This is the detrimental situation that me and my children have been going through since June 29, 2007. I have trial scheduled for April 4, 2008, actually my case (6 months review) was on January 23, 2008, however, it has been continued to April. I am arguing the recommendation of the previous CSW who is really doing everything she can to keep my children in the system and away from me, even though she has admitted that "this situation has been very detrimental to my children especially my oldest (7 yrs. old) and she (CSW) is very aware of how much this has damaged my children". I wish I can attach the report she made for the court, you really have to see it to believe it! FYI Because of all the issues and complaints I've had with this Department, I will make this as short as possible, therefore, I will leave out a lot of other serious issues that me and my children have experienced with DCFS and the Children's Court.
My name is Elizabeth G, I am the mother of Emily M. (9/29/00), Nevaeh E. (10/25/03) and Abigail D. (5/20/05).
My complaint is the following:
My case with DCFS was opened on May 3, 2007. A CSW arrived at my home and informed me that a report had been made to the child abuse hotline by an annonymous caller who alleged that I was using ilegal drugs and abusing my children.
The Detention Hearing was held on May 16, 2007. The Referee ordered for my children to remain released and remain with me.
Mediation was on June 21, 2007. On that day the Mediator informed me that there were no allegations against me because they were "unfound", she also informed me of the "new" allegations that were "found" and "sustained" against John Lamotte. Mr. Lamotte is the father of Abigail (5/20/05). Mr. Lamotte and I had been separated since September of 2006 due to Domestic Violence (I was the victim) and I had a restraining ordered against him issued in April of 2007. Mr. Lamotte was to begin having monitored visits, to which he did not agree and decided to take it to trial. I was informed by the Mediator that the trial hearing was scheduled for July 2007, in addition, she told me that I did not have to be present because there were no allegations against me.
On June 22, 2007, another hearing was held but I don't know what happened on that day. "Court finds report was received from DCFS". (Jurisdiction/Disposition Report?)
On June 29, 2007, I was arrested for "possession of fraudulent documents" and my children were Physically Detained with no court order, and without informing me. My children were placed in a foster home without making any effort to contact their grandmothers.
On July 5, 2007, (Orig. Hearing: ADJ, Actual Hearing: ADJ, Petition File DT: 07/05/07) Changes were made including but not limited to 385 WIC Petition Hearing was held, First Amended Petition was Filed, Petition Filed on 05/16/07 was Dismissed, My children were ordered: Detained, and Children ordered detained in: Shelter Care. I was not served with a Notice of the Hearing, nor was my Removal Order from County Jail submitted. Therefore, I was not present at the Hearing. It should be noted that a couple of days later, I was informed of the hearing by one of the family members involved in the case. "The Court states that it has read and considered the DCFS report dated: 07/05/07". (Detention Report?)
The reports from DCFS "Jurisdiction/Disposition Report" (Children remained with me) dated 6/21/2007 and the "Detention Report" (Children had already been placed in a Foster Home) dated 07/05/07, state the complete opposite of one another. However, the Detention Report was all the evidence that the Referee had when she ordered for my children to be detained and placed in Shelter Care.
On July 10, 2007, my Removal Order from County Jail was submitted and I was present in Court for the Adjudication Hearing. I was not informed of any changes nor was I informed of the "new" allegations against me. The Referee did not read out the Petition to me, and "the Court found Good Cause to Continue the Adjudication to 7/18/07". "Mother and Fathers are ordered back to court on 7/18/07 without further Order, Notice or Subpoena. The Court did not Order for my Removal from County Jail and I was not present for the following Court Hearing.
On July 18, 2007, I was not present for the Hearing and neither was my Court appointed Attorney Dennis Smeal. I am not sure of what exactly happened on this day and I was not provided with a copy of the report from DCFS. It should be noted that Melanie Pellerin, Dependency Investigator CSWII, did not serve me with the Notice of the Hearing as stated and signed by her on the "Proof of Service" letter. (7/18/07 at 3:00pm, Personal Service).
On July 25, 2007, I was present for the Hearing and was informed by my Attorney that we were there for a trial hearing, however, he did not inform me of the changes in my case. After waiting for almost two hours, my Attorney approaches me and informs me that "Mr. Lamotte had decided that he did not want to take it to trial after all because he did not want to waste time" instead "he was willing to waive his rights to fight the allegations and just worry about getting the children out of the foster home". My Attorney "adviced" me that "it was the best thing for me to do as well, just sign and waive my rights and concentrate on getting the children returned to me". I took my Attorney's "Advice" and waived my rights. However, I did not find out until 2 months later that I had actually "admitted" to the allegations against me.
