Category Archives: CPS

Secret list: Having your name on this secret Michigan list of 275,000 people could cost you your job

Wow.  There are actually people in the world that think this is a good thing.  There are over 275,000 people on this list.  That means that about 1 out of 40 persons in Michigan are on this list.  It, quite frankly, surprises even me.  It is like there is some kind of evil in the world.  A grand-child complains of spanking, cps investigates, and finds no abuse, but the grandmother is on the list for life. Even though the report specifically said that it didn’t warrant going on the list, yet there she is.  This is a very serious revelation.  It should be interesting to see where this person’s suit ends up.

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) – It’s a secret list that can cost you your family or your job.  Once you’re on it, it can be very hard to get off.   While some changes are being made to the law, many experts say it doesn’t go far enough.

The state maintains something called the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry and the sole power to label you an abuser lies not with a judge or a jury, but with child protective services workers.

And you may be surprised at how the state can define “abuse.”

Anita Belle says she’s never been convicted of a crime.  But Belle’s name has been put on the Central Registry as a child abuser.

“Where is the due process,” asked Belle.

The Central Registry is maintained by Child Protective Services workers inside Michigan’s Department of Human Services, or DHS.

Right now, there are about 275,000 people on that secret list and many of them don’t even realize they are on it.  You don’t have to be found guilty in court to be put on the registry.  All it takes is the word of CPS staffers to label you an abuser, which can prevent you from getting certain jobs or doing volunteer work.

“A sex offender gets to be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, and then they’re placed on the sex offender registry, but parents and grandparents and teachers — for goodness sake, a child could just make up something,” Belle told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

It was Anita Belle’s granddaughter who accused her and other relatives of spanking.  And Belle’s case shows just how inconsistent the rules to get on the list can be:  her CPS investigative report recommends Belle NOT be labeled an abuser.

“In your CPS report they say you should not be put on the central registry,” asked Catallo
“That’s correct,” said Belle.
“So how did you get put on the registry,” asked Catallo.
“I don’t know,” said Belle.

As the law stands now, once you’re on the registry — you’re on for life.  You can ask for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge to be taken off the list, although that’s not easy to do.

But the law is changing in September.  The new law will limit your time on the registry to 10 years, unless you were put on the list for criminal sexual conduct, battery, life threatening injuries, abandonment, or exposing a child to methamphetamine production.

But those labels are not always what they seem:  the 7 Investigators have documented many cases of parents being accused of abandonment or neglect when they were simply trying to get help for the children from the state.

“The current reforms don’t go far enough,” said attorney Elizabeth Warner, who is suing the Governor, DHS and other state officials because she says the secret list is unconstitutional.

“You should be given an opportunity before the harm happens, to get a fair hearing,” said Warner.


Government Trampling on Constitutional Rights of Parents

by Phyllis Schlafly November 5, 2010

When the liberals and the feminists, including Hillary Clinton, began saying the “village” should raise the child, most people recognized village as a metaphor for government. We’re now seeing how intrusive Big Government Nannyism really is.

State agencies operating under various names such as Child Protective Services (CPS) have been assigned the task of protecting kids from abuse or neglect by any adults, especially by their own parents. A new study casts doubt on the value of CPS.

Child Protective Services, which rushes into action based on anonymous tips, investigated more than three million cases of suspected child abuse in 2007. Researchers examined the records of 595 children nationwide alleged to be at similar high risk for abuse, and tracked them from ages 4 to 8.

The researchers concluded that CPS’s intervention did little or nothing to improve the lives of the children, and there was no difference between children in the families CPS investigated or did not investigate. The social scientists looked at all the factors known to increase the risk for abuse or neglect: social support, family functioning, poverty, caregiver education and depressive symptoms, plus child anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior.

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The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was passed by Congress in 1974, and about 45 states passed complementary state laws. Taxpayers’ money began to flow big time to the bureaucrats.

The research results were reported in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The report was accompanied by an editorial entitled “Child Protective Services Has Outlived its Usefulness.”

It argued that CPS should not be engaged in law enforcement. If it’s a crime, call the police; if it’s neglect, call a public health nurse; if it’s an unsuitable living situation, call the appropriate social services.

Unfortunately, the researchers did not look at the harm caused by CPS bureaucrats who arrive unannounced with the police, interfere with a functioning family, and often take the children away from their parents and turn them over to foster care. When taxpayer appropriations are voted next year by Congress and state legislatures, CPS bureaucrats should be required to demonstrate whether any good outweighs the harm.

