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“THE MOST POSITIVE OUTCOME FOR THE CHILD”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 13, 2013) — Earlier today The Post & Email sent a list of questions to Los Angeles DCFS Public Affairs Director Armand Montiel, with whom we have had contact on several other occasions. Our questions and answers are presented as they were sent and received on Wednesday, with Mr. Montiel’s responses in blue typeface.
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?
Without commenting on or confirming whether any particular family is under our supervision, generally DCFS makes recommendations to the Court and the Court issues orders after considering DCFS recommendations and hearing arguments presented by the parent’s attorney, child’s attorney, and County Counsel (who represents DCFS).
Did the department meet with the parents in good faith? Why has the reunification plan been scrapped by the judge?
Without commenting on or confirming whether any particular family is under our supervision, Department social workers meet with parents in good faith to promote the most positive outcome for the child.
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?
Without commenting on or confirming whether any particular family is under our supervision, generally the hearing officer (such as a judge or commissioner) decides what statements are admissable according to the law.
Is there something else going on that does not meet the eye?
Without commenting on or confirming whether any particular family is under our supervision, generally speaking the basis for DCFS recommendations are clearly stated in the court report provided to the parties and their attorneys.
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?
Without commenting on or confirming whether any particular family is under our supervision, generally all Court orders are communicated effectively as they are documented with copies of the orders provided to the parties (such as parents) and their attorneys. DCFS complies with court orders.
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
Also on Wednesday, Jeffrey Henderson received a copy of a letter from his court-appointed attorney to the Edelman Children’s Court stating that required items were missing from the file pertaining to his youngest child, who was placed into foster care on August 31, 2012.
Mr. Henderson submitted the following observations regarding the letter:
I want to talk about why the two items the attorney mentioned in her pdf are important.
the first item, the title twenties are consent documents. in other words, because we never registered shopheth’s birth with the government (we register our children in the common law, birth announcement in the newspaper or certified copy of your family bible record), it is impossible for them to lawfully obtain a social security number for shopheth. you see, when you get the SSN then you are saying the baby is a servant under the reconstruction acts. to make it short, shopheth is not a US Citizen and therefore the corporate entity COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES has no jurisdiction. in other words they have no duty to protect a baby from abuse that is not within their jurisdiction. when you get into trouble with DCFS never let them in your home and never sign anything. once you consent jurisdiction is very difficult to fight. this argument is important because both times they kicked my door in and both times they took children that had no chance for title twenty funding.
the second item they failed to add to the court record is the 730 evaluation. we have been trying to get them to release the results for the 730 (crazy) evaluation for over a year! why are they hiding this evidence? I dont know, but it must be good. they have been telling me I dont have a right to see it. funny. looking at this letter from my appeal attorney, looks like I might have a right to see this evaluation since it affects my lawful relationship with my babies.
this letter is awesome news.