days.

If the appeal is denied or not answered within the time frame allowed, you may need to ask the court to compel the agency to provide you with a copy of the manual. If you have an open case involving your children, this can be done by filing a Motion to Compel within that case.

If you dont have an open case, you can file an FOIA appeal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. This would be more costly and complicated. If you wish to pursue this route, you can get forms and a rulebook from the U.S. District Court in which youll be filing.

Once you have a copy of the manual, read it!  You should become familiar with the agency's policies so that you know what the agency is supposed to do and what they aren't allowed to do.

Bring the manual with you to meetings with social workers and case planning conferences.

When they do violate policy, point it out to them in a calm, non-accusatory manner. Follow-up with a letter outlining the policies that were violated and what youd like to see done to correct them.

When you first get the manual and discover that past violations have occurred, send the agency a letter pointing out the violations and asking them to make adjustments as soon as possible. Assume the violations were committed inadvertently even if you believe otherwise. When you behave in a friendly and professional manner, the courts will be more likely to agree with your position.

Read All Applicable State Laws and Cases

Find out the exact legal definition of child abuse and neglect in your state.  Once you've found the statute, research caselaw to find out how the courts have applied the statutory definition in other cases.

Courts base their rulings on what higher courts have ruled in the past. A hierarchy of courts is given below:

U.S. Supreme Courtapplies to the entire United States
U.S. Court of Appealsapplies to that federal circuit
U.S. District Courtapplies to that federal district
State Supreme Courtapplies to the entire state
State Court of Appealsgenerally applies to the entire state
State Circuit or District Courtapplies to that portion of the state

If you find a case from the Second District Court and you are in the Third District, the Judge in your case isnt bound by that ruling. However, these rulings may have a persuasive effect, meaning that you could persuade your Judge to rule your way because the Judge in a neighboring district did.

You can find laws and cases at a law library or on the internet. Findlaw is a good place to search for state laws.

Legal research requests return cases and code only, not advice on how to use the information. For parents needing advice, we offer an email service by subscription. You may subscribe to the CPS Watch Legal Information Group by going to We currently have seven participating attorneys in the email group to answer parent questions.

Once you have the laws and caselaw, make sure that the case against you remains within that statutory definition.

It is very common for social workers to promulgate a mud-slinging campaign against you by filling the petition with irrelevant information. You should continually require them to show the court how their allegations are connected to abuse.

As an example, the state might put in the petition that the parents watch x-rated movies. While some people might find this distasteful, it has nothing to do with abuse or neglect. Thus, your task would be to require them to connect the alleged movie-watching to abuse or remove it from the complaint. Youd ask things like, Are you alleging that the children were neglected or abused as a result of the movie watching? and Are you alleging that the children were unattended while the parents watched x-rated movies? How exactly are you connecting the watching of x-rated movies to the alleged abuse or neglect?

Another common accusation is that of spanking. The state will say that you regularly spank your child or that you use an instrument to administer corporal punishment, but wont allege any injuries from the spankings.

Your focus would be on whether or not regular spanking or spanking with an instrument amounts to abuse. Again, youd ask them to show you what law states spankings without injury are abuse? You neednt bother admitting or denying the spankings at this point because it hasnt been established that they would be abuse.

The temptation is to jump in and defend against the mud-slinging; to say that you dont watch x-rated movies or that you use time-outs rather than spanking. However, this will lead you down a path of ridiculous, unrelated accusations and equally ridiculous defenses.

In the end it will burn up all your energy and bring out all your faultsfaults that have nothing to do with child abuse or neglect.

It will also give the state things to use against you. As an example, you might admit that you do spank your child with an instrument but only as a last resort and have never left a bruise. The state will later say something like, The parents admit to hitting their child with an object but are in denial about its negative effects.

Social workers are notorious for twisting words and leaving out pertinent facts. The fewer words you give them to twist, the better off youll be. Heres an example:

Social Worker: Does your husband have an anger management problem?
Mother: No.
Social Worker: Well does he get angry?
Mother: Of course he gets angry, everyone gets angry.

The worker wrote in her report:

Mother reports her husband gets angry and views this as normal behavior.

Is this what the mother said? Yes! Is it what the mother meant? No! Will the Judge get the wrong idea from this report? Yes! The worker is implying that the mother knows her husband is a threat but refuses to do anything about it. Shes setting the mother up to be accused of failure to protect.

The mother shouldnt have been discussing her husbands anger with the social worker before the worker had drawn a clear line between the alleged anger and the alleged abuse or neglect. And that discussion wouldve taken place in a courtroom on the record rather than in a social workers office.

