Larry Halloran KS Chairman KS912 Open Letter to KS Officials Noted Dec 6 2010 RE Child Custody Cases | Foster Care | Child Custody

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Larry Halloran, Chairman of the KS 912 Group wrote a letter to Governor Brownback, Lt Gov, all Kansas Legislators and Sedgwick County Commissioners regarging their groups concerns of children being placed in foster care, the outcomes, children being held in foster care due to financial incentives to keep them their, and questions the placement of children in foster care when these children would be better served with family.
Transcript
    Open Letter to: The Honorable Governor and Lt Governor of Kansas,The Honorable Governor and Lt Governor (Elect) of KansasKansas State Legislators and Sedgwick County Commissioners.On Monday, December 6, 2010, several families discussed the difficulties they encountered withSRS child custody cases at a special meeting hosted by the Wichita – South Central KS 912Group. While we can only present one side of the story the many questions that come to mindare serious and worth investigation.   Just on the surface, the numbers for Sedgwick County appear to be far outside the norm whencompared to national and state averages. Nationally, 50 percent of the children removed from thehouse hold are reunified with the family. The State average for Kansas is 20 percent and only 11percent for Sedgwick County. Either Kansas or Sedgwick County in particular have discoveredthe formula that enables them to identify only the worst of the worst (in which case – they shouldshare this with the other states so as not to disturb otherwise healthy families) or there issomething far more sinister at work within our county and state.Children are routinely removed from the family before a hearing or evidence is ever submitted toa court. For all intents and purposes it would appear that an adversarial relationship is established in a coordinated effort by SRS, contracted agencies, county attorneys and the courts against thefamily. This adversarial relationship is at the expense of and in lieu of social services that mightassist the family with meeting their obligations or needs and negate the need for the child’sremoval to begin with.Once in custody, children are routinely questioned without the consent of the parent, without theparent being present and without insuring the parents’ legal rights to assign or obtain legalcounsel for the child have first been met.There appears to be NO genuine oversight of cases where children and families are forciblyseparated by the county or state. While a six member board appointed by the Governor is taskedwith this responsibility, it is beyond reason that such a board could provide anything other than acursory review (rubber stamp) of all cases state wide. There were 1,542 cases in Sedgwick County alone in fiscal year 2010. For the Board to have reviewed just these cases they wouldhave to complete more than four (4.22) cases a day with less than two hours devoted to eachwhile working 365 days a year. The practicality of such a board providing anything close tolegitimate oversight with any degree of legitimacy is beyond comprehension.Families already lacking the financial means to support themselves are at once face to face with aGoliath (in the form of SRS, county and state authorities) with no similar financial restraint thatnow dictates the families every action and can quite simply exhaust the family with endless    financial and time consuming requirements. Failure to comply with any or all requirements,regardless of the circumstances, now become additional complaints to be used to justify thesrcinal removal. All the while, parental visitation with their children is limited, restricted andsubject to supervision. In addition, parents may be required to forfeit their constitutional rights(such as Second Amendment rights to the legal possession of a firearm in the house) if they wishto have visitation.There is little doubt in our mind that the current system offers significant financial incentive tonot only hold children in protective custody for indefinite periods but to terminate parentalrights. We whole heartedly question the placement of any child with a contracted agency orfoster care home in lieu of a grandparent or other blood relative first. We whole heartedlyquestion even the appearance of both the moral impropriety and potential financial gain by caseworkers, contract agency employees or court personnel that might be working both sides of theissue and serving as foster or adoptive parents as well.It is further apparent that the rules governing these cases have been designed to exclude adequatepublic review. In matters affecting the sanctity of the family, records and court proceedingshould be opened to the public, else any family,regardless of its standing,could find itself    trapped behind closed doors and fighting a skewed system. The family is the last bastion of personal liberty and it must be protected.While I could continue almost adnauseam with thoughts and concerns I think it suffices to saythat this is an issue that screams for our attention as citizens and parents. We call on ourlegislators, elected state and county officials to institute an immediate moratorium on the actionsof the agencies and courts involved. We ask for an immediate public meeting to address ourconcerns.Respectfully,Lawrence M. Halloran, ChairmanWichita – South Central KS 912 Group414 Rucker St.Mulvane, KS 67110316-777-9352
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