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Utah Families Assn. is a volunteer advocacy organization. Our mission is to help families who have been falsely or frivolously accused of child abuse or neglect.
We do not interfere with the good work of DCFS (Division of Child and Family Services) in helping those children who are truly abused or neglected. Utah Families does not normally get involved in custody disputes. We do not help those who use drugs, and we especially do not help those who have abused a child.
Many frivolous complaints are filed with DCFS by neighbors or family members. Some people do this vindictively; others may think they are being helpful, but they have no idea of the traumatic nightmare they are bringing on the family. Utah law requires the reporting of abuse, but the child protection industry is far too aggressive in encouraging us to report even the slightest suspicion of imperfection, turning us into a “snitch” society.
Many medical neglect and abuse complaints are filed by family doctors or hospital personnel, or by DCFS workers who are stationed full time at Primary Children’s hospital. Doctors are under great legal, professional, and industry pressure to report the slightest suspicion of abuse; understandably, they will err on the side of over-reporting rather than risk their careers by missing a case of true abuse. Many have developed an “assume abuse first” mentality. Sometimes doctors use state agencies to force families to accept medical care they do not want. The Parker Jensen case has made parents afraid to seek medical care, and with good reason.
Schoolchildren are taught to “call 911” at the slightest parental provocation. Teachers and day care workers are taught to report the slightest suspicion of abuse — and they are even taught to search out abuse through role plays, etc. Social workers can interview children at school or in day care without parental knowledge or permission.
Social workers, Guardians ad Litem, and the Attorney General’s office have unrestrained raw power to break up families and destroy them financially. Checks and balances are woefully lacking. Many DCFS workers are sincere and helpful, but for many others the issues are money and power. Case workers, many who have never raised a child, determine what a parent must do to get his child back, and the requirements can be oppressive. The rearranging of families is a big business. When the State takes a child from a family and arranges for another family to adopt it, the Federal government pays a bounty to the State agency. There are no financial incentives for leaving children in their homes or for returning them to their parents.
Social workers are quick to move children into shelters and foster homes, acting on flimsy evidence, with no concern for the terror such moves are for children. What is it like for a young child to be ripped from the arms of his mother by a strange lady and a police officer? What fear and trauma does he suffer, seeing his sobbing mother and his angry father unable to save him? What are those first days in the shelter like, without the comfort of his family, without his own bed, his toys, or anything familiar? Will he ever feel safe again? Will he ever trust authority?
And where do we get all these perfect foster homes in which to warehouse the children of the less perfect parents? Good foster homes are scarce. Children are far more likely to be neglected, beaten, or raped in foster care than in their own homes, as highlighted by the October 2003 beating death of an eighteen month old Utah boy.
Our society is failing because our families are failing. The best remedy for our problems will not be found in government programs, mind-altering drugs, therapy, or by hiring more social workers. The only real solution, as simple as it may seem, is in protecting and strengthening families. Society is, after all, the sum total of our homes — your home, plus my home, plus our neighbor’s home.
Meanwhile, citizens can become better informed, the Legislature can make changes in the law to provide checks and balances, and more good people can volunteer as advocates to ensure that innocent families caught in the system are helped.