NC Gets Tough on Parental Reunification Laws

We, Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, are sad to report that yet another child has died due to corruption within the organizations that are meant to protect them. On Oct.25, 2015, a woman named Samantha Nacole Bryant lost custody of her toddler son, Rylan Ott, after she and her boyfriend were in a drunken fist-fight in her Carthage-area home. This fight involved both alcohol and guns, so the system stepped in to protect the boy, but unfortunately for Rylan, they did not do nearly enough to ensure his continuing safety. Both Rylan and his sister were placed in temporary custody, only to eventually be returned to a mother who remained unfit to parent.


Rylan’s Story

In Moore County in April of 2016, a child who drowned after he was returned to his mother’s custody. Rylan, who was just 23 months old when he died, was able to slip out from his house and wander a half-mile to this pond. He was reunited with his mother without any prior observation by child protection agencies, so there was no attempt to make sure she was fit to parent or that her parenting skills had improved since he was initially removed from her care. He had only been in her care for four months when tragedy struck.


The DSS Response

A caseworker claimed in her report that Rylan’s mother visited the child while he was in care three times a week, but his guardians say this is not true. Rylan’s Guardian Ad Litem, Pam Reed, and the boy’s kinship parents, Shane and Amanda Mills, had attempted to argue in court that Samantha Bryant was still an unfit mother, and they were proven correct too late. His mother is now being charged with child abuse and involuntary manslaughter, but the caseworker who was involved has not been penalized or charged with any wrongdoing. His case has undergone a second investigation, but the results of this are not public. The Moore County DSS director resigned as a result of this case.


Rylan’s Law

As a response to Rylan’s senseless death, Rylan’s Law was enacted. This bill requires social workers to document and observe two successful visits between children who are in state care and the parents they were removed from before they can be reunited. Until this law was passed, this was considered to be a “best practice,” for obvious reasons, but why it was not a requirement is less clear. This law is intended to close this loophole in an effort to strengthen this broken system, and it will help other children to be spared from Rylan’s fate in the future. We are Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, and we won’t stop fighting to protect families and children until this corruption has been stopped.

Cracks in Canada’s Foster Care System

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but that isn’t necessarily true when you are talking about the child protective system of our neighbors to the north—Canada. We are Robert Raskin and Kathey Raskin, and the sad fact is, the US isn’t the only country that needs to overhaul its child protection agencies. While most of Europe and Australia take a “family welfare” approach to child protection that is geared toward reuniting families, Canada instead focuses on the welfare of the child, so they are quick to remove children and put them into care.


One Baby’s Story

For one Canadian baby who was born with opiates in his system, Canada’s system resulted in the child being placed in a foster care home for two years as the court case experienced delay after delay. The parents had many chances to turn their lives around to regain custody, but their issues were too deeply entrenched, leaving the baby to become very securely attached to its foster parents as the case dragged on. The child already is at risk for learning disabilities and behavioral disorders thanks to his opiate addiction, and now, thanks to the system tying him up in legal limbo, he risks attachment disorders as well.


Lasting Effects

In Ontario, children under six years old are not permitted to be in foster care for more than twelve months, and there is a very good reason for this. When a child this young is put in foster care, they may not have any memories of their biological family, which means the foster parents effectively become the only parents they have ever known. When they are ripped away from their foster parents, the negative effects can be lasting, and these include both attachment disorders such as attachment anxiety, regression, and undermining the child’s sense of security and ability to form bonds with others.


How Common is This Issue?

In 2011, there were at least 30,000 children in foster care in Canada. The majority of these children will have court hearings at some point to determine whether or not they will be returned to their parents or be placed for adoption. In some jurisdictions, cases like these are resolved in a week’s time, while in others cases can average 20 weeks. There have been 132 cases in the system for more than two year. If you ask us, Robert Raskin and Kathey Raskin, this is far too long when you consider the risk to the child and how much is at stake when it comes to the child’s future relationships.

Los Angeles Social Workers Face Trial

We are Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, and we are dedicated to raising awareness of shortcomings and corruption in organizations that are responsible for protecting children. One case in Los Angeles has shocked us and many others to the core, and that is the tragic murder of little eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, who was savagely tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend. When paramedics arrived at the scene, the boy’s mother claimed he had been roughhousing with siblings and had then fallen and struck his head, but the physical evidence painted a different picture—one of abject horror.


Red Flags Were Everywhere

Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Villar said, “red flags were everywhere,” because Gabriel’s injuries, his frequent absences from school, and the multiple calls his teacher made to child protective services made it clear that this child was in danger. The workers who stand accused of wrongdoing and their attorneys insist the case was closed before Gabriel was killed, but that is not much of a defense, as clearly there is no situation in which a case in which a child was being so viciously—and obviously—abused should have been closed in the first place.


The Charges

Four social workers who were responsible for protecting the child are now going to stand trial, and they are being charged with felony child abuse and falsifying documents. Gabriel’s mother and her boyfriend were indicted on murder charges in 2014, and they are currently awaiting trial, though the two have pleaded not guilty. Unlike the mother and boyfriend, however, there is a chance that the workers may not be punished for their complicity, as cases like these have been attempted before, but they typically are thrown out of court or there is a not guilty verdict.