Two cases involving Child Protective Services are now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The High Court has just agreed to take a case involving the interrogation of an elementary schoolchild at school by a CPS caseworker and a deputy sheriff about possible sexual abuse at home.

This is a Fourth Amendment case: Camreta and Alford v. Greene. Oregon investigators are appealing a lower court ruling that they violated a nine-year-old girl’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure when they interviewed her for two hours at school without a warrant, court order, parental consent, or exigent circumstances.

This case could have a significant impact nationwide. Unfortunately, some government agencies are more solicitous in guaranteeing constitutional due process to vicious criminals than to parents.

The other CPS case now before the Supreme Court, Los Angeles County v. Humphries, has already been briefed and argued. This case involves the constitutionality of the child abuse index, or list, maintained by Child Protective Services in California.

More than 800,000 people are now listed on California’s child abuse index. These listings are very hurtful to individuals since employers consult the list before hiring employees to work with children.

CPS puts people on this list from agency reports that are based on anonymous tips and suspicion, not proof. It’s mighty easy for a malicious wife or ex-wife to allege child abuse as part of her game plan to get child custody or increased child support.

The issue in this case is the fact that there are no procedures, no standards, and no criteria for a wrongly accused person to get his name off the child abusers index. The Supreme Court is reviewing the Ninth Circuit ruling that Craig Humphries (whom a court pronounced innocent of all charges) had a “nightmarish encounter” with the California system, and “There is no effective procedure for Humphries to challenge this listing.”

In 2006, Congress toyed with a plan to create a national child abuse registry. The plan was abandoned because of the unreliability of state lists and lack of due process. (

The child abuse registry should not be confused with the sex offender registry, which lists only those who have been convicted of sex crimes. The child abuse registry puts men on the list who have never been proven guilty of anything or even charged with a crime, a punishment that is entirely contrary to our legal assumption of being innocent until proven guilty.

Humphries has been trying to clear his name for nine years. Congress should defund these abusive registries and we hope the Supreme Court declares them unconstitutional.

via Government Trampling on Constitutional Rights of Parents.


CPS Caselaw

Received these summaries and links for CPS caselaw with regard to qualified immunity that many who visit this site may find useful:

CPS Case Law

<> Beltran v. Santa Clara County, 514 F.3d 906,
(9th Cir. 2008)
Beltrans sued two caseworkers under 42 U.S.C. ‘ 1983, charging
constitutional violations in removing child from their custody and
attempting to place him under the supervision of the state by fabricating
evidence. Court overruled Doe v. Lebbos, and reversed the district court’s
ruling that defendants were entitled to absolute immunity.

Brokaw v. Mercer County, 235 F.3d 1000, (7th Cir. 2000)
In 1983, three-year old A.D. Brokaw was removed from her parents’ home based
on allegations of child neglect. After she turned eighteen, she sued her
paternal grandfather, aunt, and uncle, alleging that they conspired to
violate her constitutional rights by reporting false claims of child
neglect. A.D. also sued the various state actors and agencies involved in
removing her from her parents’ custody. The district court held that A.D.’s
suit was barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because, in effect, A.D. was
challenging the validity of the state removal proceedings. The Eleventh
Circuit reversed and remanded.

Calabretta v. Floyd, 189 F.3d 808 (9th Cir. 1999)
“This case involves whether a social worker and a police officer were
entitled to qualified immunity, for a coerced entry into a home to
investigate suspected child abuse, interrogation of a child, and strip
search of a child, conducted without a search warrant and without a special
exigency.” Can you guess what the answer was? “An unlawful entry or search
of a home does not end when the government officials walk across the
threshold. It continues as they impose their will on the residents of the
home in which they have no right to be.”

<> Chavez v.
Board of County Commissioners, 2001-NMCA-065, New Mexico Court of Appeals
Defendants are deputy sheriffs with the Curry County Sheriff’s Department,
who were called to assist two social workers from the Children, Youth &
Families Department on a “child welfare check” at Plaintiff’s home.
Plaintiff’s son had not been attending elementary school. Thus, one reason
for the visit to Plaintiff’s home was to investigate suspected truancy or
educational neglect. Held: “At the time of entry into Plaintiff’s home, it
was well-settled that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
prohibited unreasonable searches and seizures and was intended to protect
the sanctity of an individual’s home and privacy.”

Croft v. Westmoreland County Children and Youth Servs., 103 F.3d 1123 (3d
Cir. 1997)
Holding that “a state has no interest in protecting children from their
parents unless it has some reasonable and articulable evidence giving rise
to a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or is in imminent
danger of abuse.”

