Maggie did make sporadic efforts to pull herself together. As one of the scant 10 percent of drug-addicted parents in Arizona afforded in-patient drug treatment, she bunked for weeks (on the government's dime) at a residential-treatment program that provides addiction counseling to low-income Valley women.

But she left the program early. Afterward, she declined to take most of the drug tests ordered by CPS and flunked the ones she did take.

She disappeared for weeks, not communicating with her children, with whom she had kept in supervised contact after CPS took custody.

Retired Superior Court Judge Ron Reinstein ruled in hundreds of "dependency" cases over a two-year period.
Michael Ratcliff
Retired Superior Court Judge Ron Reinstein ruled in hundreds of "dependency" cases over a two-year period.

Megan and Jenna had continued to bond with their foster parents, which made them two of the lucky ones. About 2,000 children in Arizona await adoption at any given time, and certainly not all of them are in such positive situations.

About two years after the fatal fire, CPS changed its case plan from family reunification to termination of Maggie's parental rights and adoption.

More time passed.

Judge Reinstein heard testimony at a trial, during which he had to find by a "preponderance" of evidence (a mere 51 percent) that severing Maggie's rights was appropriate.

He ruled that it was.

But his decision still did not immediately allow for Megan and Jenna's adoption.

"This case is taking WAY TOO LONG long!" Reinstein wrote to himself during the process.

Maggie appealed the judge's ruling, and the Arizona Court of Appeals took more than a year to affirm it.

Soon afterward, Reinstein scheduled an expedited hearing at which to sign the adoption papers.

He let the girls' adoptive parents know they were free to take photos and celebrate in court after the business at hand was completed.

They took him up on it.

After tears were shed and platitudes traded, Reinstein invited the girls to switch places with him on the bench.

The sisters jumped at his offer.

At that moment, a happier scene could not be found in any courtroom in America.

After spending months in Judge Reinstein's courtroom observing dozens of dependency cases, New Times can say:

• CPS and state assistant attorneys general who represent the agency go to extremes at times — both allowing children to remain in potentially dangerous homes and taking away other children whose homes might be made safe with proper help.

• Mothers and fathers usually have to screw up royally to lose their rights to parent their children. "CPS generally gives parents every opportunity to fail — a whole lot of chances — before asking us to sever their rights," Judge Reinstein says.

• The majority of courtroom advocates — who include CPS caseworkers, attorneys for the state and for the child, and guardians ad litem — work to do what they consider the right thing. However, as Reinstein says, "There's always that minority that just go through the motions, with the end result being that kids are hurt in any number of ways."

• Dependency judges enjoy greater freedom than most judges — Reinstein calls it "wiggle room" — to craft rulings that may best benefit a child, even if the rulings may not comport to the letter of the law. To him, "listening to children, especially the older kids, is just about the most important thing, and then you go from there."

Richard Wexler, executive director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, is adamant that too many children in foster care could be allowed to stay with their parents, if only child-welfare authorities were on the right track.

To Wexler, Arizona has one of the nation's worst CPS systems.

"We have encountered no state more convinced that it has nothing to learn from anyplace else than Arizona," the ex-journalist wrote a few years ago.

In a 2007 analysis titled "Perennial Panic: Why Child Welfare in Arizona Never Gets Better," Wexler wrote, "The Arizona child-welfare system is a wonderful deal for everybody — but the children. It is a system fueled by self-indulgence and self-delusion."

Of all Arizona state agencies, CPS (which is part of the Department of Economic Security) is easily the most controversial, and has been for a generation.

The reasons are as transparent as an expression on a child's face: CPS is supposed to protect kids by investigating abuse and neglect allegations, to "promote the well-being of a child in a permanent home," and to coordinate services to "strengthen" families.

But it is a mission easier said than done, under the best of circumstances. Surely, Arizona never has been home to the best of circumstances in its child-welfare practices.

In part, that is because unofficial CPS policy is always to protect the agency first. For as long as it has been around, CPS has subscribed to the maxim that no news is good news.

When horror stories inevitably hit the press, the agency often responds to negative political and public pressures by making knee-jerk, sometimes-dramatic policy changes.

