Prickly World for Alabama DHR Staff

This is one of those Alabama supreme court cases that makes you cry for nearly everyone involved. Gowens v. Tys. S., Case No. 1041341, 1041413 (Ala. May 3, 2006). It’s all about whether a DHR investigative social worker can be sued by the people he or she is charged with protecting. The short answer is yes.

Jefferson County DHR became involved with this family when the mother delivered a child at UAB Hospital, and both mother and baby tested positive for cocaine. when a social worker at the hospital reported the presence of cocaine to DHR, DHR began an investigation. Supervisor Rose assigned the investigation to investigative social worker Gowens.

Even though a preliminary report mentioned there were two other children living in the household, Gowens developed a “safety plan” with the mother at the hospital that made no mention of the other children. In violation of the DHR manual, Gowens failed to verify the number of children in the household with an outside source, taking only the mother’s word for it that the newborn child was the only one in the household. Had he done so, presumably, he would have learned that the mother had two other children at home and would have (also as required by the DHR Manual) actually talked with those children. Had he done so, he might have learned more about how dangerous the home environment was both to the newborn baby and the older children.

Gowens set up a “safety plan” with the mother, using her mother (the grandmother of the children) as a person who had information about the children. Gowens learned a month or so later that the mother had made statements to him about her substance abuse that turned out to be untrue. He tried to visit the mother at her home but was unable to find her.

Tragedy followed about three months after that, when fire broke out in the residence. In that fire, one of the older children received third degree burns on her body, and fingers of one her hands had to be amputated. When he reopened the investigation, Gowens learned about the other children, learned that grandmother had a history of child neglect charges through DHR, and learned that the children had been unable to escape the fire because the grandmother had locked them in the house alone when she left for work.

There was no evidence or allegation that Gowens ever acted in bad faith. Instead, the evidence is of his failure to follow the DHR Manual.

The supreme court had several questions before it, all presented on interlocutory review (asking for appellate guidance while a case is ongoing):

  1. Whether Gowens was immune from any suit in connection with his work for DHR under Ala. Code § 26-14-9, which purports to extend immunity to designated persons who investigate child abuse or neglect.
  2. Whether Gowens was immune from suit by these plaintiffs (the children) because he owed them no duty.
  3. Whether Gowens was immune from suit by these plaintiffs because his actions were not the proximate cause of their injuries.

The supreme court dealt with the first argument easily, perhaps too easily. Here’s what Ala. Code § 26-14-9 says:

Any person, firm, corporation or official, including members of a multidisciplinary child protection team, quality assurance team, child death review team, or other authorized case review team or panel, by whatever designation, participating in the making of a good faith report in an investigation or case review authorized under this chapter or other law or department practice or in the removal of a child pursuant to this chapter, or participating in a judicial proceeding resulting therefrom, shall, in so doing, be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

The supreme court said that although the statute does indeed grant absolute immunity, the immunity does not arise unless the suit contains within it a charge that Gowens did one of the three acts. That’s not what the statute says. It says that any person participating in one of the three acts will be entitled to the immunity. I can accept that the legislature may not have intended the broad result Gowens advocated, but the plain language of the statute says that, and it should be up to the legislature to amend the statute, not up to the court to impose its own limitations.

Next the supreme court dealt with whether Gowens was immune from suit by these plaintiffs because he owed them no duty – also called “state-agent immunity.” The supreme court said that Gowens was clearly acting within the scope of his authority but that he forfeited the state-agent immunity when he failed to follow the procedures prescribed in the DHR Manual (he failed to verify the number of children in the household from an outside source). Had he followed the DHR Manual and learned that there were other children at the mother’s home, the supreme court speculated, he would have interviewed those children (also as prescribed in the DHR Manual) and might have learned the extent of the mother’s deception.

The DHR Manual simply does not confer upon the investigator of a CAN report the judgment or discretion to limit this crucial inquiry to asking questions of the alleged perpetrator. The mandates of the DHR Manual in this regard are precisely the sort of “detailed rules or regulations” that State agents cannot ignore, except at their peril. For these reasons, Gowens is not entitled to State-agent immunity.

Finally the supreme court turned to the issue whether Gowens was entitled to immunity because his action were not the proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries. Observing that the question of proximate cause is one of fact, the supreme court said that there was no controlling question of law for the court to review. “We decline, therefore, to review this fact-specific issue.”

Lee’s thoughts: So what is a DHR investigator to do? Let’s consider those who are planning now to become investigators like him. They know they will be paid relatively poorly and will be swamped with work. They know they will be spending their working hours with parents like the mother of these children, on the margins of society and resenting DHR and all its employees for intruding in their private lives. And now they know that anything other than the most scrupulous adherence to every list of tasks in the DHR Manual places them at risk of ruinous personal liability.

No matter that they were trying to do a good job; no matter that they had the best interests of the children at heart. “Gotcha! You missed task #26, so now you’re on the hook.” Forget for a moment whether it’s fair. It sounds like a doomed policy, because I don’t know of anyone of basic competence who would choose to live with that risk.

I certainly don’t face it, and I make better money than most DHR investigators. Lawyers are extraordinarily forgiving of themselves for minor transgressions. Why do we choose to be more strict, more demanding, and more condemnatory of those we need more and reward less?

306 comments to Prickly World for Alabama DHR Staff

  • Anonymous

    I worked in a health profession many years ago, had I ever made a decision based on “what if” thinking someone could have lost their life.
    As a health professional you know that what you feel about a situation is unreliable. What you can objectively see is all that you are to use.
    As a someone who worked in health I knew that IT WAS NEVER ABOUT ME. I was paid to do a job that required CRITICAL thinking. Had I ever put some sort of blame onto the client my supervisor would have removed me from the situation immediately because I then became a danger to the person, I would have forgotten the rules, all behavior has meaning, it is NEVER about me and always stay objective.
    If your using any other way to assess the situation how do you know that you have SAVED a child from abuse or neglect or have just put them into a situation of abuse or neglect?

  • Anonymous

    In response to #101…In the Health Profession it’s cut and dry in REAL life it isn’t. But your right it isn’t about those that work at DHR either, it’s about the CHILDREN. If they loose that perspective then they could loose a child. But it is NEVER cut and dry and the truth always lies somewhere in the middle.

  • Anonymous

    In real life it does work that way, rules, policy and procedure are there just so that the parents and children do not get hurt.
    If Social Workers code of ethics tell them to be truth finders then I suggest that code be changed. If a worker is going on feeling to assess the situation then the only truth to be found is the workers.
    Again I ask how does a worker know if they have SAVED or harmed a child using any other method then objectivity?

  • I'm Back

    #101 – Funny that you speak of certainties in regards to following the “rules.” Perhaps we should shine the light on YOUR profession and ask you to account for how more than 90,000 Americans die each year due to medication/surgical errors (oh yeah and according to the AMA these are the ones that the responsible professionals ADMITTED to)? Should this be the measure of all modern medicine, and the professionals that it consists of? That an OBSCENE number of people are killed each year by carelessness? What about the UNTOLD numbers that die when a particular medical regime is undertaken that the medical “professionals” was certain would fix the patient’s need, only to find that it killed them? How does it feel to have YOUR profession cast in such an ugly light. I am pretty certain that YOU did all that you could to care for your patients. Why? Because of the profession you chose was all about helping people. But this DOESN’T mean that you and others who share your profession are infallible.

    Your comment about medical personnel relying on what they can see “objectively” is laughable. The simple truth is that as a DHR social work supervisor, I ROUTINELY receive reports of “suspected” child abuse from medical personnel (social workers, nurses, doctors etc) who are really going on nothing more than a “hunch.” Perfect example: medical staff at a local children’s hospital routinely report suspected sexual abuse of children with NO medical evidence to support that allegation (ie, no statement from the child, no bleeding, no abrasions, no bruising, and no vaginal nor rectal tears). Instead, they rely on statements made by individuals (usually a parent involved in a custody dispute with the other parent) or behavioral assessments such as bed wetting; apparent fear of males etc etc. These professionals want to cover their own a$$es, since they are MANDATED BY LAW to report SUSPECTED abuse. To their report, they add the language: “while no medical evidence was found that definitively suggests sexual abuse occurred, the majority of sexual abuse incidents have no such medical findings…” In other words they are going on a “hunch” but want to pass the responsibility for that hunch to the DHR social worker that you apparently need to malign for acting on the medical professional’s “hunch.” I respect the position that these medical professionals are in: remember they HAVE to report SUSPECTED abuse. Ironically, they get angry when the report cannot be substantiated by DHR or the DA refuses to prosecute, because there is no evidence, only their “hunch.”