<> Doe v.
Gooden, 214 F.3d 952 (8th Cir. 2000)
School district officials can be liable under 1983 if they are deliberately
indifferent to acts committed by a teacher that violate a student’s
constitutional rights.

Franz v. United States, 707 F 2d 582, US Ct App (1983)
“The undesirability of cultural homogenization would lead us to oppose
efforts by the state to assume a greater role in children’s development,
even if we were confident that the state were capable of doing so
effectively and intelligently.” A brilliant analysis of the fundamental
right to be free of unwarranted state interference between the child-parent
bond, in this case stemming from the Witness Protection Program.

Good v. Dauphin County Soc. Servs. for Children and Youth, 891 F.2d 1087,
(3d Cir. 1989)
“[P]hysical entry into the home is the chief evil against which the …
Fourth Amendment is directed,” the Court explained, while adding: “It is a
‘basic principle of Fourth Amendment law’ that searches and seizures inside
a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.” No qualified
immunity claim to be found here.

Heartland Acad. Cmty. Church v. Waddle, 335 F.3d 684, (8th Cir.2003)
Waddle, as Chief Juvenile Officer for the Second Circuit of Missouri,
effected the removal of 115 boarding students from Heartland Christian
Academy . Waddle had obtained ex parte probable-cause state-court orders to
remove some of the boarding students, there were no orders of any kind to
remove many of the students who were taken from the school. This case is
noted for its brilliant analysis of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity,
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, and immunity as an officer of a juvenile court.
The court held that: “any single violation of Heartland’s federal
constitutional rights in this case would be sufficient to sustain
Heartland’s claim for injunctive relief under ‘ 1983.”

Jones v. Hunt, 410 F.3d 1221 (10th Cir. 2005)
No qualified immunity in this ‘ 1983 action for alleged violations of Fourth
Amendment rights arising from girl’s in-school seizure by a deputy sheriff
and s Social Worker Supervisor for the New Mexico Children, Youth, and
Families Department (“CYFD”). “We conclude that the Fourth Amendment
violation as alleged in this case is both obvious and outrageous.”

Kelson v. Springfield, 767 F 2d 651, (9th Cir. 1985)
“Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent establish that a parent has a
constitutionally protected liberty interest in the companionship and society
of his or her child. The state’s interference with that liberty interest
without due process of law is remediable under section 1983.”

Lopkof v. Slater, 103 F.3d 144 (10th Cir. 1996) (Unpublished)
Defendants do not dispute that the law was clearly established that a
warrantless search of a private residence is per se unreasonable under the
Fourth Amendment unless one of “a few specifically established and
well-delineated exceptions” applies. Defendants maintain that because they
had “received specific information questioning the safety of children,” they
acted in an objectively reasonable manner when they entered Lopkoff’s
private residence. Wrong, and no qualified immunity for these officers.

<> Loudermilk v. Arpaio, 2007
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76819 (D. Ariz. September 27, 2007)
With respect to Plaintiffs’ claim based on violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment, parents and children have a constitutional right to live together
without governmental interference and will not be separated without due
process of law except in emergencies. Motion to dismiss by CPS worker and
others who coerced entry into home denied.

Mabe v. San Bernardino, 237 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2001)
Section 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under
color of state law, violates the constitutional rights of another person.
Whether reasonable cause to believe exigent circumstances existed in a given
situation, “and the related questions, are all questions of fact to be
determined by a jury.” Hence, no immunity for social worker under 42 U.S.C.

NEW!  <> Michael v. Gresbach, (7th Cir. 2008)
The court held that: “a reasonable child welfare worker would have known
that conducting a search of a child’s body under his clothes, on private
property, without consent or the presence of any other exception to the
warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment, is in direct violation of the
child’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches.” No
qualified immunity for this CPS caseworker! The court also held that the
state statute that allowed for “investigations” on private property without
a search warrant was itself unconstitutional as applied.

> Malik v. Arapahoe County Dept. of Soc. Servs.191 F.3d 1306, (10th
Cir. 1999)
“The defense of qualified immunity protects government officials from
individual liability under 42 U.S.C. ‘ 1983 for actions taken while
performing discretionary functions, unless their conduct violates “clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person
would have known.” Court also held that: “it was clearly established law
that, except in extraordinary circumstances, a parent has a liberty interest
in familial association and privacy that cannot be violated without adequate
pre-deprivation procedures.”