The mothers response to this allegation should be, While not confirming the accusation, the defendant asserts that the presence of anger doesnt meet the statutory definition of child abuse or neglect.

You should first ask yourself, Does this meet the statutory definition of abuse?. If it doesnt, you neednt bother defending it. Rather, shift the focus back to the state by requiring them to make that connection.

The mother could take time to explain the whole conversation and the intent of her statements, but this would take the focus off the true legal argument and create a situation where the workers credibility might be weighed against her own (their word against yours).

The point you want the Judge to see is that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof. There is no issue of credibility because even if the accusations were true, they dont amount to abuse. If theres no allegation of abuse or neglect, the state has no jurisdiction.

Order Your Records from the Agency

Under the Privacy Act of 1974, any agency that maintains a system of records must make a copy of the records available to the individual they pertain to.

This includes records on your children, even if they are in foster care, unless parental rights have been terminated. Some caselaw to that effect:

Statements made or information given by a custodial parent of an infant to a certified social worker, bearing adversely upon the health, safety and welfare of the infant, are not privileged within the contemplation of a state statute protecting the confidentiality of communications between a certified social worker and his client, and they are subject to compulsory disclosure.
Perry v Fiumano (4th Dept) 61 App Div 2d 512, 403 NYS2d 382

A father who is accused of committing various sexual offenses against his minor daughter, and who seeks to compel a child welfare agency to release its records pertaining to the daughter so that he can examine them for supposed medical records, names of witnesses, and other exculpatory evidence, is entitled under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to know whether those records contain information that might have changed the outcome of his trial if they had been disclosed.
Pennsylvania v Ritchie, 480 US 39, 94 L Ed 2d 40, 107 S Ct 989, 22 Fed Rules Evid Serv 1

A statute prohibiting the disclosure of information acquired by social workers from persons consulting them in their professional capacity is not applicable to information obtained by social workers investigating child abuse.
In Interest of Pitts (3d Dist) 44 Ill App 3d 46, 2 Ill Dec 652, 357 NE2d 872

We suggest that you try to determine your state's law that allows access to records and make the request under that law. Government agents seem to respond to state laws more readily than to federal law. If you can't find the state's law or if your state law doesnt permit access to records, send a combined request under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act.

If the request is denied or ignored, send an appeal letter. A Privacy Act appeal letter can be found here.

If the request is denied or ignored, you can file a Motion to Compel Disclosure.

If this request is denied or ignored, file a Writ of Mandamus with the state court of appeals to compel disclosure of the records.  Mandamus has been used successfully to compel disclosure of records even in states where the parent's aren't allowed access to records under state law.

Since the Privacy Act is a federal law, all states must make records available regardless of state law. Just like with FOIA requests, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in federal court for denial of access to records.

The Privacy Act can also be used to force the agency to make amendments or correct errors in your records if they are inaccurate. Whether you receive your records through a state law request, Privacy Act request or court order, you should send a letter outlining any errors or omissions and request the agency to amend those errors.

Document all Interactions

Keep a journal detailing all interactions with state agents.

In addition to the journal, give the agent and opportunity to confirm or deny your version of events by sending a documentation letter after each phone call or verbal conversation. 

A documentation letter similar to the one above should also be used to document visits with your children if they are in state care.

This letter should be sent to all persons present at the visit as well as the worker managing your case. A copy will be filed with your court report.

If you get responses to either the documentation letters or visitation letters and their version of events doesnt match yours, continue writing back and forth hashing out the discrepancies. All letters should be sent by certified mail.

Sometimes government agents will not respond to your letters. Thats okay. They will have a hard time going into court later with a different set of events when they failed to respond to your letters. Your letters will become part of the court records and can be used as evidence.

We recommend that you tape all interactions in both audio and video.  If a state agent refuses to be taped, don't speak to them without your attorney present. Agents with pure motives will want the record preserved just as carefully as you do. Unless they plan to act illegally or unethically, recorded meetings are more to their advantage than yours.

In most states you can audio tape the agent with the consent of only one participant (you).  Youll need to check your states law on eavesdropping prior to audio taping without consent. Failure to do so could result in a criminal arrest. Tapes made without the consent of all parties may not be admissible in court as evidence, but they will serve to aid you in writing follow-up documentation letters.

Some behavior needs to be seen as well as heard. If you can afford to, you should equip your home and person with hidden video cameras.

Hidden cameras are very small and unnoticeable. Some can be hidden in your home, while others can be worn on your person, such as a jean jacket, backpack, baseball cap or tie.

A catalog of surveillance equipment is available by calling or writing our office.

