Commentary by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
Connie Reguli is one of the most prominent legal voices in the family rights movement. The Tennessee attorney is recognized for her tenacity in fighting for families whose children have been unjustly taken from them by Child Protective Services. She has represented several Tennessee Medical Kidnap families, including the Turner family, Whitney Manning‘s family, and Matthew Marble.
Besides litigating cases involving family members seized by Child and Adult Protective Services, Connie travels around the country educating parents and activists on how to fight back when overzealous agencies seize their children. Her grassroots Family Forward Project Facebook group has over 11,000 members.
Connie Reguli was recently part of a team of activists and professionals who gathered in Washington DC on September 11, 2018, to participate in an Educational Panel put together by 4 the Children USA. The event was live-streamed to hundreds of thousands of viewers, including District Attorneys’ offices from several states according to event founder Robert Slaven.
Connie Reguli was inspired to speak from the heart in the event, after passing out copies of her original speech to the audience. Connie has graciously given permission for Health Impact News to publish the written speech in its entirety.
She addresses the financial incentives for states to take children from their families, made possible by federal legislation. The Family First Act was passed as a part of President Trump’s Omnibus Budget Act in February 2018 and is set to go into effect on October 1. Connie explains important issues that still must be addressed legislatively.
In her oral speech, she explains some of the difficulties that parents face when they go to family court, which is very different from criminal court. After equipping parents with vital information, she turns to advocates, discussing how to advocate effectively, pointing out areas that need to brought to the attention of legislators.
Here is the speech she gave at the event, followed by her written speech:
September 2018 – Operational Review Family First Preservation and Services Act in February 2018 (FFPSA) Adoption and Safe Families Act 1997 (ASFA)
by Connie Reguli
Our country is collapsing in on itself, in part because of the loss of family integrity and our inability to provide for child safety. The forty-year social experiment initiated by the Mondale Act [the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)] in 1974 has failed.
The layers of legislation cast on the American public in the name of the best interest of the child and promoted with the belief that every family needs a government (i.e. It Takes a Village) has backfired.
Family integrity is imploding at the hands of an overzealous government that chose to financially incentivize removing children from their less than perfect homes and placing them into the homes of strangers paid by federal and state tax dollars.
The aggressive legislation surrounding Title IV E and the Adoption and Safe Families Act has evolved into a government sanctioned social engineering project that has broken family ties.
The biological ties that are protected under the Fourteenth Amendment are forever broken with the swipe of a pen by a judge in a courtroom in a merciless act called “termination” of parental rights. It is nothing less than generational genocide.
The Ease with which Government Takes Children From Families
It is hard to imagine in a sophisticated first-world country like the United States that the government officials could walk into your child’s public school, have them removed from their classroom, interviewed by government officials in private (without your knowledge), remove your child from the school, and place them in the home of a stranger all without your knowledge. The reason you ask, maybe you don’t feed your child enough, maybe they missed a few days from school, maybe someone just lied and said you were a drug dealer, and your child could not answer the right questions to exonerate you.
It is hard to imagine in a sophisticated first-world country that a new born baby could be stripped from his mother’s arms in a hospital because the Mother had one positive test for opiates during pregnancy, even though there was no showing of drugs in the Mother or the child at birth and there is no other evidence of child abuse or neglect.
It is hard to imagine in a sophisticated first-world country that a child could be locked in a hospital with a rare and untreated disease and separated from her entire family simply because her parents wanted to take her for a second medical opinion.
This is the state of our nation and the child welfare system in the United States.
It was shameful in the 1980s when state agencies could not keep track of children placed in state-operated foster homes and children lingered for years with no family and no finality. Several states were faced with class action lawsuits that placed the states under long term consent decrees.
Multi-Billion Dollar, For-Profit Industry
The privatization of government functions, i.e. the military and the prison system, soon expanded to foster care and child welfare.
Children removed from their parents are the commodity in this for-profit, $18 billion foster care industry.
In a blink of an eye, the states were swept with foster care private contractors, and the state all but relinquished direct state foster care programs. Now the Title IV E funds, intended to protect children, necessitate that the state maintain a quota of children under government control to satisfy their contractual relationships.
It was the perfect storm for a new provision in law to erupt.
Brilliant legislators in the Clinton era designed and passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997. The goal was to provide permanency for children.
To do so, the federal government decided that a financial incentive program to the states and the foster-to-adopt parents would move children out of the foster care system into permanent placement.
The states were provided a $6,000 bonus check for each child adopted to strangers. The foster parents who adopted were provided bonuses for clothing, tax incentives, and a monthly stipend on the children for the remainder of their minority. This was 1997.
Today, twenty years later, this financial program drives child welfare agencies to aggressively remove children from homes, place them into the homes of strangers, and adopt them out, changing their lives forever.
Robbing children of their heritage. Refusing to reunify the children with parents. Refusing to place the children with relatives.
The entitlement program under ASFA now exceeds the foster care maintenance programs. When you rob a child of their heritage, you have changed them forever.
Crimes Against Humanity
America has a dismal history of crimes against humanity and causing generational destruction.
