Thursday, October 28, 2004

NY court limits removing children

The NY Times reports:
New York State's highest court ruled yesterday that child welfare authorities cannot take children from parents and place them in foster care merely because they have been exposed to domestic abuse at home.

The court formalized specific standards for removing children from homes where domestic abuse occurs, requiring that authorities exhaust alternatives and insisting that the possible threat to the child's health or welfare be imminent.

... the Court of Appeals ruled that a parent's inability to prevent a child from witnessing domestic abuse did not amount to formal neglect, a standard used for taking a child into foster care. To conclude that a mother had been neglectful, the court held, the authorities would have to prove that the mother had failed to exercise a basic level of care in shielding the child as best she could from the scenes of abuse.

The court ruled that there could be no "blanket presumption" favoring removing a child who had merely witnessed a parent being abused.
The case resulted from a federal class action lawsuit on constitutional grounds. I am surprised that such an approach would do any good. Apparently NY city was routinely removing children from homes with spousal abuse, even tho the children were not abused and the parents objected. Furthermore, it was usually done by govt social workers who claimed to have emergency powers, and removed the kids without any court order.

The NY court says that the city has to clean up its act. The city says that its practices are already "nuanced", and that they could just ignore the court ruling.

I guess that the court's theory is if the dad is beating the mom, then it is unfair to the mom to seize the kids. But why would anyone think that spousal abuse has anything to do with child abuse or neglect anyway?

The spousal abuse should be none of anyone's business, unless some victim wants to file a criminal complaint. The the perp should get his due process, including a jury trial and appeal, if necessary. But why punishing the kids?

What's going on here? Is the city trying to go around busting up marriages?

Maybe some busybody neighbor anonymously calls in a domestic violence complaint. City social workers visit, but no one makes a complaint. So the city social workers threaten the mom to take her kids away, unless she makes a complaint. She thinks that she be able to tell the judge what a good mom she is, but the social workers takes the kids away anyway without anyone seeing a judge. To get her kids back, she has to either kick her husband out, or have him prosecuted for spousal abuse.

Is that what is going on here? Social workers trying to correct marital relationships by seizing kids?

I'll have to do some more research on this. It is hard to believe that NY city social workers could be so evil. But it is also hard to see how anyone could justify so many emergency child removals when there isn't even any abuse or neglect of the child.

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