The Dallas Morning News reports that CPS is unable to properly house a mother with her new born baby:
“This woman has been removed from the birthing center with a brand new baby boy and is now sitting in the offices of CPS because they don’t have anywhere else to put her,” Ms. Matassarin said.
The Salt Lake Tribune says that living conditions induced an epidemic of respiratory disease and chicken pox:
Children living in crowded quarters that led to upper respiratory illnesses. Youngsters plagued with diarrhea from unhealthy foods they usually did not eat. Distressed mothers enduring widespread rudeness – such as flashlights shined in their faces as they tried to sleep.
I don’t know if the reports of disrespect are true but they are plausible. Power is easily abused and adherence to the golden is difficult to train and enforce.
The Salt Lake Tribune also shares the report of an anonymous mental health worker, which indicates that conditions are inadequate and abusive. She concludes:
“Never in all my life, and I am one of the older ladies, have I been so ashamed of being a Texan and seeing what and how our government agencies treat people.”
Texas contracts with Hill Country to provide mental health services during disasters. Staff members met with the center’s board of trustees last week, leaving them “spellbound.”
The board has gathered nine written statements critical of Child Protective Services.
Chairman John Kight said he wants state legislators and the governor to hear the employees’ stories. “You have damaged these children for their lives,” he said. “This is an agency that looks like it’s gone out of control.” A Texas CPS spokesman acknowledged the allegations were “very serious” and said they are being investigated. But he noted the women and children were held at a historic fort and a convention center in San Angelo in an unusual emergency situation. . . .
Not all Texas CPS employees were criticized by the Hill Country employees. One young man was described as sitting for two hours comforting a toddler separated from his mother. The Texas Rangers were “respectful and polite,” according to another statement.
But the statements focus on the Hill Country staffers’ dismay at uncaring behavior they say they witnessed by CPS employees.
A boy estimated at age 3 walked along a row of cots asking for someone to rock him after he was separated from his mother, one employee wrote. Two CPS worker trailed the youngster taking notes but not helping him. His brother, age 8, eventually took the child into his arms and sat with him in a rocking chair.
“That little boy will always be in my mind,” the employee wrote. “How can a beautiful, healthy child be taken from a healthy, loving home and forced into a situation like that, right here in America, right here in Texas?” . . .
Several writers claimed CPS workers repeatedly lied to the mothers regarding where they were going to be moved to and other issues.
Crimmins said he disputed that. The state has asserted the FLDS mothers were uncooperative with authorities, such as providing inaccurate or changing information about names and ages.
The Houston Chronicle reports on the testimony of the mental health workers in detail. Apparently, CPS staff threatened mental health workers with arrest for objecting to abuse:
All nine reports by employees of the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center expressed varying degrees of anger toward the state’s child welfare agency for removing the children from their community, separating them from their mothers or for the way CPS workers conducted themselves at the shelter.
A few described ongoing tension between the two groups of social workers, including threats by CPS to have interfering MHMR workers arrested.
The Salt Lake Tribune provides rich documentation of these claims on its website, including PDFs of original documents. Check out the links in the brown box titled “The floor was literally slick with tears . . .”
Although I am willing to attribute the most honorable motives to CPS leadership, it seems to be clear that this agency is incapable of protecting the FLDS children.
It appears to me that CPS would be well advised to include FLDS parents in child care. In fact, one can imagine supervision arrangements that let the children live with their parents while protecting minors from underage marriages.
Ultimately, law enforcement needs to advise the FLDS community about the obligations of parenthood. That should include a discussion about sex, corporal punishment, and parental rights of former FLDS.
According to Carolyn Jessop, the minimum age for spiritual marriages used to be 21 before Warren Jeffs assumed control. If the FLDS returned to the previous rule then they could practice their religion without running afoul of the law.
State attorney generals should also establish a supervision system that assures CPS that the children will be safe. Any such provision ought to include that the FLDS dissolve their police departments in Colorado City and tolerate the policing of their community by outsiders.
Thanks to Cafeteria Mormon who has collected media reports about the inability of CPS to house FLDS children safely.