    But what are DHR social workers to do, but act on this hunch by these exalted medical professionals, who according to you, can see things so much better with their 2 years of nursing school than we mere mortal social workers. I wish I could tell you how many times have I received a call of a “suspicious injury” of a child and went to a hospital to assess the situation, only to have the parent offer me a reasonable explanation of an accident that accounted for the injury. These medical “professionals” could not deny the parent’s explanation WAS consistent with the injuries sustained, yet they were “certain” the injury was the result of abuse, and wanted the child placed in protective custody. MANY if not the MAJORITY of children who enter foster care, do so based upon reports of seemingly all knowing, all seeing, medical professionals who report, at best sketchy information. This viewing of medical professionals as infallible, or at least superior to the professionals trained to assess abuse, leads to many children entering foster care. The system (courts, DHR etc) operates in a manner that says because a medical “professional” says it, it must be so. That, is the risk of placing medical professionals on a pedestal, one that you are apparently only too happy to occupy. Perhaps YOU should accept some responsibility for the mistakes YOUR profession makes, in leading to children being placed in foster care, instead of holding it (your profession) out as superior to mine.

    See, the simple truth is this: there are good and bad individuals in all professionals, there are competent and incompetent people in all professionals, MOST people, even if they are incompetent do not willfully go out of their way to hurt people. That the posters on here (mostly parents who have lost their children due to their reportedly abusive behavior of those children) choose to view these dedicated professionals in this light shows their immaturity, or ignorance, or intellectual dishonesty. You can choose which ever one suits you.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not here to justify anyone’s medical practice. I can only speak about my own experiences.
    You can get accurate data as to how many people have died due to medical malpractice because of the lengthy charting by MANY different professions on one case. It holds people accountable.

    Neglect and abuse by there very definitions are medical.
    No one other than a licensed physician should make such a diagnosis.

    Substance abuse is a medical diagnosis, only a doctor should make it.

    Emotional abuse…pyschiatric diagnosis who better to make the call then a licensed pychiatrist.

    sexual abuse is a medical diagnosis as well as a crime, only physicians should decide and detectives interview the suspect.

    Social Worker by its name says it all, assessing the client for the social services needed to help them through a crisis.

    Social workers at the Alabama Department of Human Resources should be practicing under a licensed physician, this would work toward reducing the misdiagnosis attributed to subjective observation.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I have this wrong please tell me if I do, got the info from the web.
    All clients at DHR do have to have a Dx.from a physician. Is that right?
    So after the dx. is made case plan worked out, services put in place does the physician have to sign off on the documents to acknowledge that this is what needs to be done? Does a physician follow up with the client?

  • I'm Back

    #105:I’m not here to justify anyone’s medical practice. I can only speak about my own experiences.

    Anonymous, you failed to address the central issue. You continue to claim that doctors and other medical professionals, are in some way, better to determine when abuse/neglect has occurred. This is patently, AS I DEMONSTRATED in my response, False!

    Doctors, with some exceptions (those who utilize x-rays or other diagnostic tools), are no better to determine when a child has cuts, bruises, burns, abrasions, than is a nurse, social worker, or for that matter janitor. ANYONE can see these. The point I made to you is that in many, MANY cases, medical professionals are no better at making the case of when these ARE INTENTIONAL acts. MANY times doctors just plain get it wrong, like social workers do.

    Substance Abuse should only be made by a physician? Horse Feathers! No, many actually contribute to that disease with their attempts at shoving pills at the drop of a hat. A physician may be best to determine when substance abuse has progressed to the point of disease in the organs, tissues (Cirrhosis etc.) and treat it. But on the front end, the initial substance abuse if FAR BETTER determined by a social scientist such as a psychologist, counselor or social worker. Determining substance abuse would take more than the 8 minutes most physicians allocate to actually speaking to a patient.

    Neglect? How is a physician who lives in Mountain Brook, better able to identify neglect, which the MAJORITY of times has no “medical component?”

    Please do me and the millions of other social workers a favor don’t ATTEMPT to define our professional limitations. Your concept of social work appears to be born out of a 1950’s mind-set when social workers did “friendly visits” and assessed for referrals. The science of social work is about assessing the person to determine the effects of his/her environment upon him/her and vice versa, though it is true that resource development is a specialty of our field. It has it’s own knowledge base (that have been borrowed by other professions) including Human Behavior In The Social Environment (HBSE). Conversely, it takes many of it’s concepts from other social science professions such as psychology, child development and theories of moral development(Piaget, Rogers, Jung, Kholberg and others). Whereas Psychology tends to view malfunction or maladaptive behaviors as the result of inward influences (psychological disease), and relies on the DSM4 R to diagnose them. Sociology tends to view malfunction as the effects of society on the individual, and works to change social policies accordingly. Social Work recognizes that BOTH are important. That the individual effects society and that social forces impact the individual. However, on their own Psychology and Sociology are too narrowly focused to make a meaningful change in the life of the client/patient. Social Workers, by the way, have a higher rating of satisfaction (according to consumer reports) from clients than either psychologists or sociologists in terms of their effectiveness in dealing with psychosocial issues.

    I specifically gave you examples of how doctors and nurses rely on “hunches” in making their diagnoses of abuse (that was your central complaint – that social workers relied on “what ifs” – your words not mine – to make decisions regarding abuse). I asked HOW doctors are any better equipped to DETERMINE that abuse/neglect has occurred. I’ll even make it easy for you and stipulate that there are certain injuries (subdural hematoma for example) that only a physician can diagnose, but these are rare relative to the number of reports of physical abuse (which usually involve excessive physical punishment, spankings etc) received. Other than these extreme cases of severe physical injuries, HOW is a doctor better equipped to determine when abuse/neglect has occurred?

    You replied with a tautology that DHR should fall under the auspices of a “Licensed Physician” and you NEVER even attempted to answer my question regarding why they are better to make these determinations than social workers when they too CLEARLY rely on “what ifs” to make their decisions. I guess your failure to answer my question, and your subsequent tautology should be taken at face value: you merely want to maintain that medical doctors and nurses are superior to social workers, and you don’t have a clue what you are talking about in REAL TERMS regarding the investigation of child abuse/neglect. I’ll be waiting for an answer to my question, but suspect I won’t receive one.

  • Anonymous

    Are you telling me that a Social Worker at DHR makes a legal diagnosis of substance abuse?
    You said you are trained to assess, theres a difference in assessing and making a legal diagnosis.
    Are case plans built on just assessments with no relation to a diagnosis?
    I understand your trained to somehow assess behavior when you decide that the behavior is consistent with substance abuse who makes the actual DSM dx.?

  • I'm Back

    #108 Anonymous: “Are you telling me that a Social Worker at DHR makes a legal diagnosis of substance abuse?”

    No, I’M telling you I want you to answer the ORIGINAL question that I asked you. I see you haven’t. Why are you avoiding it OR can you not answer it. WHICH is it. One more time, my question to you is this, In the absence of physical PROOF of abuse/neglect, why is a doctor’s “hunch” anymore acceptable than a trained investigator’s?

    Secondly, I don’t need you to explain the difference in assess and diagnose. Diagnoses rely on specific markers (physiological, psychological etc) from which can hopefully be extrapolated a future course of events (prognosis). BUT as anyone with any common sense or education knows, both are frequently nothing more than an educated guess. For instance last year, a relative was “diagnosed” with kidney cancer that was “infinitely treatable” (according to the Urologist). The kidney would be removed, some mild chemo and viola, good as new. You can imagine how dismayed we were when he died 7 months later having had lymphoma. So much for the Gods of medical science and their crystal balls for “diagnoses” huh?

    Yes, case plans are OFTEN made on assessments rather than diagnoses. I understand that you pray at the alter of “medicine” and think diagnoses are infallible, but in many cases there is no medical “diagnosis” that can be related to the set of circumstances a child protective social worker faces. Suspected sexual abuse for example: no cuts, abrasions, etc. No PROOF and the child cannot or will not discuss the suspicions. Or certain fractures of the bone which can be explained by EITHER abuse or accidental events. Now you could diagnose that the bone is broken, but as to HOW it got broken (accidental, neglect or abuse) is NOT able to be gleaned. Following your devotion to medical professionals THEIR hunch would suffice in the place of a diagnosis. RIGHT? But when a social worker assesses a similar situation and comes to an educated guess about what happened they are somehow less qualified to make this determination.