Don't Sign a Safety Plan or Stipulation

The state agent may ask you to sign a "safety plan" or voluntarily agree to home visitation as a means of either keeping your children now or having them placed back home on a trial basis.  The purpose of these programs is to gather enough evidence (real or imagined) to build a case to take your children.  Remember, states only get federal money when they put your children in foster care, not when they leave them with you under a home visitation program.

These plans often require parents to agree not to use corporal punishment or other legal methods of child rearing. For a family that has been using corporal punishment to suddenly stop creates frustration and confusion and increases the likelihood that the parent will react out of anger. It also sends a message to the child that he doesnt need to obey his parents to avoid a spanking because a state agent will come out and tell them they cant spank him. If the original report had to do with problems with the childs behavior and the parents use of discipline; this safety plan would create chaos.

Another tactic is to impose restrictions that are outside the parents control, such as requiring that a child do well medically even though the child has a diagnosed condition that would prevent this. The childs illness leaves a high probability that he will be sick, thus the parents have no control over compliance with the safety plan and are simply counting the days until their child is removed.

In one such case, the child was diagnosed with a brittle bone disease and had even fractured while in foster care. The parents were asked to sign a safety plan which required the child not to have another fracture. The chances that he would re-fracture were very high and totally outside the parents control.

In another case, a child had a weight disorder and had gained an additional five pounds during a short foster care stay. The parents were asked to sign a safety plan which required the child to lose weight. The parents had been taking their child to doctors for years to no avail. Even foster care couldnt make the child lose weight. How then could the parents be expected to control their childs weight when the doctors and the state had failed?

In yet another case, the parents of a child with a seizure disorder were asked to sign a safety plan which required their child not to have seizures.

Sometimes the plan is simply to have the childs grades improve, yet this is still outside the parents control. The parents can do everything in their power to facilitate good grades, but its ultimately up to the child to perform.

All of these plans will fail and the child will end up in state custody. The fact that the parents have failed one plan gives the state grounds not to offer another plan. Thus, they will move for permanency (termination and adoption).

Safety plans are intentionally vague and therefore impossible to follow.  The plan might read, "parent's will maintain a home appropriate for children".  This is subjective; you may think you home is excellent for children, but the agent might think that because you don't have safety plugs in your electrical outlets, the home isn't appropriate.

For desperate parents, the plan might seem like an easy way to get your child home or keep him home. In the long run, however, signing a safety plan could cost you your child permanently.

Bottom line - If you're not guilty of abuse or neglect, don't tolerate an unwarranted government assault and don't "settle" by agreeing to services you don't need.  If the agency believes you are guilty of abuse or neglect, make them prove it in court.

Request Placement with a Relative

The states get more money for placing children in foster care than they do for placing them with relatives.  Thus, they are reluctant to place with relatives and when they do, they often require the relative to become a licensed foster care provider so the agency can get federal money.

Relative placement shouldnt be confused with relative foster care. A relative foster home is just like any other foster home, except the caregiver happens to be related. They are bound by all the same restrictions as other foster homes and the agency can remove the children at any time without cause just as they could from a foster home that wasnt a relative. Foster caregivers do not have a right to have a child placed in their home and they are not interested parties to the court case.

With relative placement, however, the agency doesnt license the relatives as foster caregivers. The relatives arent bound by the restrictions of a foster home. A child placed under these circumstances couldnt be removed from the home without cause.

Federal law requires that relatives be given preference for placement.  The law doesn't allow the agency to impose restrictions on relative placements, such as foster care training or a home study, although most states require a background screen to be certain the relative doesnt have a prior record of child abuse.  Placement with relatives should be immediate without any delays.

Grandparents have the option of gaining interested party status by filing a Motion to Intervene with the court. With a Motion to Intervene, the grandparent can force placement when the agency refuses.

A Motion to Intervene gives the grandparent legal standing as a party to the case. This allows them to make motions to the court and to have the court hear their side before any decision is made. They can write court reports at each hearing to give the court their version of what has transpired as well as make recommendations about what should be done in the future.

* Note to Parents - Federal law does not require or even allow placement with a relative that is working against reunification.  Further, a relative who continually makes false reports shouldn't be rewarded with placement of the child.  If your child has been placed with a relative that is working against reunification, file a Motion to Change Placement with the court and cite the reason as the current placement is a hindrance to reunification.

Assert Your Parental Rights

As your childs parent, you still retain all your parental rights. Removing your child from your care is based on the childs need for protection. It does not modify or revoke your parental rights.

You have all the same rights you always did, expect the right to have your child live in your home. This includes the right to medical records, educational records, the right to consent to medical care and to choose the doctor your child sees, the right to decide what church your child should attend, what type of environment he should reside in, etc.

