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

  • beverly

    To Disheartened Social Worker….very well said. There IS a need for DHR. I have children that I have adopted that would be dead today had DHR not intervened. There are EXCELLENT social workers also. I think that what is so frustrating is that there are policies that are put in place to make sure the children are protected, BUT in so many cases the policy is not followed. It’s hard for a parent to look at these policies, see that they are there for a reason, and then they cannot get anyone to go by these policies. I know the pain of loosing a child to death. I know the pain of fostering children that go back to parents that are abusive and haven’t shown much inprovement, and you worry night and day that the child will be alright. I know the pain of waiting YEARS to adopt a child that no longer has parents, and worrying that I’ll make DHR mad (again) and they will take the child away before permanency occurs. I know the pain of doing everything RIGHT, but still not making any progress in the stability for my children, whether it is adoption by me or going home to the parents.

    All social workers have a policy manual. I think they have about 4 or 5 actually. I know it’s hard to remember ALL of what is written in these manuals. This job is way to important to throw someone into it, and hope they can remember what they are supposed to do. Would you want to fly in an airplane whose pilot didn’t know all the rules of flight????? Not me. The social workers job involves life or death decisions. Very stressful. They also need support but are NOT getting it from DHR. Instead they are punished for trying to do what’s right.

    A birth mom asked me why I do what I do. I only do it to give hope. I don’t do it to make anyone mad or to irritate anyone. We are all supposed to work together to help families. Isn’t this the ultimate goal?

    This blog is very helpful to those that are stressed out and need to vent. For some, it is the equivalent of grasping at straws. When you feel you’ve done all you can, you only HOPE that someone out there can help.

  • Anonymous

    It is not only social workers, it is the who DHR system.

    I can respect that workers at DHR are fallible but that never justifies taking a child away from their biological parent unless there is true child abuse that can be proven in an open court of law.

    Your a social worker, you know what trauma is caused by taking children from their biological parents if there hasn’t been real abuse, not these silly “oh your house isn’t clean enough” rules or “get a job to get your child back” when usually its a woman that is considered a homemaker and in Alabama unable to find a job that will support her and her child.

    And then there’s the “when you don’t drink anymore” will give you your child back, as if holding a parents child hostage will ever help someone with an addiction, punishment has never worked and it is against everything Americans stand for to do things like this.

    Especially when a young one is involved, when there developing and learning trust, then…to take them from the very people they trust…imagine the childs suffering.

    I hope that you, in your position, will also advocate for change at DHR.

  • beverly

    Social workers cannot advocate for change or they won’t have their job any longer. I have seen many social workers step up and TRY to do what is right. Shortly thereafter, they are transfered or no longer have their job. I have had social workers call me and ask me to contact Page Walley (DHR commissioner) for them, but begged me not give him their name, for fear of retaliation. They had very real questions that needed to be asked, but were afraid to ask them themselves. When I contacted the commissioner the first thing he said is “social workers always know they can come to me with any question and no retaliation will occur”. WRONG. Second thing said was “it must be a disgruntled social worker that has gotten in trouble for something, and that is why they are asking questions”. WRONG!! How much sense does that make? Especially when the questions were good questions that had nothing to do with them being fussed at for something THEY did. Typical DHR response.

    You have other social workers that diagnose children, and they don’t have a degree in ANYTHING pertaining to social work, much less psychotherapy. You have social workers that insist you take the child off of medication, without the doctors permission. You have social workers that insist the child be ON medication when it is not needed, when all that is wrong with the child is that it misses it’s parents. Wouldn’t THEY be disturbed, or have disturbing behaviors, if they had been taken away from their parents when they were a child???

    You have social workers that fuss at the parents for saying their child has a problem and needs counseling. The social worker then tells the parent that THEY are the reason the child has a disability. You have judges that say the same thing. Great minds think alike??? Maybe not great. Any child that enters the system NEEDS counseling to help them deal with loosing their parents. I don’t care how “normal” the child is when entering the system, it will not be “normal” shortly after entering the system.

    You have DHR supervisors and DHR attorney’s telling some foster parents that you MUST take your child to a Medicaid provider, even if the family pediatrician is willing to see the child for free. That’s so DHR can keep track of what you are doing with the child. Then in the same breath, you have DHR supervisors and DHR attorney’s saying it is fine for OTHER foster parents to take the kids where ever they want to take them. The rules change constantly and NO ONE CAN KEEP UP. Even the social workers. This is why children die. Children die and then no one can find out WHY they died because of “CONFIDENTIALITY”. Can you tell I’m fed up????? Maybe just a little :) I have to stay fed up, or I won’t have the desire necessary to try to make a change.

    I saw two ex-DHR social workers today. They stopped me at a fall festival and complimented the kids I had with me (10 of them). They left DHR several years ago, but they actually told me how much they appreciated my efforts in working with children. They couldn’t deal with DHR any more and had to get out. They looked so relaxed and I told them I was glad they found jobs with less stress.

    A lot of children are taken for very good reasons. A lot of children are taken for very bad reasons. What we have to understand is that the ones that are taken for BAD reasons, are damaged for life. They are suffering from abuse at the hands of DHR, even if the social worker took the child because she THOUGHT the child was being abused by the parents, or thought the child might be abused. That doesn’t make the child feel one bit better. I know this for a fact. I’ve talked to these kids.

  • Anomynous

    I’m a heartbroken physician (and Christian father) who has had his 16-y/o snatched by the DHR for *unknown reasons* 3 days ago; I’m presuming his psychiatrist-granny (my mother) felt I was emotionally abusing my son … by daring to suspend him from his H.S. Band and ‘chiding’ him too much about his late nights at away games, etc. Its difficult for me to share because of my pain.

    To those of you that are Christian, you can be sure that all psychologists and psychiatrists are diametrically apposed to you and God’s Word. 99% believe there is no devil; and believe you evolved from monkeys. I realize I can only stand my ground with God’s Word; it clearly goes against humanistic psychologies and exposes them as demonic (i.e., Jude)

    Go WildCats?#!

  • Beverly

    I’m so sorry for your pain. Did DHR tell you why they took your son? Have you had an ISP yet? What county are you in? Go to the AFAPA website and look up SDHR policies and practices. It will give you the information you need to advocate for your son and your rights. Or, you could ask DHR for a copy of their policy manual so that you can be well informed, and make sure you do all that is necessary to regain custody of your son, AND to make sure that DHR is doing all they should be doing to ensure the safe return of your son.

    I have been told by DHR that I am giving out erroneous information and that I should stop immediately. Of course they didn’t say what info I gave out that was erroneous, so I guess they made that up, especially since I get all my information from the DHR policy manual. Does that mean the DHR policy manual is giving out erroneous information?

    As I have said before, I am not an attorney, never have been and NEVER claimed to be. All I do is “quote” DHR policy from their own manual. It’s a shame they can’t do that, then I wouldn’t be needed as an “advocate/interpeter”. Intimidation is DHR’s strong point. I look forward to the day when I know longer have to advocate for families because DHR is doing it.

  • Anonymous

    “Social workers cannot advocate for change or they won’t have their job any longer.” – One of the primary responsibilities for social workers is advocacy!

    “You have other social workers that diagnose children, and they don’t have a degree in ANYTHING pertaining to social work, much less psychotherapy.” – There is no degree in “PSYCHOTHERAPY”.

    “have social workers that insist the child be ON medication when it is not needed” – Social workers do not prescribe medication. If a DOCTOR feels the child should be on medication the he/she would prescribe it. Last time I checked, doctors are qualified to know if the child “needs” medication or not.

    “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.” – New policy came out YESTERDAY. Do you have that policy in your little fingertips?

    “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.” – State agencies very rich? You should check the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. DHR also has the breakdown of how money is spent listed on its website. NO… DHR is not getting rich off of any children but rather spending money it does not have to ensure the safety of thousands of abused and neglected children.

    ERRONEOUS INFORMATION…. I WOULD SAY SO!

  • Beverly

    Ok, another social worker posting their “beliefs” about DHR. No, I do not have anyting IN my little figertips (at my fingertips). What do you mean ya’ll came out with a new policy manual yesterday????? Wow, I wonder if you have one available for me to look at? I wonder if you can give this same policy manual, that came out yesterday, to the families that you are working with? See, policy seems to change constantly. No wonder social workers can’t keep up. No wonder families can’t keep up. See below what I said.

    “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.”

    I know that the primary job of social workers is advocacy, but not necessarily to advocate for “change”. If that is true then WHY DON’T THEY ADVOCATE?????? Are you telling me that you don’t have to have a degree to be a Psychologist?? I guess you don’t have to have a degree to be a social worker either, huh?

    No, social workers don’t prescribe medication, but they sure as heck DO tell you to take a child OFF medication if THEY decide the child doesn’t need it. They also take the medication and “dispose” of it (yeah right), if they think the child no longer needs it (which is against the law). I can say that as a FACT. I told my social workers the same thing you said above…..”the doctor prescribed it, so talk to the doctor if you think he doesn’t need it”. She didn’t. Poor child was constantly fussed at by the teachers and principal for acting out when DHR took him off the medication. That’s a crime.

    You are asking us to check the DHR website to see how it spends it’s money???????????????????????? That’s like asking the fox to watch the henhouse. Which one of you posting on this website would believe anything you read on the DHR website? The report cards that DHR posted on it’s websites is a joke and everyone knows it.

    We need outside monitoring of DHR and any agency that deals with children and families. Who agrees?? Open courts are the only way to go, and if anyone disagrees then they have something to hide from the public.

    I’m thinking that the social worker that posted this, has not been a social worker long and is still in that “honeymoon faze” at DHR. I hope you can make a difference in someones life before you get burned out. I’m still speaking to social workers (good ones) that have been social workers for a very long time and are fed up. I’ll call my friends tomorrow and see about that NEW policy that came out yesterday. When I get a copy, I’ll post it for all you guys. The old policy was just fine, but no one followed it. I wonder if they will follow this so called “new policy”????