  • Anonymous

    I’m the one who called Dhr to try and get help for my daughter, her husband and their son.
    They both had gotten hooked on drugs. My daughters husband put a gun to her head and made her beg for her life.

    Police were called, no arrest.

    Son in law was on tasc, no consequences or help was given to him.

    Dhr investigated, only problems assessed and isp’ed…my daughters family was to stay at her husbands parents under their supervision for drug and alcohol abuse, my daughter is to take drug screens which is a supposed treatment at Dhr for drug and alcohol recovery. Son in law doesn’t have to do this he is on tasc. No therapy or referal to a physician or psychiatrist needed apparently.

    My daughters mother in law decides my daughter is drinking and apparently is a danger to her son, calls Dhr and reports it. Mother in law states daughter is to move out of her home and will not be able to come back.

    Daughter and grandson come to my home. Caseworker calls on the phone and demands my daughter take her son back to the husband and his parents house by 4:00 pm or she will issue a pickup order.
    My daughter did this.

    Emergency ISP held one week later. Shelter care hearing held one week and one day later.

    Judge gives paternal grandparents temporary custody, son in law has unsupervised visitation, my daughter is given supervised visitation, son in law and his parents are to supervise my daughters visits with her son at there discretion.

    Caseworker testifies in court, she is only a student social worker and has not been licensed by the state of Alabama.

    Caseworker decides my daughter only needs treatment for substance abuse.

    Daughter is now required to go to Alethia House in Birmingham, take drug tests, get a job and find a place to live….all court ordered, all services provided outside of the county that my daughter lives in.

    Custodians (paternal grandparents) and husband decide my daughter is still not fit to see her son even with their supervision.

    Son in law files for divorce, serve’s papers to her at her place of employment. Daughter quits job…

    And after all this almost loses her life because of the despair. She’s 20 years old.
    She turns back to the drug.
    Fails drug test.
    Court and Dhr decide she is a drug addict and feels the treatment Dhr has prescribed for my daughter should continue, she just needs to try harder.

    My husband and I are also desperate, I call and email every state and federal government agency I can think of to help. No response.
    Daughter has no insurance and cannot be put on ours because she’s to old and is still married.

    Finally after 8 months of begging, pleading telling her its going to be ok, please don’t give up, you will be able to see your son, just let us help you….she accepts her families help.

    Her family….me, her dad, her grandmother, her great aunt and uncle pool our monies and we get her to a licensed psychiatrist.
    My daughter is diagnosed with POST TRAUMATIC DISORDER, because she
    had been MADE TO BEG TO LIVE.
    She is also diagnosed with UNTREATED ADHD.

    Medications are prescribed, a good physical check up is required.
    We follow the treatment plan set by the Psychiatrist and Physician. Therapy is given by a Licensed Nurse Practitioner, one on one.
    My daughter is now taking random drug screenings WITH a probation office that she had to find and set up. She passes everyone to this day.

    My daughter now recieves some help from medicaid,she applied without help from the caseworker.

    My daughter now has her own housing, without help from the caseworker.

    In the mean time, family court has dismissed the case because she did not show up for the actual court hearings. NO NOTICE was given to her attorney or her. Her husband and the paternal grandparents SHARE CUSTODY OF MY DAUGHTERS SON.
    My daughters visitation is left up to the people who have custody to decide when she can see her son and she has not seen him in over a year, they state she is still unfit.

    Divorce negotiations have been ongoing, can’t come to an agreement because my daughter refuses to agree that the paternal grandparents should have shared custody of HER SON along with her husband.

    Show up in court yesterday for divorce, no notice served….only way she knows that the trial date is set for court is because she calls the courthouse herself. The attorney that she used at the beginning of the family court case and ultimate dismissal is also paid for the divorce case.

    That attorney has now moved out of state (we find this out from the court) and has not notified us and does not show up for court.
    Her case is on the docket, first in line.

    Judge notes that she is there, tries to find someone from that office to represent her.

    Daughter ask’s to aleast set a schedule so that she can see her son, he can’t….and he cannot be the judge who will hear the divorce trial because… he has a conflict of interest with son in laws attorney.

    We now have 14 days to come up with even more money to hire an attorney to represent her in the divorce.

    Now you explain to me why I and my family should EVER WANT ANOTHER DIME of our tax dollars to go to this State Agency.

    With the FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAX DOLLARS that our family has paid thoughout the years for this kind of unbelievablY incompetent SO CALLED SERVICE, would have more than covered the expenses that we have had to take on as a family to SAVE OUR DAUGHTERS LIFE.

    Social Worker, do you know the difference between substance abuse and misuse, and can you make a differential diagnosis?
    Can you recognize the signs and symptoms of a dual diagnosis?

    I pray everyday for the young mothers and there children that have to rely on this incompetent agency to look after their childrens BEST INTEREST because they have no family and no money.

  • thoughiwalk

    # 110 please call the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources information number in Montgomery and ask to be connected to PACT. What you have described is only one side of the story here, but your story is of such magnitude that you should have someone look into the matter. If what you say is true, and I believe you, I feel greatly for your family. There are people at PACT that are charged with assisting you and your daughter; do not give up. Keep calling. Talk to PACT like people; they are there to assist you. Young people make mistakes and sometimes they must pay for their mistakes; sometimes they regret those mistakes for the rest of their lives. The price should not be a life.

  • munchiesmommy

    I am in the same boat as everyone else… the fact here that everyone seems to not realize is OUR CHILDREN mean everything… I am intelligent enough to fight this all the way to Washington, but the fact is THEY STILL HAVE MY CHILDREN they hold all the cards. I have realized that through all this… i really could care less how DHR feels about anything, I could care less about how insulted they are, overworked and underpaid they are, i don’t care how many control issues they have or the fact that their attorney Jennifer Neumann creates lies in black and white speaks half truths and bases her arguments on pieces of information from different directions to make her point (it works folks, she is trained to make us parents look like jerks and DHR to look perfect) she is a brilliant attorney. How she lives with herself well that is her problem. My main concern is getting my children home with their mother where they belong. The only thing I resent is not being given my rights, having a judge that ONLY listens to DHR and no the facts and that I have been given a public defender that can’t fight (or won’t). He is a kind man but not the barracuda you need in court. I have no problem saying this to EVERYONE. I LOVE MY CHILDREN. All I want is to have them home with their mommy again and if everyone would just ignore (as hard as that may be) DHR and all there inept behavior and focus on the PRIZE… our children… Then and only then will DHR lose. See they LOVE TO ARGUE. They specifically hire killer attorneys and fight. They want you to fail, they want you to suffer and struggle (and most sadly do). Why, I can only assume it is to prove to the world that DHR is not to blame when in reality yes they are. There job is supposedly to protect the children… seems to me they are only protecting themselves. I love my children I am sure you are all sorry and realize how dangerous our actions are. I am one mother that will do ANYTHING to get my children back even if it means biting my tongue and presenting the facts. By the way could someone PLEASE tell me where to find OUR PARENTAL RIGHTS and how to file an appeal in Jefferson County???? I need to answer a current Motion and don’t know how to present it. Any Help would be greatly appreciated.


    My kids were gone a little over two years. We hired an attorney who helped us through the system. By no means do you face these maniacal monsters with a court appointed lawyer- it’s a waste of time. Our girls are back at home. nope we were not drinkers and not drug abusers. Go figure they claimed our kids were not being taken care of which is a lie, but since our former attorney did not put forth ANY witnesses who could verify what we told them we lost our kids.

    Thank god through a lot of prayer they are home. Don’t think for a second that my family and I are just going sit back and let it ride. We plan on taking further actions, we want them to close the case. If I could contact PACT without the fear of retaliation I would, right now we are under their microscope. As soon as our case is closed it’s a different ball game.

    DHR is a son of a bitch to deal with but it ain’t like they can’t be beaten. Somebody has got to have the strength to stand up and do it. I feel that we DID beat them but our attorney played it according to their rules I didn’t like it But whatever happened she convinced the judge. If we would have had this attorney we would have had them back sooner.