Generally government agents sometimes pretend like you have no rights or fail to consult you before making decisions concerning your childs care. If you dont assert your parental rights, the government agent most likely will not honor them.

When your child is placed in state care, you should send a letter preserving your parental rights and outlining the type of care you want your child to receive. A sample letter can be found here.


Sometimes medical providers wrongly believe that if your children are in state care, you dont have any parental rights. Because of this false assumption, they will withhold medical records or refuse to speak to you about your childs care. If the medical provider has made a report against you or is alleging abuse, he may be very reluctant to turn over records pertaining to your child, knowing those records might also incriminate him.

However, the records belong to you, as your childs legal parent. The medical provider is simply a custodian of those records. This is why you need to sign a release form before the records can be sent to another doctor or given to a state agent.

In rare circumstances, medical records may be withheld as part of a criminal investigation. If this case, a court order is required to withhold the records.

If you dont have any luck in getting the records yourself, you can pay an attorney a small fee to write a letter for you. The attorney wouldnt be representing you, just drafting a letter. For some reason, doctors tend to respond better to letters from attorneys than letters parents.

We suggest that you send a letter to your childs medical providers to preserve and clarify your parental rights. An example letter can be found here.


The medical provider needs your consent prior to treating your child. This is true even if your child is in state care.

The 9th Circuit Federal Court recently decided a case which greatly emphasizes the parental right to govern medical care, even when children are in state custody:

[43] The right to family association includes the right of parents to make important medical decisions for their children, and of children to have those decisions made by their parents rather than the state.

it is in the interest of both parents and children that parents have ultimate authority to make medical decisions for their children...

Wallis v Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)

In the above case, the Wallis children were picked up and taken to a clinic for an invasive vaginal and anal sexual abuse examination. The court held such exams even for investigative purposes are unlawful when administered without parental consent or a court order. Parental consent is always required.

the "Constitution assures parents that, in the absence of parental consent, physical examinations of their child may not be undertaken for investigative purposes at the behest of state officials

the state is required to notify parents and to obtain judicial approval before children are subjected to investigatory physical examinations.

Wallis v Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)

State agents and foster caregivers do not have the power to consent to medical care. Even if the parent refuses to give their consent, the state agent must obtain a court order for medical care. In this case, the parents have a right to go before the Judge and tell their reasons for not wanting to give consent.

unless a judicial officer has determined, upon notice to the parents, and an opportunity to be heard, that grounds for such an examination exist
Wallis v Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)

Parents have the right to be present with their child during all medical examinations and appointments.

Parents have a right arising from Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest in family association to be with their children while they are receiving medical attention, or to be in a waiting room or other nearby area if there is a valid reason for excluding them while all or a part of medical procedure is being conducted.
Wallis v Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)

Children have a corresponding right to have their parents present during medical exams and appointments.

Under Fourteenth Amendment right of family association, children have right to the love, comfort, and reassurance of their parents while they are undergoing medical procedures, including examinations, particularly those that are invasive or upsetting.
Wallis v Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)


You have all the same parental rights concerning your childs education that you did before he/she was placed in foster care. Teachers, like doctors sometimes wrongly believe that having a child in foster care means you have no parental rights. Worse, they believe the foster caregiver inherits your parental rights. To preserve and clarify your parental rights with your childs teachers, we suggest you send a letter similar to the one here.

You may attend parent-teacher conferences. No other person should attend these conferences in your place, particularly not the state agent or foster care provider. If they desire to be present, it should be to observe only.

The state agent's only role should be to observe how you act as a parent, how you relate with your childs teacher, handle his educational needs, etc. The state agent should not make educational recommendation, as she is unqualified to do so. The agent shouldnt answer questions about your childs performance or behavior, as she hasnt spent enough time with him to render an accurate opinion.

The foster caregiver may have a genuine interest in the meeting because it will be partly her responsibility to facilitate an environment that will help your child get good grades. However, the foster caregiver should be respective of your role as a parent and her role as a temporary care provider. Any questions pertaining to goals for your child should be answered by you, the parent, not the temporary caregiver.

The foster caregiver should honor your goals and wishes for your childs educational future even if she might have set different goals for her own child. This is not her child, but yours. She should provide an environment that will facilitate your goals. If the foster caregiver refuses to honor your parental goals and wishes for your childs education, you should request a change of placement in court.


If your child has an Individual Education Plan or 504 Plan, you should participate in the designing of the plan. Sometime when you arrive at these planning conferences, the plan is already drawn up and they simply discuss it with you. Politely ask that blank forms be brought out so that all parties may actively participate in the planning. You might say:

I understand that you are trying to save time, however, my childs education isnt an area I wish to cut corners in. This plan will direct my childs education for quite some time. Thus, I want to put every effort into its planning. Its better to spend additional time in planning now than to be dissatisfied with the results later.

