DOJ, HHS Take Aim At Massachusetts DCF

“In the U.S., over half of the parents with cognitive limitations will at some time experience permanent or temporary removal of their children from the family home.”
Deborah Muenzer-Doy and Lynda Anderson

“Although it is not an articulated policy, persons with mental disabilities consistently have their parental rights terminated and routinely lose their appeals.”
Susan Kerr


On January 29, 2015, the US Justice Department Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights sent a letter by overnight express mail to Erin Deveney, the Interim Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts.

The subject matter of the letter is described therein as “Investigation of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families by the United States Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.”

The letter explains that:

Title II and Section 504 prohibit disability-based discrimination by DCF, including the denial of opportunities to benefit from services, the failure to reasonably modify policies and procedures, and imposing methods of administration that have the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability.1 The Departments’ investigation has revealed that DCF has committed extensive, ongoing violations of Title II and Section 504 by discriminating against Sara Gordon on the basis of her disability, and denying her opportunities to benefit from supports and services numerous times over the past two years, including her existing family supports.

The letter notes that, “Sara Gordon is a 21-year-old woman who has a developmental disability. In November 2012, Ms. Gordon gave birth to Dana Gordon. Two days later, DCF removed the baby from Ms. Gordon’s custody while she was recovering from childbirth in the hospital. Ms. Gordon lives with her parents, who do not have developmental disabilities. Her parents have continually intended to provide her support in parenting her child. Ms. Gordon’s mother quit her job to provide full-time support for Ms. Gordon and her baby.”

In its sternly worded missive, the DOJ and HHS explain that,

The Departments find that DCF acted based on Ms. Gordon’s disability as well as on DCF’s discriminatory assumptions and stereotypes about her disability, without consideration of implementing appropriate family-based support services. DCF has continued to deny Ms. Gordon access to appropriate family-based support services it makes available to parents to successfully achieve reunification and has failed to reasonably modify its policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate Ms. Gordon’s disability. DCF staff assumed that Ms. Gordon was unable to learn how to safely care for her daughter because of her disability, and, therefore, denied her the opportunity to receive meaningful assistance from her mother and other service providers during visits. Finally, DCF changed the permanency goal to adoption and has sought to terminate Ms. Gordon’s parental rights on the basis of her disability.

On June 30, 2014, the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “notified DCF that it had opened an investigation of a complaint filed by Ms. Gordon under Title II and Section 504.”

According to the letter, “OCR’s letter also requested data from DCF concerning the allegations of the complaint, including copies of all Juvenile Court orders, petitions, and reports prepared for the Court and DCF child protection policies, procedures, and practices. On August 20, 2014, the Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice (DRS) notified DCF that it, too, had opened an investigation of the services DCF provides to individuals with disabilities and the removal and subsequent placement of Dana Gordon. DRS also requested data from DCF concerning its policies, practices, and procedures and administrative and court files related to Dana, Ms. Gordon, and Ms. Gordon’s parents. DRS explained that the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services may conduct a joint investigation of DCF.”

Massachusetts DCF, in turn, did one thing that it has proven itself to be quite adept at. It stonewalled the investigation.1 

According to the letter, “DCF failed to provide all of the requested material five months after the OCR request and three months after the DRS request,” and the two Departments once again “requested information responsive to their initial inquiries as well as additional information on November 25, 2014. To date, DCF has failed to fully comply in providing materials, such as email, and failed to timely seek to secure access to court records.”


According to the letter, in November 2012, while Ms. Gordon was in the hospital recovering from having giving birth to Dana, DCF received a report (known in Massachusetts as a “51A report”) containing allegations of neglect regarding Ms. Gordon and Dana. According to DCF’s Intake Report, DCF reviewed the report and decided to conduct an emergency response investigation, noting concerns that Ms. Gordon “was not able to comprehend how to handle or care for the child due to the mother’s mental retardation.”

