Mom Brings Coughing 10-Month-Old to the Hospital. Days Later, Cops Take the Baby.

'They already had a foster parent in the room, to remove my son... before they ever proved there was an emergency situation.'



Outraged by cases of child protective services taking children from their competent, loving parents on flimsy medical grounds, a group in Minnesota has filed a motion in federal court to do what their organization's name suggests: "Stop child protective services from legally kidnapping children."

Fox 9 reports that Dwight Mitchell, the founder, had his child taken away from him "unfairly" for 22 months. His group now has over 1,000 members. One of them is Amanda Weber, whose son was taken from her for a week after she brought him to the hospital to be examined for a cough:

The doctor deemed him stable and notes show the diagnosis was, in fact, a cough. However, the recommendation was that the patient should have stayed. Weber took him home.

"After waiting, I had asked to leave because I wanted to put my kids to bed and I had my three-year-old with me and I asked if there was anything else that had to be done," said Weber. "They said 'No, there was no other testing or anything that needed to be done.'"

In a couple of days, police were at her door and took Zayvion to the doctor.

"She checked him out, all his vitals were stable," she said. "They already had a foster parent in the room, in the room to remove my son before they ever proved … before they ever proved there was an emergency situation."

This practice—overly suspicious government officials seizing children from their parents—isn't confined to Minnesota. In Chicago, a mom named Stephanie took her toddler, "A," to the doctor because the girl's arm seemed tender. The doctor said it was probably just a case of "nursemaid's elbow," but suggested mom follow up at the hospital, where it was discovered that the girl had a fracture. Emergency room doctors assured Stephanie that fractures were very common in toddlers learning to walk. However, the one doctor on staff who specialized in "child abuse pediatrics," thought otherwise.

The Family Defense Center in Chicago took the case. In its newsletter, the group writes that the Department of Child and Family Services allowed the child to go home:

….but only on the condition that Stephanie move out of her own home and have supervised contact with A. Because Stephanie has no relatives in Chicago, her parents flew to Chicago each week from the San Francisco Bay Area to care for A. This exhausting ordeal continued for nearly four months.

During the investigation, DCFS blatantly ignored the opinions of the leading orthopedists and relied exclusively on the child abuse doctor's opinion. In March, the State's Attorney's office filed a petition to take custody of A., initiating a court proceeding that lasted for two and a half months.

Finally, in mid-May, the State's Attorney's office concluded that it did not have enough evidence to proceed further, and it asked the juvenile court judge to dismiss the petition. Eventually, the "child abuse" doctor rescinded his conclusion that abuse had caused the fracture.

While the Minnesota group would like CPS to shut down immediately on the grounds that its practices are unconstitutional, there are, of course, horrific tales of children truly abused by their caregivers. In those cases, CPS can save lives.

Emily Piper, commissioner of Minnesota's Human Services, released a statement saying:

Every day, trained professionals in counties across Minnesota go to work to protect our children and families. To call their work 'kidnapping' is an affront to the extraordinary service they perform for all of us, particularly the most vulnerable children in our community. Our highest priority is keeping children safe and Minnesota's child protection system is an integral part of that work.

Mitchell, the Minnesota dad who started the anti-CPS group, thinks financial concerns improperly influence the agency's practices. He told Fox 9, "[CPS] can't even start collecting the money until the child is taken out of the home, put into foster care, then they can start billing a minimum of one social worker a month and one supervisor a month per child."

Diane Redleaf, legal director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare and author of the forthcoming book, They Took the Kids Last Night: How the Child Welfare System Puts Families At Risk, summed up the problem in an email to me:

Far too many children in far too many states are being taken from parents for reasons that defy logic and common sense, magnified by racial and class biases. Instead of supporting reasonable parent decisions, child protective services has become an integral part of the surveillance society. This has become especially insidious where health care providers work hand in hand with police and caseworkers when children show up for routine or not-so-routine care.

