Frequently The Idaho Observer receives stories of some horrifying report of government abuse that involves Child Protective Services (CPS). Due to our editor Don Harkins’ involvement with CPS in Oregon when he wrote for The Oregon Observer, he found himself so torn up inside by the magnitude of the problem that he shied away from reporting such stories until the Christine family case came to our attention. (See October 2001 and May 2002 editions of The I.O.) Since then he has selectively reported on a few of the most horrendous cases of abuse at the hands of the state. The trampling of parental rights has intensified in recent years and the volume of children taken into state custody where they are sexually assaulted and abused has become a national tragedy. The following article will empower parents to protect their children from state custody. It is more important today than ever before since the list of items justifying the removal of children from their homes has grown to include not vaccinating and homeschooling.
Mike Gibson spent ten years as an investigator for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Florida. He insists that the agency is neither for children nor families. A patriot and Christian, he joined the agency to assess how far government tentacles reach and to try and keep as many families out of “the system” as possible. As a senior investigator he spent about six months educating a circuit judge about dependency law (the laws that deal with children and families in Florida.) The result was a 90 percent reduction in the number of children taken away from their parents during the next two and a half years in the county Gibson worked in. Already privy to anyone’s financial, medical and even sealed and expunged criminal records, Gibson quit in disgust when he learned of plans for vaccine records to be downloaded to the DCF’s database. Office talk centered around the mass influx of children they would have to place in foster care when the Federal government begins mandatory vaccines. In Florida, refusing a mandatory vaccine is a 2nd degree misdemeanor with a sentence of six months in jail or forced quarantine.
Beginning this month, the Gibsons will be sharing vital information that every American family needs to safeguard their children from the voracious appetite of these greed driven agencies.
Although he’s encountered rogue investigators over the years, Gibson’s experience points to the supervisors and program administrators who pressure and intimidate caseworkers into removing children. “The bar has been set very low. Anyone can bring a complaint against a parent anonymously. Probable cause and imminent risk are the only guidelines. It’s a huge financial racket. If it wasn’t the government it would be covered under R.I.C.O. (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). It’s all career advancement and a culture of fear,” says Gibson.
Mike Gibson’s philosophy for training and helping people is that they need to understand what they are up against, what the law requires of the agency and what rights a family has during an investigation.
Recently, Gibson stayed on the phone with a mother from his church, successfully coaching her to keep the six sheriff’s deputies at her door with a forged court order at bay.
“Make no mistake. Although the CPS worker doesn’t look like a cop, he is part of law enforcement and is considered a first responder. Parents need to have a real, doable, practical plan to deal with this agency when they come to their door. A large part of how much they can protect their children is how well they prepare their family for this marauding invader and how much they can keep their children out of the system. Keeping your family off their radar is always the best option,” Gibson advises.
Sheltering is a technical term for removing children from parents’ custody. Pissed off sheltering occurs when parents have angered CPS investigators to the point that they use the wide latitude of discretion they have to narrowly hit on some point and make their probable cause to a judge. Gibson once saw a mother lose her three children because she needed a daycare referral and the worker would not give it to her. The mother was very insistent and the worker set the mother up in a tangle of words, took her children and swore under oath to what the mother stated, although out of context, and got the judge to agree. It took the mother over a year to regain custody of her children.
Although Gibson’s expertise is with Florida law, he is confident laws are the same or very similar in other states since Florida is considered a model state for CPS nationwide. Knowing your rights as parents or legal guardians of children is imperative. Most state laws are structured so that parental rights are very strong and an agency has to have some type of imminent risk to interfere with those rights. Children’s safety and lives can depend on a parent being well-informed and having a clear understanding of what an agency can and cannot do. In Florida, parental rights are covered under Chapter 39 of Florida’s statutes. Other states have comparable laws. Once an agency becomes involved, it is paramount that parents themselves adhere to and demand the agency adhere to the law. Most agencies will either skirt around it or ignore the law. Sadly, according to the Gibsons, judges are ignorant of the Juvenile Rules of Procedures. Circuit judges loath hearing CPS cases, thinking these cases are an interruption of more important issues and a lower assignment than even traffic court.
Parents need to be well-versed in how to access the checks within the system and have a good idea how to maneuver through them. He says, “you don’t have to be a lawyer, just a zealous advocate for your own children.” Most state laws dealing with child protective services are available online and easily downloaded and printed. This is a must for parents to have and read. Also, there are ways to check on recent court decisions and parents should be able to also access those cases. “This may seem like a lot, and it is. But what is the most important aspect of your life? If it’s not your children, then maybe you need to reassess your values and priorities. Most parents know more about how the gadgets in the home and vehicles work than they have knowledge on how to keep their children safe.”
Parents need to have family and friends they can call on at a moment’s notice. Having a list of three or four committed individuals, who in turn call three or four will help assure you of having someone come to your aid if a CPS social worker calls or shows up. The objective is to get other eyes on the situation as quickly as possible and to bring accountability to the agency. The goal is to find people that are within an easy distance to your home. Most contacts between families in these situations are between 30 to 60 minutes. Time is of the essence. The first two minutes of contact are critical. Parents need to periodically check their phone tree operation to assess how the system is working and make adjustments to ensure that it operates smoothly during a crisis. This takes planning and practice with a committed group of friends and family.
Investigators are required to identify themselves to you and tell you why they are at your home. They can arrive by themselves or with law enforcement. They will generally say “May I come in and talk to you?” Under no circumstances should they ever be invited into your home. All child abuse investigations are felony investigations. Inviting them into your house is giving consent for them to gather evidence against you. Gibson counsels parents to step outside the door and close the door behind them.
Your first question should be “Am I an alleged perpetrator or a suspect in a criminal action?” You have several options that will buy the time you need to get more eyes on the situation. You can tell them that you want an attorney present. Second, you need to ask if they have a court order. They will need to go and get one. If law enforcement is present, you can tell them you want their road supervisor to be present. They are obligated to come to the scene at your request. If law enforcement is not present, you may want to call your local sheriff.
Use this time to call your phone tree and get your support team in place.
If allowed inside your home they will attempt to gather evidence to use against you. If they see anything such as drug paraphernalia or something they would deem as a threat to or unsafe for your child, they can search the rest of your home and place you under arrest. Parents with a firearm within reach of a child are arrested and jailed.
The Gibson’s recommend that parents have a video camera and small digital recorder. Keep the batteries charged. You have the right to videotape the investigator, and the right to record the conversation without their knowledge or consent.
Remember, if the judge would follow the law, CPS would have to prove that you are committing a felony act on your child. Judges are ignorant and investigators so poorly trained that neither knows or understands the law. Make it your goal to know the law and your family’s rights. You can be falsely accused at any time. Enlist an inner support circle for education, mutual protection and a phone tree. As the sign at Parris Island Marine base reads, “the more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”
The I.O. thanks Mike and Linda Gibson for sharing their expertise with us. The Gibsons are available for one-day seminars in your community. Contact Mike and Linda Gibson at 352-489-6521.