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by Sharon Rondeau

Mrs. Henderson and children prior to the birth of her last baby in July, who was taken from her on August 31 during an unsupervised visit with the other children

(Sep. 30, 2012) — The Post & Email has learned that Erica Henderson, the Los Angeles mother who is fighting to regain custody of her seven children, is enjoying a visit, albeit with a “monitor” present, with all of her children today.

Visits had been unmonitored for some time until after a court hearing at which both Mrs. Henderson and her husband, Jeffrey, were ordered out of the courtroom by Judge Marguerite Downing after they informed her that they wished to represent themselves in the matter of the removal of their five-week-old baby from their home on August 31 while the other children were present.

Late last week, The Post & Email received an email from Mrs. Henderson via a private Facebook support group stating that one of her sons had been seriously injured while in foster care and the injury not reported to her.  She stated that her husband was told by means of a handwritten note at his visitation with two of the children.  Because the foster mother’s main language is Spanish, a communication barrier exists, and Mrs. Henderson was able to understand only that her son had reportedly “been dancing” when the injury occurred.  At that time, she discovered that her son was enrolled in some type of school.  “I didn’t even know he went to school,” Mrs. Henderson said.

After receiving the news of the child’s injury, The Post & Email contacted Mr. Armand Montiel, Public Affairs Director for the L.A. County Department of Child and Family Services, by email.  In an interview with Montiel on September 21, he stated that the agency’s goal is to reunify parents and children whenever it is “safe” to do so.

On September 28, Montiel responded:

Thank you for sharing this, Ms. Rondeau.  You are correct, I can neither confirm nor deny whether this family is receiving our services, but we always want to receive reports of inappropriate or insufficient services in our foster homes.
I will ensure that the concerns are closely reviewed.
Armand Montiel
Public Affairs Director
Department of Children and Family Services
425 Shatto Place, Room 600
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone: (213) 351-5779
Fax: (213) 738-9257

We then sent Montiel a second email concerning a serious allegation regarding one of the children in foster care, to which Montiel responded by stating that he believed the scenario to be unlikely but requesting the name of the child.  We expect to be speaking about the matter with Mrs. Henderson later today following her visitation with her children, which is six hours in length.

It is our understanding that unsupervised visits were occurring twice weekly for six hours each but have recently been reduced to once weekly without an explanation.  The children are reportedly listed as “adoptable” by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services against the wishes of the parents.  On Thursday, a hearing regarding the case of the infant took place with at least one eyewitness present, and the case ordered “continued” for another month.  The hearing had originally been scheduled for Tuesday, which was Yom Kippur, but when the parents viewed the court roster that day, their case did not appear on it.  It was then scheduled for Thursday.  The Hendersons have reported frequent irregularities with the scheduling of hearings and failure of the court to properly notify them of hearings regarding their children.

The baby and one of his siblings are reportedly being cared for by a foster mother “with a heart.”

The Hendersons were home-schooling their two eldest children when they were placed into foster homes after the parents were jailed on criminal charges.  After spending two and one-half months in jail each, the parents were acquitted of the charges but have not been able to regain custody of the children.  Numerous cases of prosecution of home-schooling parents have been reported in California and other states in recent years.  Laws regarding homeschooling in California are here.  The California Homeschool Network claims that “There is no history of case law decisions to substantiate claims that private homeschooling is illegal.”  However, an appeals court ruling in 2008 was hailed by the teachers’ union after the judge wrote, “A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.”

Additional support for California homeschooling parents is here.

Mr. Henderson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from University of La Verne in La Verne, CA, and Mrs. Henderson attended some college.

Recent DCFS statistics show that a total of 18,625 California children are in some type of foster home.

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  1. I’ve been following this story, and it looks like Mr. Montiel is just another government bureaucrat – doing nothing but collecting a paycheck.