We need to get back to a system in which only cases in which there is clear and convincing evidence of serious imminent harm to the child at the hands of the parent [warrant intervention]. The Minnesota parents are simply demanding a child welfare system that protects children and families—something that is everyone's right.

The answer is to stop incentivizing both worst-first thinking and the seizure of kids whose loving parents are just trying to do their best.

NEXT: Stop Trying to Get Workers Out of Their Cars

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  1. We told them this was the inevitable consequence of CPS and similar agencies. They relied, much Lenore doe here, on the idea that CPS saves lives. It does, rarely, but how many more are scarred or ruined by the agency?

    I’d wager that if one had perfect info on CPS, the cost wouldn’t be worth the benefit.

    1. If it saves just one life…

      1. . . .they can ruin as many as necessary. . .

  2. Then there are all the cases where the child is in actual danger and they ignore it until the child s dead.

    1. And all the cases of abusive fosters.

      There is little doubt CPS does more harm than good.
      One social worker and one supervisor per child?!? Plus the monies paid to foster care?
      Follow the money is always a solid recommendation.

    2. But can’t those cases be handled by ordinary police work? Or are they to busy shooting dogs?

  3. I’ve been party to a number of these “conversations” in hospital situations; they are sometimes motivated by genuine concerns but just as often based on what “could be” or “might happen” and the aversion to such happening on “my watch.” A referral to child protective services can be based on flimsy evidence and emotional concerns, and often as not is a CYA effort to place forgoing responsibility on another agency. And then there are the “mandatory” reporting laws to encourage this.

    Once child protection is involved, it is SEP [someone else’s problem].

    1. Part of the problem is that there is no meaningful sanction for a false or malicious report. Anyone who reports enjoys absolute immunity by law. That needs to change. CPS employees should also be liable, under both civil and criminal law for unjustified actions. Make it clear that taking a child on flimsy evidence will be prosecuted as a kidnapping, and it will be incentive for full investigation and due process.

      1. Not only that, doctors are threatened with losing their livelihood if they DON’T report any and everything that might possibly be abuse. They have to report everything and then hope CPS sorts it out.

  4. Child Protection Services existence is based on the presumption that the government will be better at child care than parents. There are rare, tragic, cases where this may be true, but on average the conceit is ridiculous. I have no children, nor do I want any. I want CPS abolished simply on the grounds that, as a sovereign citizen, its blunders and idiocy are done IN MY NAME.


      1. His name is Robert Paulson.

  5. We can expect article after article about this, tweet after tweet, calling this pure evil, right? We can expect the railing against this by Reason writers to be an almost daily thing, right?


    While the Minnesota group would like CPS to shut down immediately on the grounds that its practices are unconstitutional, there are, of course, horrific tales of children truly abused by their caregivers. In those cases, CPS can save lives.

    This isn’t immigration, it can continue. Carry on.

    1. Reason has written dozens of articles about CPS abuse. Your whataboutism is not only lazy, it’s also completely wrong:

  6. Well, how can putting government kidnappers on commission possibly go wrong?

    “One social worker and one supervisor per child”

    And talk about a heavy administrative overload! One to one worker to supervisor ratio? Any chance these are union members?

    1. Put government kidnappers on trial. And if that doesn’t work, Rule 308.

    2. Do you really think that’s what they are doing? CPS is notoriously overloaded in most of the country. Hundreds of children per social worker, and barely able to keep up with paperwork.

      This is why these cases seem so baffling. We seem to have two completely different agencies. One of which has such an insane caseload that children are routinely neglected or abused and aren’t protected or easily get lost in the system. The other is so bored that they investigate kids for coming to school with messy hair.

      In any case, the two employees per child is obvious hyperbole. Not even the government is that ridiculous.

      1. I don’t think they literally get 1 social worker per child. They get paid for 1 social worker per child is more likely. So, if you have 700 children under 1 social worker, you’re paying 1 social worker and getting 700 children’s worth of subsidy.

        Otherwise it would seem more like a Universal Basic Wage scheme.