    Oh yeah, and PROVE I’m giving erroneous information by posting the new policy NOW. That way I won’t have to bother my friends at DHR. I’ll bet you can’t. If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. Please don’t use the DHR website to prove I’m wrong though, because no one will believe that.

    This is just sad. Why are you so bitter?

  • Beverly

    I’m so glad that you pointed out that you DON’T have to have a license in psychotherapy. This explains alot when dealing with DHR. I was actually talking about Psychologist, but now I see why so many kids are messed up when dealing with DHR psychotherapist. Most of them don’t even have children of their own.

    “Drug and alcohol counselors, ordained priests, ministers, and rabbis may practice psychotherapy without a license. In some states, a person with a master’s degree in education or psychology may also practice psychotherapy without a license.”

  • Anonymous

    Beverly:
    Psychotherapy is a form of psychology. Other examples include psychoanalysts, structuralists, systems theorists, etc. You cannot have a license in psychotherapy seeing as how it is only one school of thought in the broad spectrum we know as psychology.

    I have reviewed your numerous posts here and respect your desire to help people understand the DHR process policies and procedures; however, I am not sure that you, yourself, understand them. If you are actually posting on this site to advocate for others and interpret DHR policies for those who were wronged by the system, please remove your personal bias and do so from a fact based stance. You clearly are not happy with DHR. Who knows the reason… because they would not continue to place children in your home when you were clearly not capabale of caring for another, or they would not give you money you expected when you adopted so many children, or someone told you NO (God forbit). Really, who cares about the reason, but I am sure there is one. If you truly want to help others find their way through the complicated DHR system, do so as a professional rather than a woman scorned. You are not helping anyone by facilitating the negative talk of DHR.

    You are here to promote your “program”, SAFE, which in fact deals with the court systems. I have attempted to do reasearch about this program and was unable to locate any. I understand that you want to open juvenile courts to hold people accountable. Let me pose this to you. You obviously went through the juvenile courts with DHR and the children you later adopted. Lets say that one of your children was sexually abused by her father for the majority of her childhood years before DHR was made aware of the situation and removed her as an adolescent. While in foster care (in your home), DHR had to go to court on this child at least once every six months and provide an update to the Judge. At these hearings, DHR provided court reports and testimony about the physical and emotional health of the child and had to discuss the severity of the abuse and progress the child has made. With open courts, ANYONE can access these files, report this information to the public, and then most of Birmingham knows that this 14 year old who seems “normal” was sexually abused by her father for years at a time, was placed in foster care, has no contact with her biolgoical father, and is unsure if she wants to be adopted because despite everything, she still loves her family. Who benefits from this? Clearly it is not the children. Or the father (who I am sure will say he is innocent and DHR took his child for no reason) who will probably lose his job and his friends when the public reads this in their local paper because SAFE wanted to open the juvenile courts to the public. Have you really given this much thought??? I would love more information on this subject including your mission statement, goals and intentions and next meeting time and place. I would love to attend.

  • Anonymous

    To post #159

    “Or the father (who I am sure will say he is innocent and DHR took his child for no reason) who will probably lose his job and his friends when the public reads this in their local paper because SAFE wanted to open the juvenile courts to the public.”

    Let me ask you, if this hypothetical child has been removed from home based on child sexual abuse allegations, why is the father not prosecuted in a court of law?

    So the situation you’ve described is:

    DHR removed child from parent based on an allegation of abuse.

    No charge is brought against the parent.

    DHR is STILL allowed to place this child up for adoption without a conviction of child abuse or neglect…in a court of law and in front of a jury of their peers.

    Think about that…is this even lawful in the United States?
    To take a child from a parent with no conviction of wrong doing and adopt them out? And the state recieve money for every adoption of a child in the state?

  • Beverly

    Annonymous,
    Why is it always someone “scorned” that is speaking out about DHR??? Can it not be someone who knows DHR inside and out that could possibly be trying to HELP someone else not go through the nightmare of DHR? Do you know what DHR says about social workers that try to do their job and speak out about the system? They are “disgruntled” social workers.

    I hate to burst your bubble, but DHR continued to place children in my home, even when they disliked what I was saying about them. What does that tell you? Obviously my home is a safe haven for children that really should have been in the system. I know their parents very well. What evidence do you have that we “were clearly not capabale of caring for another”?? Where do you get your information? DHR?? Please get the facts before you react. I don’t think you are qualified. Do you realize how many social workers were abused as children and are bringing their “personal bias” with them into the job????

    Do you understand that opening the juvenile courts will NOT subject the children to undue publicity? Do you understand that the children’s names will NOT be published (have you read the R.C. Decree?) and that cameras will NOT be allowed into court to photo kids faces? Do you understand that you can interrogate (yes that is what DHR does) a child by having only ONE person talk to them that is actually someone licensed to do so that will NOT traumatize them and that you can question a child on closed circuit TV???? Most of the time children aren’t called into Family Court anyway so no one knows who they are.

    Yes, there is a reason I speak out about DHR (on the whole). I am NOT happy with DHR. The general public is not happy with DHR and those that have been wronged by DHR are VERY unhappy. Think about it. If you haven’t gone through something traumatic, you usually don’t really care about it. Look at all the cancer survivors. They are now trying to help others with cancer. That’s were we get our passion. By going through it. I have all the children I ever wanted. No one told me I can’t have more. We can all have the children that we can truly take care of if we want to pursue it. Most people get discouraged and give up. I didn’t ask for all of the children I have, but thank God for the children that HE sent me. It must be what me and my husband are supposed to do. More people could do it, but would rather do other things. Those that love their children and are trying to protect them, need help. I’m here to help, and if you can find something that I have done to hurt a family, please let me know what it is. I still don’t have that updated DHR policy that another annonymous person said came out two days ago. Is there really an updated policy, or is this just another run around by DHR??

    Yes, SAFE deals with the court system. Somebody has to. DHR isn’t. I will tell you ALL again, just because SAFE deals with the court system it doesn’t make me an attorney. It’s the same as this…..just because DHR employees work at DHR and deal with children, that doesn’t make them a social worker OR qualified to be one.

    Oh yeah, and if a child as been sexually abused for 14 years, they will definitely NOT be the normal child you say they will be. This is why I fight so hard for families. If you don’t understand this, you should give up your social workers license NOW, if you have one.

  • Beverly

    If you are signing your name “annonymous” I would think that you wouldn’t want to come to one of our SAFE meetings. You are obviously afraid to let us know who you are, but I will let everyone know when we have another meeting. I’m not afraid for you to come. I agree with post number 160. You can be charged with a horrible crime in family court, have your children taken, and NEVER be prosecuted for this horrible crime. It can be a good thing for some. Why can’t DHR work closely with the police or sheriff’s department? Too much power is a dangerous thing.

  • beverly

    Some info on SAFE for those that are interested. We have drafted our proposal on opening juvenile courts and are waiting for Sen. Marsh’s office to send us the copy so that we can make sure it says what we want it to say. This isn’t going to be an easy endeavor, but nothing worth having comes easy. There are a lot of people involved in the Family Court system that will not want it to happen because they will be under the microscope.

    “Alabama Family Organization Lobbying for the Opening of Juvenile Courts in the Heart of Dixie!
    Current lobbying for an Alabama law which would open juvenile courts and likely model the state’s juvenile court system after that in Oregon provides another great example of how juvenile courts are different from adult courts during criminal defense cases.

    A story in The Birmingham News details how most child welfare cases are kept confidential by a series of federal and state laws which aim to protect victims from shame and to possibly help reunify families once cases are over. However, the Society of Advocates for Family Empowerment feels that these laws are being interpreted too openly and are thus calling for more oversight of Alabama juvenile courts.

    Child advocates, foster parents and other members of the organization have recently enlisted the help of lawyer Brian Stewart-Magee to help draft a bill proposal on an Alabama open court law. State Senator Del Marsh has already agreed to look at the group’s proposal, according to The Birmingham News story.

    What Prompted SAFE’s Desire to Open Alabama Juvenile Courts?

    Members of this organization were described in the story as sharing a consensus that opening Alabama juvenile courts would be much more beneficial for juveniles and families than allowing more freedom with the current laws.

    SAFE founder Beverly Gardner argued in the story that since families must trust the courts in juvenile cases, they should know what’s going on inside of them. She added that opening Alabama juvenile courts would allow people to better understand what rights juveniles have in the criminal process and alleviate concerns about something they don’t really know about.

    SAFE members also pointed out several other benefits of opening Alabama juvenile courts. They say open Alabama juvenile courts could help a crowded, backed-up court system by making it harder to bring cases which lack much evidence. They further added that exposure to juvenile courts would help cultivate a public opinion on abuse and potentially act as a deterrent.

    A Law Opening Alabama Juvenile Courts Could Be Based on Oregon’s Juvenile Court System

    SAFE members have said that parts of their soon-to-be-drafted Alabama open court proposal may be modeled after Oregon law. The story detailed that judges may only close Oregon juvenile courts when there is overcrowding or another person interfering with the case. While Oregon juvenile court records do remain closed, the public can access other information, including the child’s name and birth date, the basis for the court’s decision, and the date, time and place of any proceeding involving a juvenile.

    If the SAFE proposal were to eventually become a part of Alabama juvenile court law, the state would join Oregon and Florida with open juvenile proceedings. The story added that the Georgia Legislature is currently considering two bills which would open Georgia juvenile courts in child abuse and neglect and dependency cases.

    When Is SAFE Expected to Draft Its Proposal for Open Alabama Juvenile Courts?

    Gardner said that she hopes the group can have some workable Alabama open court juvenile legislation within the next couple of months. The story said that the group has also garnered support from the Alabama Family Rights Association, which helped lobby for the 2003 Alabama Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act making it harder to move children away from non-custodial parents in custody cases. Visit Total Lawyers for updates on this movement to open Alabama juvenile courts.

