Father fights for the right to raise his child
December 10, 2014
Editor’s Note: Because of privacy concerns, the parent’s names have been changed in the story.
By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County Child Welfare Services is recommending the father of a 23-month-old daughter lose his parental rights, even though there have never been any allegations of abuse or neglect against the father.
Jay is what CWS refers to as a non-offending parent. Nevertheless, once a child is placed in the foster care system, CWS workers often require non-offending parents to follow the same requirements child abusers are given.
In 2011, Jay, 26, and Sue, 25, met at the Starbucks in Atascadero. They dated for about six months when Jay ended the relationship.
Shortly before she gave birth to their daughter, Sue told Jay she was pregnant.
On the day she was born, Jay went to the hospital to meet his daughter. Even so, during the early months Sue would not always allow Jay visitation.
When the baby was six months old, Sue was arrested and the child was placed into foster care with one of Sue’s cousins.
Because Jay’s name was not on the birth certificate, his lawyer suggested he take a paternity test. The test verified Jay, who was living in a large home with six other young men, was the child’s father.
However, because the child was already in state custody, the CWS worker assigned to the case said the baby would need to remain in foster care while social services handled reunification, Jay said.
As part of the reunification process, CWS required Jay to take parenting classes because he had never been a parent before. In addition, his case worker wanted Jay to find a new home. Jay agreed to follow the worker’s suggestions.
“I agreed because I thought it would only take about three months to get my daughter,” Jay said.
Even though Jay has no history of drug or alcohol abuse, CWS worker Denise Waters placed him in a parenting class geared to parents with drug issues.
During this time, Jay said he was only permitted to see his daughter one hour a week during visits supervised by the foster parent.
Jay said he began to get frustrated with Waters after she informed him he had taken the wrong parenting class. Waters then sent Jay to a parenting class focused on disciplining older children.
While Jay was taking classes, the foster parent informed CWS of her desire to adopt the baby. During this time, the foster mother was responsible for evaluating Jay for CWS. In her reports, she said that Jay appeared not to have developed a significant bond with his daughter.
The foster parent’s statements would then be used as a reason not to increase court ordered visitation.
Jay said Waters then suggested he agree to terminate his parental rights and allow the foster mother to adopt his child.
Waters also determined the second set of parenting classes was not appropriate. Jay then enrolled in a parenting class on his own through an adult school.
Jay said Waters continued refusing to increase visitation claiming she needed him to undergo a psychological exam. Jay responded by asking for a new case worker.
The county assigned a new social worker who quickly increased Jay’s visitation to three times a week for two hours each, the minimum ordered by the court.
In addition, the new social worker recommended Jay take parenting classes through CAPSLO, the fourth set of parenting classes Jay completed.
Jay also agreed to undergo a psychological evaluation which determined he did not suffer from mental illness.
Nevertheless, CWS is continuing to say it is in the best interest of the child, now almost 2-years-old, to be adopted by the foster family.
On Thursday, Jay will be back in court for a hearing to determine if his time for reunification can be extended.
Nevertheless, time is running out as federal laws require that if reunification is not completed in 18-months, younger children needs to be put up for adoption.
Every time CWS places a child in foster care, they receive federal funds. And if the child is adopted through CWS, bonuses that range from $1,000 to $6,000 are paid to the county for certain classes of children. The county then continues to receive monthly checks until the child reaches 18-years-of-age for both adopted and foster children.
During the past fiscal year, San Luis Obispo County received almost $20 million dollars in federal funding for children removed from their parents.
Like CalCoastNews on Facebook.