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December, 2005

(Arizona legislative committee hearing)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Senators and Representatives:

My name is Suzanne Shell and I am here in my capacity as the director of American

Family Advocacy Center. AFAC provides education about legal, administrative and, yes, even
moral issues associated with child protection practices. The information and strategies
disseminated by AFAC represents the accumulation of fourteen years of qualitative research into
the laws, policies, customs and practices of child protection agencies nationwide. I am also the
author of 3 books relating to child welfare issues.
American Family Advocacy Center was founded on the principle that Family Association
is a Fundamental Human Right. It should not be necessary to make such a statement in
America. Indeed, our founding fathers found this principle to be so elemental that was not
enumerated in our Bill of Rights. They never conceived that government would ever consider it
appropriate to separate children from their parents and extended families. Today, the
inconceivable happens as a matter of routine. Under the guise of protecting children, the
government is engaged in the systematic redistribution of our children for political purposes.
Yes, I said political purposes. In evidence of this statement, you only need to follow the money.
You’ve been hearing many accounts by aggrieved families. I’ve heard thousands upon
thousands of similar stories. When we put all those accounts together, we come up with the big
picture, the real-life outcomes of CPS interventions.
CPS will brag about their positive outcomes and completely discount the negative
outcomes of protecting children. They will cite their statistics and publicize how many children
they saved from severe abuse and neglect. But nobody can reliably predict what children were
actually saved from certain harm. This will remain a great unknown. We can, however,
accurately ascertain the degree of harm perpetrated upon these children who are being protected
by CPS. This is just one example of the unreliability of the CPS propaganda machine.
Regardless of how many experts will testify to the beneficence of intervention, the fact
remains that nobody who derives their livelihood from this multibillion dollar industry will give
any credence to the quoted damage the beneficiaries of their well-intentioned meddling actually
experience. When David Berns1 was Director of my county Department of Human Services, his
response was typical of the experts posture regarding criticism of CPS. He turned a deaf ear to
the complaints of clients served by his agency. They were disgruntled parents who were
unhappy because the cases didn’t go their way. Their leaders were anti-government radicals who
“didn’t know what they were talking about.” This body is to be commended for genuinely
considering the politically incorrect side of the story, for this is the only way the secrecy of CPS
can be exposed to public scrutiny.
The first reality outcome is that every removal of a child from his parents causes severe
emotional trauma to that child. This trauma is manifest in an infinite number of ways, but in the
overwhelming majority of the cases, CPS will say the child is acting out due to the alleged abuse
suffered at home. Parents report that the behaviors exhibited by the child in foster care never
occurred at home. CPS will bury that important information, and deny that the removal has
harmed the child to the degree reality demands they admit. Most parents will state they can
endure the trauma they themselves suffer, but they can’t bear what is happening to their children.
CPS will cite as their success, the number of children reunified with their parents. They
are in abject denial of the reality outcome that the children who are reunified with their parents
are never the same children who were seized from the family home. These children have been
irrevocably damaged - emotionally, mentally and even physically in foster care. These parents are
left to cope with the children’s traumas and disabilities without any help. They have the very real
fear that if they seek help, they will be blamed for the problems and lose their children again.
CPS cites the remaining children who have achieved that nebulous holy grail of
permanency. Permanency has become the mantra of the child protection industry. Never mind the
nature or quality of that permanency. Never mind the innate needs of the children to their
identity, their family history and culture, their family. Just as a puppy is adopted by the first
person to express an interest, so are our legal orphans doled out to their legally constructed
artificial families, complete with a benefits package that includes adoption subsidies and health
care. Never mind the reality outcome that this child was made a legal orphan based on falsified
records, incompetent or inappropriate services and a complete lack of any indication that the

At this time director of Arizona Department of Economic Security - which included
parents ever even harmed the child. Never mind that frequently, if the child’s parents could have
availed themselves of the resources available to foster and adoptive care givers, they could have
prevented losing their child.
CPS will deny that foster care is not superior care. They have a vested financial interest in
under-reporting abuse in foster and institutional care. They cannot create liability for themselves
by admitting that a child was harmed under their watch. I can cite as an example of a case under
Berns watch in my county, where a ten year old girl was raped in foster care and the agency
obtained therapy for her to brainwash her to believe that she wasn’t raped. The rapist was
allowed to leave the country. Here in Arizona, a ten year old boy was removed from his parents
for risk of abuse and forced to perform oral sex on a fifteen year old foster child while the foster
care giver was in the home. Where is the logic in removing a child who has never been harmed
and placing him in an environment where studies have consistently proven that a child is ten to
thirty-five times more likely to be abused? Studies over the past fifteen years have arrived at the
same conclusion; foster care is NOT superior care and should only be the choice of last resort.
Why then is foster care the first choice of CPS agencies? We have all been treated to the
propaganda that it is to protect the child. That propaganda has already been refuted. What truly
drives any government bureaucracy? If we are to be honest, we must follow the money - the
Federal money for child welfare. Who gets it? How much do they get? What are the conditions
for receiving it?
Let’s start with who gets it. Certainly CPS gets a huge portion. The courts get a
significant amount. But a lot of is doled out to any one of the twenty-five or more service
providers who derive their livelihood from removing children from family homes. Nobody is
going to chop the head off the goose that lays the golden egg. They lobby hard for more laws,
more money and more power using fear and propaganda. And they often get it.
How much do they get? Under title IV B and IV E of the Social Security Act, child
protection is a multi-billion dollar industry in and of itself. But there’s more. Title IV D comes
into play with child support. Title XX for social services. Title XIX for medicare. For children in
foster care Then let’s add on using these dollars to obtain matching grants from other programs.
The more children in foster care, the more money and matching grants the state can receive Our
children are the sole commodity which drives this industry.
Under the Adoption and Safe Families Act, CAPTA and other federal child welfare
legislation, congress as attached financial incentives to facilitate the redistribution of our children
from their family homes into state-approved homes. There are billions of dollars available for
out-of-home placement versus a mere few million to keep children safely in their family homes.
The state has virtually designated biological parents as nothing more than breeders for the state,
often, for no greater offense than poverty. To our enduring shame, we have created a multibillion
dollar industry on the backs of our babies. History will not remember this offense kindly.

In 1974, 4 - 5 children a day were dying of child abuse nationwide. It was a national
tragedy. CAPTA was supposed to prevent that. 30 years of increasingly appalling Federal
legislation was supposed to plug up the holes in CAPTA. Result, in 1997, 4 - 5 children a day
were still dying of child abuse. The only difference was that half of them were dying in foster
care. Over 40% of institutionalized persons in this country are former foster children. There are
families who are now experiencing the fourth consecutive generation of their children being
raised in foster care. If these outcomes aren’t an indictment proving the inability of the state to
raise children effectively, I don’t know what is. There is only on inescapable conclusion, ladies
and gentlemen. The great child protection experiment has failed.
During the CAPTA debates in 1974, legislators expressed great concern about the
potential for abuse of the various provisions being considered. Thirty years later, we see current
practices far exceeding the worst predictions.
Federal legislation is ultimately responsible for the atrocities families are experiencing at
the hands of CPS. Why? Because state legislatures must enact specific state legislation as a
condition of receiving their piece of the more than ten billion dollar Federal child welfare pie.

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