  7. What makes CPS better suited to investigating a tip than, say, the cops? We already have cops, they can serve warrants. This should be sufficient investigatory agency for the dramatically rare instance of child abuse.

    It might also be worth noting that an entire bureaucracy who’s existence is premised on the idea that child abuse is a rampant problem, might have an incentive to make a lot of noise that child abuse is a rampant problem.

    1. Police generally are involved. However Police are charged with enforcing the laws. The decision CPS have to make go beyond enforcing the laws. They generally have to make a decision, weather it is in the child’s best interest to remain in the home or be moved to a to a relatives home or being placed into foster care. This would be the same disaster as School resource officers that are charged with discipline in the schools. The police are given broad powers to enforce the laws, but they are not well suited to administering punishment in schools, or making decisions about if remaining in a home or being taken to foster care is an ideal situation for a child.

  8. This is nothing new. News magazine shows like 60 minutes and 20/20 have been making hay from these stories since the 70’s. It is this sort of injustice that brought libertarian writers to my attention.

    The first such story that made such an impression that I still remember it was circa 1980. It was the story of a Maryland couple and a US naval officer (the father). A neighbor that had some sort of beef with them called the police and made allegations of child abuse. They found out about it when the father hears his daughter screaming for help out back and runs out to find two deputies trying to pry his 12 year old girl’s hands from a terrified death grip on their back yard fence.

    Much consternation follows as a case worker explains that they are taking the kids into protective custody.

    Further investigation shows nothing…. but because he came flying out of the house to confront the people who were assaulting his daughter in her own yard, they had their minds made up. They took the kids. Two years of court battles later, the kids were back in the house…. but only after the father was forced to divorce the mother and move out of the home.

    Then there’s the Little Rascal’s Preschool case, where one overzealous social worker managed to start a panic and get multiple people sentenced to life in prison. (spoiler alert… nothing actually happened)

    These people are low IQ and are given vast power. This is a dangerous combination.

    1. There used to be a woman in my neighborhood that would call CPS on neighbors if she had a dispute with them. We finally got rid of her, but she was a real pain for awhile.

  9. “horrific tales of children truly abused by their caregivers. In those cases, CPS can save lives.”

    Some of those horrific tales of children truly abused by their caregivers are perpetrated by foster parents assigned by CPS. CPS may save a few lives, but evidence that it does more good than harm in total is sorely lacking.

  10. When I was a kid, I had an inner ear issue that dramatically impacted my balance. I used to fall over for no obvious reason and was injured frequently on whatever furniture was around. In a three week period, I once required stitches four times. As I became used to getting injured, I became less fearful of injury. Served me well in skateboarding, the mosh pit, fist fights, hockey, etc. as I got older.

    I shudder to think what they would have put my mom through because of my frequent injuries today.

    Oh, and part of the solution was clown college in junior high–and there isn’t anything funny about that. They taught me to juggle and to ride a unicycle. Although it took me three times as long as the others, my balance improved dramatically. The other alternative to improve balance they suggested was ballet, and while that would have been hilarious to think of Kid Danger in tights, it never happened–so up yours.

    *clown horn*

    1. The clown college curriculum entry explains a lot.

  11. “Mitchell, the Minnesota dad who started the anti-CPS group, thinks financial concerns improperly influence the agency’s practices. He told Fox 9, ‘[CPS] can’t even start collecting the money until the child is taken out of the home…'”

    CPS has another incentive to manufacture evidence of child abuse where none exists. Enough stories of children inappropriately confiscated from their parents could lead to serious cutbacks in their budgets and powers.

    In the case of a California couple whom I know, CPS presented the parents with a choice: they could sign a document agreeing that they were bad parents and commit to attending bad-parent classes, and get the kid back right away; or the kid could stay in foster care for six weeks until a hearing could be held, and there’d be no guarantee that the outcome would be the kid’s return. They signed the papers; so afterward, if they’d wanted to go to their legislators or the newspapers about the unnecessary taking of their offspring, CPS could use the signed confession to discredit them, and as a pretext to re-take the kid.