    Ultimately, this desire to open Alabama juvenile courts is not only another example of how juvenile courts are different from adult courts but also a great reminder of the importance of having an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Juvenile proceedings are much different from adult criminal cases, and an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer can explain what rights juveniles have in the criminal process and answer any other questions you may have.”

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  • Anonymous

    To Post #160:

    First of all, DHR can indicate on a person for sexual abuse and law enforcement, for reasons only known to them, may not always follow through with charges. Stranger things have happened. And as we all know, not all people who sexually abuse children serve jail time. Some are allowed to plead guilty and receive probation, suspended sentences or time served. Again, stranger things have happened.

    And I guess all sex offenders who ARE actually convicted and sent to jail admit their guilt and never continue to proclaim their innocence? And people, even when guilty of abuse or neglect, never blame DHR and accept resonsibility for their actions. If you truly believe this… read the posts above. I believe there are approxiamtely 100 posts here who all say that they did nothing wrong and DHR took their children for no reason.

  • beverly

    MORE info on DHR’s 2006 Budget from DHR themselves. I’m hoping this information isn’t erroneous, but it looks about right.

    http://www.dhr.state.al.us/large_docs/06AnnRpt.pdf

  • Anonymous

    “First of all, DHR can indicate on a person for sexual abuse and law enforcement, for reasons only known to them, may not always follow through with charges.”

    Law enforcement are the professionals in the area of criminal justice.

    District Attorney’s know that it takes more than “hearsay” (which DHR uses against parents) to convict a person of a crime, they know how to apply the law to the facts.

    The Constitution of the United States of America is the “Supreme Law” of our land.

    And Article 3 Section 2 of the United States Constitution states:

    “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.”

    Amendment V (the Fifth Amendment) of the United States Constitution:

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment XIV):

    “Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Now tell where in the Constitution it says DHR has a right to “indicate” abuse and then take a child from their parent without a trial by jury and due process of law?

    And by the way, when DHR uses “indicated” to judge a parent guilty, its usually by someone who is a “caseworker” not a Social Worker licensed by the State of Alabama.

  • In July of this year the DHR came in my home and took my grandson. I went to court last year and took him in as on son. They are hold my passed on me .That happen five year go. LAst year they give him to me. And this year they took him from me. I had a clean home And food for him to eat and he was always clean and alway happy baby.I Call the DHR on my daughter because had other baby and was going to take in unclean home .And would have not been salf there and her other child I had. They came and took both of them .What makes the DHR above the Law.I see then two time a week. And the DHR let Them both get hurt in foster care too. They took out of one in other and what will that one do.The older child acts up bad now Because of the fosterfamily did to him .I need help bad. with this is there anybody out there will help me. Put on here and i will check back every day .The DHR is out to hurt familys not help them.LIKE I SAID WHAT MAKES THE DHR ABOVE THE LAW.

  • beverly

    The last post made me very proud. You have done your homework well, and it shows. I cannot believe that any of us can say that it’s ok to take a child from a parent or parents on heresay only. I’ve heard judges say “well, I’m going to put this child in DHR’s custody now and we will figure it all out later”, only to have that same child sit in foster care for two years while DHR tries to “figure it all out”. Do you realize that the RC Decree happened because Judge Sandra Storm of Jefferson County Family Court, but a child into DHR’s custody because DHR said the child was being abused/neglected? Do you realize that this child was shuffled around and was seriously medicated for a condition that he did NOT have for a year and a half before he was reunited with his father? Look up how the RC Decree came into affect. It’s shocking and it is still happening. Most social workers that I’ve talked to over the last 17 years, don’t even know what RC is about.

    Do you realize that even though DHR has “hearings” every 6 months to let the judge know what progress has been made with the family, that obviously nothing was told to the judge, that would lead Judge Storm to believe that the child wasn’t getting what he needed. Was the father allowed into the courtroom to put his two cents worth in? I doubt it, considering most attorney’s want the family to stay outside the courtroom while they make the deal with the judge and DHR. Attorney’s have told me “we don’t want the family to blow their own case”. Well tell the family that if they CHOOSE to speak up in court they might blow their own case. If they still choose to speak up (and I think they should, but do it politely) then that is there perogative. That being said, Judge Storm obviously didn’t ask the right questions about this child and the case, to get to the nitty gritty of what was going on. It is a judges job to do so. Where was the child during all of this??? I guess he was too drugged up to speak in court, should they even allow him to come. So much for protecting the child from the horrible public eye and being scorned for life because he was a foster child.

    Where is due process in all of this??? Is this a communistic country where we are supposed to be afraid of the government? It’s not supposed to be but it is becoming just that. Free speech my rear end. I have adopted children in my home RIGHT NOW that want to advocate for other children. I think we’ll pack up the 15 passenger van and head down to Montgomery. I think the legislators need to see the face of the children that this affects. They can’t see the face of foster children because of “confidentiality” but they sure as heck can see the face of children that are no longer in the system and want to speak out. I have very smart, opinionated children (wonder where they got the opinionated part:) and they want to see a change in the system. The system is only as good as those that run it.

  • beverly

    “And I guess all sex offenders who ARE actually convicted and sent to jail admit their guilt and never continue to proclaim their innocence? And people, even when guilty of abuse or neglect, never blame DHR and accept resonsibility for their actions. If you truly believe this… read the posts above. I believe there are approxiamtely 100 posts here who all say that they did nothing wrong and DHR took their children for no reason.”

    100 posts saying that DHR took their children and they did nothing wrong is a drop in the bucket. You think that DHR ONLY took 100 children from families that didn’t deserve to have their children taken? Look at the number of children in Alabama that are in foster care. I really doubt that we have over 6,000 parents that have abused their children and wouldn’t have done better with services in their home to take care of the problems that they were having with their children, jobs, or financial situation. Are you saying that your children would be better off in foster care, should you fall on hard times financially or emotionally? I have worked extremely hard for certain families when I realized that their children were in the system for the wrong reason. Some got the kids back and some didn’t. At least I can sleep at night knowing that I tried. I can also sleep knowing that I fought just as hard to keep kids from going home that didn’t need to go.

    Did I “rock the boat” in a lot of situations? You bet I did. That’s why I’m not particulary liked by DHR now. Isn’t that a sad commentary to our “system”????? Just like a wonderful minister, out of Florida said…..”If you have too many friends, that means you’re not living right”. Guess I’m living right.

  • IS THE DHR ABOVE THE LAW NO!You know some of the DHR work don’t even have children of there own. And don’t know what it is like to have any.They tell you thing they read out of a book. And they don’t know what its like having kids.I have a worker that don’t have any kids and she think she know everthing thing about children too. I think if they had workers with kids it maybe better for the kids I don’t know.They should not take kids from a good loving family that is nothing wrong in the case.My friend had six kids .Three grils and three boy . The house was unclean and the kids went without food for days and the mother and father sold there thing for the kids that the DHR giving to them But you what the DHR let the kids stay in there And Mother and Father done drugs and the DHR did not care they put the kids back in the home. but after years the kids was took out and put in foster care and some family has all the kids now. And the kids will never want for anything now . Some like this the DHR should not have let the kids stay there but they did They Want the family to stay together but the kids was getting hurt all long and the DHR did not care at all.They DHR don’t care have theyhurt family and the children at all.I pray every night for my grandsons for what the DHR let happen to them in there care.I cry think about it too.I read in the new paper today about a caes too . Read it it in today new paper in the anniston star.

  • Beverly

    I’m sorry that you cry about your grandsons. Are your grandsons ok now? I pray they are safe. It should be a requirement that every DHR worker and every family court judge should be a foster parent FIRST for at least 6 months to a year. That is the only way you can see how foster care impacts the children and families. Even when it is best for the child to be in foster care, it is still traumatic for the child to be taken away from it’s family. Then the child gets punished in the foster home for “acting out”, and gets moved repeatedly because of the emotional turmoil the child is going through. No counseling is given and if the foster parent ask for counseling for the child and is denied but pushes to get it, they just remove the child from the foster home and stick them in another one that doesn’t know what problems the child has. It goes on and on until the child has full blown reactive attachment disorder, and they are scarred for life. Since I’m not a licensed ANYTHING I have gotten my information from those that are licensed (psychologist, psychiatrist) and have lived with children like this. Dr. Gregory Keck is a wonderful source if you want to know about RAD. I went to his siminar and he’s not too happy with how DHR jerks the kids around either.

  • Anonymous

    “It should be a requirement that every DHR worker and every family court judge should be a foster parent FIRST for at least 6 months to a year.”

    Food for thought:
    Maybe all foster parents should first have to work for DHR to see both sides of the coin as well.

  • BillD

    I lived in Russell county Alabama(Phenix city), I Divorced in 2000 and I have had problems with Dhr and the court system since then. I have two girls aged 17 and 11 and xwife living conditions was reported to Russell county Sherriffs department as well as Dhr. since 2000 it was reported at least 5 times. i sent letters to page walley as well as to the gov bob riley and they just passed it off. last Jan 07 i made a report to the state level and rusell country Dhr removed the kids due to living conditions in south Russell county. the kids were placed in Custody of xwifes friend that did not work out. Dhr and the court appointed Lawyers. My oldest daughters lawyer plain told her that she had no rights, also Dhr would not listen to anything my Daughter said. the case worker at the time was VALRIE MCLAIN. in may of 2007 My 16 year old ran away due to the way her mother treated her and that Dhr was placing her in a unknown home. Dhr always changed case workers and they would never return my calls. I made contact with everyone and no one would listen. we went to court in march, may and July and finally in August. DHR and the Judge ERIC B.FUNDERBIRK placed the 11 year old back with her mother. mother rented a place in Fort Mitchell alabama. When my Daughter gets older I plan to Persue A class action lawsuit on DHR as well as the state of Alabama for the way they treated this case. I have detailes pictures and sheriff reports from 2001 to 2006. I was never allowed to visit with my kids and Xwife has never went by the court orders. I now live in Tn and my 16 year old is no where to be found and she is out on her Own and she gave up her school at Russell county High she was 13 in her class. I am sure there are many more stores like this and yes I am ready to sue them for the Damages that they have caused my daughters to suffer as well as the mental anguish all this has caused. the Judge was unfair and listened only to what Dhr said, so court was useless for this problem. my kids were living in condition that was as bad as 3rd world countries. anywone wishing to reply with other information Can do so at Joandecker97@yahoo.com- Again thanks for reading this… I need A good Lawyer to get this Ball game started!!!!!

