Do DCFS and the Judges Talk? pb


by Sharon Rondeau

Jeffrey and Erica Henderson have been attempting to regain custody of their children for more than two years after they were falsely arrested and jailed in May 2010.  Visits were ordered unmonitored but are now reverted to monitored by Judge Marguerite Downing.  Monitors may or may not be available for the scheduled visit today.

(Mar. 13, 2013) — The following communication was sent to Mr. Armand Montiel, Public Affairs Director of DCFS in Los Angeles following a reversal of DCFS’s recommendations by Judge Marguerite Downing:

Hello, Mr. Montiel, I have several questions which have arisen from my coverage of the Henderson case, on which I have been reporting for the last six months.

On Tuesday, March 4, the Henderson parents attended a TDM meeting at the request of DCFS to discuss liberalized visitation and reunification, which has never been tried with this family.  They were told that “no attorneys were allowed” but brought an eyewitness with them who was not an attorney.

During the meeting, the Hendersons were told that the department wanted to take steps toward reunification and that visits with their seven children would be unmonitored beginning with Wednesday’s visit.  Mrs. Henderson said she “took copious notes” as to what was discussed.

On Friday, the final session of a contested hearing took place with Judge Marguerite Downing presiding, during which Downing expressed doubt that DCFS would ever have proposed unmonitored visits and reunification of the family.  Consequently, while there were two unmonitored visits (Wednesday and Sunday), the social worker, Godwin Milner, told Mrs. Henderson yesterday that the visits had been reverted to monitored.

Can the recommendations of DCFS therefore be overridden by a judge at any time?  What justification must exist for a judge to do so?

Did the department meet with the parents in good faith?  Why has the reunification plan been scrapped by the judge?

Also, and perhaps this is the most important thing, during the court hearing, a DCFS attorney contradicted the Hendersons’ and their eyewitness’s accounts of the TDM meeting, stating that unmonitored visits and family reunification were not discussed at the TDM meeting.  However, the attorney did not attend the meeting.  How can such a statement be taken into evidence by someone who was not there?

Is there something else going on that does not meet the eye?

There was an unidentified person at the TDM meeting whose name and function within the department the parents would like to know.  They have not received a written case plan or synopsis of the TDM meeting as of this writing.

The Hendersons have told me that Jeffrey was advised that he could move into the home where Mrs. Henderson is living in anticipation of family reunification.  However, after Downing learned of that, she contradicted it and even suggested that the parents separate permanently so that the children might be returned to Mrs. Henderson alone.  Mrs. Henderson’s attorney reportedly agreed with her on the phone yesterday that the terms of visitation and reunification have been altered from that which was discussed in the courtroom on Friday.

Why are DCFS and the judge not communicating effectively?

I have written to Judge Michael Nash also to obtain answers to some of these questions.

Thank you very much.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT  06076

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