Slave children were ripped from their families from the beginning of our nation until the civil war; children were picked up off the streets of New York and placed on trains to the Midwest where they were randomly taken in by strangers from 1850 to 1910; indigenous children were removed from their tribal homes and forced into the east coast boarding schools for fifty years; and children were stripped from unwed mothers at birth until 1950.
Persons considered “imbeciles” were subject to involuntary sterilization.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in his 1927 opinion that these persons should not be allowed to sap the resources of society and the sterilization of an imbecile person was no greater a sacrifice for society than compelling a vaccine.
As an attorney working in criminal law and family courts for 24 years, I can tell you that parents have fewer rights than criminals.
Parents and children are denied due process, they are subjected to secret courts, non-disclosed reports, massive attack by government social workers, and loss of the constitutionally-protected right to parent.
Children are stripped of their freedom to associate with their family members and family integrity protected under the 14th Amendment.
Government Funding Puts a Price on Children’s Heads
The state agencies operate with conflicting roles and financially incentivized motives. Every state agency was created under the public policy of providing services to families, providing safety for children, and reunifying families.
In addition, they serve to prosecute parents and sever their parental rights.
The funding is directed at foster care and rehoming children. There can be no argument that there is a price tag on the head of every child entering the child welfare system.
The system has become so intent on creating cash flow on children through forced adoption that the agencies focus on “adoptable children,” and those in need of rescue from drug ridden homes or long-term abuse are overlooked as children too damaged for adoption.
You see, this system has been in place long enough now that they know that the “damaged” children cause too great a strain on the system. They require too many services; the parents are ill-equipped to deal with children with a history of trauma; and many end up back in state’s care.
New Law: “Families First”
We now have the Families First Prevention and Services Act of 2018 which passed in the budget omnibus bill. Most legislators probably do not even know what is in it.
I have read it. It was intended to redirect funds from the federal government away from foster care and into programs to prevent removal from a family.
Here is the first problem. Number one, it is optional for the States. Legislators in Washington D.C. cannot be so blind to not understand that the private foster care industry will oppose any paradigm shift on how we handle reports of abuse and neglect.
There are after all, 114 registered lobbyists in D.C. for “foster care.”
Not only do they contract to provide foster care, they are now contracting to provide the “services” for family reunification. This is a serious and intolerable conflict of interest.
Why would you seek to restore a family and return a child to his home, when it means you lose a stable monthly income while the child is in foster care?
The private agencies then contract with mental health contractors who provide substandard care and always report that the family is “not ready” for reunification for any number of reasons.
Not only is FFPSA optional, it provides little incentive to shift the focus to family stability. If you do not think that family stability is important in tackling a variety of other social issues, like substance abuse, poverty, and substandard education, you are wearing blinders.
Family stability has been the backbone of our Christian nation for years. Since the sixties, divorces, unwed mothers, teenage pregnancies, and opioid addiction have skyrocketed. If one were to truly assess the underlying factors in these crises, surely family disintegration would be at the top.
The current Achilles heel of the FFPSA is the continuation of ASFA, the Adoption and Safe Families Act. So long as the states can realize a bonus check for every child adopted through the forced-adoption agenda of the child welfare agencies, prevention services will be met with opposition. The bonus checks must stop NOW.
“Help” from the Predator no Help at All
The conflicts of interest in the agencies and with the state contractor must be prohibited. This will require restructuring the state agencies so that the prosecution of parents remains separate from the agency seeking to rehabilitate families. This is not unlike other government functions.
I served as a District Attorney in my legal career and we always served an antagonistic function to the public defender. We must separate the agencies such that the families can realize a real sense of support.
Now the parents shudder in dealing with the agency because at every stage of the case, they know that the same agency is gathering evidence against them. The same social worker who comes to their home to inspect for safety reasons is likely to be the person who gets on the stand and testifies that the laundry was not done and the home was cluttered, preventing the return of their children.
We must prohibit conflicts with the contractors.
Those providing foster care cannot be providing reunification services. There must be antagonism before there can be balance.
We must provide a forum for public comments and feedback on how the agency is doing.
Currently, the public does not participate in any of the reporting functions on the efficiency, competence, and goal achievement of the state workers.
So long as the state agencies are allowed to be their own oversight, the truth will be never be exposed. Although some states provided for the establishment of oversight committees in their formation, none of the states have maintained a true public liaison.
Anonymous reporting must be eliminated.
Sadly, parents are sometimes attacked by spiteful neighbors, ex-spouses, or other ill-intended persons.
Vexatious reports to CPS face no consequences, as opposed to penalties for filing false police reports.
A parent must have the ability to challenge the source of false reports of child abuse.
Finally, FFPSA must be mandatory.
The states must be required to engage in the 12-month program to prevent removal of children where there is no threat of immediate harm and no evidence of abuse. Children are currently removed from their families on mere allegations from anonymous referrals.
We thank you for having a listening ear and look forward to your continued attention on this social welfare crises.
Please follow up with us:
Family Forward Foundation
Find us on Facebook: Family Forward Project.
Family Forward Foundation
1646 Westgate Circle
Brentwood, TN 37027
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