  • Beverly

    “Food for thought:
    Maybe all foster parents should first have to work for DHR to see both sides of the coin as well.”

    I think this is an excellent idea. Then foster parents could actually see what DHR policy is (and get a copy) and how it should be applied to the children and families in ALL cases. I think it would benefit both foster parents and social workers to do each others jobs. I think the children would benefit greatly from such a setup. It should be easy for the foster parents to get a job at DHR since you don’t have a license. Social workers should, at least, go through foster parent training (the way DHR does it) before working for DHR. That way they can see what DHR does not tell the foster parents during this training. Then they wouldn’t be so upset by the foster parents questions when they call them.

    I’m still waiting for that copy of the “new policy” that post number 156 said came out the other day. If you would just tell me where to find it, I’ll look it up myself. What are the changes in the “new policy”. Is reunification STILL the number one goal? Is keeping families bonded included in the new policy (by allowing them to parent their children as much as possible while in foster care)? Is getting services for the children, a priority, even if you have to be creative and develop those services yourself?

    The ISP policy is probably the most important policy that DHR has. Of course, some could say that’s not true, but this is my opinion. It should be read by everyone (even those that aren’t at risk of being in the system) and a copy should be in everyone’s hands JUST IN CASE. Parents are allowed to have ANY advocate that they want and as many as they want. It is totally up to them. Everyone needs a second set of eyes and ears to make sure their rights are not violated. If they are, you can always file a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights at Health and Human Services in Atlanta. Of course since I’m not an attorney this isn’t legal advice, it’s just plain old good advice. You don’t need an attorney to do this. It’s your right as a citizen of the U.S. Go on the HHS website and check it out. It gives you good information.

  • Anonymous

    Well Bev let’s see. The new policy can be found in a three ring binder on the shelf in my filing cabinet dedicated ONLY to policy manuals. I’m sure since you have so much time to spend on the computer you can find it yourself. I mean, what happened to your “friends” at DHR? Won’t they give you a copy? Oh wait, they no longer work there…. But since you claim to be such a GREAT advocate and so up to date on DHR policy and procedures, let’s put your statements to the test. You find the policy, then answer a few questions to verify that you actually have it, and we’ll go from there. And since it is so easy to get a job at DHR, why don’t you apply. I will put in a recommendation for you just to watch you crumble under the pressure after less than one week. I would be honored to have you as a coworker, just to see you admit that you will NEVER be able to do my job.

  • Anonymous

    Post #175

    “The new policy can be found in a three ring binder on the shelf in my filing cabinet dedicated ONLY to policy manuals.”

    Is there a link to the new policy that you can give to everyone so that people can read the policy online?

    I noticed Alabama recieved an “F” for readily accessable disclosures of where our money goes as taxpayers in the State and also having policies and procedures easy to find on the web.

    People living in poverty usually don’t have easy access to cars to get to your office and look up policy and procedure.

    People with disabilities usually have a hard time getting to an office to read policy and procedure.

    Most parents (rich or poor) that have just received the trauma of having their children removed from their care are not thinking correctly, they are bombarded with grief and helplessness and most terrible of all fear for the safety of their children, they usually don’t have the reasoning at the moment to ask for Policy and Procedure before DHR takes them to court.

    Since the Alabama Department of Human Resources Policy and Procedures are public property (paid for with the people of Alabama’s money) maybe someone could transcribe the book and put it on the web.

  • Beverly

    Thank you post 176. You said that very well. Anonymous 175, I’m hearing the same sarcastic tone that I hear every time I go into an ISP. Aren’t you there to help families? If so, would you please come to my next SAFE meeting and bring with you YOUR DHR policy manual that sits on your shelf IN your filing cabinet. Have you ever taken that policy manual down (or out of your cabinet) and studied it?

    I would answer your questions if I knew what they were. What are the questions???? I wouldn’t work at DHR if they paid me more than they pay you (which is probably too much). I love my job now, and wouldn’t change it for the world. I was told by the County Director one time, when we had lunch, that I SHOULD work for DHR since I was so good at helping with ISP’s. I didn’t take her up on it. You know as well as I, that you cannot do your job properly or you will be retaliated against. It’s not the social workers fault but if you don’t stand up for families EVEN in the face of retaliation, then you aren’t doing your job.

    Post 176 is correct. DHR is afraid to put the policy online so that everyone with time to spend on the computer can read it. What are they afraid of? I noticed that Post 175 posted at 5:51 P.M. You must have zipped right home and jumped on the computer. Nothing else to do? Or maybe you posted it at work. Look, I don’t dislike social workers. Never have disliked those that are there for the families. It’s not about the individuals that work at DHR, it’s about DHR in general not following policy. It changes with the wind and therefore families never know what they are supposed to do. Why wouldn’t DHR want to do everything in their power to keep families together? Yes, being a social worker is an extremely hard job and I wouldn’t want that job, that’s why I don’t have it, but if you CHOOSE to have it, then do it right. If it’s so stressful, then get out of it and find a job that you can do correctly and easily.

    I don’t understand why your are so ticked off. You need to get rid of some of that hostility and check out those policy manuals in your file cabinet instead of contributing to this blog. Gotta go, I’ve got work to do. NOT on the computer:)

  • Anonymous

    Actually, yes, I have read the new policy manual. And since you obviously have so many connections at DHR, you should be able to answer you own questions… “Is reunification STILL the number one goal? Is keeping families bonded included in the new policy (by allowing them to parent their children as much as possible while in foster care)? Is getting services for the children, a priority, even if you have to be creative and develop those services yourself?”

    I can’t speak for those in Montgomery who would “put the policy online”. With all your connections, why don’t you call down there and ask.

    I can’t speak for other workers, but I get off work at 4:30. That’s an 8 hour work day with a 30 minute lunch break (I’m sure there will be some comment about that later). So, no, I didn’t have to “zip” home to get on the computer.

    You are so quick to say that DHR does not follow policy. However, you have yet to give any specific examples…

    For the record, I do my job right. I do everything I can to keep families together. BECAUSE IT IS MY JOB!!!! Have you read those policy manuals?? You act like DHR workers are stupid and lazy so why on earth woudl anyone want to remove a child from their home. Oh yeah, you’ve never worked for DHR so let me fill you in…. piles of paperwork, court appearances, buying clothing, initial doctor appointments, arranging visitation with biolgical families, appeasing foster parents (which is almost impossible)… So tell me again why anyone who works for DHR would WANT to go through that if it were possible to maintain the child with their family?

    And for my last point…. “I wouldn’t work at DHR if they paid me more than they pay you (which is probably too much). ” YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME? I SEE NOW… YOU ARE AS IGNORANT AS YOU APPEAR ON THIS SITE…. Ask ANY DHR worker… none of us are in it for the money becuase DHR workers are paid much lower than almost all other professions (teachers, hospital social workers, school social workers, counselors, etc.)

    I would LOVE to attend your next SAFE meeting. Let me know when and where and I will personally introduce myself to you. I would love the opportunity to talk with you in person.

  • Beverly

    I know that all of the above policies are in the manual, but you are an exception if you follow them. I commend you for that. Just because a policy is in a manual doesn’t mean anyone is following it. That’s my point entirely. I even had a top honcho (she isn’t anymore:) at DHR, tell me that “Beverly, everyone reads policy differently”. I asked her why DHR bothers to waste paper writing it down then, when they could just call all the directors every week and TELL them what policy is for that week? If everyone reads it differently who is to say which person is right?

    I could call Page and ask him why he doesn’t put the policies online, but I would get the same answer I always get, which is no answer at all. I can’t make people at DHR answer me or do what is right, no matter how many connections I have. Why are they “connections” anyway and not just “friends”. That is what I consider them. I wouldn’t ask my friends to do anything that would jeopardize their job, but I expect THEM to step up to the plate and do their job correctly for the sake of the children.

    “piles of paperwork, court appearances, buying clothing, initial doctor appointments, arranging visitation with biolgical families, appeasing foster parents (which is almost impossible)… So tell me again why anyone who works for DHR would WANT to go through that if it were possible to maintain the child with their family?” The agency wants MONEY. Not the individual social worker, because I know they don’t see any of it.

    Paperwork that lays on the desk and when the foster parent calls and asked when the child is going to a counselor for the sexual abuse they endured (6 months earlier), the social worker tells you, “when I get the paperwork done”. That is why I used to set up all my appointments for my foster children and then called the social worker and told her when they were so it would get done. They always appreciated it. I also bought all of my foster children’s clothing, with a voucher from DHR, because I knew what they wanted. I had to spend my money also because DHR only gave me $75.00 to buy the child a wardrobe. Most kids don’t come with all of their clothes. If they come with any, they are usually not worth putting on them. Parents that are loosing their children don’t think clearly when asked to gather their children’s belongings up so that DHR may take them away.

    Most biological families only get to see their children once every two weeks for one hour at a time. I deal with this constantly, and am dealing with it now with several families. These families have not commited any crime, NOR been found to have abused their children (the investigation is ongoing), but because they spoke up and complained about several things going on in the foster home, the parents have been punished. FACT!!!! If you don’t believe me, you should be in these ISP’s. It’s probably hard for you to believe that this has happened because YOU would never do it. Usually the reason for the one hour visit every two weeks, is because the social worker is overloaded and can’t fit anything else in. If they would ask the foster parents to bend a little more and work with the families instead of trying to alienate them from the birth parents, I think they would get more visits. This is supposed to be a partnership. Read the manual.