Although others (state agent or foster caregiver) may attend the planning, you will be the person that outlines educational goals for your child. Make certain that all your concerns are heard and noted.

If a plan is developed that you didnt participate in, demand another planning conference. If you dont agree with a plan, dont sign it. You have the right to a due process hearing if you dont agree with an IEP or 504 plan. At such a hearing, the school would need to justify their unwillingness to heed your suggestions on the plan.

Don't Waive Your Right to a Trial

Parents do not have Constitutional Rights in the Juvenile Court.  There is no right to due process or other protections, except at trial (adjudication).  This is because the presiding Judge in the Juvenile court is supposed to make decisions in the best interests of the child as he/she interprets that to be.  For over 40 years, no form of due process was required in the juvenile courts; attorneys weren't even allowed.

In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that some due process was required in the juvenile court, but not all Constitutional protections.

...the purpose of the court's decision is not to require in the juvenile process all of the constitutional rights now mandatory in the criminal or even administrative process, but rather simply to require in adjudicatory hearings those rights required by the notions of fundamental fairness and due process under the fourteenth amendment.
Kent v United States 383 U.S. 541, 562 (1966)

Thus, the only time parents have any due process rights is at the adjudication.

Adjudication is referred to as a trial, due process hearing, fact-finding hearing, jurisdictional hearing, etc. in various states.  Going under different names makes it difficult for parents to determine which hearing is the adjudicatory hearing.

Whatever the state chooses to call it, it's the hearing where the state would present evidence and witnesses to prove their claim that you abused or neglected your child and you would present evidence and witnesses to the contrary. You can also cross-examine the states witnesses.  This is the only time the state is required to prove their case and the only time the parents may present evidence in their defense.

It's also the first time you can appeal to a higher court.  Even if the juvenile court finds against you, you can appeal to the state court of appeals.  The appellate court is bound by due process of law and appellate court judges are commanded to look to the law and interpret it exactly as written.

The juvenile court judge is only commanded to act in the best interests of the child, regardless of what the law may say.  They are given very liberal discretion to loosely interpret the law or even ignore it if they believe it to be in the child's best interests.  Thus, it's in your best interests to get into the appellate court at the earliest possible point.

Because the adjudication is the only time the state is required to prove their case and the only time parents have due process rights, state agents make extreme efforts to get the parents to "stipulate" or "waive" the adjudication.

The stipulations can be worded in such a way that it doesn't sound like you've abused your child.  For example, it might say that your child was injured and the injury was non-accidental but it doesn't say that you did it.

A stipulation might say the child has a medical condition and the parents are unable to manage it. This means neglect, the parents cant or wont meet their childs needs. Wording doesn't matter.  Signing any stipulation, regardless of wording is an admission that you are guilty of abuse or neglect and as such the state was justified in removing your child.

The state only has the power to intervene when parents have abused or neglected their child or there is a substantial risk that they will abuse or neglect their child. They dont have the power to intervene when children are sick or have a medical condition unless the parents are neglecting the child by failing to provide adequate care. Therefore, when you stipulate (which means to agree), you are saying the state was correct to intervene, which is admitting abuse or neglect.

The agency will often resort to extreme measures, such as withholding visitation to extract a stipulation from parents.  Some examples:

In our community CPS takes the position that a parent must acknowledge both the abuse of their children and take responsibility for the abuse before the parent can have unsupervised visits with their children.
Bart Rubin, PhD

the child protection community is virtually united behind the concept that the parent must acknowledge responsibility for the abuse and must clarify that abuse with the child before visitation or contact can be re-established.
Frampton Durban, Jr, Chief Legal Counsel, Charleston County DSS, Charleston, SC

Do not succumb to these terrorist tactics!  It's better to forego visitation for a short time while you make your case in court, than to lose your child forever in a termination of parental rights proceeding (under federal law, states must petition for termination of your parental rights at 15 months regardless of the progress you've made).

The best way to get your child home permanently is by requiring the state to prove their allegations against you in a court of law. If they fail to prove the allegations, the case is closed. The state is very aware of this fact, which is why they work so hard to get parents to waive their right to a trial.

From the Chief Legal Counsel above:

In other words, its easier to withhold visitation and coerce parents into signing a stipulation than to proceed with litigation. The state knows they stand a good chance of losing at trial by failing to prove conclusively that you are guilty of the allegations.

If you sign a stipulation, you're waiving all your due process rights and can never again argue that you didn't abuse or neglect your child.  This is perhaps the most important suggestion on this page!