DCF’s November 26, 2012 Emergency Investigation report “documented the investigators’ observations that 19-year-old Ms. Gordon had difficulties holding and feeding Dana, and that she had to be reminded by an investigator to burp the baby and clean spit out of the baby’s mouth. The investigators also observed that Ms. Gordon was uncomfortable at changing the baby’s diaper. DCF’s Intake Report also alleged that Ms. Gordon forgot to feed Dana during one night shift. Ms. Gordon explained to the investigators that she could not read an analog clock, which is why she had trouble remembering when she last fed her daughter. Ms. Gordon also reported that she started keeping a journal to track feedings.”

Buried in a footnote in the letter, is something that I would consider as being of great significance, particularly in light of revelations that several cases similar in nature to that of Justina Pelletier’s have occurred in Boston’s hospitals.2  The footnote in question reads:

Notably, during the course of the Departments’ investigation, it confirmed that hospital staff did not permit Ms. Gordon’s parents, Kim and Sam Gordon, to stay with Ms. Gordon and their grandchild, Dana, at the hospital pursuant to its policy that permitted only a spouse or significant other to remain after visiting hours. The Gordon grandparents explained that they were asked to leave the hospital when they stayed an hour-and-a-half past visiting hours the first night after the baby was born.

The problems started when the case was initially opened, and they continued to grow as the case moved forward. As DOJ and HHS officials explain it:

“Initially, DCF failed to individually analyze Ms. Gordon to determine what services and supports were appropriate for her in an effort to prevent Dana’s continued out-of-home placement. DCF then failed to (1) implement appropriate reunification services while Dana was in foster care; (2) identify appropriate service plan tasks; (3) assist Ms. Gordon in meeting service plan tasks to achieve reunification; (4) provide meaningful visitation and opportunities to enhance Ms. Gordon’s parenting skills; and (5) impose only necessary and legitimate safety requirements.”

While a reunification plan had been imposed, “DCF failed to conduct an appropriate individualized analysis of Ms. Gordon and what family support services it needed to provide and accommodations it needed to make at the outset of its involvement, and for more than two years. Instead, it repeatedly acted on its own assumptions about Ms. Gordon’s disability.”

This ruling may have wide-reaching repercussions for many disabled or challenged parents currently in the dependency system nationwide. As the letter explains:

DCF was required to determine what would work for Ms. Gordon considering her disability, as it does for other parents involved in its system. Instead, DCF implemented minimal services and imposed unnecessary restrictions during visits, making it difficult for Ms. Gordon to learn some parenting skills. Instead of recognizing the need to adjust and provide appropriate supports and services, including additional time to learn, DCF personnel regularly asserted they simply had “concerns” about Ms. Gordon’s independent ability to care for an infant because of her disability. If DCF requires all parents to show their independent proficiency to parent, DCF was required to reasonably modify that practice for Ms. Gordon.

There is nothing unusual about Ms. Gordon’s case, other than that two federal agencies became aware of it and decided to act.


Rocking the Cradle

In 2012, the National Council on Disability -which operates as an independent federal agency – produced an exhaustive 445-page report entitled “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children,” In his opening letter to the President of the United States, Chairman Jonathan Young, PhD, JD explained:

Even today, 22 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, parents with disabilities are the only distinct community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children. Removal rates where parents have a psychiatric disability have been found to be as high as 70 percent to 80 percent; where the parent has an intellectual disability, 40 percent to 80 percent. In families where the parental disability is physical, 13 percent have reported discriminatory treatment in custody cases. Parents who are deaf or blind report extremely high rates of child removal and loss of parental rights. Parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce. In addition, prospective parents with disabilities have more difficulty when it comes to accessing reproductive health care such as assisted reproductive technologies, and they face significant barriers to adopting children.3 

The Report itself explains that:

The first half of the 20th century was plagued by the eugenics movement, which resulted in more than 30 states passing legislation permitting involuntary sterilization. This legislative trend was premised on the belief that people with disabilities and other “socially inadequate” populations would produce offspring who would be burdensome to society. The Supreme Court endorsed the legislative trend toward forced sterilization; as a result of these state statutes, by 1970 more than 65,000 Americans had been involuntarily sterilized. Even today, 22 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, several states still have some form of involuntary sterilization law on their books.
The power of the eugenics ideology persists. Women with disabilities still contend with coercive tactics designed to encourage sterilization or abortion because they are not deemed fit for motherhood. Equally alarming, a growing trend is emerging toward sterilizing people with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities.4 .