    Some foster parents ask for services for their children (I cannot give names of anyone I help because your agency insist on “confidentiality”) and are not given these services. Some foster parents call DHR regulary and ask for MILK for the kids and threaten to give the kids back if DHR doesn’t provide it, although we all know that is what the board payment is for, and DHR asks them how many gallons do they want and how fast should they drive to get it there. It all depends on who the social worker is and how much they value that foster parent. Some foster parents abuse the children and DHR turns a blind eye to it saying “oh, she is a good resource, and we can’t afford to loose her”. NO she is not a good resource if she is abusing the kids. Just give them back to their parents and let them do it. I turned a foster parent in for this reason and in a year a child had died in her home. Explain that one. She’s still a licensed foster parent.

    For your last comment about the pay…..yes, there are workers that do it for the money and I had one tell me so IN COURT one day. She said “you know, I’m only doing this for the money, until I can get another job”. She didn’t do much for the parents and we know why. Anyone can go to the DHR website and look up the pay scale for case workers and social workers. Then they can make the decision about whether or not case workers and social workers are getting paid too much. If they are doing their job, the pay is accurate, if they are not, they are getting paid too much. Since you are doing your job (according to you) I guess you are getting paid what you are worth, and probably need a raise.

    Did I give enough examples of how DHR is not doing their job, or should I continue. I can come up with some more stuff but need to go cook a ham right now.

  • Beverly

    Are you a licensed social worker or just a case worker? What are your qualifications.

    From the Alabama State Code.

    b) Social Workers.

    (1) There shall be a supervisor of social services, in addition to the executive, if there are more than the equivalent of two full-time social workers (full-time as defined according to the agency’s personnel policies) or if the executive director does not have a master’s degree in social work from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education plus five years’ experience in child placing.

    (2) Social workers shall be licensed and shall practice social work pursuant to Code of Ala. 1975, §§34-30-1 through 34-30-58.

    (i) A supervisor of social services shall be licensed as a graduate social worker or a certified social worker, and shall have a minimum of two years full-time paid employment in family and children’s services, including experience in child placing.

    (ii) A social worker shall have at least the following qualifications:

    (I) A license as a graduate social worker;

    (II) A license as a certified social worker; or

    (III) A license as a bachelor social worker with continuing supervision from a person so licensed as specified in (I) or (II) above.

  • Anonymous

    Since you asked…. As stated in the Alabama State Code that you listed above, I am a social worker with the qualifications to hold the job as executive director (licensed by the state of Alabama, Master’s Degree from an accredited school of social work, completed supervision to hold this license and more than 5 years experience with DHR) Am I UNDERpaid…. I would say so. So no, I do not do my job for the money.

  • Beverly

    Pay scale for – DHR social worker (a real one) is $30,422 to $47,270
    Hospital social worker is $41,000 to $53,000
    School social worker is $32,000
    Counselor is $48,000
    Teacher is $30,973 to $38,282

    It looks like DHR social workers are right in the same pay scale as all the other professionals above. I can see that the pay scale goes UP with more education. Makes sense. As you can see, I cooked my turkey and ham and have time to “play” on the computer :)

  • Beverly

    Post 181, I’m glad to hear you don’t do your job for the money. You are to be commended. We’ve had some county directors that weren’t even licensed social workers. I looked them up.

  • Beverly

    To the social worker….I have some clothes and shoes, and maybe some deer meat, that could go to foster children. Would you like to have them to distribute? Neither one of us is the enemy (and believe it or not I’m not ignorant:) and I think we could do some good together. Even if it’s just passing along clothes, etc. Happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for.

  • Tonya

    Chilton CO. DHR- Hopefully someone reading this can help me. My three children were in the custody of my ex husband in circumstances that were do to my cancer. Last year he was arrested for sexually assaulting our oldest daughter. When taken to DHR no one bothered to let me know what was going on until 3 days after the report was made, my girls were placed with their step-mother because no mention of me their biological mother until I went to DHR and to the investigators office the next day which was a Monday morning. The step mother does not believe my daughter and she is being left in that home, where her sisters and brother are being turned against. My daughter has ADHD and the step mother has taken her off of her medicine and my daughter is not doing well in school. She has to live every day with the fact that no in the family over there believes her. Sleeping in the same bed that she was abused. But the step mother and my ex husband are still having a relationship like nothing ever happend.

  • Concerned Parent

    I would like to know if anyone out there is having problems with Marshall Co. DHR? Does anyone know of the possible porn ring within the foster care system in Marshall Co.? This includes prominent business men, lawyers, doctors and judges, I am told. Marshall Co. DHR was under investigation and so was a prominent business man. There was a gag order in place. Local television report reported on this but now noone has any further information. Also have been told that paperwork has been lost in investigation of local businessman.

    I would like to hear from anyone that would be willing to discuss this. Attorney General’s office is also interested!

  • anonymous

    No, but I have heard rumored that a DHR Supervisor for one of the counties has had an ongoing affair with a DHR Attorney/GAL. A married man with children. How ironic if true, that a person whose job it is to keep families together and to do what is in the best interest of children to knowingly destroy a family.

    If true, ths would be morally wrong, but would it not also be a conflict of interest and a ethics violation?

  • Beverly

    DHR looses paperwork often and so do the investigators. Nothing surprises me anymore. Who in the AG office is interested? Are you sure they are interested? They basically are there to protect DHR. It really depends on who you talk to. The media is your best bet, when it comes to getting the word out and making people take notice. Keep pushing and let me know if there is anything I can do. If we don’t care, then nobody else will care until it affects them.

  • LowKey LOKI...they never saw me coming....

    all you folks have to do to get their “alabama adminstration code book” for some reason this blog wont let me put in a hyperlink so here ill type it out for yous so just type in www “dot” you know a “.” legislature “dot” state “dot” al “dot” us “forward slash” Codeof Alabama “forward slash” 1975 “forward slash” coatoc “dot” htm

    http : // www . legislature . state . al . us / CodeofAlabama / 1975 / coatoc . htm
    i had to “space it weird cause this “blog” removes it all the time i just try to post a link to it

  • LowKey LOKI...they never saw me coming....

    OOOh Beverly, I bet ALLLL the fine Jefferson county DHR workers will DEFINITELY not ever respond to ANY of MY Claims/Facts

    SEE folks when I deal with the “ALABAMA DHR” alil’ different now …I USE FEDERAL CODES because…………..AFTER MZ. Storm did her “thing” thru the “RC” The feds took over

    (Acts 1951, No. 703, p. 1211, §6; Acts 1978, No. 359, p. 300, §2; Acts 1991, No. 91-671, p. 1307, §1; Acts 1996, No. 96-673, p. 1139, §1.)

    “ACT OF 1991” being the “BIG ONE” seeing that’s when the FEDS stepped in

    DHR is now acting as an agent(s) of the FEDERAL GOV”T,

    Alabama code of 1975

    State Department of Human Resources

    Section 38-2-6 Duties, powers, and responsibilities of state department of human resources

    (2) Exercise all the powers, duties, and responsibilities previously vested by law in the State Child Welfare Department

    (5) Act as the agent of the federal government in welfare matters of mutual concern, and in the administration of any federal funds granted to the state to aid in the furtherance of any of the functions of the state department, and be empowered to meet such federal standards as may be established for the administration of such funds.

    (6) Designate county departments as its agents under its rules and regulations to perform any of the state department’s functions.

    (10) Seek out, through investigation, complaints from citizens, or otherwise, the minor children in the state who are in need of its care and protection and shall, as far as may be possible, through existing agencies, public or private, or through such other resources, aid such children to a “FAIR” opportunity in life.
    (YOU think FAIR” might pertain to “lineage”,,???? knowing who his/her family is/are. Like give them and his/her parents a trial? think that would be “fair”?)

    12) Exercise the right of visitation and inspection of all state, county, municipal, and other agencies and institutions, public or private, receiving, placing, or caring for dependent or neglected minor children for the purpose of ascertaining from time to time the capacity and adequacy of the facilities offered by these agencies and institutions for the care of such children; the manner, character or way in which such children are cared for in such institutions or agencies, the children who are in such institutions, the facts showing their social status, the source of income and cost of maintenance, and the way in which such children are received into and dismissed from such institutions or agencies

    (Acts 1951, No. 703, p. 1211, §6; Acts 1978, No. 359, p. 300, §2; Acts 1991, No. 91-671, p. 1307, §1; Acts 1996, No. 96-673, p. 1139, §1.)
    “ACT OF 1991” being the “BIG ONE” seeing that’s when the FEDS stepped in

  • LowKey LOKI...they never saw me coming....

    yup the mighty “DHR” as of 1991 no more GOOD OL’ “dept of pensions and securities”

  • LowKey LOKI...they never saw me coming....

    heres just a lil of “my” lawsuit

    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA

    Cause No.: _________________________________

    ( you can put any name here lets go with )
    “LOKI” for now )
    as a Trustee – and as his attorney-in-fact. )
    Sui Juris in Propria Persona )
    “In my own flesh and blood.” )
    “one not under the control of another.” )
    Plaintiff-Petitioner, )
    )
    v. )
    )
    The State of ALABAMA, )
    Et-al. )
    )
    Defendant-Respondent. )

    Verified Complaints for Patterns of: Denials and Violations of Civil
    Rights, Neglect to Prevent the Same, Willful Discrimination, Disparate
    Taxation, and Reckless or Negligent Government Mismanagement;
    and, Verified Petition for Damages and Certain Remedial Actions, Willful Failure to Provide Due Process of Rights. Willful and Malicious Prosecution, Libel and Slander, which led to Denial of Lawful Property.
    (‘Forum Non Conveniens’)
    (Request for Three-Judge Panel)
    (Demand for Jury Trial)

    Comes now the principal Plaintiff-Petitioner, Karl R. Lentz, individually, alleges,
    states, and submits the following;
    For Declaratory and an Emergency Injunctive Relief – Defendants in conspiracy with the State of Alabama; referring to the State as;
    1). Alabama Administrative Agencies, the Department of Human Resources;
    After the State of Alabama in 1991 Social Service Agency in an emergency session in August of 1991, and became law in November of that year, became ………. Acting “U.S. Government Agents”
    DHR is an agent of the FEDERAL GOV”T,
    Alabama code of 1975

    State Department of Human Resources Section 38-2-6 Duties, powers, and responsibilities of state department
    Alabama Code of Alabama 38-2-6 (5)(2)
    (5) Act as the agent of the federal government in welfare matters of mutual concern, and in the administration of any federal funds granted to the state to aid in the furtherance of any of the functions of the state department, and be empowered to meet such federal standards as may be established for the administration of such funds.