    1. That is the most insidious issue. You can’t just hang on and fight it out like you can with a land grab or when it’s just money on the line. You can always declare bankruptcy or get support from a political group.

      However, when it’s your kids, and challenges take weeks, months, or years, a false charge of child abuse is worse than a false charge of capital murder. At least then you can get out on bail. They will hold your children hostage indefinitely.

      1. This is where the money is. Taking your house is small potatoes, expect this to increase.

      2. If I’m getting charged anyway, I’ll make it worth my while.

        My kids will be sprung from wherever they are, and the people who put them in said place will be hurting.

  12. It’s not kidnapping, it’s just civil offspring forfeiture!

  13. Mitchell, the Minnesota dad who started the anti-CPS group, thinks financial concerns improperly influence the agency’s practices. He told Fox 9, “[CPS] can’t even start collecting the money until the child is taken out of the home, put into foster care, then they can start billing a minimum of one social worker a month and one supervisor a month per child.”

    When trying to figure out why any government agency does what they do, follow the (taxpayer) money.

    1. Ttile IVd of the social security act, among other federal incentives to the states to remove children from parents.…..rt-reform/

  14. In April and May each year, is innundated with questions from foster kids about to be evicted from their homes as soon as they graduate. They have no prior preparation and no prospects. If they are lucky, they get prior warning that they will be kicked out as soon as the checks stop. The real heartbreakers are the ones who get no warning and just get locked out on graduation day.

    If the system is corrupt and unconstitutional, I don’t want to hear the excuse that it might save lives in some vague, undocumented way.

  15. This is the obvious outcome of granting government virtually unlimited right to busybody.

  16. Hey–where are all the posters screaming about how inhumane it is to rip children from the arms of their parents?

    Where’s Old Mex and Leo and Jeff and Robby’s white knight brigade? Where are Shriek and Tony?

    And Shikha?

  17. Look deeper as the issue is the denial of parental rights, govenment know best and the false positive and false negative actions are killing children.…..e-custody/

  18. It sounds like the smartest thing to do if you’ve found yourself on CPS’s radar is to send your kids to stay with a friend or relative until the whole thing blows over. The late, great Will Grigg used to write about having such a plan in place himself.

  19. You can bet the apes with overgrown amygdalas, and low prefrontal emotion control (abuse victims), would happily kidnap children for money. They simply tell themselves that they are saving themselves (and the paycheck ain’t bad either).

  20. Isn’t Minnesota where those two moms who recently drove their van with 6 adopted kids into the Pacific were investigated by CPS, yet they took no action? They were later investigated by CPS in Washington state or Oregon, I think, and again no action. A shining example of good government at work!

    CPS workers have to have a minimum number of cases they investigate to justify their jobs, and the ER doctors who refer to them probably have to do so as well.

    1. It was, and as a Minnesotan I’ve got an inside scoop on where you can get some of the best Minnesotan Pacific coast property. Just send 6 bitcoin to my address and you’ll be enjoying Minnesota’s tropical dream weather before you know it.

  21. Finally, an example of the trafficking in women and children the Republican Party has been screeching about since first the Civil War, then the Italian slavery question of 1873, followed by the WWI Armistice with the Accursed Hun and the Versailles Treaty. You’d think These States were one big Rudolph Valentino movie. Yet when it comes down to cases what we actually see are officious looter state bureaucrats populating Lebensborn indoctrination facilities. Gott Mitt Uns!

  22. One other aspect is the mandatory reporting requirements for people in certain positions. School teachers, doctors, nurses, police and Social Services and so on are all mandatory reporters. If they have reason to suspect abuse, they are required to report it, if they fail to they can be fired for failing to report. When a friend of mine’s daughters were born he was reported to CPS by one of the nurses. Reason given was he was too slow in changing the girls diapers. One of the other nurses explained that many of the nurses just routinely report everyone, and let CPS sort it out. By reporting everyone the nurse does not need to worry about being accused of failing to report someone and loosing their career.

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