The Child Welfare system itself is rife with biases that impact on decision-making, and this has a disparate impact on parents with disabilities. As the report explains:

Beginning with the investigation into a report of child maltreatment, bias pervades the child welfare system, and at any step in the process, societal prejudices, myths, and misconceptions may rear their heads. Systematic discrimination by state courts, child welfare agencies, and legislatures against parents with disabilities and their families has taken a toll. Statistics indicate that children of parents with disabilities are removed from their parents with alarming frequency.5 

The overrepresentation of parents with disabilities who are involved with child welfare agencies is not a new phenomenon. As the report explains:.”A 1991 study examined more than 200 consecutive juvenile court cases in Boston and found that despite greater compliance with court orders, parents with intellectual disabilities had their children removed more often than parents without disabilities. These initial removals often led to TPR. This is especially troublesome, as parents with disabilities who are involved with the child protection system are more likely to be facing allegations of neglect than of abuse or risk of abuse.”6 

This point is not lost entirely on the U.S. Supreme Court, which noted that, “Because parents subject to termination proceedings are often poor, uneducated, or members of minority groups, such proceedings are often vulnerable to judgments based on cultural or class bias."7 


“In the U.S., over half of the parents with cognitive limitations will at some time experience permanent or temporary removal of their children from the family home,” explain Deborah Muenzer-Doy and Lynda Anderson8 

“Although it is not an articulated policy, persons with mental disabilities consistently have their parental rights terminated and routinely lose their appeals,” explains Susan Kerr in Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy.9 

Kerr explains that the trend toward de-institutionalization, coupled with the abandonment of the premise of Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927) – a landmark decision by the US Supreme Court allowing for the sterilization of certain disabled individuals – at least in practice, “yielded a significant increase in persons with mental disabilities parenting children. This increase has met with a paralleled increase in the termination of the parental rights of those individuals labeled ‘mentally disabled.'” Kerr continues on to explain that,

As the "mentally disabled" acclimate themselves to mainstream modern society, the desire for the same attributes which most "normal" humans wish for grows. They want independence to choose where they live, work, earn a living, to engage in relationships both social and romantic, and to have children. 21 While society has lowered and eliminated some of the fortifications to these achievements, it has strengthened or complicated others. The domain of parental rights is one notable example of the latter.

Obtaining precise figures is difficult, but advocates all tend to cite figures within the same general range. Paul Preston of the National Center for Parents with Disabilities explains, “Research literature cites 40-60% out-of-home placement rates for U.S. parents with intellectual disabilities. Yet, this high rate of removal reflects greater discrimination and lack of appropriate services for parents with intellectual disabilities and their children. In discussing the political and social discrimination faced by parents. with intellectual disabilities.”10 

Biases permeate the system, with each unique stakeholder approaching the bench in the family court with a set of biases uniquely her own. As Chris Watkins explained in California Law Review:

Too often, in the realm of parental rights, legislators, social workers, psychologists, and judges have been unable to look beyond a parent’s label. The result is a legal system that is uncomfortable with the idea that persons labeled as mentally retarded can be parents. This discomfort is reflected in statutes governing the termination of parental rights and in the entire process of parental rights termination.11 

Watkins further explains, “These presumptions of unfitness are most apparent in cases where the parent has never actually had custody of the child. Intervention in these cases often takes place before birth, even though the parent has not done anything to harm or threaten to harm the child.”12 

Indeed, the removal of a newborn or few-day-old child from a hospital is not at all uncommon, where the child could hardy have been said to have been abused or neglected. Social service agencies justify these removals as being “preventive” in nature.13 

Hospital staffers are encouraged to report all suspicions of potentially inadequate parenting. A Pennsylvania case serves well to illustrate the point, although it did not expressly deal with the issue of disability. . Pennsylvania law expressly permits the testing of both mothers and newborns for evidence of drugs in their systems. Elizabeth Mort fell victim to that scheme, without have been told that a drug screening was conducted on her and her newborn while they were in the hospital.