    (2) Exercise all the powers, duties, and responsibilities previously vested by law in the State Child Welfare Departments may be established for the administration of such funds

    a). “Acting” agents, the “Social Workers”
    1). Field Case Workers;
    2). Field Case Worker’s Supervisors; and
    3). Administrative Agents.
    2). Executive Agency
    a). Governor Bud Siegelman, now acting Governor Bob Riley
    1). Officially recognized as the Head of the Department of Human Resources in the State of Alabama.
    3). Judicial Court System
    a). Alabama’s 10th circuit court
    b). Alabama Supreme Court
    1). Appointer of Judges to oversee “Special Cases”
    a). The Judge appointed, also in violation denial of Federally Guaranteed Rights
    Those agents acting within the borders of the State, known as ALABAMA, in The United States of America, who are regulated and monitored throughout their Probationary Period (known as the RC. Consent Decree of 1991). For prior violations to other citizen’s civil-rights within their borders by the Federal 11th District Court in Montgomery, Alabama. Although on probation for over “15” years, still in the guise of ”Color of Law”, these Alabamian’s elected officials, employees, contractors, and by Acting as Fedearl Agents, are continuing to alienate, to deny, U.S. citizens accessibility to Due Process in Alabama State Courts, and in so doing, depriving U.S. citizens guaranteed RIGHTS to LIBERTY, JUSTICE and to their INHERENT and INALIENABLE PROPERTY as well.

    A. Introduction and Nature of the Case

    1. This is a multi-grounded civil rights action at law, at common law, and also in equity, to
    vindicate and restore various rights of the Plaintiff’s secured under federal law, to vindicate and
    restore their various inalienable rights guaranteed under certain portions of, and several Amendments to, the United States Constitution, and for the Plaintiff to claim all rights,
    damages, and forms of relief obtainable under any available means, in the interests of justice, and through the authority and supplemental jurisdiction vested in this Court by 28 USC § 1367, and
    also through Article III of the United States Constitution, if and as necessary.
    2. In no way, shape, or form, do or will the Plaintiff claim or assert, either expressed or
    implied, any manner of rights or interests alluding to any aspect of controversy under any state
    law, whatsoever, excepting only that a matter must be fairly characterized as an act, practice, or
    policy of, or by, the state which exists or functions in derogation of federal law or federal rights.
    3. Further, the Plaintiff expressly disclaim any such potential allusions to matters arising
    solely under any state law or state rights, with, again, excepting only that a given matter must or
    might be fairly characterized as an act, practice, pattern, or policy of, or committed by, the state
    which exists or functions in derogation of federal law or federal rights.
    4. The Plaintiff seeks all available forms of declaratory, injunctive, retrospective and
    prospective relief that correspond to the various causes of action and prayers for relief herein.
    5. This case involves applications of family law in a general nature, wherein rightful

    custody of minor children between natural parents, and where the United States

    Constitution, and consistent, numerous, and binding stare decisis of the United States Supreme

    Court, provides certain liberty, privacy, and family interest protections to all such natural

    parents, and wherein various and numerous Acts of Congress have provided similar, or even

    better, protections.
    6. This case further involves significant amounts of what appears to be willful, reckless,
    and/or negligent fraud, deceit, collusion, and/or abuse of powers by a statewide and systemic
    pattern of obstructing, hindering, and/or otherwise thwarting the rightful and lawful conclusions
    of due process during any such child custody proceedings held within its own courts of law.
    7. This case further involves allegations of widespread and standard practices by the State

    of ALABAMA to unlawfully discriminate in all areas of domestic relations, within any related or

    ancillary proceedings, and especially the matter directly concerning child custody, often

    involving bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, one gender or the other, and the
    same practices being patently unconstitutional in their prevalent application.
    8. This case further involves various allegations of disparate taxation, preferential tax

    treatment, informal or indirect aspects of taxation without representation, and willful, intentional, negligent, and/or reckless taxation far in excess of what is necessary for the common good, and even in clearly demonstrated derogation of the common good.
    9. This case also involves allegations against the State of ALABAMA for willful, intentional, negligent, and/or reckless patterns of general disdain for the common good.
    10. There presently exists in this nation an entirely overwhelming plethora of federal statutes
    pertaining to the strict application, by the several States, of domestic relations resolutions in state courts of law, of national public family policies, of numerous authorizations and appropriations
    of tax dollars to provide various federal funding, grants, and stipends to the several States, and of the existence of variously all-consuming federal budgetary, administrative, and enforcement
    agencies, bureaucracies, and other organizations to supposedly ensure strict compliance with all
    such federal law and applicable federal rights; The members of the putative Class essentially
    have two options available for non-violent redress of the widespread violations of their various
    rights alleged herein: (1) prosecute the state itself for routine misapplication of the law;
    or, (2) prosecute the federal government for failing to enforce its own laws, and allowing the
    State to consistently misapply the law and violate his rights; The Plaintiff has chosen the first option, in the hopes that the second option will then become moot.
    11. Given the above serious and important natures of this case, the significant implications to
    the general welfare, and the same including grievous and numerous violations of civil and
    constitutional rights, this Court should afford special attention thereupon, and impart expediency
    to the resolution of this action, all pursuant to its authority under 28 USC § 1657 (a).

  • Beverly

    Hey LOKI give me a call. My number is in one of the post above. Looks like you are on the ball with this. I’m sure that the social workers that add to this blog will tell you that you are “as ignorant as you sound”, since hardly anyone knows DHR policy and practices at DHR. Sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings, but if the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t then don’t get offended. You notice I said “hardly anyone”.

    They usually don’t see you coming if you know what you are talking about. The poor (with attorney’s that are paid for by DHR) are especially vulnerable.

  • tired of judges that work for dhr

    Do you know that Judge Sandra Storm is still sitting in on DHR cases and she is working for DHR. FACT!!! She is contracted by DHR but says that she lets everyone know that she is, before hearing a case, so it’s ok. Can you imagine that the attorney’s that go in front of her WITHOUT the parents (attorney’s never take the parents in because they might mess up their own case) actually go out and tell the parents that she works for DHR and the parents say “well of course we want her to hear our case”??????? They don’t. Working with the news media gives me a lot of info that others don’t get. Remember, always go into the courtroom with your attorney, no matter what they tell you.

  • Beverly

    To the social worker that said I was ignorant. Could you please explain to me what part of this visitation policy DHR adheres to? When I give this policy to families, they are shocked to learn what their rights are.

    ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

    FAMILY SERVICES PARTNERSHIP

    ADMINISTRATIVE CODE

    CHAPTER 660-5-50 VISITING

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    660-5-50-.01 Purpose

    660-5-50-.02 Legal Authority

    660-5-50-.03 Glossary

    660-5-50-.04 Court Orders

    660-5-50-.05 Children Covered By Visiting Policies

    660-5-50-.06 Children Visits

    660-5-50-.07 Worker Visits

    660-5-50-.08 Notification To Parents Regarding Visitation

    660-5-50-.09 Visiting Supports And Services

    660-5-50-.01 Purpose – This policy defines the rights of children in out-of-home care to visit with parents, family members and others such as friends, former foster parents and children from previous foster care placements. Among other things, this policy recognizes the need for family attachments, and is intended to promote visits to support and strengthen family attachments.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.02 Legal Authority – Visiting policy has been developed to comply with the following principles set forth in the R. C. Consent Decree:

    (1) “VIII 45. The system of care shall promote class members’ visitation with their parents and family.

    (a) The matter of visitation shall be addressed in the class member’s individualized service plan.

    (b) Visitation may be arranged by the class member, the class member’s parents or family or the foster parents, as well as by DHR staff and the staff of residential facilities, in accordance with the individualized service plan.

    (c) Supervision of visitation shall be required only when there is danger that the parent or family member with whom the class member is visiting will harm the class member unless the visit is supervised.

    (2) Visiting with parents, family members, and friends will be promoted for every child in out-of-home care unless visiting places the child’s safety at risk; substantially inhibits attainment of the goals of the safety plan or the permanency goal of the ISP; or subjects the child to intimidation regarding investigative statements or court testimony. Visiting will be addressed by the child and family planning team, and any restrictions placed on visiting will be specified in the ISP.

    (3) There will be no restrictions placed on the number, frequency, duration or sites of visits unless it has been determined and documented in the case record that these restrictions are needed and authorized by this policy.

    (4) Visits are to be viewed as valuable in and of themselves and as strategies in meeting the child’s developmental and permanency needs. Visits can be arranged and supervised without the involvement of the DHR worker unless it has been determined and documented in the case record that DHR involvement is needed to protect the child.

    (5) Visits with parents and family members cannot be used as rewards or punishments (for children, parents, or other family members). In addition, a child is not to be forced to visit against his or her will. If a child does not want to visit, the worker and foster care provider should see that someone close to the child discusses with the child why he or she does not want to visit and addresses the child’s desires about visiting in a way that is supportive of the child and family.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.03 Glossary

    (1) Age appropriate child – A child age 10 and older (except a child with severe mental retardation), or a child under age 10 who is intellectually capable of understanding and communicating ideas and opinions concerning the subject matter being discussed or considered.

