Friday, April 17, 2009

Spokane Paper Covers Hearing On CPS

Child Protective Services denounced
Lawmakers hold meeting on agency’s practices

Richard Roesler
Staff writer

Collen Beimer, of Bonney Lake, Wash., attended a meeting about Child Protective Services workers, who were called heavy- handed. “My grandbabies are gone,” she said.
(Full-size photo)

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers, parents and an Eastern Washington prosecutor on Thursday blasted state child-protection officials, saying the state is too quick to remove children from their families.

“The system is broken. The children are forgotten,” said Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen. He said he found “a culture of deceit and deception” among Child Protective Services workers in Colville.

The standing-room-only crowd, numbering about 100, was full of parents and grandparents, some holding photographs of children. Thursday’s meeting was called by state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who’s been critical of state officials for months in a case involving a couple’s efforts to get custody of their 3-year-old granddaughter.

“Lies are put on desks,” Roach said on the Senate floor later in the day. “Children are being hurt.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services said officials take such allegations seriously. “If someone believes that any of our staff have been dishonest, falsified documents or have retaliated against families, we ask that people report this to the Children’s Administration or Office of the Family and Children’s Ombudsman,” Sherry Hill said.

“The first priority of the Children’s Administration is the safety of children,” she said. “Our goal is to keep children in their home as long as they are safe.”

Of the child abuse and neglect cases investigated, she said, fewer than 20 percent result in the children being placed in foster care. And when that does happen, Hill said, “we then work toward reunification with the family if that is possible.”

Still, it’s clear that many lawmakers are concerned. About a dozen attended. State Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, said he’s heard an “incredible” number of complaints from credible people.

“The agency self-investigates. They write their own reports,” he said. “You can imagine what those look like.”

State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, said she’s worried about reports that social workers retaliate against parents and relatives trying to keep or gain custody of children.

“I am deeply troubled at what I am finding in falsification of documents by social workers,” she said. And Kretz, Roach and Rasmussen raised concerns that social workers “target” certain children for removal from a home. That includes young kids, children who haven’t been molested, and those who come from families that weren’t involved in drugs.

“Completely untrue,” Hill said afterward. Social workers cannot remove children from a home without a superior court order, she said. (Police and some medical providers, she added, can authorize removal without a court order.)

It’s true that sometimes the workers may make mistakes or that some may violate rules, Hill said. But if so, she said, the department wants to hear about it and will investigate it.

Washington ranks third highest among states for the percentage of children placed with relatives, she said. Some 38 percent of those taken or given up by a parent live with relatives, she said, up from 30 percent nine years ago.

Rasmussen said courts need more authority to review and control child placements. He and Roach are also calling for more opening of the court and agency files involving such decisions.

“You have the power to change this and you should,” Rasmussen told lawmakers. It’s unclear, however, whether there will be any changes. Lawmakers took no action Thursday, except to urge the audience to organize and lobby the rest of the Legislature for changes. There are no bills to make changes, and this year’s legislative session is scheduled to end April 26.

As for Rasmussen’s allegations about the Colville office, DSHS defends its workers. Randy Hart, interim assistant secretary of the Children’s Administration, said recent case reviews showed that “the staff in Colville are committed to working with families and children in the community and helping them get the services they need.”

He also said the agency is investigating the allegations raised by Rasmussen. He said the prosecutor didn’t ask the Children’s Administration for any documents or records, nor ask to speak with any supervisor or manager about specific cases.

Prompted by a letter from Kretz last summer, Hart said, DSHS asked a state ombudsman to do an independent review of the Colville office. The review, he said, should be done by early May.

“Staff have been open to scrutiny,” he said, and have worked with families, foster parents and others in critical family decisions.

Richard Roesler can be reached at (360) 664-2598 or at For more news from Olympia, please see


Betty Johnson-Tomlin said...