File Court Reports and Affidavits


At each court hearing, all parties to the case may file a report with the court to give the judge information about what has transpired from one hearing to the next.  The judge is required to read these reports prior to the hearing.

Generally only social workers write court reports because parents arent informed of their right to do this. Parents are "parties" to the case and have the right to file a court report.  If a grandparent has gained interested party status through a Motion to Intervene, they too may file a court report.

Each court report should outline what has transpired since the last court hearing, including all interactions with the agency, visitations, and any other events associated with the case (psych evals, medical appointments, etc).  Attach to the court report all the documentation letters you've been sending to state agents to confirm phone conversations, visitations, etc..

When this report is completed, take two copies to the Clerk of the Court and asked her to file them.  She will file stamp each copy; place one in the file and give the other to you.  You must get a file stamped copy as proof the document was filed.

Filing court reports is the only way for you to get your version of events into the written record.  Should your case ever result in an appeal, the appellate court will get the court file and read everything it contains.  When filing an appeal, you generally don't get a hearing, the court simply makes their ruling based on what's in the court record and your appellate brief.  It's imperative for the appellate court to find your version of events in this written record.


In the beginning of your case, you should file a notarized affidavit of facts with the court.  This affidavit is sort of a "for the record..." document.  Often the petition contains many erroneous errors and omissions.  Your affidavit will contain the truth to correct the state's petition.  Some common examples are:

petition reads - "there's a hole in the kitchen floor"
truth - "there's a tear in the linoleum"

petition reads - "child was covered in bruises"
truth - "the child has minor bruises and scrapes on chins from climbing trees"

petitions reads - "the home was piled to the ceiling in clutter"
truth - "parents were packing to move"

Other things might include incorrect name spellings, birth dates, address, etc.  Your affidavit should directly address all errors, inconsistencies and omissions found in the petition.

Sometimes the Affidavit will accompany a Motion to Dismiss if the affidavit shows there is no legal basis for state custody.

This affidavit should not be confused with the Answer that is filed in response to the petition. The Answer will simply confirm or deny the allegations in the Petition. It generally needs to be filed very quickly, in some states as little as 10 days.

Do Everything by Court Order

You should require a court order before complying with any demands the agency might make.  When the agent starts saying you need to do this or that, your response might be:

Mrs. Government Agent, Im happy to do all that is asked of me by the court. Do you have a court order for the things you are asking?

The agent might say, No I dont have a court order, but the court will require you to do the things Im asking anyway and it will please the judge if you have them completed early.

By now, this person is likely someone that you greatly distrust.  If the agent is anything like the norm, shes already lied to you, misled you and broken several laws and procedures.  Certainly you wouldnt believe anything a person of this stature says without collaborating it first.  Your response to the above statement might be:

Im thankful that you are trying to assist me in completing things you believe the court might require of me. I appreciate your concern.

However, I wish to follow the legal channels set in place for matters such as these. I know the court will base requirements imposed on me on specific findings of abuse or neglect. I prefer to wait for my day in court to defend the allegations made against me rather than acting as a guilty person by complying with demands put on child abusers now.

Im confident the evidence will support my innocence and the court will be able to see through the allegations and not impose conditions on me intended for child abusers.

You do not need to take child rearing (parent training) classes or have a psychological evaluation until it is court ordered. It shouldnt be court ordered until the court has adjudicated you guilty of abuse or neglect.

Sometimes, however, courts get in the habit of ordering all parents to complete child rearing classes, psychological evaluations and drug screens as part of the temporary orders.  They believe it is an easy (and lazy) way of moving cases through the system more quickly.

However, federal courts have held that such restrictions cant be imposed on parents without first finding that abuse or neglect did occur and second, finding some cause that the requirements are actually needed.

Even after abuse or neglect has been adjudicated; before a psychological evaluation can be ordered, there needs to be some justification for it, rather than simply ordering them for all parents.

The same applies to drug screens.  There must be some reason to suspect drug use and its relationship to child abuse before a drug screen can be imposed.  Likewise, there needs to be some judicial finding of parental unfitness before child rearing classes can be imposed.

If a Judge orders these things in the temporary orders in your case, you should object orally in open court while they are being ordered.  Your response might be:

Your Honor, we object to these requirements being imposed without a judicial finding that creates a need for them.

The court is so accustomed to doing everything with a rubber-stamp and herding families through like cattle, that youll need to show them youre a little different; youre actually going to insist on compliance with the law.

The Judge may ignore your objection and impose the requirements anyway.  If this happens, you should file an appeal to the state court of appeals.  Contact our legal department for assistance in finding caselaw to use for the appeal.