    (2) Child and Family Planning Team – The individuals involved in planning services with the child and family. The team should include the parents, the child, if age appropriate, others requested by the family or child, the DHR worker, the foster care provider and other service providers if any.

    (3) Emergency Situation – A situation where the child is at imminent risk of serious harm and action to protect the child must be taken before a child and family planning team can be convened to develop an ISP or revise an existing ISP.

    (4) Family – A biological, adoptive or self-created unit of people residing together consisting of an adult(s) and child(ren) with the adult(s) performing duties of parenthood for the child(ren). Persons within this unit share bonds, culture, practices and a significant relationship. Biological parents, siblings, and others with significant attachments to the child living outside of the home are included in the definition of family.

    (5) Foster Care Provider – A provider of out-of-home care for a child in any of the following settings: the home of relatives (kinship care) or neighbors, a foster family home, a therapeutic foster family home, a group home, a shelter home, a child care institution, a hospital or other residential facility.

    (6) Foster Parent – A foster care provider delivering care in any of the following settings: the home of a relative (kinship care) or neighbor, a foster family home, or a therapeutic foster family home.

    (7) Friend – A person other than a family member with whom the child has a significant attachment. Friends include both adults and children, such as former foster parents and children from previous foster care placements.

    (8) Parent – A father or mother, an individual appointed as legal custodian or guardian or an individual acting as a father or mother. This may include but is not limited to a relative rearing the child for an absent family member, a godparent assuming a parent’s role when the parent is deceased, etc.

    (9) Permanency Goal: – The permanent living situation for the child that the ISP is designed to achieve. Permanency goals include in order of preference:

    (a) child will remain at home

    (b) child will return home

    (c) child will live permanently with relatives

    (d) adoption, independent living, or long term placement with an identified foster family.

    (10) Protection of the Child – The means of (1) preventing conduct that would place the child’s safety at risk, (2) preventing conduct that would substantially inhibit the attainment of the goals of the safety plan or the permanency goal of the ISP, and (3) preventing the child from being subjected to intimidation regarding investigative statements or court testimony.

    (11) R.C. – The R.C. Decree or Implementation Plan, or policies developed to implement the Decree or Implementation Plan.

    (12) Relative – A relationship created between persons by blood, marriage or legal action (adoption or paternity) to any degree.

    (13) Safety – Protection from physical injury or sex-related abuse.

    (14) Safety Plan – A plan for protecting a child in an emergency situation, developed in partnership with the family and the age appropriate child when possible.

    (15) Service Providers – Individuals, families, agencies, or organizations that provide or could provide a service or services to children and families.

    (16) Severely Emotionally Disordered (SED) Child – means a children with emotional, behavioral developmental or substance abuse disorders which severely impair functioning in their home, school and/or community.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.04 Court Orders. – Court orders must be followed.

    (1) Sometimes there will be an existing court order (often from a divorce proceeding) in place at the time an ISP is being developed for a child and family. The existing order must be followed until modified or lifted. However, DHR must seek to have the order lifted or modified if it substantially inhibits attainment of the child’s permanency goal, or imposes requirements inconsistent with R.C.

    (2) Sometimes, after an ISP has been developed, the court will order additional services, lift restrictions, or impose additional restrictions. These court orders must be followed. However, DHR must seek to have the order lifted or modified if it substantially inhibits attainment of the child’s permanency goal, or imposes requirements inconsistent with R.C. If the court refuses to modify or lift an order as requested, the county DHR will inform the Family Services Partnership. If the Partnership concurs that the court order is inconsistent with R.C., the Partnership will take appropriate action.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.05 Children Covered By Visiting Policies

    (1) General Policy

    (a) This policy applies to all children in DHR custody or planning responsibility who have been removed from their home and placed in foster care {e.g., home of relatives (kinship care) or neighbors, foster family home, therapeutic foster family home, group home, shelter home, child care institution, hospital or other residential facility}. It does not apply to children living in their own home.

    (b) Children retain the right to visit with their parents and families even when the rights of the parents have been terminated. Visiting may be restricted when it places the child’s safety at risk; substantially inhibits attainment of the goals of the safety plan or the permanency goal of the ISP; or subjects the child to intimidation regarding investigative statements or court testimony. The circumstances and extent of visiting will be addressed in the child’s ISP.

    (c) Child care institutions, group homes and licensed child placing agencies which approve foster homes that serve children in the custody or responsibility of the Department are to develop a written policy regarding visiting. These facilities may adopt the policy of the Department or develop their own as long as it is consistent with Department policy and provides children no less visiting rights than children in foster homes approved by the Department. The visiting policy is to be approved by the Department and explained to all children placed by DHR and their parents so they understand the policy. A copy of the policy will be given to the parents upon request.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.06 Children Visits

    (1) The child in foster care has the right to visit with parents, other family members, and friends unless visiting places the child’s safety at risk; substantially inhibits attainment of the goals of the safety plan or the permanency goal of the ISP; or subjects the child to intimidation regarding investigative statements or court testimony. An ISP need not be in place for visits to occur. Visits will begin immediately upon placement unless restrictions are imposed. Visits with parents or others may not be used as rewards or punishment. Visits are to take place in the most normalized, family-like setting that meets the child’s need for safety.

    (a) The Role of the Child and Family Planning Team – Visiting is needed to maintain and strengthen family and other attachments. Visiting is also a right of the child and family. Thus the ISP will identify visiting as a step needed to maintain and/or strengthen attachments to parents, other family members, and friends; and the ISP will identify steps needed to permit visiting that is desired by the child and family. The child and family planning team will identify services needed to support and encourage visiting. Also, the team will clarify, among other things, the role and responsibilities of the foster care provider and service providers in supporting, arranging, approving, participating in or supervising visits; the role of the DHR worker in supporting, supervising, or approving visits; any therapeutic purpose particular visits are expected to serve; and restrictions, if any, to be placed on visits. The team’s decisions will respect the family’s culture (beliefs and values). Issues related to visiting will be reassessed frequently.

    (b) Placement Visits – Normally, the parent(s) and child will visit a placement prior to the child’s move. The parent(s) and child should be informed of their visiting rights at this time. The worker shall encourage and support the parent(s) to participate in the actual placement of the child. When a pre-placement visit has not occurred, the DHR worker shall inform the parent(s) and child of their visiting rights at the time of placement. When it is not feasible to inform the parent(s) at the time of placement (e.g., the parent(s) is inaccessible, an emergency prevents oral notice), prompt notice will be provided after placement.

    (c) Arrangements for Visits – Unless restrictions apply, visits may be initiated by the family, the child, friends, or the foster care provider. Visits will be conducted in accordance with the “reasonable rules” of the foster care provider as permitted by this policy. The visitor and foster care provider (who will involve the age appropriate child) will mutually agree on the time of day, duration, and location of visits, unless these matters are specified in the ISP. The DHR worker will normally not arrange or be present at visits, unless requested by the child or visitor; the ISP or safety plan requires the worker to arrange, supervise or otherwise be involved in visits (e.g., when necessary to protect the child’s safety); or to obtain information for court reports and/or child and family planning team participation. The DHR worker, or another person designated by the worker or the child and family planning team, will mediate any conflicts that occur between the family and foster care or service provider(s) over visits. If problems persist, the DHR worker will discuss the matter with the child and family planning team. The child should not be asked or expected to mediate conflicts. Visits of parents will be arranged so as to encourage and permit the parent(s) to engage in routine parenting functions such as performing daily care responsibilities such as bathing, feeding, dressing of the child; helping with homework; attending school functions and conferences with the child; transporting or going with the child to a medical appointment; taking the child shopping, for a hair cut or for other personal care; or taking the child on family or recreational outings such as church, picnics, walks, cook-outs, family holidays and reunions.

    (d) Location of Visits – Visits will occur in the most normalized family-like setting that will meet the child’s need for safety. Visits may occur in the foster home or other placement, the family residence, a relative’s home, or the site of special events such as the school, church, park, etc. Visits should not occur at the offices of the County Department unless necessary to protect the child’s safety, or unless requested and agreed upon by the age appropriate child and visitor. When visits are to be supervised, they may occur at the foster home or other placement or another acceptable site.

    (e) Frequency of Visits – Daily visits with the parent(s) and other family member(s) will be encouraged. At a minimum, the team will encourage and support weekly visits with the parent(s) if the permanency goal is for the child to return home. If the permanency goal is relative placement, at least weekly visits with the relative will be encouraged and supported. If frequent visits are not occurring between the child in care and the parent(s), other family members or friends, the DHR worker will assess the reasons and take steps needed to encourage and promote frequent visits, including arranging visits as needed. The worker will also discuss the issue with the child and family planning team. When the parent(s) is unable to visit frequently even with supportive services, mail and telephone contacts will be intensified. The Department will reimburse the parent(s) as necessary via local or flex funds to enable intensified phone and mail contact.

    (f) Reasonable Rules for Visits – The foster care provider may require the child and those with whom the child visits to abide by the following reasonable rules. The time of day, duration and location of visits will be determined by the child’s, family’s, and provider’s circumstances; parents, family members and other visitors will give the provider advance notice of visits unless excused by prior arrangement; when visiting is at the provider’s home or other placement, the parent(s) or other visitor may be required to abide by reasonable “house rules” of the provider; the foster care provider may require the parent(s) or other visitor to leave if they arrive for the visit in an apparent intoxicated or drug induced state, or exhibit threatening or abusive behavior to the child or provider. If necessary, DHR should be called for assistance in terminating the visit. The police should be used only as a last resort; and, the foster care provider may refuse to allow the child to leave with the parent(s) or other visitor who appears incapable of caring for the child (e.g. visitor who is physically ill, appears intoxicated, or exhibits threatening or abusive behavior to the child). When the foster care provider cancels or limits a visit the provider should document their observation of the visitor’s behavior or action that caused concern. These observations, and actions taken by the provider, should be shared with the DHR worker immediately, and addressed with the parent(s) or other visitor at an appropriate time.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.07 Worker Visits

    (1) The Department of Human Resources must maintain contact by visiting frequently, but not less than once a month, with children to help ensure child safety, contact with family, a good working relationship with the family and foster family, and to help maintain best case practice.