I was at the hearing on Thursday. I live in Stevens County and because of CPS coming into my families life 2.4 years ago we are still struggling with heartache and damaged children. I have never seen so many lies and absolute disregard for a child in my life as what I have witnessed in Stevens county. The way I have dealt with my own heartache is to reach out to others who have been attacked by this agency called CPS. I advocate for accountability and the return of children to their families. Families first it is the law but CPS does not follow the law. Thank You Senator Roach, Rep Kretz and Short and all the others for uncovering the corrupt agency we know as CPS. I was asked once when will you quit doing this (this being standing up for kids and families) my answer when I draw my last breath.
Betty Johnson-Tomlin
Washington State Representative for The National Coalition of Grandparents FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that yes, it is is true regarding marketable babies and children. Our family believes that my niece was one of those children. She was born a healthy baby even stated in a court order. She was born to poor parents. My parents were not allowed custody even though they themselves raised six kids. There were no charges of wrongdoings except when my mother was close to a church where a visit was supposed to take place and she was charged with trespassing. Which we are finding out destroyed her attempt to find work. As for retaliation, then why do so many people continue to stride to work against us in reunification? Why couldn't we get any help? These are relatives who were simply taken directly out of hospital rooms (both born healthy). Why couldn't we get any help? No drugs, no alcohol, and yes came from an educated family (just low income).

Anonymous said...

The Ombudsman office simply needs to look at all the complaints they have already received throughout the years; review these complaints and take whatever steps necessary to reunify relatives and their families even if these children are now adults. To use the words "as long as they were safe" also is mud slinging and in some instances is slanderous. To correct records if it was due to civil rights violations. A grandmother does deserve to visit his or her grandchild in foster care and not be accused of trespassing on church property!!!

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to add that biological aunts and biological grandparents were also in attendance at ths meeting.

Anonymous said...

Police and medical providers should not have had the right to hold a healthy newborn infant and place them with CPS unless that person was being arrested! To simply take a healthy newborn and then trash people's reputation and make inflammatory remarks is dafamation of character!

Anonymous said...

And the Ombudsmen's office answers to who????

Anonymous said...

The ombudsman office answers to no one - They sit on their butt and do nothing. The public is told to file complaints. You might as well use your complaint form for a firestarter in your wood stove. You will get more use out it.

Lovingfitfather said...

The office of Children and family's Ombudsman who are supposed to be an independent voice actually just give DCFS a heads up on complaints filed against the department. This enables the department to defend against its lies before any outside action can be instituted. They perform espionage for CPS.
As to the truth, in all my experience with DCFS I have never seen one instance where the truth was even entertained let alone documented.

shawn said...

Well I will try this again! I hate this crap of having to keep anger into just a small amount of words. I will try. My grandaughter celebrated her second birthday a year ago with my sister and brother in law who I chose to have custody after she was taken from my daughter. Two days after she was stolen by the heavy handed God playing jerks of CPS in Spokane. This started after a new worker was put in charge. The file was taken from the "removal pile"! I have one person who has braved telling me some stuff even though she or he is scared to death of getting caught! The stuff I have learned is disgusting! The little one just celebrated number three and the family has no idea where she is or if we will see her again. Her two siblings fortunately are young enough that the question hasn't crossed their minds all the time, yet. I chose my sister and brother in law because of reasons like they are great people. I knew they would love and protect my grandaughter with all they had! Plus, I knew they would not deny her the right to know her siblings because until the late ninties this sister along with myself, another sister and brother did not know of each other! But because someone appointed CPS God they have stomped on like they are dirt. We don't have money for big lawyers so that is one reason it happened and they live out of state, the other. I know the worker was full of it from the start because of the at least seven different stories from her and when pushed..her comment was she is loved and well taken care of. Then why take her away? No answer! It is too bad the attorneys cost so much because there are many like our family that need one to step up and fight for those who do not have alot of green but alot of love and will not take being treated like garbage by higher than mighty employees of CPS. There are good ones or I would not know all that i know and I will protect them even if I wish they would put it on the line for the kids. But I know they aren't me and I hold not malice toward them. Just the ones that act like they can do what they want without reproach. Someday all of that will catch up with them.