Passing the Buck

Despite the fact that many officials failed this child, thus contributing to his death, no one seems willing to accept the blame. Social workers and sheriff’s deputies were all informed about Gabriel’s injuries on multiple occasions, and despite many visits to the home and investigations, no one stepped in to help this child, who had specifically asked his teacher if she could call workers on his behalf. She did, but no one came to the child’s rescue, and for that they need to be held responsible. We are Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, and we are eager to see justice done.

Killer Caseworker to Be Released from Prison

We are Robert Raskin and Kathleen Raskin, and as parents and grandparents ourselves, we know that every parent’s worst fear is that something will happen to their child. For one Maine mother, the pain of losing a child has increased exponentially because her daughter’s killer is being released from prison. Little five-year-old Logan Marr was suffocated by Sally Ann Schofield, who was a former child services state worker who was acting as the girl’s foster mother at the time of her death. Schofield is now being placed on probation, and one condition of this is she is not to be around children under the age of 16. Unfortunately for Logan’s family, this comes many years too late.


A Fatal Mistake

Unfortunately, Logan did not like her foster mother, and she reacted to this by throwing tantrums, which Schofield did her best to escalate. On the day of Logan’s death, which was January 31, 2001, the girl, who was five, resisted being put in a high chair that is meant for infants. Schofield reacted to this by putting the child in the basement and using approximately 40 feet of duct tape to bind the child to the chair and to bind her mouth shut. When she checked on the girl over an hour later, she was dead from suffocation. Before calling emergency services, she hid the tape and concocted a story about the child falling from the high chair, which the evidence at the scene did not support.


Schofield’s Sentence

At the trial, the jury recommended that Schofield be charged with murder, but the judge did not agree and convicted her of the lesser charge of manslaughter instead because he believed that the experienced caseworker, who should have known better, did not intend to kill the child. Schofield was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The lead prosecutor in the case was quoted as saying, “I haven’t seen one iota of acceptance or responsibility on the part of that woman.” Schofield was convicted and went to prison in 2002, and her release date is April 25th of this year, so in total the killer foster mom served just 15 years.


Schofield’s Release

In January of this year Logan’s mother, Christy Darling, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. This same month she received a letter notifying her that Schofield will be released from prison in April. She says her daughter’s killer’s sentence was not nearly enough, and many agree. Darling is working to keep her daughter’s memory alive, and her death served as a catalyst for transforming the Maine foster care system. Since the girl was killed, the number of children who have been removed from their homes in the state has dropped by 30 percent, the number of foster children placed in group homes has dropped to just 10 percent, and the number of children in foster care has been cut in half. This is Robert Raskin and Kathleen Raskin, and we encourage you to check back with us so you can stay up-to-date on the latest DHR corruption news.

Scare Tactics that Social Workers Can Use Against You

Even the very best parents can be the recipients of an unwanted visit from DHR. If this has happened to you, you may have been subjected to any number of threats that made you fear for the safety and stability of your child. Millions of children are abused in foster care every year, and we have all heard about heartbreaking cases of parents having their children removed and placed into the foster system for no good reason. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem, and if a DHR caseworker has knocked on your door, you may be understandably upset, scared, and confused.  While it can be alarming to be told if you question someone’s authority they may take your child away and strip you of your rights, there are steps you can take to diffuse the situation before it escalates and ends in tragedy.

What Should You Do When DHR Shows Up?

Although child abuse is a very real and serious problem, millions of good and loving parents have been investigated by DHR without any evidence of abuse outside of allegations that could have been made by anyone and for any reason, including spite for imagined slights. If a DHR worker shows up at your house, take their visit seriously, but be sure to remain calm. Although your anger and fear may be justified, any acknowledgement of it can be taken as an act of hostility and used against you. Unless they have a warrant, you are not obligated to let a case worker into your house. However refusing them may make them more determined than ever to remove your child.

Do You Need an Attorney?

It is advisable for you to secure the services of an attorney who has experience not just complying with, but actively fighting against, DHR. It would be extremely expensive to have an attorney present every time you communicated with a social worker, but a lawyer will at the very least be able to provide you with guidelines and legal advice that can greatly reduce your chances of having your child removed from your home. It is best to keep your communication with the worker to the bare minimum, and whatever you do, even if you know you are innocent and are merely trying to explain, never say anything that could incriminate you.

Do You Have to Let Them Speak to Your Child?

DHR does not need your permission to speak to your child. They can legally interview your son or daughter at school or in another public place without your child, so it is best to teach your child to refuse to speak to any strangers including DHR caseworkers. If you refuse to cooperate they will make a note of it, and that alone could be used as “evidence” against you. To reduce your risk of having a worker claim that you refused to let them see your child in order to hide evidence of injuries, show your child or children to the worker through the window only, but do not open the door for them.

How DHR Benefits from Removing Your Child

DHR caseworkers believe they are doing what is best for the child, but their tendency to believe accusations without any evidence is far from being in children’s best interests. If these workers ran out of children to remove, their job security would be in jeopardy. The more children they take in, the more federal funding they receive, and the better they look in their own boss’s eyes. While these workers may seem friendly and helpful at first, once they have the information they are looking for they may quickly turn on you. Once they have grounds to remove your child, it can be very difficult—if not impossible—to regain custody. If DHR knows on your door, protect yourself and your children by making sure you know your rights.