Coming soon, a new novel.
Murph had the statistics on institutional abuse within CPS and told Rose that a child in foster care was 28 times more likely to be sexually abused than a child in the general population and that the older a child was when entering foster care, the greater the likelihood of that child being sexually abused. Furthermore, Murph had statistics showing that overall kids fared better at home than they did from being removed from their homes and placed in foster care, of course with the exceptions of cases where there was imminent danger or real and actual abuse that was demonstrable. The statistics showed that absent real danger to a child, foster care created more problems than it solved.
Rose and Murph agreed it was dangerous to go directly after CPS, not to mention costly. Most CPS cases were won by the overwhelming legal costs of challenging them. A fight against Child Protective Services could easily cost upwards of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000). Rose could afford such fees, but Murph couldn’t and most parents of kids who were taken into the system had no means whatsoever. CPS counted on this and purposefully dragged its cases out in court over years, financially destroying normal families with normal means just for attempting to challenge them in court. This was perhaps its most reprehensible statistic.
The majority of CPS cases in which kids were removed from homes were based upon neglect, and nearly all of those cases were for poverty-related reasons. Or, simply put, most kids were placed in foster care just for being poor. The overwhelming majority of removals were based only upon a caseworker’s judgment and then the cases were established within the vague and indefinable category of “neglect.”
CPS often timed its visits at the end of the month when a family on welfare would have run out of funds. This way the refrigerator and cupboards might be too empty by the caseworker’s standards and the child could be removed for “neglect.”
Murph remembered a case in which a mother had sent her son to the store to get milk but the kid bought himself some candy and a shiny new pen to write with in school. The caseworker happened to show up when the kid returned from the store. The caseworker saw that the mother was smoking and remarked that she could afford cigarettes but not milk. There was no milk, the kid was removed. The caseworker stole the nice, new pen. The kid said this in court, openly. The judge asked where the pen was. The kid said the caseworker took it. The judge believed the caseworker who simply threw up her hands and shrugged.
So when a kid was taken, an emergency hearing had to be held within three days of the removal but a child was virtually never returned home then. It took more than three months to get to the next hearing and nearly a year to get to a trial. The trial, unlike those seen on TV, took ten to fifteen days or more spread out over some eighteen months. Legal fees for a private lawyer were about three hundred-fifty dollars an hour and each court appearance was a minimum of a thousand dollars. Do the math!
But worse, whatever damage was done to the child was done by the time a trial occurred. Even if a child was returned home, the scars were already so deep that tremendous psychological damage was done. The CPS damage was not retractable. Once it occurred it was forever.