Mort found a social services caseworker at her front door complete with an emergency protective order just one day after she’d taken her baby home from the hospital. Her daughter, Isabella, spent five days in foster care, and was returned home after it came out that a poppy bagel was responsible for her positive blood toxicology.14 

The Lawrence County’s child welfare agency and Jameson Hospital paid $143,500 to settle the suit filed on behalf of Elizabeth Mort by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania,15 

A California case describes a mother who had two San Diego County Sheriffs arrive at her door in response to an anonymous complaint. As the Court explains it, after a brief inspection of the home, “Christina, then age two and one-half, was taken into custody, due to home conditions that were unfit for occupancy (rotting walls, unusable toilet and bathtub, mold and mildew, soaked carpeting, open pipes, et cetera) .”16 

Naturally, a “reunification plan” was imposed, setting out the proverbial hoops through which she had to jump in order to regain her child. As the Court explained it, “Mother was ordered to follow a reunification plan, which included submitting to a psychological evaluation, participating in parenting class, and receiving instruction on housekeeping. She was required to maintain a consistent residence in a clean and organized manner, including obtaining adequate furniture, bathroom and kitchen facilities, and food supply. Supervised visitation was ordered.”17 

The mother – who had a mild intellectual impairment – repeatedly told her caseworker that she wanted to take on each task one at a time, however her social worker claimed the she was capable of doing better than that. While the mother did ultimately manage to “substantially” comply with her reunification plan, the juvenile court nevertheless terminated her parental rights.18 

The removal of children at an early age presents particular difficulties for parents in California, regardless of whether they are disabled or not. California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 366.21, specifically provides that, “If the child was under the age of three years on the date of the initial removal and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent failed to participate regularly in any court-ordered treatment plan, the court may schedule a hearing” to terminate parental rights within the relatively short span of 120 days.19 

As a Court of Appeal of California explained in a 2007 case, "court-ordered services shall not exceed a period of six months if the minor was under the age of three when removed from the physical custody of his or her parent”20 

The unpublished case Maria v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County is both instructive and illuminating. Five crucial points arise time and again in these cases: 1) The child is removed immediately after or shortly following the birth of her child; 2) the mother is declared to be disabled to the extent that she cannot properly provide for her own children; 3) that the mother is nevertheless deemed capable of following though on court-imposed reunification plans that would test the abilities of any parent regardless of whether she had any intellectual or other challenges; 4) the extremely technical nature of the proceedings that test the abilities of even the most capable of attorneys, and, 5) the highly subjective nature of what a court may consider as “substantial compliance” with a reunification plan. All of these elements appear in the discussion of this case, which quite candidly explains that,

In this case, S. was removed from mother’s care and taken into protective custody because mother has developmental disabilities and had not been adequately caring for S., and because mother’s parental rights had been terminated as to five other children. B. was taken into protective custody at birth after S. had been declared a dependent child of the court.21 

As Chris Watkins explains, the failures of the system to provide adequate and appropriate services to developmentally disabled parents is not with it consequences: “Differential treatment of parents labeled mentally retarded injures all parties concerned. First and foremost, children are harmed when they are unnecessarily separated from their parents and family and forced into an unfamiliar environment. Second, parents are deprived of the parenting relationship and the opportunities for self and social expression it affords. Finally, when public resources are misdirected and democratic ideals undermined by treating such parents differently, society as a whole is harmed.”22 

What is missing in the repeated references to the eugenics era in the literature is whether those parents unfortunate enough to have come under the scrutiny of the state endure a measure of angst that is greater in the loss of the potential of having a child, as was the case under the older scheme of things, or of now being “permitted” to conceive and bear an actual child in this more enlightened era, only to find the child removed – in a great many cases permanently – from their care.