Norfleet v. Arkansas Dept. of Human Servs., 989 F.2d 289 (8th Cir. 1993)
Court denies qualified immunity to the Human Services Director and
caseworker involved because the state obligation to provide adequate medical
care, protection, and supervision with respect to children placed in foster
care was well established as of 1991.

Parkhurst v. Trapp, 77 F.3d 707 (3rd Cir. 1996)
The defendants attempt to avoid the imposition of summary judgment by
arguing that, even if their conduct violated the Fourth Amendment, qualified
immunity should shield them from liability. Qualified immunity is available
to state actors in Section 1983 suits if those actors reasonably believed
that their conduct was lawful. However, a good faith belief in the legality
of conduct is not sufficient. Held: No qualified immunity.

> Ram v. Rubin, 118 F.3d 1306 (9th Cir. 1997)
Holding “a parent has a constitutionally protected right to the care and
custody of his children and he cannot be summarily deprived of custody
without notice and a hearing except when the children are in imminent
danger.” No qualified immunity for social worker who removed child not in
imminent danger.

Rogers v. County of San Joaquin, 487 F.3d 1288 (9th Cir. 2007)
Court held: “the rights of families to be free from governmental
interference and arbitrary state action are also important. Thus, we must
balance, on the one hand, the need to protect children from abuse and
neglect and, on the other, the preservation of the essential privacy and
liberty interests that families are guaranteed under both the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments of our Constitution.” Section 1983 case reinforces
that removal of children from home by caseworker absent either a warrant or
exigent circumstances violates those rights, and therefore no qualified
immunity applies to caseworker.

<> Roska v. Peterson, 328
F.3d 1230, (10 Cir. 2003)
Holding no immunity for caseworkers who entered a home lacking either
exigency or a warrant, and finding constitutional protection in the right to
maintain a family relationship, Court held: “the law is now clearly
established that, absent probable cause and a warrant or exigent
circumstances, social workers may not enter an individual’s home for the
purpose of taking a child into protective custody.”

> Tennenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, (2d Cir. 1999)
“We affirm the judgment insofar as it holds that the medical examination
violated the Tenenbaums’ and Sarah’s procedural due-process rights and
Sarah’s Fourth Amendment rights and awards damages therefor. . . We
conclude, however, that there is a triable issue of fact as to whether the
defendants’ removal of Sarah from school was contrary to the procedural
requirements of the Due Process Clause and to Sarah’s right to be free from
unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment.” The Missouri Bar has an
informative  <>
Courts Bulletin describing the case.

<> Turner v. Houseman, Docket: 07-6108 (10th
Cir. 2008) (Unpublished)
“It was clearly established, at least two years before the events in
question, that absent probable cause and a warrant or exigent circumstances,
neither police nor social workers may enter a person’s home without a valid
consent, even for the purpose of taking a child into custody, much less to
conduct a search. It was also established that the warrantless seizure and
detention of a person without probable cause or exigent circumstances, as
alleged in Turner’s petition, is unreasonable.”

<> Wallis v.
Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2000)
“In cases of alleged child abuse, governmental failure to abide by
constitutional constraints may have deleterious long-term consequences for
the child and, indeed, for the entire family. Ill-considered and improper
governmental action may create significant injury where no problem of any
kind previously existed.”

<> Walsh v. Erie County
Dep’t of Job & Family Servs., 240 F. Supp. 2d 731, (N.D. Ohio 2003)
“Despite the Defendants’ exaggerated view of their powers, the Fourth
Amendment applies to them, as it does to all other officers and agents of
the state whose requests to enter, however benign or well-intentioned, are
met by a closed door. . . Any agency that expects to send its employees
routinely into private homes has a fundamental obligation to ensure that
those employees understand the constitutional limits on their authority.”

Weller v. Dept of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, (4th Cir. 1990)
“Substantive due process does not categorically bar the government from
altering parental custody rights.” What I find interesting about this case
is that it was brought pro se, and that he sued a lot more people than I am.

Whisman v. Rinehart, 119 F.3d 1303 (8th Cir. 1997)
Whismans filed this action against juvenile officers and social workers,
claiming they violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights of familial
association, denying plaintiffs due process of law. Defendants filed a
motion to dismiss, contending that plaintiffs’ claims were not actionable
under 42 U.S.C. ‘ 1983. Guess again!

Wooley v. City of Baton Rouge, 211 F.3d 913, (5th Cir. 2000)
Holding that a “childs right to family integrity is concomitant to that of a
parent. No qualified immunity for police officers who removed young child in
this section 1983 action.

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