Social Workers Allege Child Protection Service Abuses
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Social workers are alleging abuses in Kentucky’s Child Protective Services.
In a follow-up to a 3-year investigation of CPS, NewsChannel 32 interviewed a group of Kentucky social workers who alleged families are harassed and workers are pressured in efforts to boost adoption numbers.
Pat Moore said she was a state social worker until she was fired for not ignoring half a dozen allegations of abuse in a foster home.
“I did what I felt like I had to do,” Moore said. “It was the right thing to do and I stand by the complaint.”
When Moore found that two foster parents had criminal records, a son living with them had multiple felonies, and a convicted sex offender visited and, sometimes, cared for the children, she refused to arrange an adoption.
Her supervisors responded to her complaint with a memo suggesting the adoption proceed quickly.
“Our theory is that the basis for this is the tie to the federal money,” Moore’s attorney, Tom Beiting said. “That every time a child is not placed in the home comma the state of Kentucky through its Cabinet is losing money”
After she was fired, Moore filed suit and last month, the Commonwealth paid $380,000 to settle it.
The high-adoption trend apparently began in 2004, when adoptions in Kentucky ballooned to 724 while the federal bonus money more than doubled from $452,000 the previous year to more than $1 million.
“The Cabinet puts pressure on stats because federal and state money come from statistics,” said another social worker who wants her identity concealed for fear of retaliation against her family. “You get praised. The Cabinet praises you for terminating rights and adopting kids out immediately.”
She said the concerted effort to take children away and put them up for adoption was so brazen, she actually saw someone successfully place an order for children.
“Someone could not have a child and wanted a child so within the community,” the social worker said. “This person saw a family in distress, having a hard time, relayed to workers that they would like those children, and that’s exactly what has happened.”
And a former CPS supervisor, who also wants anonymity for fear of retaliation, said if an order for a child was delayed or denied, her supervisors would overturn local decisions.
“This one family was promised a child, and when it happened that this child was going to be reunified with the parent, they called our regional office, and our regional office came in our county and they harassed the birth parents and that kind of thing because they didn’t agree with our decision,” the former supervisor said.
Vanessa Shanks had her kids taken away and, when she fought back, her relatives had their children taken away. Then, after she won in court, her attorney’s child was taken away.
The former CPS workers said that kind of retaliatory power is common and, in the secretive, one-sided system, they can take anyone’s kids away on a moment’s notice - and get away with it.
According to data just released, there’s a huge disparity between counties on adoption rates. Some counties reunify 100 percent of children taken with their families. Other counties adopted out as many as 82 percent of children taken from their homes.
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