    Our girls are adjusting but my youngest is having some behavior issues that seem to have only been made worse since she’d been away. My other daughter was prescribed a drug by some doctor. We were not even told she was prescribed this medicine. When my daughter came home she told me she did not take the medicine instead she crumbled the pills up in the garbage at the foster parents so they would not notice it.

    This was clever on her part, since I’m not in favor of medicating children for dumb reasons.

    All in all you can beat them.



    Looks like I gave myself two aliases! LOL! I am a happy Mom and I choose to remain anonymous.

  • Sad Mommy Missing My Kids

    I have printed and read every single thing printed on this Blog. I am a mother of 2 children that were ripped from me 2 days before Christmas 2006. I won’t go to much into detail on here, but I can say that I needed help not my children ripped from me. The system is designed in such a way that rather than helping they are hurting the children and their families. Here is a bit of the story, imagine a little girl 6-1/2 years old that has NEVER been away from her mother. She went to private school lived in a large beautiful homes her whole life, she just had a baby brother added to the family. Her mommy lost her job while pregnant and finances were abismal. Things were tough, we lost power, gas, etc. 2 days before Christmas that beautiful little girl and her sweet innocent baby brother were taken away from their mommy. DHR did not notify me if they were okay. I did not know where they were taken. I spent the Christmas holidays thru New Years without even a phone call as to the whereabouts of my two children. I did not even get to wish them a Merry Christmas. (Great torture tactics in my opinion.) I was given 1 supervised visit per week for 2 hours. That is it. I can assure you that I was no danger to my children, but for some reason (which of course I was not given) I am still made to go to supervised visitation. My children have since been in 4 foster homes. My daughter has been in 3 schools in different areas, and 4 day cares. My son has been in 4 day cares. My son suffered a fractured skull in the first home, 2nd degree burns in the 2nd home, a cut head from lack of supervision (my daughter at 7 was watching an 8 month old while foster mother was in the bathroom), and ring worm all over his entire body in the 4th home. It gets worse…now I believe something has happened to my daughter along the lines of sexual assault. When addressing the issues with DHR and requesting a hearing to discuss, in open court DHR made references that I was a racist, crying sexual assault because I did not want my daughter in an african american home (neglecting to tell the judge that the past 3 foster homes were african american). They claim that I am making these allegations in “an attempt to control DHR and the case”. I was stunned. I had documented proof for the ER doctor that the situation was serious and needed to be looked into. I care about my daughter I could care less about upsetting DHR. The bottom line, the judge would not even listen to my side of the case, instead he took everything DHR said (all lies, half truths and inconsistent statements) and refused to give me a chance to speak. He revoked my visitation and my contact with my children pending further investigation (how can you investigate only one side of the story). Again 3 weeks later, my precious babies who have been through so much are taken away from the little contact they have with their mother. My poor babies. I will do WHATEVER it takes to expose the system for what it really is. I have read all the social workers comments on this site and can say that I can REFUTE each and every one. I can prove I am a parent unjustly and unfairly treated in this system. I have documented evidence that has never been presented to the judge. I can prove that DHR, DHR’s attorney Jennifer Neumann and the Guardian ad Litem made false allegations and damaging statements against me that are untrue, unfounded and have caused further harm to my children. How can keeping them away from their mother be in their best interests. I am a good mother, a Christian, a hard worker and an honest person. I would be glad to join in the fight for rights of the children and the parents. I guarantee that my children will suffer long lasting mental anguish and irreperable harm due to the way DHR has manipulated the system and refused to acknowledge facts and return my children to me. I would love to speak to the reporter that was on this site and left a number but now I can’t find it. I want my children back. My children want to come home. This nightmare needs to end. I am not one to give up!!! I will not give up my children to the inadequacies of a poorly run, dishonest, unjust system. I moved to Alabama to make a better home for my children but I would seriously rethink that if I had it to do over again, because I firmly believe that this State needs some serious help in the handling and management of DHR. If the investigator that did the initial investigation (by the way it was her first removal of children and she has since quit because even she did not agree with what happened) had looked into any background she would have found that my children were far from neglected or in danger. They were loved beyond reason, cherished and cared for by a loving mommy. I can assure those of you that read this, that my children are being held wrongfully. Any system that can allow a judge to sit the bench that curses, makes physical threats on parents and refuses to listen to both sides of the situation needs to reevaluate its decision making capabilities. Last time I checked in a court of law you have a right to be heard and no judge is allowed to be one sided. IMPARTIAL is the term but this current judge on the bench in Jefferson County is anything but that. He would not even listen, but instead believed every lie that came out of DHR’s attorney’s mouth. Sad business for all children and parents. I want my children. I want a FAIR hearing. I have rights that are being ignored. For those of you that want ISP manuals and DHR manuals… check in with me…. I am working on it. We as parents have a right to know the criteria and what we are charged with. Do any of us really know anything about the rules and what our rights are. A criminal charged with murder, rape or theft is given specific information and has a right to see all evidence, question witnesses and read case files prior to trial. Not us, we go in blind, get blindsided and then we are supposed to “quit whining and do what we are told”. Last time I checked we lived in America these practices belong to a dictatorship! I am joining this fight and I am here to give my testimony to anyone that wants it. Anyone that can help or wants more information that is willing to provide same can email me at

  • Sad Mommy Missing My Kids

    Comment to the worker that posted the following “Obviously, someone you know or have personal dealings with found it necessary to contact DHR in the first place to make a complaint against YOU.” You are right someone did make allegations, my ex husband in a fit of anger and jealousy reported me. Now, I ask you, how many allegations do you receive that are from jealous, resentful, mean, spiteful, untruthful, irrational, sick, disturbed, angry people. You system demands that you investigate all allegations but how about looking into the people that are making the allegations. This clearly is a very imperfect system. Anyone can call DHR and make an allegation and DHR takes it upon themselves to immediately infiltrate that persons home, career, life, and worse their childrens without once looking into the motives of the person making the call. Not everyone has the children’s best interest at hand. Most people that make the calls have ulterior motives. In my case, yes, I was going through some issues, but not once did DHR ever say, what can we do to help you KEEP your children. They took them and are continuing to keep them based upon an allegation by a jealous vindicative ex-husband. The entire system would change if the ones making the allegations were investigated immediately and made to face the music of their allegations. Allowing people to randomly ruin someones life is WRONG. The court system is set up where even criminals are allowed the opportunity to face their accusers. The same should hold true for making false or inappropriate statements against parents. I believe all of your case loads would greatly decrease if people knew there would be consequences for making allegations of child abuse and neglect for their own personal revenge.

  • anonymous

    I believe I have a tidbit on what you MAY be able to do. If you feel your kids were taken because you lost your job and had no power in your home, your attorney can make a motion to put that in the court record. The only way to even combat them is to Get YOUR evidence. put forth more evidence than they have, get witnesses who can verify that you lost your job etc. Parents cannot be deprived of children because of poverty, blatant violation of your civil rights. Get your attorney to mention civil rights, get your attorney to fight on the civil rights issues.

    If need be and if you can file a federal lawsuit.
    That requires money, for a retainer but if you’ve got the money like that, don’t waste your time with court appointed attorneys.

  • donewronge

    i also was done wronge by alabama welfare. dhr or what ever they call themselves.17 years ago with the help of my motherinlaw,they took my daughter.they said i didnt take care of her and that iwas a bad mom.i have two other children,if i was so bad why not take motherinlaw just wanted to draw a check so she lied on me and they believed her with no investigation.i have been back to court 5 times in 17 years.i only see my daughter2times a month from10 kids miss each other. why punish them.i did nothing wronge except believe in the system.big misstake!i feel for all of you dont give day all will work out i hope.the dhr in hamilton alabama is just as bad.thats why we moved to ms.

  • NCPinCA

    Did anyone ever find a phone number or any contact info on the news reporter mentioned in one of the comments? I would like to freely give any information required and support any legal effort that would assist in exposing the injustices experienced as a result of being affiliated with the Jefferson County DHR (Child Welfare/Social Worker side).












    This is a website which is valuable beyond means.

    ‘DO NOT BE FEARFUL OF DHR CASE WORKERS OR SUPERVISORS” ..If they think you are scared or fearful of them, you have LOST already. STAND UP TO THEM AND GET YOUR ATTY’S TOO. Expose them for what they are “idiots” with power and they “get off on it” by treating innocent people like we’re nobodies without feelings or emotions. Everyone who deals with these pathetic dispicable people are talked to like “trash” when a lot of parents are not their “stereotype” client. They are “HITLER’s”, dictators, no more no less. They are so called “humans” with no consciences and they abuse their authority and “so called” power because they are insecure and “know it alls”..