Before 1980, for example, CPS agencies around the nation grabbed some children from their parents simply because the families were poor.

That year, a federal law sought to shrink the number of kids in foster care, which led agencies to remove fewer children from troubled homes.

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Juvenile's Rights
Juvenile's Rights

This should give the public an idea of what is going on in the juvenile and family courts:

Editorial: Judges SentencedKids for cash

The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it's a story right out of Dickens' grim 19th-century landscape: Two of Luzerne County's most senior judges on Monday were accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks.

The judges, Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., 58, and his predecessor, Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, will serve seven years in jail under a plea agreement.

They're alleged to have pocketed $2.6 million in payments from juvenile detention center operators.

When a federal judge reviews their plea, though, the question ought to be whether the punishment is adequate - along with the judges being bounced from the bench, disbarred, and losing their pensions.

If the allegations are true, Ciavarella and Conahan were involved in a disgraceful cabal far worse than one that merely lined their pockets.First, the judges helped the detention centers land a county contract worth $58 million. Then their alleged scheme was to guarantee the operators a steady income by detaining juveniles, often on petty stuff.Many of the kids were railroaded, according to allegations lodged with the state Supreme Court last year by the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, an advocacy group.

In asking the court to intervene in April, the law center cited hundreds of examples where teens accused of minor mischief were pressured to waive their right to lawyers, and then shipped to a detention center.One teen was given a 90-day sentence for having parodied a school administrator online. Such unwarranted detentions left "both children and parents feeling bewildered, violated and traumatized," center lawyers said.

"Very few people would stand up" to the Luzerne judges, according to the law center's executive director, Robert G. Schwartz.Fortunately, Juvenile Law Center was willing to do so, along with backing from state Attorney General Tom Corbett's office and the state Department of Public Welfare.

The blind justices on the state's high court, though, took a pass. Only last month, they offered no explanation in declining to take up the law center's request that the court step up.

Now, the state Supreme Court should revisit the issue, since the scope of corruption alleged at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre could further undermine confidence in the courts statewide.Authorities need to redress running roughshod over juveniles' rights - a process also likely to bring damage suits. While the local district attorney pledges to "do our best to right the situation," this calls for an independent, outside review.

The two judges' downfall may have rooted out the worst perpetrators of this evil scheme, but the abuse of power alleged in Luzerne County is so startling that it should send shock waves for reform around the state court system.

Comment by Juvenile's Rights from East Valley on Feb 1st, 2009, 17:47 pm

Family Court Needs Independent
Family Court Needs Independent

This comment from above says it all --"Now if we can just get Paul Rubin to do a story on the cesspool that is "family court" in Maricopa County"

This destructive court needs independent investigation and the relationship of the judges to the county attorney's office and the use of the legal system, trumped up serious charges to throw the other spouse's life away, one step short of a gun. Family lawyers who get rewarded with Judge positions in the Family court and how they are linked to cases they handled. Those who abuse the family court system in this way should be given harsh mandatory sentencing like that the "other side" is facing. How many family court / child custody / child support cases end up with the other parent in jail / prison silenced for years and isolated from their children. The public is very uniformed about the abuses going on in the family court. The parent with the most money wins -- it's obvious why.

Follow the money, the pay-offs, the destruction to the children by vengeful spouses.

Keep up the great series, Paul, the family court needs it's own series. It's a place of destruction of families, the children's lives and the future of the society.

A parent
A parent

Now if we can just get Paul Rubin to do a story on the cesspool that is "family court" in Maricopa County.

Tom Mixx
Tom Mixx

An Inconvenient Truth about Child Protective Services, Foster care, and the Child Protection "INDUSTRY"

Child Protective Services Does not protect children...It is sickening how many children are subject to abuse, neglect and even killed at the hands of CPS.

every parent should read the free handbook fromconnecticut dcf watch...