When that happens, the hapless parents will invariably find themselves mired in a system that is known for anything but dispensing evenhanded, consistent, and compassionate decisions. And, there also is the ever-lingering question of whether the child’s best interests will ultimately be better served by an indisputably corrupt, and utterly dysfunctional foster care system.

“The termination of parental rights in parents with mental challenges is a growing and crucial issue,” writes Charisa Smith in a pre-publication version of an article slated for release in Law & Psychology Review in Spring of 2015.23 

Smith explains that, “Public systems are overwhelmed by this matter in an era of shrinking resources for such systems. However, often parents with mental health needs are willing to accept treatment, are able to participate in programming, and are worthy of regaining custody.”

She asserts that “other states need to follow New Jersey’s example in New Jersey Div. Of Youth & Family Servs., v. L.M. and P.T., 430 N.J. Super. 428 (2013) by examining their reunification service provision, to ensure that the services can be equally utilized by parents with mental challenges. Parents with learning disabilities, developmental delays, and other mental conditions, may need to be offered parenting classes, other training, visitation arrangements, co-parenting arrangements, case planning services, Family Group Decision-Making programs, and other such services, that address these parent’s disabilities specifically and provide them with a full chance to maintain custody.”

She continues on to explain that, “Only when parents with mental challenges are given the chance to prove themselves worthy of custody despite their disabilities, can equality in the child welfare system be reached.”

In New Jersey, termination actions are decided under a four-prong best interests of the child standard, first enunciated by the Court in a 1986 ruling that is now codified in N.J.S.A. 30:4C–15.1(a).

Under that standard, parental rights may be terminated only when:

(1) The child’s safety, health or development has been or will continue to be endangered by the parental relationship;

(2) the parent is unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child or is unable or unwilling to provide a safe and stable home for the child and the delay of permanent placement will add to the harm. Such harm may include evidence that separating the child from his resource family parents would cause serious and enduring emotional or psychological harm to the child;

(3) The division has made reasonable efforts to provide services to help the parent correct the circumstances which led to the child’s placement outside the home and the court has considered alternatives to termination of parental rights;  and

(4) Termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.

If indeed the juvenile courts throughout the nation can adapt and apply these four basic precepts as they are presented in the New Jersey statutes, some modest gains may in fact be made.

As much as I try to maintain some level of cautious optimism, it has become painfully evident to me over time that while courts pay considerable lip service to the “fundamental rights” of parents as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court, they nevertheless trample on these rights as a matter of routine. As a practical matter, children continue to be removed from their homes at astounding rates on the mere whims of social workers.

Anticipating that justice may be found when the parents finally get their “day in court,” they are likely to be disappointed at finding that, as Professor Paul Chill of the University of Connecticut School of Law explains, the burden of proof is “begone.”24 

They will discover also that what is truly missing from foster care reform, as Theodor S. Liebmann of Hofstra University, Maurice A. Deane School of Law explains it, are “comprehensive, realistic, and compassionate removal standards.”25 

In the final analysis, it appears that Charisa Smith may well be on the right track. Up to this point, scholars have, on the whole, paid scant attention to this particular issue. Perhaps that time may have finally arrived, now that the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services have taken some action.

This much is clear. The pro forma reunification plans that have been foisted on disabled or otherwise challenged parents up to this point have not been in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifically requires that each individual’s need must be taken into account in the provision of services.