On August 15, 2007, my 4 year old child was separated from her sisters and placed with her father without my approval. I did not agree with this decision and was told by the CSW and my court-appointed attorney that I had "no say" to where my children should be placed. I later discovered that I should have been given the opportunity to come to an agreement through Mediation. I also discovered that I did have my Parental Rights. Please read Letter from Parole Officer of Joe Perez, who is the father of Nevaeh, this letter is attached to the "Addendum Report" and should be in the Court File. If your Honor would prefer for me to submit a copy of this report, I will do so immediately.
On December 26, 2007, I mailed (certified) a written request to the Referee to change my court appointed attorney because of "wrong advice" and I attached a copy of his "professional background" and a copy of my complaint form to the CA State Bar. About 2 weeks later I received a voicemail message from my Attorney telling me "I must have had a bad Christmas and that I shouldn't be writing letters like that to anyone".
The 6 months review Hearing was held on January 23, 2008. I did not agree with the Recommendation from DCFS and I decided to take it to trial. Trial was scheduled for March 14, 2008. I was the only parent who had completed the Parenting classes, I showed proof that I had been drug testing for two different labs, all my test results are Negative, I had proof that I am currently supporting my mother (relative caretaker) and my children and I was the only parent who had constant visits with my children when they were placed in the foster home.
On March 14, 2008, I was present in Court, however, Referee Truong was out sick on this day so the matter was continued to April 3, 2008.
At this point. I don't feel like anything that I have provided the Court has been taken into consideration. In addition, several court orders have not been followed by the other parents and/or DCFS and still the Court continues to consider DCFS reports and recommendations. I would also like to inform your Honor that the last two Reports from DCFS that have been submitted to the Court are inaccurate and state false information.
I was not informed, aware, nor given any information about the court hearings procedures, my rights, my children's rights and DCFS policy. I was given "false" and/or "wrong" information by all DCFS employees involved in my case.
My court appointed Attorney Dennis Smeal failed to inform me of the changes in my case and he has never provided me with any copies of reports, he has rejected every proof/evidence and/or witnesses that I have provided him with. He also made an "Agreement" with the court without informing me, as of this day he has not told me of the "Agreement" that he made without my authorization. To my understanding, the "Agreement" was that I would voluntarily attend a Out-Patient Drug Rehab Program, and Random Drug testing, I have complied with both orders, however, it should be noted that I have never been arrested for drugs in my life and I have been testing Negative since May of 2007.
For these reasons I have not been given the chance to proof my innocence and have my children returned to me, as I feel they should have never been detained from me to begin with.
In addition, I completed my Parenting Classes and obtained my certificate on January 21, 2008, I have been the only parent in the case who has been randomly drug testing for two different laboratories and all my test results have been Negative. In addition, not only have I attended Domestic Violence classes but I was also in trial prosecuting my abuser in the month of January 2008. I have been Financially supporting my Mother, Micaela Gomez, who is the relative caretaker and my children Emily Gomez and Abigail Lamotte since the day they were placed with my mother (10/04/07).
As of this day DCFS has not provided my children and my mother with any financial assistance, including but not limited to transportation money and clothing allowance, nor have they provided my mother with the correct information for her to receive assistance from DPSS. My children and my mother have been living in my apartment and I am allowed to be there all day, however, because I do not have overnight visits, I work (graveyard shift) and on my days off I stay with my sister, with my father or in my vehicle. DCFS has not provided me with any services to help me, including but not limited to transportation money, referrals, they do not keep in contact with the providers that are currently assisting me (Counselor, Therapist, Victim's Advocate, Family Preservation In-home counselor) and most recently they have not provided me with the information or referral for me to be drug tested weekly through their lab (Pacific Toxicology). I make sure that all of Emily and Abigail's Medical, Mental and Dental Health services are being provided to them. I am also informed and aware of everything in regards to my 4 year old daughter Nevaeh , who is currently placed with her father and resides in Chino, CA. I have a good relationship with Nevaeh's grandmother, Socorro Perez, and she is the one who keeps me informed of everything that is going on with my daughter
I am a single mother and I have raised my children on my own, I never physically abused them, I never failed to protect them and I never neglected them. I have a preponderance of evidence to support my statement.
Because of the separation, my children being placed in a foster home for almost 4 months and the separation of Nevaeh from her sisters, my children have (and currently still do) suffered severe emotional abuse as this situation has been very detrimental to them, in addition, my children were not provided with any mental health services nor with the appropriate medical health services they needed. From the day they were physically detained (6/29/07) my children have suffered in many ways including but not limited to, Emily was diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression and an Eating Disorder, "due to having a hard time separating from her mother" as stated by her therapist. The eating disorder has caused her to gain a lot weight, I took her to her regular Pediatrician and she was sent to Quest Diagnosis to be tested for Diabetes and High Cholesterol. She is now 7 yrs. old and weights 134lbs. I took it upon myself to enroll her in a Pediatric Weight Management Program. Emily was behind in school because of the following reasons: I had informed CSW that Emily's last day of first grade was on the day she was detained from me (Friday), she was going to repeat the year but I was able to help her catch up and she did. However, she was suppose to start second grade the following Monday. However, not only did she not go back to school the following Monday but she did not return to school until 2 months later.
When she was placed with my mother, I took Emily back to her school of origin, for the first 4 weeks Emily was not able to stay in school due to her Separation Anxiety. When she was finally able to stay in school without a problem, she had a lot of catching up to do (she was the only one in her classroom that did not know how to read). Emily attended intersession classes as well as Saturday classes which have helped her very much.
According to Socorro Perez, Nevaeh is going to pre-school and classes to help Nevaeh with her speech (to complete her sentences), she is also very involved in church. Since Nevaeh was about 3 months old, Mrs. Perez and I have had a good relationship. Mrs. Perez always tells me that Nevaeh really needs me and that hopefully I will get her back soon, she also tells me that Nevaeh constantly cries for me. Mrs. Perez is aware of how detrimental and traumatizing this situation has been for Nevaeh, as this is the first time since she was born that she is separated from me and her sisters. She also informed me that she reports to the CSW's that "Nevaeh really misses her sisters and her mom and she needs to be with them". Mrs. Perez has also witnessed how Nevaeh cries on the phone telling me that she wants to come home. Nevaeh's aunt Susan Perez(who resides in the same home as my daughter) is also a witness.
Abigail was diagnosed with Asthma when she was 3 months old, she was referred to a Lung Specialist, who ordered for her to be tested for 3 different illnesses, one of them being Cystic Fibrosis. Abigail was placed on 2 different medications (total of 5 times a day). On her last visit with the lung specialist (2006) the doctor redused the medication to "as needed". I reported to the CSW about Abigail's asthma because when Abigail was detained, her Nebulizer and medication were left behind. However, the CSW did not consider it important so I took it upon myself to meet with the foster parent and give her the machine and medication. In addition, during one of our monitored visits, I noticed Abigail was wheezing and immediately ended our visit and asked the foster parent to take her home and place her on the Nebulizer, and kept constantly "checking" on my daughter over the phone. I reported this to the CSW as well but was not taken seriously (I have a message left on my voicemail by the CSW as evidence). On January 2008, I took Abigail to her regular Pediatrician, she was once again placed on 2 different medications (total of 5 times a day) and she was 4 immunization shots behind.
On March 19, 2008, Emily's Mental Health Services (Therapy) were terminated due to the failure of DCFS to provide the Clinic with the proper document stating who has custody of my children. As the Case-Manager in charge of Emily's therapy case was verbally informed by the CSW that I did not have Medical Rights and no information can be provided to me, for this reason I was not allowed to sign my daughter's treatment plan which resulted in her services being terminated.
Currently my children are living in my home (our home) with my mother. I am with them all day and I leave in the evening. I pay for the Rent, bills, food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, etc.
I have proof/evidence and witnesses to support this statement. In addition, I have been a client of Family Preservation since 12/05/07.
During these past 2 weeks I have had 4 different CSW'S assigned to my case and I was never informed about the changes. I do not know why I was assigned to a new CSW to begin with, it should be noted that I was informed by Family Preservation that my CSW and SCSW had been changed.
I can provide supporting evidence, proof and/or witnesses that I have available.
Los Angeles, California