Number of Cases per 100,000 children in the USThese numbers come from The National Center onChild Abuse and Neglect in Washington. (NCCAN)Recent numbers have increased significantly for CPS

Perpetrators of Maltreatment

Physical Abuse CPS/Foster care 160, biological Parents 59Sexual Abuse CPS/Foster care 112, biological Parents 13Neglect CPS/Foster care 410, biological Parents 241Medical Neglect CPS/Foster care 14 biological Parents 12Fatalities CPS/Foster care 6.4, biological Parents 1.5

Imagine that, 6.4 children die at the hands of the very agencies that are supposed to protect them and only 1.5 at the hands of parents per 100,000 children. CPS perpetrates more abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse and kills more children then parents in the United States. If the citizens of this country hold CPS to the same standards that they hold parents too. No judge should ever put another child in the hands of ANY government agency because CPS nationwide is guilty of more harm and death than any human being combined. CPS nationwide is guilty of more human rights violations and deaths of children then the homes from which they were removed. When are the judges going to wake up and see that they are sending children to their death and a life of abuse when children are removed from safe homes based on the mere opinion of a bunch of social workers.


Currently Child Protective Services violates more constitutionally guaranteed liberties & civil rights on a daily basis then all other agencies combined, Including the National Security agency/Central intelligence agency wiretaping programs�

"It is the closest agency we have to the Gestapo in our society."-District Judge R. Darryl Mazur

THE CORRUPT BUSINESS OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICESBY: Nancy Schaefer Senator, 50th District of Georgia


The Business of Child Stealing in Florida

This is Child Protection?By Gregory A. Hession, J.D.

Mercenary Motherhood: "Memoirs of a Babystealer."

FOSTER CARE IS A 80 PERCENT FAILURE:. A Brief Analysis of the Casey Family Programs. Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study. By Richard Wexler


Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the MadnessDSS and affiliates rewarded for breaking up familiesBy Nev Moore Massachusetts News

Ted Gunderson Speech to Congressional Hearing on Child Protection 3/13/04

Phoenix New TimesOutrageous FortunePrivate lawyers in Maricopa County child-dependency cases are soaking us for unbelievable bucksBy Paul Rubin

When The State Becomes Parent by Mollie Martin.

A recent study has found that 12-18 months after leaving foster care:

30% of the nation�s homeless are former foster children.27% of the males and 10% of the females had been incarcerated33% were receiving public assistance37% had not finished high school2% receive a college degree50% were unemployed

Children in foster care are three to six times more likely than children not in care to have emotional, behavioral and developmental problems, including conduct disorders, depression, difficulties in school and impaired social relationships. Some experts estimate that about 30% of the children in care have marked or severe emotional problems. Various studies have indicated that children and young people in foster care tend to have limited education and job skills, perform poorly in school compared to children who are not in foster care, lag behind in their education by at least one year, and have lower educational attainment than the general population.*Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support

80 percent of prison inmates have been through the foster care system.

The highest ranking federal official in charge of foster care, Wade Horn of the Department of Health and Human Services, is a former child psychologist who says the foster care system is a giant mess and should just be blown up.

Four rigorous studies have found that at least 30 percent of America�s foster children could be home right now if their parents had decent housing.

These studies found thousands of children already in foster care who would have done better had child protection agencies not taken them away in the first place.Read the studies online.

Front-page story in USA Today.

Casey "alumni" study: "Improving Family Foster Care: Findings from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study,"

MIT study: "Child Protection and Child Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Foster Care,"

Texas comptroller's "Forgotten Children" reports:

Chosen Children: how the Foster Care and Adoption industries fuels the Prison industry.

Billion Dollar Babies in America's Foster Care, Adoption & Prison Systems by Lori Carangelo



Statistics of Adoption-2005 Edition-Compiled and edited by Lori Carangelo

The bottom line? - Child Protective Services and the Foster Care system for the most part turns out young adults that are nothing more than Walking Wreckage...






how true! I just listened to one thing alex jones may be right about on his show Friday May 18.2012 I just could not believe it cps and peoples poor little children and I know for a fact that kids can be hurt from both sides of the situation. I sugest people listen to that one day about the middle of the show it is worth the time spent God Bless all the Children and the people who are really help to all! The evil ones may Gods Rath come to you and the devils lies.

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