If you arent in open court when the orders are made, but they are simply provided to you later, youll need to file a Motion to Reconsider with the court asking them to remove the restrictions imposed before you appeal.  In other words, you need to give the Judge an opportunity to voluntarily rescind the orders before going to the appellate court.

Sometimes it may be to your advantage to voluntarily complete some things outside of a court order.  If this is the case, it should be done completely on your own, because you want to or need to, and without the advice or assistance of the state agent.

As an example, if the state is alleging that you were high at the time the children were taken, you may want to rush to the hospital for a drug screen to prove you werent.  Or the allegations might be that you are often stoned and leave the child to fend for himself. In this case, you might choose to get a drug evaluation to offer as evidence in your defense.

There might be an allegation that you are mentally unstable because your mother committed suicide or some other reason.  You could choose to get a psychological evaluation to combat these accusations.

If you have an evaluation or take child rearing classes, either by court order or by choice, choose your own therapist.  Do not go to the person the state agent recommends.  When interviewing therapists or counselors, ask them if they contract with the state.  If they do, go elsewhere.  If you have reason to distrust the state, it doesnt make much sense to trust those that do business with the state.

When choosing a therapist or counselor, question them closely to make certain they share or respect your closely-held convictions.  If you are Christian, choose a Christian counselor or enroll in a Christian-based child rearing class.  If you are a vegetarian, choose a counselor that will respect the choice youve made for your family.  If you homeschool, chose a counselor that understands and respects homeschooling.

Do not sign a release of information for the state agent to speak with your therapist or obtain records.  If youve gone voluntarily prior to a finding of abuse or neglect, you will bring the information to court with you to use in your defense.  Theres no reason for the state agent to have it unless they have a court order.

If the agent has a court order for the information, it should be limited to the diagnosis or findings, not the entire file.  The agent should not get a court order for the information prior to an adjudication of abuse or neglect.  If such an order has been made, youll want to file a Motion to Reconsider or an appeal.

Be sure to get a clear order for visitation and not something like, parents will get regular visits.  The order should outline exactly how often visits should occur and what type of restrictions will be imposed on them.  If you dont have a clear order, you can file a Motion to Clarify with the court.

In summary; before you do anything, require a court order.  If you want something, seek a court order.

If the state fails to comply with any court order, you can file a Motion to Show Cause to hold the agency in contempt of court.  If you disagree with an order, file a Motion to Reconsider or an appeal.  If youd like a court order explained more clearly, file a Motion to Clarify

Request an Administrative Hearing

If the agency substantiates you for abuse or neglect, you may request an administrative hearing to overturn the substantiation.

An administrative hearing is separate from juvenile court.  You can be substantiated for abuse or neglect by the agency but not adjudicated through the court.  Or, you could be unsubstantiated by the agency and still be adjudicated through the court. Thus there are two findings to fight; the agencys and the courts.

If you are substantiated by the agency, your name will be placed on the Child Abuse Registry forever.  This will prevent you from taking any job involving children. Most states list unsubstantiated reports on the Child Abuse Registry for several years, up to 10 years in some states. You can ask for an administrative hearing to remove your name from the Registry even if you are unsubstantiated by the agency.

The procedure for seeking an administrative hearing is different in each state. Generally, the procedure is outlined in the finding you receive from the agency; usually in the small print.

If an administrative hearing isnt settled to your satisfaction, you may appeal that decision and get another administrative hearing. If youre not happy with the results there, you may file a judicial appeal to have the matter heard in court.

Remember that an agency finding has little to do with the return of your children. Only the courts finding determines whether or not they remain in foster care. In fact, nationally, 18% of the children placed in foster care were unsubstantiated by the agency.

However, it is very important to fight BOTH findings; the agencys and the courts to ensure that your name wont be listed on the Child Abuse Registry. Additionally, if you ever get entangled with the agency in the future, a previous substantiation will be used to create a risk of harm to justify removing your child again or to remove future children.

Make Your Attorney Work for You

Make sure that your attorney is on your side.  Send a letter to him/her in the beginning outlining exactly what you expect from the representation.  This letter should clearly outline all details of the representation, including the time frame in which they should return phone calls or answer letters.

You should request that your attorney immediately mail you a copy of everything he/she receives involving your case.

You should require that your attorney read everything in the court file and become familiar with it so that he/she is adequately prepared to defend you.

You should require your attorney to present all possible legal options to you in a clear and concise manner, then tell you which option he/she recommends and why.  Since you are the one that stands to lose your child, you should make the final decision.

Above all, require that your attorney believe in your innocence and ability to rear your child.  If the attorney has doubts about your innocence and abilities, he/she has no business representing you.

