PETITION FOR REFORMS OF THE CHILD PROTECTION ACT
We, the undersigned citizens and parents of New Hampshire,
respectfully request that the General Court and the NH Senate make the
following changes in the Child Protection Act, RSA 169-C, in order to
protect the families of this state from needless physical and
emotional harm brought upon them by the Division of Children, Youth,
- A change in the definition of "abused child" and "neglected child"
under RSA 169-C:3 to require an affirmative act on the part of the
parent or other child caretaker so as to show culpability in the act
or omission that led to the filing of the petition. No parent, not
accused of culpability in the abuse or neglect of his child, should be
forced to undergo a psychological examination as a prerequisite to
visitation for any child in foster care. No parent not named in a
petition for abuse or neglect shall be required to have supervised
visitation with his or her child while in foster care. Any father
acknowledging parental status should be given visitation as a matter
of right unless there is another person claiming to be the father.
Visitation shall continue until medical testing excludes that person
as the father of the child. Such testing shall not be required of any
person claiming to be the father unless there is a legitimate factual
dispute. NO Ex-Parte Request for removal of a child from the home
shall be approved without written proof that the Division has made a
good-faith attempt to locate a non-resident parent, and has determined
that a non-resident parent is not entitled to physical custody as a
matter of law. If a non-resident parent not name in a Petition for
Abuse or Neglect is entitled to custody as a matter of law, no Ex
Parte Order shall be approved unless such non-resident parent has
refused, in writing, his right to custody of the child. If the
non-resident parent is located prior to any preliminary hearing, and
offers to take a child to which he or she otherwise has custody
rights, the Court shall order the child to be placed with that parent.
- That the Division immediately stop their written or oral
representations to parents that they must give up any of their
constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments with
respect to child abuse investigations. They should be forbidden from
stating that parents must sign releases for medical records,
psychological records, or school records. Schools, physicians, or any
entity that is required to keep records confidential should be
forbidden from communicating with the Division without the permission
of parents except for an initial report required under law.
Constitutional rights should be respected and protected.
- That DCYF be held accountable for breaking the law not only in the
course of child abuse investigations, but in all of their actions
following the filing of a petition. This includes, but is not limited
to: accountability for perjury in the filing of petitions or in the
course of litigation, witness tampering, voicing opinions to
children's treating physicians on the suspected cause of children's
injuries, and interviewing young children without videotape or
audiotape as required by law. Evidence collected in violation of the
law should be suppressed as in any criminal matter.
- That the statutory limit on defense counsel for indigent defendants
be raised from the present $1500 to at least $5000, and that there be
an amount statutorily authorized for expert witness consultation for
defendants in all cases.
- That step-parents of children, living in the same home, be
authorized to receive Court-appointed counsel to defend their status
as child abusers, a right protected by due process.
- That when Child Protection Workers submit evidence for ex-parte
orders for the removal of a child, that they be required to submit
evidence of abuse or neglect over and above their own affidavits, and
to show that the harm to the child is a result of an act or omission
of the parent(s), step-parent, or other person living in the home.
- That the Court rooms be open to the public; and parents and others
named in Petitions for Abuse and Neglect be permitted a jury trial in
the matter. Hearsay, with the exception of statements of young
children collected as allowed by law, should be forbidden. The
standard of proof to sustain a Petition should be raised to "clear and
convincing" evidence. Parents are entitled to a full investigation
by the police in any matter involving harm to their children.
- DCYF should be forbidden from obtaining Court Orders that violate
the Constitutional rights of free speech of the parents. Any parent
should be able to speak to any person, including members of the
press, about the facts of their child's case.
- Confidentiality in the medical records of children should be
respected. Child protection workers should be forbidden all contact
with children's physicians in the course of an investigation, with the
exception of obtaining medical records. Social workers should not be
permitted access to children's medical appointments, should not be
able to discuss facts of the case with physicians. Physician should
be forbidden from discussing a child's medical status with the
Division without express consent of parents.
- That the Central Registry be dissolved and the NH BRIDGES data
base be required to purge all records of unfounded cases within one
year of the Court's order or closing of the file by DCYF. DCYF should
purge the BRIDGES Data Base of founded cases within three years of
closing the case. That DCYF workers shall not have access under the
BRIDGES Database to medical records, school records, or day care
records of citizens of this state for use in child abuse
investigations without a Court order.
- That the Court of this state adhere to the statutory time limits
for the processing of abuse and neglect petitions, and schedule all of
the time required to try cases in consecutive days of trial.
- That all evidence collected by any law enforcement agency, local,
state, or federal, be required to be disclosed to the person named in
the petition, and the parents, as if it had been collected by DCYF,
under the same rules as applicable to criminal discovery proceedings.
|PETITION FOR REFORMS OF THE CHILD PROTECTION
|We, the undersigned citizens and parents of New
Hampshire, respectfully request that the General Court and the NH Senate
make the above changes in the Child Protection Act, RSA 169-C, in order
to protect the families of this state from needless physical and emotional
harm brought upon them by the Division of Children, Youth, and Families: