Saturday, April 19, 2008

UPDATED APRIL 20: It keeps getting worse

Texas CPS now plans to tear from their mothers even the youngest children - infants and toddlers - removed from the YFZ compound, after DNA tests are completed.

Even the star witness for Texas CPS didn’t want this.

That would be Dr. Bruce Perry, who is held in high esteem by the Texas press corps. As reported by ABC News on the network’s website:

Perry also said that the youngest children are probably least at risk if returned to parents in the short term because they are not as likely to be influenced by FLDS unhealthy beliefs at such a young age. He added that he thought it would be OK for young mothers to continue to stay with their babies until a more long-term decision is made.

No news account has explained why Texas CPS is doing this to the children. When they separated the older children they claimed it was because that would make it easier to make those older children talk, so they could find out what "really" happened. So now what? Are they expecting the infants to talk if they’re separated from their mothers, too?

CPS also made one exception. The agency says the young children can stay with their mothers – if the mothers are under age 18. What harm, exactly, would an 18-year-old mother do to a young child, if she got to stay with that child, that a 17-year-old would not?

The younger the child the greater the likely emotional trauma of separation from their mothers. And the younger the child the more slowly they perceive the passage of time. In other words, for a very young child, the anguish of being apart from their mothers is magnified by the fact that time seems to pass so much more slowly.

And then there's the risk of abuse whenever a large group of vulnerable children is left in the care of strangers.

You may be sure, however, that CPS will issue bland, boilerplate statements about how the children are "doing well" - even as they either bar the media from seeing for themselves entirely or prevent them from talking to anyone unless a CPS minder is hovering over the reporter's shoulder.

But wait, it gets worse: According to one news account, when these children, including the infants and toddlers, are placed in foster care, they won’t even be with families. They’re going to be institutionalized – in other words, shipped off to group homes and orphanages. Institutionalization is, by far, the worst form of care for children and, again, the younger the child, the greater the damage.

But I can imagine the excuse for this one as well: The children were in a large compound before, so CPS will claim it’s better for the children to be institutionalized now. (That’s not the real reason. The real reason almost certainly is that, with needless removals of children having soared in Texas over the past several years, CPS has no place else to put the children).

In any event, the excuse doesn’t hold up. The compound the children used to be in was, in fact, a collection of homes, where the children were with people they considered family. They are being moved to places in which total strangers, sometimes working in shifts, dispense indiscriminate pseudo-love to anyone who walks in the door. And that’s the best-case scenario. For worst case, see the report issued by the former Texas State Comptroller about some of the institutions Texas routinely relies on for warehousing children.

I hope CPS is simply clueless about child development and the enormous trauma they are inflicting needlessly on these children by keeping them away from their mothers. Because any other explanation would be even worse.


--Susan Hays, the law guardian who seems to have emerged as some kind of spokeswoman for the various law guardians assigned to the children in this case, has been making some disturbing comments, even when those comments seemingly favor reunification. Among other things, she's quoted in the Deseret News as expressing some admiration for what she saw at the YFZ Ranch. Said Hays: "These people can build houses. It's an amazing facility, amazing construction. These aren't poor kids living in trailers."

And therefore what? If children are poor and live in trailers, and don't live in homes that can dazzle a law guardian their parents must love them less so it's OK to take them away? Is a father who is too poor to live in more than a trailer less fit than a father who, if the allegations are true, may have forced a 14-year-old to have sex with him?

--Has anybody, besides assorted lawyers, been to the "compound" where the children are being warehoused now? What are the conditions like? How are the children coping with being institutionalized - in many cases, separated from everyone they know and love? And now that the children have spent all this time in an isolated compound, in absolute secrecy, at risk of abuse, barred from contact with the outside world - by an organization which essentially makes up its own rules as it goes along - it's worth remembering: That's what CPS said they were protecting the children from in the first place.