The juvenile dependency system has been thoroughly examined, and those scholars who have investigated it are quite nearly universal in their condemnation of its many shortcomings. On the whole, the juvenile dependency system has been found to be racially biased in some jurisdictions, gender-biased in some others, and class-biased in some others. Among the accusations leveled at the courts include claims of favoring a pro-interventionist stance at the expense of,the Constitutional rights of parents and children alike. Due process concerns are frequently raised by critics. Claims that revenue maximization may play a role in the decision-making in the juvenile courts have also been raised in at least some jurisdictions. The degree of culture change that would be necessary to restore balance, and to provide parents with their Constitutionally protected due process rights forecloses the conclusion that we are likely to see any meaningful changes over the short term.26

The agency has a lengthy history of stonewalling, obfuscation, and withholding of self-incriminating evidence. See for example Bob Oakes, “State Rep: DCF Employees Falsified Records About Missing Fitchburg Boy,” WBUR, NPR affiliate, Morning Edition, January 2, 2014 (“an internal report shows that social workers falsified records about their home visits and contact with the family”); Eileen Mcnamara, “Cellucci Has Failed Children,” Boston Globe, October 25, 1992 (“the state comptroller temporarily placed the agency in fiscal receivership while he investigated allegations that agency budget officers illegally shifted expenses from one fiscal year to another to cover up deficits. The investigation found the agency illegally used $5.2 million in 1992 finances to pay 1991 bills;); Linda Matchan, “State Selects Panel To Review DSS,” Boston Globe, March 27, 1992 ("budget officers illegally transferred about $5 million in expenses from one fiscal year to another to cover up deficits"); John Ellement and Michael Grunwald, "Foster Death Ruled A Murder Judge Faults Dss For Lax Oversight," Boston Globe, October 11, 1995 (critics allege that DSS was "trying to cover up grisly facts to avoid bad publicity to the point of impeding the police investigation”) David Armstrong, “Step falsified in abuse citations: Interviews never held, DSS admits,” Boston Globe, March 27, 1997 (“The agency yesterday said it was talking to all of its regional offices to warn them not to send out bogus form letters if a family has not been interviewed in an abuse case”).

On May 29, 2014, Barry S. Pollack, a former federal prosecutor, and the longest-serving board member of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. As an attorney, he has represented a number of families in cases involving Boston Children’s Hospital, and, in his civil complaint, he specifically cites the case of Justina Pelletier to bolster the case that this activity is part of a continuing pattern of illegal conduct impacting vulnerable children with a variety of difficult to diagnose diseases. See generally my entry of June 4, 2014, “Massachusetts Lawsuit Against DCF Provides Inside Look At Bader 5,” which includes a link to the civil complaint.

Letter to President from Jonathan Young in National Council on Disability, Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children, 2012. pp. 1-2..

Ibid pp 14-15.

Ibid. p 90. Internal quotation marks omitted for clarity.

Ibid. p 93.

Santosky v. Kramer, 455 US 745 (Supreme Court 1982). See also Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (“The unequal treatment of disabled persons in the administration of judicial services has a long history, and has persisted despite several legislative efforts to remedy the problem of disability discrimination”).

Deborah Muenzer-Doy and Lynda Anderson, “Supporting Parents and Children During Termination of Parental Rights,” in Howard Mandeville, Lynda Anderson, and Charlie Lakin ed. “Supporting Parents Who Have Cognitive Limitations,” Impact 11, no. 1 (January 1998).

10 Paul Preston Ph.D., “Through the Looking Glass,” International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation, n.d.

11 Chris Watkins, “Beyond Status_ The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Parent,” California Law Review, December 1995. p. 1419.

12 Ibid. p. 1436..

13 Coverdell v. Dept. of Social & Health Services, 834 F. 2d 758 (Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1987) (plaintiff’s newborn daughter seized from the hospital and placed in temporary shelter care); Kia P. v. McIntyre, 235 F. 3d 749 (Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 2000) (newborn held in hospital for 10 days, released after drug tests come back negative); In re J.Y., 754 A. 2d 5 (Pennsylvania, Superior Court, 2000) (mother’s children were declared dependent shortly after baby’s birth); ST v. State Dept. of Human Resources, 579 So. 2d 640 (Alabama, Court of Civil Appeals, 1991) (two day old child removed, parent’s rights subsequently terminated due in part to IQ and lack of stable housing).

14 Associated Press, “Mom Who Had Baby Taken Thanks To Poppy Seed Bagel Settles Suit,” The Huffington Post, July 2, 2013. Accessed March 24, 2015, .