    TO THE MOM WHO NEEDS HELP FILING MOTIONS: First, why don’t you have an attorney? If you are temporariliy without legal representation you are entitled BY LAW (DHR cannot deny this either) even if they try for you to have legal representation..File a hardship affadavit (proves income, debt, etc. Also, it takes YEARS for DHR to terminate a parents rights. Don’t think they can just “terminate your rights” with a blink of an eye because they CANNOT DO THAT. DHR and the State have to spend thousands of dollars to do this and it’s not worth their effort. In most cases, they will just “do nothing” which is all they do in reality. Oh excuse me – they “destroy families”. That’s their mission I forgot that.

    If you need motions, go to your local Family Court Clerk’s Office and get the forms.

    I gope this information helps. I will help ANYONE who lives in this emotional hell..DHR = DHFD/ “DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN FAMILY DESTRUCTION”…Let’s make up t-shirts..Wanna ;-)

  • Beverly

    I’ve just checked in to this website again and hope that anyone that needs advice concerning DHR will call me. I’m am an advocate for children AND families and would love to help anyone that needs my help. My organization is trying to get a law passed that will open up the family courts to the public. There are people that think this shouldn’t happen because it will hurt the children, but what is happening now is hurting children and families far more than open courts ever will. We need birth families to stand up with us, when we present this to the Senators and Representatives, to let them know that the public needs to come into court and see and hear what DHR is doing to families. Without the publics oversight, DHR will be able to continue to ruin families. Children can be protected by using initials in court and not allowing cameras into the courtroom, but allowing the press in. If the judges and the social workers know that their every move is being scrutinized, then they will not be able to continue to have total power over families. Please contact me, if you are having problems with DHR. I have the policy handbooks that DHR is SUPPOSED to follow, and I have many connections that can help children and families. ADAP is a wonderful agency and can help your children, if they have a disability.

  • Beverly

    One more thing that I failed to mention. If you feel that your civil rights have been violated, go the the Health and Human Resources website. In Alabama, our region is region 4. You can fill out a complaint form, after you download it and sign your name, and mail it in. Be very specific when you fill out the complaint form. Research the website. If you are not knowledgeable about what has happened to you and what rights you have, you are going to loose. DHR depends on the fact that people are not very well educated, therefore they can take advantage of you. Another website to check out is the Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parent Association website. You can see the State DHR policies there. Read them, study them, and know them. You are in control of your family and you life. If DHR sees that you are not ignorant, it will be harder for them to take advantage of you. If you need someone to go to an ISP with you, or to be your advocate, call me. To the person that wrote that you can get an attorney pro bono, that is probably not right. Most attorney’s won’t touch a DHR case because they are so hard to win. DHR can go into family court and say whatever they want to and not have to prove anything. Heresay is admissable in family court and there is NO family court judge that will make them prove that they are telling the truth. Most attorney’s talk to DHR after YOU have talked to them, and DHR tells the attorney’s that there is no point in taking the case because YOU are going to loose. I have had DHR tell me that I shouldn’t fight them because I don’t have enough money. They were right, but I choose to fight them anyway. Attorney’s will be blackballed if they take a case against DHR. The court will not appoint cases to them if they make them mad. I know what I’m talking about. I have many attorney friends. It’s very discouraging, but if we quit fighting, we loose anyway. We have to get as many people as we can to band together to get things changed. Don’t get discourged, please don’t. I have many reasons to quit, but cannot because of the children. They don’t have a voice in any of this. We must be their voice.

  • Beverly

    I have posted several times and I know DHR inside and out. Court appointing attorney’s are worthless, because they will not go up against DHR. I am FREE. Call me and I will tell you what to do, and who to talk to to get real advice. I am NOT an attorney so I cannot give you legal advice above and beyond what we’ve been through. That being said……we have been through everything. You know that DHR is monitoring this site. I found that out in court. Do not put your real name on anything. I can put mine because I am here to help. If you need help, I can go into ISP’s, which you are supposed to have within 48 hours of your children being taken. If you don’t know your rights, you will be trampled on. Contact me.

  • Please help!

    i was told that ISP’s must occur within 72 hours after removal of my children, not 48 hours. Please clarify before I invite you to my isp.

  • anonymous

    beverly, we can’t contact you because no email islisted or any other info.

  • Beverly

    Sorry I said 48 hours. That was a slip of the fingers (and mind). It is a 72 hours time period for ISP’s. The parents must be involved in everything that involves their children. Your parental rights are still intact, until TPR occurs and that usually takes years to happen.

    There is a misconception that foster parents get money when they adopt a child. I think the amount was $4,000 posted by those that wrote the letter to the House, Ways and Means Comm. Foster parents do NOT get any money for adopting children. DHR gets anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 per child that is placed in a permanent home. The adoptive parent might qualify for a “subsidy” for the child, which is basically the board payment the child received while in foster care. Sometimes the child doesn’t qualify for anything after adoption. You will notice that there are not any psycially disabled children on Alabama’s adoption website (there could be one or two now), and that is because the state receives big federal bucks for disabled chldren that are in the system. Why let someone adopt them, if you are receiving big bucks to keep them in foster care? There are also thousands of children waiting for permanent homes in Alabama, but you only see about 88 on the website. Keep that foster care money rolling into DHR.

    What you have to realize is that the children coming from the foster care system, to be adopted, are broken, damaged children, and I don’t nessarily mean because their parents did it. If a child isn’t damaged BEFORE they come into the system, they will be damaged shortly after they arrive in the system. These children need a lifetime of care and services so that they may be a somewhat “normal” . If there was money to be made in adoption, don’t you think more people would be doing it? You have to realize that wealthy people are not the ones adopting children from the system. They can’t be bothered by a broken child. It is the average Joe, with the average job and paycheck, and the big heart (most of the time). I take offense when ALL adoptive parents are lumped into the same group as the ones with an ulterior motive for adopting. I take offense when ALL foster parents are lumped into the same group as the foster parents that are only in it for the measley board payment they receive. I also take offense when ALL social workers are lumped into the group of social workers that don’t care about the kids and know many that have a wonderful heart for what they do, and yes I do know some of them and admire them. I must say they are few and far between though. We should not be “generalizing” about any group of people. That takes us back to the olden days of slavery, doesn’t it? When we judged someone by color. That offends me and my children.

    Now, all of that being said, we still must do what we can to fix the problem. I have social workers contacting me, under cover, that want to help make things better. I also have foster parents doing the same, and it is under cover also, so there will be no retaliation against their family or their foster children. It’s sad but true that these things happen.

    Yes, a social worker CAN come into your house and take your children without a good enough reason. All that has to be done is this…..the SW takes the order to the judge, tells the judge that he/she is afraid that the child will be harmed, the judge is afraid that if he goes against the SW judgment and the child is harmed/killed, his/her name will be all over the paper for not protecting the child. Would you want to take this risk???? Evidence of abuse or neglect does not have to shown to the judge at that time. And heaven forbid if an allegation of ual abuse should occur. The judge then feels the need to remove ALL your children until the matter is clarified later in court. Problem is, later means 3 to 6 months down the road.

    We MUST have open juvenile proceedings. It is the only way to properly protect children and families in court. If the public can see, the public can ask questions about the judges, social workers and attorney’s decisions in court, such as WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE???? WHY CAN YOU USE HERESAY?? WHY ARE THERE NO SERVICES OFFERED TO THE FAMILIES IMMEDIATELY??? And many others.

    I personally think we should have jury trials for juvenile court hearings. How fair is it for one person to make a life altering decision for children and families. It doesn’t seem constitutional.

    My email address is or 205-520-1169. I work closely with James Tucker of Alabama Disabilities and Advocacy Program and also a former family court judge that is now in private practice.

  • Sarah Jones

    “You will notice that there are not any psycially disabled children on Alabama’s adoption website (there could be one or two now), and that is because the state receives big federal bucks for disabled chldren that are in the system. Why let someone adopt them, if you are receiving big bucks to keep them in foster care? There are also thousands of children waiting for permanent homes in Alabama, but you only see about 88 on the website. Keep that foster care money rolling into DHR.”