    (a) In on-going protective services, children should be seen by their social worker at least once a month in the child’s home setting. An exception to this visitation timeframe may occur if their ISP states that visitation should be more often; OR, if a child in an on going protective services case has been assessed as not being at risk of serious harm or maltreatment.

    (b) Children in out-of home care should be seen by their social worker at a minimum of once a month or more often if stated in their ISP. Telephone contact with the social worker and child is encouraged but will not take the place of face to face contact. Opportunities for private discussion should be made available to the child, with their social worker, and these visits should be of substance to help the child and to help ensure the social worker’s awareness of the child’s well being, circumstance, and safety.

    (c) Children who are diagnosed as being Severely Emotionally and Behaviorally Disordered (SEBD) and are placed in treatment facilities must be visited monthly in the facility in which they are placed. Any exception to this visiting policy would require consultation and clearance with a consultant from the Office of County Systems Support.

    (d) Children with special health care needs who have chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions may be medically fragile. Children who are medically fragile should have a face to face visit monthly and quarterly communications/contact with health care providers are required.

    (e) Children who are placed in ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children) placements in Alabama by other states must be visited in the home once a month. Children placed in other states by Alabama should be visited once a month in order to assess safety, well being and whether the placement is in the child’s best interest. The Department should request that the other state’s workers visit Alabama’s children once a month.

    (f) Children who are in adoptive placements must be visited a minimum of twice during the first three (3) months after the child is placed. Best practice is for all adoptive family members to be present and for a separate interview to be conducted with the child that has been placed. Once the Interlocutory Order has been issued, two (2) more supervisory visits are required before the Final Report to the court is made.

    (g) Workers have an obligation to visit with parents and caregivers to help determine planning, decision making and to help ensure overall safety for the family and their children. Office visits can be convenient or helpful, but they shall not serve as a substitute for the home visit. Social workers will visit families, who are receiving on-going protective services, in their homes at least once a month or more frequently when directed by the ISP. Parents or caregivers of children who are in out-of home care with a plan of reunification will be visited on a monthly basis or more often if directed by the ISP. It is important that either reunification or other permanency plans be established within a time frame that is established by ASFA and other policy. Visiting with parents and caregivers allows this planning to take place.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree (M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003. Amended: Filed April 2, 2004; effective May 7, 2004.

    660-5-50-.08 Notification To Parents Regarding Visitation

    (1) Written Notice To Parents – Parents who are not prevented from visiting their children by court order, safety issues or other reasons shall be granted visitation. If there is a change in visitation, the parent should receive written notice well in advance of the visitation date. If this is not possible, contact by means such as telephone, e-mail or other means should be made with the parent. Visitation will be discussed in the ISP and if there are specific areas of visitation presenting problems, the ISP team will resolve them.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree ( M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    660-5-50-.09 Visiting Supports And Services.

    (1) The Department of Human Resources will provide services to encourage and support, as needed, the child’s visits with the parent(s), other family members and friends. A list of possible services are, but not limited to:

    (a) Transportation or payment of transportation expenses for the child, family or friends;

    (b) Helping to promote and/or coordinate visits when the family or child needs or requests assistance;

    (c) Assisting with child or adult care, housing, or meals;

    (d) Education of the foster care provider regarding the needs of the child and family for visiting, the importance of reunification, feelings provoked by visits, and practices relating to supervision of visits;

    (e) Supportive involvement of the therapist, social worker, or foster care provider;

    (f) Coaching to enable the child and family or friends to acknowledge and talk about needs and feelings;

    (g) Using neighbors and other family members to support visits (e.g., providing transportation to the visiting site, providing own home for visiting, or negotiating or arranging visits convenient to the parent’s location and schedules);

    (h) Crisis services to support visiting such as giving the foster care provider crisis intervention training or access to crisis intervention services; and

    (i) Conflict resolution and mediation services related to visiting.

    (2) Foster care and service providers can be reimbursed for the cost of travel that eliminates the necessity for worker travel. Payment reimbursements for other providers can be made from local or flexible funds.

    Author: Jerome Webb

    Statutory Authority: R. C. v. Fuller, No. 88-H-1170-N, Consent Decree ( M. D. Ala. Approved December 18, 1991).

    History: New Rule: Filed October 7, 2003; effective November 11, 2003.

    ——————————————————————————–

  • Disheartened Social Worker

    Beverly,
    I don’t think that you are ignorant, but I think that you sometimes only see or hear what you want to see or hear. I really hate that you had such a bad experience with DHR. Some people do, and some people don’t. I have worked with families who said, “You know, I always thought DHR was awful and I was so scared when you started coming to my home…but DHR has done more for me and made a positive impact on my life and DHR saved my life” These are the stories that don’t get put on this blog. I admit that probably not all of my clients like me. I don’t blame some of them. Some of them are in bad places due to domestic violence, drug addiction, poverty, or have untreated mental health issues. I am a foster care social worker, so by the time I am assigned the case, the children are already in foster care. I treat my families with respect, because they deserve it. I offer services that can better their lives if they are willing to accept it. I can do all of these things, but if they are not ready to change, or receptive to learning new ways of doing things, the services won’t work. I have had clients that I had to take a step back because I had been trying to do everything for them. EVERYTHING. I wanted so badly for the children to be returned to the parents. However, I had to step back to see if they could do it on their own. I had given them ALL the tools necessary to make the changes, but they weren’t motivated to change. Some people just don’t want to change. I can assure you that I have returned more children to their parents than terminated their parental rights. When I have my first ISP meeting with a family, I am very straight-forward with them. I explain their rights to them, because they deserve to know. I also explain laws, such as ASFA (Adoption and Safe Families Act). This law states that if a child has been in foster care for 15/22 months, DHR legally has to file a petition to terminate their parental rights. Terminating rights is not something fun. It is the law. If parents cannot complete the services outlined in the ISP within 15 months, the court will allow DHR to find someone who will and can provide a safe, PERMANENT home for these children. Every ISP after the first I remind them how much time they have left according to ASFA and encourage them to complete the services asked. Children love their parents and want to be with their natural parents. They deserve to be together, as long as it can be done safely. Beverly, you posted DHR policy and accused social workers of violating the visitation policy. I wish you would just be more specific about who you are talking about. Not all county DHR workers violate policy. I don’t. However, it clearly states in policy that all visitation should be addressed by the ISP team and they are allowed to make revisions or changes as need be. I am glad that you are acting as an advocate. Many people need one. Just please don’t generalize your findings to all DHR workers. I still love my job, even though I am not the most popular person in the eyes of the public. I try to perserve families. It can be depressing, but my favorite part is providing a forever home to a child, whether it be back with their parents (first choice) or an adoptive placement. Because ALL children deserve a forever home.

  • listen governor

    I just have a bee in my bonnet where state employees and school teachers are concerned. They should all be randomly drug tested. I hate to think of my child going to class on a Monday morning and being taught by a school teacher who used cocaine on Saturday night. It goes on all the time. I also hate to think of CPS workers testifying in court when they have used drugs the weekend before. Federal contracts require drug testing; why doesn’t the State and Department of Education? They are all in priveleged jobs with health insurance and retirement.

  • anonymous

    Is there anyone else besides me that remember the death of two year old Victoria “Tori” Monette in St. Clair County? She was beaten and scalded to death by her mothers convicted sex offender boyfriend. Little Torri was taken off life support in 2003, one day short of her third birthday.

    The St. Clair Times dated 04-27-2005 reported that the state reached a settlement in a wrongful death suit filed by Torri’s family. The lawsuit alleged that “the defendant’s committed acts or omissions which violated specific laws, rules, and/or regulations of the state of Alabama enacted or promulgated for the purpose of regulating the activities of DHR proximately causing the death of Tori Monette.”

  • anonymous

    I am a former dhr worker who is sickened by the injustices I have seen. Is there any one else out there who would be willing to help them get reported???

  • Anonymous

    Disheartened Social Worker, You have a right to be disheartened. The problem so many people are having with your agency is the BLATENT disregard, for parental rights, the power tripping by DHR workers and not following policy, and numerous other offenses. Not only that, some social workers know for a fact that some of their co-workers frequently lie in court, misrepresent facts, and they don’t report those inept workers to the proper authorities. I told everyone at that office that their caseworker lied in court and noone investigated. I believe if a parent tells you that the caseworker was misrepresenting facts and not following procedure, you are required to report it. It is called INTEGRITY. I’m afraid this is something DHR lacks.

    Have YOU reported a worker? To be honest I doubt that you have. I understand the need for an agency such as this but the regulations are not just.

    You said some were in a bad place due to poverty. Since when is poverty grounds to remove children? Everytime I spoke to one of those workers they asked was my husband working the same place, I knew where they were going with that. Poverty IS NOT GROUNDS TO TAKE CHILDREN. It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    If your home is not too neat, it is still not grounds to take children because that’s enforcing a lifestyle and personal choice,(nothing illegal of course)and plus it’s so subjective they could go into anyone’s home and pass judgement, but people can get help with that like hiring a maid service to keep children at home, heck it’s WAAAAAAAAY cheaper than foster care. DHR is supposed to provide services, if they are not available, they are supposed to CREATE the service. This I read in the policy Manual. DHR is supposed to provide the services.

    Problem is hardly anyone is reading policy or following rules. Your agency seems to think that the families have to do as DHR says in order to get their children but at the same time DHR breaks constitutional law, breaks DHR policy, all at the same time.

    This is why so many families are angry. I’m surprised that you don’t seem to get that. But IF you are one of the good ones who actually try to help, then that is a good thing.

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