15 Mother Settles Suit Over Poppy Bagel Drug Test,” ABC News, July 3, 2013, .

16 In re Christina L., 3 Cal. App. 4th 404 (Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate Dist., 1st Div. 1992). Whether the officers had a search warrant, or whether the mother freely consented to allow them into her home is not discussed in the ruling. Nor is any consideration expressed for the mother in light of such housing conditions being typical of the plight endured by millions of impoverished parents.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 California code § 361.5, subd. (a)(2). See In re Christina A., 111 Cal. Rptr. 2d 310 (Court of Appeal, 3rd Appellate Dist. 2001) ("For a child who, on the date of the initial removal from the physical custody of his or her parent … was under the age of three years, court-ordered services shall not exceed a period of six months from the date the child entered foster care"); In re Derrick S., 67 Cal. Rptr. 3d 367 (Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate Dist., 2nd Div. 2007) (allowing discretion to judges to apply stricter timelines to children over the age of three).

20 In Re Jesse, 68 Cal. Rptr. 3d 435 (Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate Dist., 1st Div. 2007). (Internal quotation mark omitted for clarity).

21 Maria v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (Court of Appeal, 6th Appellate Dist. 2008).

22 Watkins, supra note 8.

23 Charisa Smith, Finding Solutions: Preventing the Termination of Parental Rights Due to a Parent’s Mental Challenges, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, July 17, 2014), Rochester, NY, .

24 Paul Chill, Burden of Proof Begone: The Pernicious Effect of Emergency Removal in Child Protective Proceedings, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, October 1, 2003), Rochester, NY, .

25 Theodor S. Liebmann, What’s Missing from Foster Care Reform: The Need for Comprehensive, Realistic, and Compassionate Removal Standards, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, February 6, 2007).

25 Kathleen S. Bean, Aggravated Circumstances, Reasonable Efforts, and ASFA, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, December 5, 2008), Meehan Rasch, California‚Äôs Dueling Harmless Error Standards: Approaches to Federal Constitutional Error in Civil Proceedings and Establishing the Proper Test for Dependency, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, April 13, 2008); Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, Constitutional Rights of Parents and Children in Child Protective and Juvenile Delinquency Investigations, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, September 28, 2011); Smith, Finding Solutions; Bruce A. Boyer, Justice, Access to the Courts, and the Right to Free Counsel for Indigent Parents: The Continuing Scourge of Lassiter V. Department of Social Services of Durham, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, December 17, 2007); Dale Margolin Cecka, No Chance to Prove Themselves: The Rights of Mentally Disabled Parents under the Americans with Disabilities Act and State Law, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, November 8, 2007); Jennifer Wriggins, Parental Rights Termination Jurisprudence: Questioning the Framework, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, 2000); Cynthia Godsoe, Parsing Parenthood, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, August 2, 2012); Charisa Smith, The Conundrum of Family Reunification: A Theoretical, Legal, and Practical Approach to Reunification Services for Parents with Mental Disabilities, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, August 31, 2014); Josh Gupta-Kagan, The New Permanency, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, September 17, 2014); Kendra Huard Fershee, The Parent Trap: The Unconstitutional Practice of Severing Parental Rights Without Due Process of Law, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, August 31, 2014), ; Catherine J. Ross, The Tyranny of Time: Vulnerable Children, Bad Mothers, and Statutory Deadlines in Parental Termination Proceedings, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, January 23, 2004); Ashley Provencher, Josh Gupta-Kagan, and Mary Eschelbach Hansen, The Standard of Proof at Adjudication of Abuse or Neglect: Its Influence on Case Outcomes at Key Junctures, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, September 25, 2014); Joan Catherine Bohl, Those Privileges Long Recognized: Termination of Parental Rights Law, the Family Integrity Right and the Private Culture of Family, SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, June 16, 2008).


New Jersey Div. Of Youth & Family Servs., v. L.M. and P.T., 430 N.J. Super. 428 (2013).