    Really, Beverly? DHR doesn’t allow special needs children to be adopted? See article below:

    Alabama church draws from reality TV in new ‘makeover’ ministry effort
    By Erin Webster
    Published June 10, 2005

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (ABP) – “Tell us again, Momma,” the children beg. And so Beverly Gardner tells her 13 children about the church members who are coming to make over their six-bedroom house and send the family away to do wonderful things while the house is transformed.

    It’s a story filled with hope for a kid-friendly place to play in the yard – not to mention eyes glimmering at the thought of going to Visionland, fishing, playing sports and even a date for the hardworking mother and father.

    The best part of the story is that it’s real – the Gardners have been chosen as one of the families that will benefit from an “Extreme Home GraceOver” sponsored by The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.

    After 25 years spent raising 16 children, 13 of whom are still at home, Beverly and Sam Gardners’ house is in need of a few repairs. Washing four-to-five loads of laundry a day, cooking four times a day and eating in shifts at the kitchen table, the family also has appliances in need of repair.

    But for the Gardners, it’s all part of the joy of raising children. After having four children of their own, two with special needs, the couple felt led to adopt 12 more, many with special needs including blindness, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome.

  • MS

    I have had dealings with DHR of Coosa County and Talladega County as a grandmother. Coosa County DHR social worker, Diane Wingfield, has done everything that she could to help my grandchildaren and she also helps my daughter to be a better mother. She has been a Blessing to me and my family. I have contacted Talladega County for help regarding my other two grandchildren that are living with two drug dealers and have never been drug tested. I have asked for the two to be hairtested and the children need help. The children stay with different family members every night of the week and are never in bed before 9:30 and are back up at 7 to go to school. My grandson has told me that he tee tees in a cup for his grandmother and I myself was driving down the road just last week and saw her boyfriend lighting up a joint as he was turning off 280 onto the road they live on. My grandson also told me that his cousins (ages 9-13)and he are eating and licking tee tot. My granddaught also pointed to herself when he was telling me this. They trust me and told me this because they wanted to. I told them not to tell me anymore. I thought that I could tell my daughters attorney or DHR and something would be done. Some type of investigation…No one has done anything. My grandchildren cry to be with me. I love them with all my heart. Why do I not have my grandchildren? My daughter got mad at me and told DHR that I smoked marijuana. At that time I did. 2 or 3 times a month. I told them the truth. I was not drug tested. The other grandmother did not tell the truth. She takes and sells pills. I do not smoke at all anymore and I can pass a hair test at any time. I have started school so that I can one day afford to spend everything that I make on lawyers (as I have already spent everything I have on them and have no more) the guardian ad litem will not listen to me and the Judge does what she wants. I can only pray that the angels surround my grandchildren and take care of them. I do know that they know that I love them but they seem sad when I have by chance run into them. I used to take them for long nature walks and talk about all the things we saw and I played with them and took them to have fun. They could be children. I miss them.

    I know that crystal meth is an epidemic and that DHR should take children out of that kind of environment. I wish there was an answer for the people addicted to that drug. I think that the Governor should try to come up with an answer for that one. Throwing people in jail is apparently not an answer. This is one problem that needs to be addressed very soon or there will be even more children without their parents. People on that drug cannot even take care of themself. PURE POISON and I am not being judgmental, it is the simple truth. It is destroying our society and our children.

    Found this site for first time tonight. Cannot sleep much.

  • beverly

    In response to “Sarah Jones” blog of 10-15, I have this to say….Sarah, yes, I have adopted many special needs children, and yes, a church in Shelby County did give us a “home makeover”. Not because we asked for one, but because they could see that we had specific needs regarding our children.

    Yes, we have adopted SOME of the physically disabled children in the system, but are you saying that since we were allowed to adopt these children, there are no more to be adopted? What is your point??????

    WE were called to take these children when everyone else had turned them down. WE did not call DHR. WE weren’t first on the list of those that were called to take them. On the contrary (and I know this to be a fact) WE were the last. DHR knows that we welcomed physically and mentally disable children into our home, but what they didn’t bank on (and BANK on is the key word here) is that we would actually want to adopt them. Don’t think that we didn’t get some resistance from DHR when we said that we wanted to keep these children permanently when their families could not or would not take them back. Oh boy, did we ever. Do you think that we don’t have to feed, cloth, and educate these children? Yes we do, but we do it because we love them and that is the bottom line. How many children have you attempted to adopt, be it a physically disabled child or a so called “normal” child??? If you have adopted (or attempted to do so), then I applaud you for loving a child enough to sacrifice your time, love, and money to give a child a home that would not have had one, if not for you. If you haven’t adopted yet, I encourage you to TRY to adopt a disabled child from the state of Alabama. Good luck to you. It sounds to me that you are a little bit bitter about the fact that others in Alabama have stepped up to the plate, and helped these children. There are still so many disabled Alabama children that are waiting for a home. I did not come up with the facts about DHR making money off of these children, on my own. I would like to think that I am that clever and intelligent, but I did have to research these facts. You can do the same. It sounds to me like you might be a DHR social worker that has been misled into thinking that you are saving these children by keeping them in the system. Think again!!! You are probably doing a wonderful job (maybe not, I don’t really know), but you must put yourself in the families shoes. How would you feel if your disabled child was taken from you, maybe for a good reason maybe not, and put into the system. How would you feel if your parental rights were taken from you and THEN you found out your child would spend the rest of their life sitting in foster care, being bounced around from one family to the next, without ever having the permanency, stability, and love it needed to be a healthy loving ???

    I had a foster parent call me one night and ask this question…….”Beverly, another foster mom has a child with severe CP. She has had him for 4 years. The child wears diapers and he smells horrible and stinks up the house (he was an older child). What would you do? She needs to have him moved somewhere else because her kids are complaining about the smell.” I told her that she was calling the wrong person to ask this question. I told her that I would have already adopted him if I had had him for 4 years. This made the foster mother furious and she didn’t have to much to do with me after that. How do you turn a child away after you have had it for 4 years????? What kind of person does that? How does that child feel when you do that? Just because a child is disabled, it doesn’t mean they can’t think and feel.

    Try to picture yourself in the shoes of the family OR the child. Yes, I have a house FULL of disabled children, but that is only by the grace of God. No, WE don’t make big federal bucks off of the kids, but some children can get a subsidy, if DHR thinks they qualify. Problem is, DHR seems to think these kids are “cured” as soon as they are adopted, and that means they don’t qualify for the subsidy. Hmmmmm, maybe if we all would adopt a disabled child, there wouldn’t be anymore disabled children in Alabama and we could all sleep soundly. Sounds like a plan to me.

    If anyone would like to know the statistics on federal funds spent on foster children, all you have to do is google it. Be creative and google it several different ways. You’ll be surprised at what you get. Remember, no matter how many funds DHR gets for these children, that doesn’t mean the children actually get that money. Your tax dollars are making the state agencies very rich and the children are still very poor.

    Please remember that anyone can call me, if you should need my assitance in interpreting DHR policy and practices. They can be confusing considering DHR tends to change policy from one day to the next.

  • beverly

    If just occured to me that “Sarah Jones” might have been “outing” me regarding my special needs children. I never denied having special needs children Sarah, but really didn’t think of putting it on this blog since others might think I was bragging about my big family. Of course I LOVE to brag about my great kids, so I could go on and on about their wonderful abilities. Just thought I’d comment (again :) but don’t worry Sarah I’m very proud of my huge family and what joy they have brought into our lives. Try it, you’ll like it, if you actually get to adopt one. Oh yeah, you can read about my family in the new magazine “Southern Beauty” in December. See…..that’s how proud I am.

    Call me if you need me.

  • SW hoping to find a forever home for a special needs child.

    Sarah, I am sure that I understood your point and well done! For Beverly to say that the state does not want appropriate families to adopt special needs children is absurd!!! Most special needs children receive social security..dissability payments. All of which are sent to the foster parent through the current payee, the legal custodian…DHR. If the foster parent chooses to adopt the child, once available for adoption, they then become the payee. There are several Special Needs children on the web site as well as on the Heart Gallery who the local DHR workers and the State Office of Permanency are attempting to find appropriate homes for. And yes, Beverly, the key word is appropriate. I am sure that it was difficult for you to be approved as an adoptive resource for a special needs child after you already had several children in your home. It does take a special person with a big heart to take on so many children, however, DHR must look at the best interest of the child that is being placed and if the home already has several children in the home, and some of them are specail needs tnen really…how much care, time and attention can be provided to yet another child. PLEASE…any one who reads Beverley’s comments DO Not be discouraged if you are infact thinking of adopting. DHR staff and the adoption consultants are always looking for great homes for great kids.

