No Proper Closure: An auntie fights the system to get proper care for her emotionally disturbed niece


POOR correspondent - Posted on 23 June 2010

Tiny/PoorNewsNetwork with Dee Gray/Courtwatch Facilitator
Tuesday, May 14, 2002

"My name is Paulette Brown, and I am taking care of my niece. She’s a dependent of the court…." , the voice on the other end of the phone was a soft tear of desperation, " they are trying to take my niece away from me ..they are watching my every move…until I make even one mistake…." As I listened to Ms Paulette Brown speak – each word revealing another layer of the impossible catch 22 that is the Foster Care and Child Protective Services systems, I cringed with the knowledge that it was so very hard to fight these systems. I knew – my mother and I had "been there" as the victims of a biased system that works in every way to make it difficult for parents who are trying to retain or reclaim custody of their own children. a system that does not support family restoration but that in fact, undermines families.

"Well, for what its worth, Ms Brown, we have a media advocacy project at POOR called Courtwatch, so please come in and we’ll help you tell your story to the world"

"Okay, thank-you" , she replied, taking the first full breath she could manage, "thank-you"

I hung up the phone with Ms. Brown filled with an admixture of dread and apathy. It had been three years since my own families decimation at the hands of the juvenile dependency court, Child Protective Services and the Foster care system, all working in a collaborative effort to wrench the control of children from their parents, no matter what the consequences., I had not heard Ms. Brown’s whole story yet, but somehow I already knew it.

Later that week Ms. Brown sat in Community Newsroom at POOR trying to explain the complexity of her and her nieces situation, "While my niece was enrolled in a day treatment program funded by the Department of Human Services (DHS) everything was fine for several years and then starting this year, problems started happening, first, two successive bus drivers stopped picking up my niece and later for reasons I could not explain, the staff therapist at the facility mentally and physically abused my child…this therapist never explained why she did this even when I asked her and in fact refused to explain until I took the facility to small claims court.."

"You took them to court – what happened?"

"I took them to small claims court – but of course I didn’t win because I had no lawyer and I didn’t know how to file the papers properly.. so I lost the case, and my evidence was mysteriously missing "

"So when did DHS terminate your niece from the program?"

"Well, that was before the court case – that was just for complaining about the bus drivers and the therapist’s abuse- On the letter from them to me they said they terminated me because I was dissatisfied with the program . They offerred my niece no proper closure; they didn’t even follow up with any other services for her. She’s been without services, without any therapy since October 31"

"Did you try to get your child into another program?"

"Yes I enrolled her in another great program but DHS refused to pay for it even after I enrolled her

"Did you try to meet with the Ombudsmen?"

"Yes on April 16 at her 6 month review, I went to court, I told the judge prior to the review that this has been going on and the judge said He would investigate it but he never did, and you know the child welfare worker wrote up some negative things about me and I told the judge "This isn’t true." But you know I believe the judge wasn’t on my side and the City Attorney wasn’t on my side."

Finally the judge got frustrated with me talking and I was like "Your honor, this isn’t true could you let me present my evidence, could you let me tell you what’s going on, but I wasn’t allowed to present my evidence even though I know that’s my right, so finally the City Attorney said, Why hasn’t this child received regular therapy, what’s going on? and then he said, Its our finding that the department has been neglectful in providing Champaign with her needs.

As Ms. Brown finished, Dee Gray, facilitator of Courtwatch, reminded all of us that "CPS and the JD court are closed systems, that are almost impenetrable – and that the only way to fight those systems is through radical organizing and actions like Rebecca Aanestad from Parents against the Child abuse Industry who learned to be a paralegal and then brought her own lawsuit against CPS, and also believes as a lot of us do that the destruction of the family by CPS just paves the way for the smooth transition of youth to the Juvenile "injustice" system, especially low-income youth of color.

If you have any ideas for Ms. Brown contact her through email at; Paulette94117@aol.com

If you would like to tell your story to COURTWATCH – please call POOR at (415) 863-6306- or go on-line to www.poormagazine.org and click on COURTWATCH

PNN RADIO

Sign-up for POOR email!