Well, they’ve finally done it.
We’ve been watching for it all along, hoping against hope that the System would prove us wrong and somehow behave itself. But we kept watching, because we know what the System is made of.
Sure enough, it finally happened.
“Today in dependency court madness, LA County Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS) recommended that the court remove my client’s child from their physical custody after the parent tested positive for COVID-19. This is a non-offending parent. The judge ruled in favor of DCFS and detained.” (emphasis added)
So says a Los Angeles-area attorney in a post on Facebook last week. (We have not yet been able to confirm the case, but the lawyer’s account remains live on Facebook.)
He continues, “Let that sink in . . . DCFS is asking for children to [be] removed from their parents’ custody due to COVID-19 despite the parent making the appropriate arrangements for their child.” (emphasis added)
To be clear, right now we are talking about one child in one courtroom. The family, who we understand are working on filing a writ of habeas corpus to have their child returned, hasn’t had time yet to finish that writ, let alone file for a full appeal.
However, once there is one rotten ruling, it becomes easier for others to follow.
Some of you have been sounding alarms ever since reports came out that child welfare forms were changed to indicate COVID-19 was present in the home at the time of the child’s removal.
Our analysis at the time was, and remains, that the change in the form was not intended to make COVID-19 an excuse for separating families. It was intended as a means to warn a potential foster family or group home that an in-coming child has been exposed to the virus.
But, like so many of you, we also saw the potential for danger, and we have kept our ear to the ground. Sure enough, now an LA County judge has taken the plunge down the rabbit hole.
To state the matter plainly, the government has no authority to remove a child from their private home simply because the child or a parent has contracted COVID-19. This is especially true if, as indicated by this family’s lawyer, the parents have made appropriate arrangements to see to it the child can be taken care of somewhere away from the infected parent.
In such instances, there is absolutely no need for the court to even be involved.
This is not—this will not be—the new normal. Under no circumstances will we stand by while innocent families suffer the humiliating and life-shattering trauma of unnecessary, unconstitutional, unconscionable separation.
We are working to know more about this situation, and we will certainly stay vigilant in watching for more instances, and for tracking what happens in this case.
Thank you for joining us in this fight. Standing together, we will make sure this does not become “the new normal.” Families have a right to be together; let’s make sure that right is protected.
Note (June 18): Today we added to this page a link to the Facebook post so you can see for yourselves. As mentioned earlier, we have not yet been able to verify this beyond Facebook. But there are two additional points to consider regarding its reliability:
First, there is an attorney database by which attorneys can look each other up. We checked that database and verified that the original Facebook author, who claims to be an L.A.-area attorney, is in fact an L.A.-area attorney. This alone adds a lot of credibility.
Second, multiple other attorneys have weighed in among the comments on his post, saying they’re facing similar challenges. Now that you can access that through the link above, you’ll be able to see some of those comments for yourself.