  • Anonymous

    Your comments give me hope that there are some who are really caring for the children for one reason only, they love them as their biological family would if not for _______.

    It disgusts me to hear how another foster family could tell you “he’s stinking up the house”. I’m so sickened by this whole system.

    I used to believe (naively) that the system was run just like the law says it should be so that children and families were helped.
    I had no problem in my taxs going to any program that would somehow help better the lives of people in terrible circumstances.

    But after being by my daughters side and really seeing what goes on, I feel like throwing my hands up and protesting the state taking our tax dollars to fund these so-called programs that are funded by DHR.

    Good people that really want to help could do better with keeping their money and figuring out a way to help (my humble opinion) instead of these so called federal/state funded programs that appear to only service fat cats getting richer off people that are already down.

  • Jessica Levinson

    Your actions here are an insult to educated people everywhere. You quote DHR facts and figures as if you know what you are talking about. You quote DHR policy again, as if you know what you are talking about, when in fact you do not. You are misleading people on this site into thinking that your opinions are facts when it is obvious that they are not. If you insist on attempting to educate people about DHR policy and procedures, please make sure you research the maternail, study the most current policy and have your FACTS straight. You are correct, DHR policy does change on a regular basis. It is done this way to ensure that DHR is ever changing in order to better the lives of children and families across this state. Change, especially when directly effecting the lives of others, is never a bad thing.

    In addition, you do in fact recieve money for your adopted special needs children from some program, either state or federally funded. Please do not think that anyone reading your posts is niave enough to think that. While I commend you for adopting special needs children who were in need of a “forever family”; why should you need a “home makeover” if you were in fact meeting ALL of the children’s needs. How could you allow your home to be in such shape that a local church needed to DONATE their time, materials and expertise to repair your home for FREE?

    You state that you would commend someone for “loving a child enough to sacrifice your time, love, and money to give a child a home that would not have had one, if not for you.” Shame on you Beverly. You can never love a child “enough”. If you adopt a child for the right reasons, it should never be a “sacrafice”, it should be your obligation to the child and your FIRST priority in life. Every breath you take, every dollar you make, every second you are awake should be devoted 100% to your children and their physical and emotional wellbeing.

    It is becoming more and more evident with each comment you post that you have some grudge against DHR and that you feel that you must make up for it on this website. With so many children in your home and especially so many children with special needs, how on earth do you find the time to “play” on the computer?

    Let’s get our priorities in order.

  • Anonymous

    Argueing over money for different types of FOSTER CARE….

    Has anybody read the stories above. These are BIOLOGICAL FAMILIES HURTING because DHR got the ASSESSMENT of the child WRONG.

    I find it ironic that SOCIAL PROGRAM supports scream, rant and rave about the illegal PREEMPTIVE STRIKE/WAR thats going on now in Iraq being wrong…

    Yet these same people that want to keep federal tax dollars flowing into their social programs (foster care) have been using the PREVENTIVE STRIKE/WAR TECHNIQUE ON PARENTAL RIGHTS FOR YEARS.

    When did it become ok for the government to take a child away from a family based on a AT-RISK ASSESSMENT of the familiy?

    I thought there had to be an IMMEDIATE THREAT TO THE CHILD to take a child away from their family. If thats the case why aren’t these parents charged with a crime so that they can defend themselves in a REAL COURT OF LAW?

  • anonymous

    I am troubled by the fact that, once DHR located prospective adoptive parents for the children in this case, it ceased all further efforts at reunification and failed to reassess the great aunt and great uncle as relative resources for the children.

    “Federal child welfare policy has recently shifted its emphasis from preserving families toward expediting termination of parental rights to ‘free’ children in foster care for adoption. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), passed in 1997, …. imposes a swifter and rigid time frame for state agencies to initiate petitions to terminate parental rights and offers financial incentives for states to increase the number of adoptions of children in foster care.”

    Susan L. Brooks & Dorothy E. Roberts, Social Justice and Family Court Reform, 40 Fam. Court Rev. 453, 454 (2002) (footnote omitted).

    “[T]he federal government has provided adoption subsidies of up to $6,000 per adopted child to assist states in increasing the percentage of out-of-home children who achieve permanence through adoption. In addition to the adoption subsidies, in 2003 the United States Department of Health & Human Services awarded 25 states $14.9 million in adoption ‘bonuses’ because those states ‘completed more adoptions in 2002 than in each of the five previous years.’ The adoption bonuses were not insubstantial: (1) Florida, $3,520,000; (2) New Jersey, $1,932,000; (3) Ohio, $1,100,000; (4) Pennsylvania, $1,172,000; (5) Tennessee, $1,148,000; and (6) Wisconsin, $1,158,000.

    “The child welfare system is becoming more federalized because of states’ need for a steady stream of federal financial resources and the concomitant federal expectation of compliance with federal mandates. However, federal resources focus primarily on the last phase of child welfare, permanency, rather than on ameliorating the conditions that lead to child abuse and neglect. Even though the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 has provided the bulk of adoption assistance, the federal government, by contrast, only pays for approximately 15 percent of the state abuse prevention costs. The federal, state, and local out-of-home care costs for the year 2000 were approximately $9.1 billion ….”

    See Supreme court of Alabama 2040109 for all the details!

  • Beverly


    I love seeing the post from social workers on this site. Those were the same comments I got on a daily basis when I was fostering children. It’s a shame that the social workers have the same mindset they have had for years. I know it’s probably a “new” set of workers with this mindset, but what’s disturbing is that they are quoting the same things the older workers did. Hmmmmm, I wonder what “training classes” they have been attending?

    Just to set everyone straight, I never said it was a “sacrifice” to adopt special needs children. That must be coming from the minds of those that have never adopted any. On the contrary, I thank DHR for allowing me to do so, BUT there are thousands of children out there waiting. Don’t think there isn’t. I hate to burst your bubble, but I DO know DHR policy and practices and this is why I can help many people. I keep up with this, because I do have a job outside of my children (I have tons of help) because I want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly in the system. Talk about a job…..whew…’s never ending, but very rewarding. The kids are easy compared to this. Another fact….when you adopt a child it does not necessarily come with the SSI that it received while in the system. If the family that adopts the child makes just a little bit too much money, the SSI is not transfered over to the family. Call the social security office and check on this if you don’t believe me. I don’t have any reason to lie about things that can be checked out :) As a matter of fact, I don’t have any reason to lie at all. Some people just like to do what they can to help others, as strange as that may seem.

    Yes, we had a makeover. Oh my gosh. Am I ashamed or what???? NO!! I’m not ashamed. I didn’t ask for a makeover and didn’t even realize I needed one until a wonderful church decided that they wanted the children in my family to have MORE than they have ever had before. Now, if that’s a sin, I guess I’m a sinner, but my kids were totally thrilled to get it. When we first moved into our house many years ago, we didn’t have enough bedrooms for the kids but we bought the house anyway. It was a better neighborhood and the children needed to be in a better place than they came from (I know the biological parents and they thought it was great). A builder decided to build two extra bedrooms in the house for the children. Do you know that DHR had the nerve to complain that this builder did it for free. Obviously DHR didn’t think the children deserved something better than what they had in the past. DHR said I “solilcited” for this addition. Never have and never will. I HAVE solicited for funds for DHR though on TV and the radio, in the past. They asked me beg for money for Christmas, etc. and I did it willingly because I hoped the children would get it. I even know of a case where DHR paid for a room to be built on to a sexual abusers home so the children could go back home. Hmmmmmmm, not good. DHR pays for cars, homes, electric bills and all kinds of things for “certain” people, so please don’t look at me as someone that is taking what is not deserved.

    Oh yeah, I DO have a grudge against DHR. I have a grudge against anyone who doesn’t do their job, especially when that job affects so many lives. Sounds to me like you either have your head in the clouds or you are trying to hang on to a job at DHR, at everyone’s expense.

