Sen. Roach, Powell grandparents question Child Protective Services
February 23, 2012 · 5:22 PM
Chuck and Judy Cox today joined Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, 31st District, in urging changes at Child Protective Services that they believe will help protect children.
Judy and Chuck Cox are grandparents of Charlie, 7, and Braden Powell, 5, who were murdered by their father, Josh Powell, on Feb. 5 at the beginning of what was supposed to be a state-supervised visit. Josh Powell let the boys in his Graham house, then blocked the social worker from entering. Moments later, the house exploded into flames.
During the hearing, the boys' grandparents, their attorneys – Anne Bremner and Steve Downing – Roach and members of the audience offered ideas to prevent what went wrong from happening again.
"Some of what needs to change will be up to the Legislature," Roach said. "Some of it can be addressed by the governor issuing a directive to the executive agency responsible for child safety in these matters, the Department of Social and Health Services."
Cox and his wife emphasized the need for grandparents to be given the same level of credence as a biological parent, pointing out that the boy's father was able to say anything during the custody process without having to back it up with proof.
"We had a feeling something bad was going to happen," Judy Cox said. "(The boys) did not want to go for the visit that day."
She said she wanted to call and say they were sick, but she and her husband were afraid to say anything for fear they would lose custody of the boys.
Roach and the attorneys for the Cox family emphasized that DSHS knew Utah's West Valley City Police Department was conducting a murder investigation based on Susan Powell's disappearance and that they were looking at Josh Powell as a suspect. The attorneys noted that search warrants had been issued in Nevada, Utah and Washington.
On Wednesday, Roach filed several bills to address the concerns in the Powell case and will be introducing legislation similar to what she offered in 2010, which gives grandparents standing in dependency proceedings.
Roach's new bills include:
• Senate Bill 6602 – creating child welfare transparency committees within each of the six DSHS regions. The four legislative caucuses, the attorney general and governor would appoint the six members.
• Senate Bill 6603 – preventing a child custody award to someone considered a suspect in an active murder investigation.
• Senate Bill 6604 – establishing what is to be contained in background information for guardians ad litem. The list includes a statement of financial affairs, number of years of experience, level of formal education and founded allegations of child abuse.
• Senate Bill 6605 – requiring Child Protective Services workers to be licensed social workers and bonded.
• Senate Bill 6606 – breaking the Department of Social and Health Services into the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Public Welfare, and Department of Medical and Rehabilitative Services.
(Looks like the Grandparents standing in court was dropped from the list. I also want truthfulness guidelines like the State Patrol has adopted...then a CPS worker lying in court can be fired...just like a trooper would be fired for lying.)