Falsified Records, Wrongful Adoptions Still the Rule in Child Protection Industry

In Georgia, two Muscogee County Child Protective Services supervisors were recently charged with falsifying records to maintain federal revenue.

DFCS Intake Supervisor Phyllis Mitchell and former Muscogee DFCS Acting Director Deborah Cobb are out on 45-day paid vacations (called “administrative leave” by the agency) pending the outcome of the investigation. DFCS employees alleged the two women were “ringleaders in an effort to alter, delay and destroy reports to meet internal guidelines and receive grant money,” WRBL News reported

“Dozens of boxes allegedly containing numerous falsified child abuse reports were wheeled out of the Muscogee County DFCS office and are now in the hands of federal agents,” the report explains.

This is nothing new. Whether it is the front line caseworkers falsifying court reports to justify child removals or claiming they’ve made investigative visits when they hadn’t, foster care caseworkers falsifying visitation reports to make it appear they’ve done their jobs, a foster care agency falsifying meeting minutes, falsifying time sheets for services paid for by Medicaid, falsifying the number of children you have to fraudulently obtain food stamps, or federal revenue maximization contractors using gimmicks such as targeted case management or random time studies to inflate administrative costs, turning fiction into fact is the sine qua non of the child protection industry.

Indeed, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wrote an editorial saying that when he first took office, he had inherited a department of social services that “had been rocked by a series of criminal indictments, with cheats and caseworkers colluding to steal money meant for poor people.”

Governor Daniels felt the sting sting of a recent court ruling stemming from a case that pit the state against corporate behemoth IBM over a rather expensive human services computer system. In his ruling, Judge Dreyer wrote that “both parties are to blame and Indiana’s taxpayers are left as apparent losers.” Dreyer blamed “misguided government policy and overzealous corporate ambition” for the failure of the system, which he called an “untested theoretical experiment.”

WISH TV reports that “Dreyer previously ordered the state to pay IBM $40 million for subcontractor fees, making the total judgment against the state $52 million. The governor said the money will come out of a fund maintained for such purposes.” I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of contingency fund the Governor was referring to when he said that.

ADOPTION GAME REMAINS THE SAME

From Michigan – among the more corrupt systems in the country – comes a news report, saying: “Child welfare offices in Ingham and Clinton counties are among several public and private agencies named in a lawsuit filed today alleging social workers lied to adoptive parents of special needs children about their kids’ disabilities and denied them funding available for parents of disabled children.”

Eight families with a total of 17 adopted children announced that they are planning to sue the Department of Human Services, “alleging deceit and violation of federal law going back 20 years.” The news continues on to explain that: “They are seeking more than $13 million in back Social Security assistance and other damages,” according to David Kallman, the Lansing attorney representing the families.

“The parents in this case were assured that the children they were adopting were physically and mentally healthy,” Kallman said in a statement. “DHS workers knew and documented that this was not the case. As a result, these families were, and continue to be, irreparably harmed.” The civil complaint names Governor Rick Snyder, DHS Director Maura Corrigan, and several other DHS officials.

Speaking of Maura Corrigan, she was in Detroit earlier this year demanding that the city hand over its Department of Human Services to the state. Corrigan told the City Council that a joint investigation by state and federal inspectors, along with the FBI, is going on to turn up “potentially illegal misuse of funds.” She also threatened that if the Council did not agree to voluntarily give up control of DHS, “we will move forward with adversarial proceedings to de-certify DHS as a community action agency,” Voice of Detroit reports.

Returning to the wrongful adoption case that was filed this week, this is nothing new. Fraudulent concealment and deliberate misrepresentation are par for the proverbial course, in the adoption end of the child protection industry.

Child welfare agencies and their service providers typically raise public policy concerns in their defense against claims of fraud in adoption cases. In Ross v. Louise Wise Services, a New York case decided in 2006, the court found that the “plaintiffs have demonstrated the existence of facts which, if proven at trial, establish a pattern of conduct, aimed at the public generally, that evinces a wanton indifference to the right of prospective adoptive parents to make an informed decision to proceed with adoption ” The defendant did not deny that it routinely withheld such information from prospective adoptive parents, “conceding that this was its standard practice at the time.”

In Mallette v. Children’s Friend and Services, the court held that when an agency undertakes to furnish the family and medical history of adoptee, it has duty to do so accurately. In Gibbs v. Ernst, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recognized a cause of action for negligent failure to disclose information. In McKinney v. State, the Washington Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion, recognizing a claim against an adoption agency for negligent failure to disclose mandated information. In Wolford v. Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, the court recognized claims for fraud and negligence in an adoption case.

In M. H. v. Caritas Family Services, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and Children’s Home Society of Minnesota joined the defendant as amicus curiae, arguing that the deliberate withholding of information about an adoptive child’s background makes for sound public policy. In Roe v. Catholic Charities, the defendants argued that disclosure of information to the adoptive parents would have violated public policy. In Meracle v. Children’s Service Society, the defense argued that public policy precluded an action against an adoption agency for negligent misrepresentation. Similar arguments were raised in Michael J. v. Los Angeles County, and in Mohr v. Commonwealth, a Massachusetts wrongful adoption case.

When all is said and done, it has been a remarkably uneventful year. When it comes to the child protection industry, nothing ever changes… ever.

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