    Your comment about “meeting all the children’s needs” leads me to believe that you are one of those that only think people with a lot of money should have children. Is this the case? I’ve seen DHR take children from poor families many times. Don’t loose any sleep over my family though, we have plenty of money from “regular” jobs to take care of the kids. We have tons of community support, and a HUGE extended family on both sides to step in when we need them. My husband and I are not into punishing ourselves, so we wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t love it. I hope others TRY to adopt even though it is difficult. If I had let the difficulty of adopting stop me, I wouldn’t have this great family.

    I think I’ll go PLAY on the computer for a while and look up some more DHR policies and practicies :) Maybe you should too. We really need to keep up with the ever changes rules and regulations. They change on a daily basis depending on what DHR’s rules are for that day (although they are not supposed to). I’m very organized and I can show you how to be organized also.

    Isn’t it funny how mad you can make some people just by quoting the facts??? Oh, and Jessica, you don’t sound like an educated person.

  • Beverly

    I need to speak to the post that said “so that they can defend themselves in a REAL COURT OF LAW”. This is why we are fighting for open juvenile courts, so that all people can have a chance at a fair trial. Too much confidentiality hurts children and families and protects those that have too much power. Those that think the courts should be closed, should examine their motives closely.

  • beverly

    If anyone is interested….I got my policy handbook from a DHR social worker. I guess that would be accurate, huh? I have to say that the DHR policies are wonderful, IF they are followed, but they are usually not followed. That’s where I come in. Well, back to playing on the computer:) The kids are sleeping like angels.

  • Love my child

    Happy Mom, please email me at with the attorney who represented you with your case against DHR? Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Please tell me you are not referring to *** as your “DHR social worker” who gave you the policy manual. What a joke!!

  • beverly

    No, I’ve had this policy manual for a while and she wasn’t the one that gave it to me, although DHR policies are SUPPOSED to be available for the community to see and actually have a copy of. I see that you ARE a social worker and you are at WORK emailing this blog. Hmmm, talk about “playing” on the computer. I’m sure you have many children that are counting on you to do your job. You are probably in St. Clair county also, right? That county is full of problems. They can be resolved by following policy though. Rita never was OUR social worker, but *** is an exemplary social worker and others in her field need to follow her example. Are you feeling a little threatened? Is so, just get out the policy manuals and brush up. Can’t hurt. Like Jessica Levinson said “You are correct, DHR policy does change on a regular basis.”

    Another thing to Jessica….we were approved to adopt through DHR very easily. They did extensive background checks, fingerprints and I’ve had 12 homestudies done over the years. Like Supreme Court Judge Mike Bolin said when he did our 11th adoption (when he was the probate judge), “These people have been investigated more than Al Capone”, and we liked it that way. He knows our family well and has even visited our home.

    Of all the people that are praising DHR’s efforts with children and families, I’d like to know how many of you have taken children into your home, or helped, really helped a family get the services they need to keep their children? Don’t say that you help families JUST because you are a social worker. I want to know if you went beyond what DHR would allow you to do to make sure these families are gettting what they need? How about the hispanic families that can’t speak English? I know that there are hardly any interpreters to help them and they are at a huge disadvantage. There are many problems to be solved and I think it’s a waste of time to sit at our computers and insult each other. When I’m at my computer I’m usually working, so let’s get back to work to make a difference.

  • Anonymous

    I think I’m seeing the big picture now.
    Not only does DHR profit from taking parental rights away from parents…so does the EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM…

    They all get tax dollars in some form or another by keeping children in the schools and in the social programs.


  • beverly

    Yes, the schools get a lot of money to have a child in special education. My kids were in special ed and they usually just sat by themselves at Burkett, or were sent home when they had a field trip, so the teachers wouldn’t have to bother. The teacher would call the day before the trip, say my child had diarrhea, which meant the child couldn’t come back to school for 24 hours. I would get my child home and he wouldn’t be sick. I would take him to the doctor and the doctor would tell me nothing was wrong. It became such a routine with the school, that I finally took them out. They haven’t been “sick” since. I just wish I didn’t have to support the school system with my tax dollars if my kids aren’t in it. It’s a shame we can’t get those dollars back, to teach them at home. I work closely with James Tucker, at ADAP (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program) and still had to fight tooth and nail to get what my kids needed in the school system. He told me that I didn’t have to pull them out of school, and we would keep fighting, but my kids were regressing and I didn’t want to waste any more time. I still fight for others though, because it’s the same in the schools as it is at DHR. Everything is about money.

  • mystified

    I’m hearing horror stories about the courts in Jefferson County (and a lot of the other counties). What is going on with these judges? They don’t listen to the accused and totally take the social workers word about what happened. Most families aren’t even allowed to speak in court. What’s up with that??? What happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty? Is this America or what? The GAL’s seem to be working for DHR because they don’t even know the kids they are representing. You could bring a neighbor’s kid into court and the GAL’s wouldn’t know the difference. How is that representing the client???? If the KID was paying the GAL (instead of the state), I’ll bet the GAL would get to know them first, or not get paid.

  • beverly

    I hope what I have cut and pasted comes through. Click on SDHR Policies and you can get what you need as far as DHR policies. If you can’t click on it from here, go to AFAPA and click on SDHR Policies and FP Handbook. Do not expect them to advocate for birth parents though. AFAPA is funded by DHR. They get $150,000 per year from them. They actually don’t do much for foster parents either, so birth parents shouldn’t feel bad. They can’t really step on DHR’s toes.

    Alabama Foster & Adoptive Parent Association

    | Home | SDHR Policies & FP Handbook | Daily Blessings | Projects | Connections Newsletter | Pictures | ADVOCACY | Student Scholarship Application | By-Laws | Committees | AFAPA Board Information | Recent and Upcoming Events | Foster Parent Bill of Rights | Links to Some great Web Sites

  • Anonymous

    Please note that the above mentioned policies are ONLY for children in the custody of DHR (AKA: foster care). Policies and procedures for children placed with relatives, biological parents, family friends, safety plans, etc. are different. There are seperate policy manuals and different guidelines. (Just to make sure people get ACCURATE information)

  • beverly

    If you want the information about children placed with relatives, biological parents, family friends, safety plans, etc. just contact me and I can give you that info. I have the whole policy manual at my fingertips. I thought I’d give them the basics for foster care, but you can actually look up just about any policy (even the above) online. It just takes a little time to figure out what to type in to get the ACCURATE information.

  • Disheartened Social Worker

    I have decided that this blog is not being utilized for what it was originally intended. It is disheartening to see social workers, advocates, and parents working against each other when we are supposed to all be working towards the same goal…to help children. Somehow we have gotten away from this goal and it isn’t hurting anyone except the children. Instead of laying blame on either parents or DHR, it would be nice to see people working together for a change. I think that many times the social work profession is expected to “see into the future” and know what to do in every situation and that is just not realistic. I’m sure there are terrible social workers just like there are terrible teachers, attorneys, counselors, etc…I know that social workers make mistakes…everyone does. Parents make mistakes also. As a person who makes mistakes, I try acknowledge that I made a mistake, apologize to those I have hurt, learn from the mistake, and move on. It appears that the people on this blog have either never made a mistake, or refuse to acknowledge this mistake. It seems that it is easier or more fun to blame another party. I don’t think parents will change the way social workers think, nor do I think social workers will change the way parents think. Regardless of what you might think, most social workers go into the profession with good intentions. It is a thankless job that requires you give everything you have and can expect nothing in return. I’m sure many of you people who have posted are justified in your cases, some of you are not. Either way, just know that while DHR does make mistakes in some cases, they are only human and are going to make mistakes. Hopefully the mistake can be acknowledged and amends can be made, but there are children who are legitimately hurt everyday and are saved because of DHR interventions. I am truly sorry for those of you who are truly innocent and have unjustly lost your children. I can only pray that your children will be returned unscathed by the foster care experience. I think studies show that DHR is not a very good parent and children should ALWAYS be with their parents as long as they can stay there safely. I wish there was no need for DHR, but there is and always will be. As bad as you think the system is in Alabama, it is a model for many states in this country. Other states have documented cases of losing children in the system and things much worse. I know hearing this doesn’t lessen your pain so I won’t go on…just know that there are good ways of handling your situation and there are bad ways of handling things. Social workers are human too and like everyone, respond to positive interaction better than negative interaction and threats. I hope that life works out for you all and you have a happy ending. I guess my only hope is that you realize that just like you, social workers are human. Good luck!

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