Document all interactions with your attorney the same way you do for state agents (see Document All Interactions).  If the attorney consistently fails to heed your requests or provide an adequate defense, you may file a formal complaint against him/her with the bar association or attorney disciplinary board in your state.

If the representation is so bad that it severely impacts the outcome of your case, the attorney can be sued for malpractice.  In order to do this, you must be able to prove your claims and this is done through documentation letters.

Suing an attorney for malpractice will not effect the outcome of your case, it will simply require the attorney to compensate you for the damage hes caused. This mean youve lost something needing compensation (your child). Thus, its better to ensure that the attorney is doing a good job through proper communication and documentation.

For more information about making your attorney work for you, order the book, "Mad at Your Lawyer"

Protect Your Child From State Care Abuse

There is a very legitimate concern for your childs safety while in state custody. Your child could be abused, neglected or even killed while in foster care.

According to a report published by the federal government, children were abused 4 times more often in state care, sexually abused 11 times more often and murdered 5 times more often in fiscal year 1998.

Through the years, the record for safety in state care has gotten worse. In Kansas, after failing to meet the standard for safety for more than 10 years in a row, they simply lowered it to be in compliance.

If you witness any marks, scrapes, bruises, burns, etc. on your child, you should ask for an explanation in writing. Document the injuries as carefully as possible by taking pictures.

Parents should be warned that the state may retaliate when you try to report abuse in foster care. They may stop your visits. If this occurs, file a motion in court to have the visits resumed.

Continue to report the abuse to the proper authorities. Do everything in writing.

Use Proper Terminology

State agents often misuse words to support their agenda. By adopting their chosen language, you are helping to promote their agenda.

ParentThere can only be one set of legal parents at any given time. State agents began calling temporary caregivers foster parents and so they needed another term to differentiate traditional parents, thus they came up with birth parent, biological parent or bio parent.

Lets define each of these words correctly:

Parentnoun(from Latin parere to give birth to) one that begets or brings forth offspring

Fosteradjective(from Old English fOstor-, food, feeding) affording, receiving, or sharing nurture

Birthnounthe act or process of bringing forth young from the womb

Biologicaladjectiveof biology; produced by applied biology

Notice how the adjective chosen for temporary caregivers (foster) is much more desirable than the one chosen for parents (birth or biological). The word foster even sounds better; a person who feeds, nourishes, cares for, shares with and nurtures; what a powerful and desirable title to hold! When combined with the stolen title of parent, the title of foster parent carries much prestige and recognition.

However, in contrast, the adjective of birth meaning only to bring forth young from the womb or biological meaning only that the child was made from your biologic material are very negative and undesirable. These adjectives do not impart any special recognition like nurturing or feeding. Our society is constantly bombarded with the rhetoric, Anyone can be a sperm or egg donor, but it takes a real parent to nurture a child. In the context of what weve just discussed, this statement basically says that foster (nurture) givers are real parents and the actual parents are simply sperm or egg donors.

Birth parent implies that you were the parent for the purposes of birth, but now the child needs nurturing. Foster parents do that. Likewise, biological parent implies that youve supplied the needed genetic material to create the child, but now your job is finished. Foster parents will now feed, nurture and care for the child.

Under the original Latin definition of parent, meaning to give birth to, a temporary caregiver could never be a parent. However, in our society, we have a legal process that allows non-parents to earn the title of parent; this occurs only through adoption. Temporary caregiver havent adopted your child, thus, they arent parents either naturally or legally and shouldnt be addressed as such.

What is a foster parent?  First, they are temporary. They serve a temporary function. Second, they are state contracted agents. Third, they are contracted to provide care for your child. Thus, the proper term would be temporary state care provider

Parenting used as a verb.  According to Webster, parent as a verb means to "create" or "originate.  Thus, the term "parenting" would mean the act of causing the conception of a child.  After children are born, they are raised or reared.  You don't attend parenting classes, you attend child rearing classes.  You're not there to learn how to produce children you're there to learn how to raise them.

Using the term "parenting" to mean the act of raising a child wrongly implies that whoever is doing the "parenting" must be a "parent".  Children can be raised by many people that aren't parents (such as relatives or state caregivers). 

A recent Supreme Court ruling on family rights, Troxel vs Granville, used the term "child rearing" some 16 times, but never used the term "parenting".  The idea of using the word parenting to mean raising a child was started by CPS; it isn't grounded in any theory of law or in the English language.  It is simply another way in which CPS tries to steal the sanctity of parenthood and apply it to their own twisted agenda -- the total destruction of the traditional family.  If you don't support that agenda, you shouldn't adopt their rhetoric.


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