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Idaho Observer                  2009 11 06

Protecting Your Family from Child Protective Services

Last month, The I.O. began a series with CPS expert Mike Gibson, “Protecting Your Family from Child Protective Services.” Highlighted in that article: how at risk any family truly is, the importance of never allowing a CPS investigator into your home, and how to prepare for the unexpected arrival of an investigator. This month, we continue the series on other strategies parents and caregivers need to protect their children from these marauders in the following interview with Mike Gibson.

I.O.: What other strategies are available to parents to turn the tide in their favor if they are ever under investigation?
MG: There are many strategies, but the best strategy is to be able to record the truth and facts surrounding an investigation in an unbiased manner. With the easy access and affordability of digital recording devices, i.e., digital voice and video recorders, all parents should have at least the ability to record all interactions with a civil authority on a voice recorder.
A video recorder is preferred as it also gives visual and non-verbal cues to the attitude of the authority involved . Sometimes those non-verbal cues are more important than what is actually said by a person.
I.O.: Where can someone find the law that will cover their right to record?
MG: The legal right to record is covered in various state laws and also has been confirmed through supreme court decisions.  Each person would need to understand the specific laws of their states in regards to recording.  In Florida it is covered in Chapter 39 of the statutes.  Other states have general laws covering the right, and some also do as Florida and reaffirm that right in the statutes specifically dealing with CPS.
I.O.: What kind of response can someone expect from a CPS worker when they begin recording the encounter?
MG: Understand that you will most likely be challenged by an authority as to your legal right to record, but you must be able to adequately articulate to the authorities why you have a legal right to record and that you are going to avail yourself of that right. Most police and CPS are going to challenge you on exercising your rights, but you have to be adamant about exercising them.
If you back down and allow them to violate your rights, then your submission in most jurisdictions is seen as a waiver of your rights. This is why you must have a plan in place prior to their arrival so that other people will be able to witness and possibly record their abuses and violations of your rights.
 I.O.: How can a parent get law enforcement of their side?
MG: One of the best strategies is to have your local sheriff on the side of the people. This comes through real dialog with him about the needs of the community and his duty to uphold the law. Most sheriffs are elected, but most people don’t treat their sheriff like any other elected official. There is an aura of the old west sheriff who is invincible and who comes riding in to take out the bad guys and save the town. This type of mythology is unrelated to the realities of modern law enforcement.
Most sheriffs are under pressure mostly from other governmental bodies, such as county commissions and other state and federal agencies that use the purse strings of budgets to manipulate him.
People need to first come together to elect a sheriff whom they believe will represent their interests and then when the pressures comes from the feds and the strings are trying to be pulled by them, then the people need to step up and support their sheriff.
Many times this takes the form of actually having to give up money or lose some program in the community. People need to show their sheriffs that even if a program is lost, they still support him.
Remember, as an elected official, the sheriff normally wants to be reelected and is under considerable political pressure. Law enforcement is no longer about just upholding the law, but is more about conflicting political ideologies that get worked out in who gets what portion of the budgetary pies.
If the sheriff isn’t performing the way a county commission feels is in the best political interests of the commission, they many times will punish the sheriff by taking away funds. When the funds aren’t available to adequately do his job, when something bad happens (and it always does), then the sheriff is the obvious sacrificial political scapegoat. Unfortunately, many voters are easily manipulated and go along with the political winds.
An example of how these conflicting ideologies interfere is the following case in point:
The local sheriff’s deputies were called out to a domestic dispute where the wife stated the husband hit her. The wife had no physical proof of any physical altercation. But, the deputy stated that if they get called out to a domestic violence situation, there is a no-tolerance policy with his agency and someone is going to jail.
The husband was arrested and forced to be out of his home and away from his children for over six months. When the truth finally came out, the wife had been having an affair with another man and had planned with her new boyfriend to have the husband arrested to get him out of the home.
Of course, since the children were home, CPS was called out to investigate. The husband could not have contact with his children for the six months because he was deemed a threat by CPS.
There is a twist to this story though. The wife’s new boyfriend ended up being an unregistered sexual predator from another state who had been convicted of molesting a six year old boy. Since this mom had two sons, one who was five and one seven, she eventually had her children removed by CPS because she allowed the predator to have contact and even bathe the children alone. The children have since disclosed that there was probable molestation by the predator.
The horror these children had to endure is the direct result of a sheriff’s office internal policy that they have a no-tolerance policy toward domestic violence. This seems to be playing out the same way as many of the no-tolerance policies towards drugs and school.
The innocent become entangled in destructive, life-changing processes and the “authorities” walk away without even saying they are sorry. This is a political pressure put on a sheriff’s office by special interest groups and the result is destructive for children and family.
I.O.: Who makes the bulk of complaints to CPS? Teachers? Neighbors? Law enforcement?
MG: The bulk of complaints come from schools, mental health services (such as counselors, psychologists, etc), law enforcement, other workers involved in CPS, family, associates and neighbors, pretty much in that order.
I.O.: What drives a CPS bureaucrat to insist on removing children from a home when no felony has taken place?
MG: CPS workers live in a climate of fear. The most asked question by CPS management to a CPS worker is what would happen to you if six months or a year from now something happened to this child and you were the last person to see him?
They are constantly in a CYA mode and many have the attitude that it is better to remove the children and let a judge make the decision as to whether or not anything is going on. In this way, CPS can always say that they took the parents before a judge, but the judge denied them, so it is the judge’s fault.
I.O.: It sounds like the first priority for a CPS investigator is to safeguard their career, not the child.
MG: Parents need to know that CPS is a very politically-motivated agency. Their worst nightmare is for something to happen to a child and for the media to pick up and run with the story. At this point, their careers are in jeopardy. And, nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important to CPS workers and management than their own careers.
I have heard statements through the years like, “I’m not taking a chance with these parents; I’m not losing my job because they won’t do what they need to do. I’m taking these children and letting the judge decide.” This is a very common experience within the ranks of CPS workers and management.
On the other hand, there is the lesser seen person who is a control-freak and power hungry. This type of CPS worker in my experience is less often encountered than most people think. There is the occasional rogue who when given some power and authority will abuse that power and authority because they either have a political/ideological attitude that is socialistic or they think that their authority gives them license to do what they want and answer to no one. These are the ones who will tell you upfront that they are going to become a manager and no one is going to stop them.
They would cut the throat of their own grandmother if they thought it would get them a promotion. Unfortunately, they have a higher percentage of representation in upper management than the honest, hard-working person who feels they are trying to make a difference.
When these rogues come into power is what you now have in CPS. They set the institutional climate within the agency and are always trying to force their will on everyone else, both within the agency and in the community.
 I.O.: Are their any real solutions for improving this rogue agency?
MG: This problem with rogue management is probably the greater threat to children and families at this time. As I see it there is really only one way to adequately deal with this:  the devolution of the agency. The primary function of investigations and making decisions needs to be put with the county sheriff.
In Florida, eight sheriffs have done this and the statistics always show a better community response and lower incidents of removal and abuse/neglect. This is probably due to many factors. The sheriff is responsible for the overall law enforcement in the county.
There is better training of investigative staff and more controls since law enforcement has to prove to both a judge and the community (at election time) that they are making sane, legal and moral decisions about their citizens. An unaccountable agency has to do none of the above. I have talked over the years with investigators from counties who work for the sheriff and most of the political pressure from the agency does not exist and the workers are normally freer to make responsible decisions and work with families.
Nothing short of revolution in the way lawmakers, parents, and law enforcement perceive the function of CPS will stop this rogue, marauding agency from totally destroying the foundational fabric of our country:  the family.

Mike and Linda Gibson are available for one day seminars. Contact them at 352-489-6521.


Idaho Observer      cps-2009 12 31

From the December 2009 Idaho Observer:
Protecting Your Family from Child Protective Services

This month, CPS expert Mike Gibson continues The I.O.’s series on protecting your children from CPS. This third and final installment highlights the risks a family faces with children in school.

I.O.: Mike, you’ve mentioned that although the law states that initial contact with the child should be made at home, this is generally not the case. Why do investigators routinely approach a child at school first?

M.G.: Most first contacts with children occur at school because it is the easiest and least confrontational approach to dealing with a family. At schools, CPS officials are godlike. They have the authority to suspend staff and faculty on their belief that they are a threat to children. They can suspend the school staff for up to 90 days with no type of court or administrative review. What is even more repugnant, is that the law is structured such, that even if the CPS investigator acts under color of law he is immune from civil and criminal liability.

School officials are in fear of and usually have disdain for CPS officials. They will normally do exactly what they are told to do, even if it violates their own policies and the law because they are afraid of arrest and loss of career. Many school principals have been told they will be arrested if they call the parents to let them know CPS is at the school to interview their children.

Unfortunately, local law enforcement backs up CPS in doing this. I have been told repeatedly over the years by good law enforcement officers that they do this type of thing because they are also afraid of CPS. Most of them have families and children and know that CPS could also take their children. One officer described CPS to me as akin to Stalin’s secret police and that they have powers that are above the law. Although he was mistaken, it took a long time of working with this officer and his agency for them to realize that CPS can do nothing if law enforcement refuses to back up CPS.

As I mentioned last month, schools are also where the bulk of calls to CPS come from. Many teachers, counselors and staff have told me over the years, although they didn’t think there was any abuse going on with the child, they called in the report to CYA (Cover Your Glutus Maximus). Most officials are mandated reporters and can be jailed and fined if they have any suspicions of abuse/neglect and do not report it. The state has made school personnel into one large snitch corp. Parents need to understand that everything they say to a school official is on the record and that they will tell CPS any and everything the parents have said to the official. This alone is a good reason to home school your children.

If children are being removed from their parents’ custody, then school is the number one place for them to be taken. Children are totally exposed and vulnerable to CPS at their school. If CPS decides to take them, they are in an environment that is totally out of the parents’ control. It is much easier for CPS as there is no confrontation with the parents and no real chance for them being injured due to an angry, overwrought parent. They just take the child from school at the end of the school day and put them with another family. The parent, many times, is left waiting at the bus stop for their child. There are no words to describe the panic in the hearts of these parents as they frantically try to find out what happened to their child. If they call the school, they will only be referred to the local law enforcement, which may or may not refer them to the CPS official.

The CPS official is required within 24 hours to attempt to make contact with the parents and inform them of the time and place of a hearing in front of a judge. There are times when the parents come to court not knowing what happened to their children, why they were taken or where they are. CPS is under no obligation to give the physical address of a foster home if that is where the children are.

School is the most dangerous place parents can send their children. Many schools are more like prison camps or war zones than an institution of learning. One school I went into, although having less than 500 students, had four permanently assigned police officers to deal with the violence and drugs. This was not an inner city school but a rural school.

Considering the threats from other violent children, pedophile and predator teachers and staff, and the threat by CPS, if there are any other options for a family, I would strongly encourage them to take their children out of public schools and home school them. Understanding there are situations of only a single parent household or a parent who has to work to support the children, each family needs to look at their situation and determine if they can school their children. Perhaps the family might have to reduce their lifestyle and mom may not get a new car or may have to sacrifice having a vehicle to be able to school her children at home. My own family faced with those choices decided to downsize our lifestyle and protect our children. My children are much better today because of those decisions. The question that needs to be asked of all parents is what is the most important thing in your life? Is it your financial status, your own career fulfillment, the three cars and the large home? What you value most is indicated by your actions and your lifestyle. Are your children raising themselves or worse, is the television their best friend? Do you have what it takes to make the right decision for your children against the pressure that will come against you from family, friends and the community? Only you can answer that question.

I.O.: How would you answer someone who claims that homeschooling a child puts the parents automatically on a watch list?

M.G.: We are all on so many lists at this point, being on another list should not be of much concern, nor should parents live in fear of what the government might do. This type of fear is how tyrants make people self-impose tyranny on themselves.

Parents should concentrate on what is in the best interest of their child's long-term care. Especially with schooling, parents have a responsibility to God to educate their children in the nurture and admonition of God. That means God has entrusted your children's education to you, not the state. Why would anyone want to send their young child, who is forming his or her personality/world paradigms, to an institution that is in direct opposition to the Word of God; a place where the child's mind will be forcibly formed into a person who believes there is no absolute moral authority, and sexual promiscuity is normal and good, and if you happen to become pregnant, you can just murder an innocent life? I think we all know this is condoned and encouraged by schools. If they can’t take your children away full-time, they are temporarily satisfied to have them part-time at school to turn them into Godless, hedonistic, world citizens with no allegiance to any nation or family.

Once again, the fear of government equals tyranny. Parents need to put the fear of God back into their government officials (school officials) by understanding their rights and the laws which would equal freedom for them and their children. I remember reading that submission to tyranny is disobedience to God. Conversely, resisting tyranny would be obedience to God.

Mike and Linda Gibson are available for one day seminars. Contact them at 352-489-6521