Advocates hail child’s return to his mother as victory against Minnesota child protection system

September 18, 2018

The child protection system in Minnesota is unjust and harmful to children, an advocacy group argued Tuesday, and as evidence, pointed to the decision by a state judge last week to return a 1-year-old boy to his mother.

I am angry and I am upset, said Amanda Weber, who brought her recently returned son, Zayvion, to a news conference in St. Paul. I am mad at the system for failing me and my son.

The legal victory is symbolic for a coalition of parents and advocates seeking to change the states child protection system. The group has argued that Minnesotas laws criminalize parents for what they consider to be routine parental discipline and have a disproportionate impact on black families.

Backed by members of the Family Preservation Foundation and Stop Child Protection Services from Legally Kidnapping, Weber told the story of how Zayvion, then 10 months, who was removed from her custody in Little Falls, Minn., based on false allegations of medical neglect after her son became sick. After three months of separation, Morrison County Judge Leonard A. Weiler ruled in August that the Department of Human Services had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the child is in need of protection and/or services under the state statue.

He also said that there was no evidence that the boys mother had medically neglected the child as the county alleged.

The boy was returned to Weber Sept. 11 after she was able to produce information about a new address and medical insurance.

State Human Services Commissioner Minnesota Emily Piper said in a statement that its common for the child protection system to return children with their parents on a judges orders.

It is always a hard situation when courts or county social workers remove children from their parents custody. These very difficult decisions are not made lightly, and are always made in the best interest of the children involved. If families dont cooperate, it is even more difficult, the statement said. When judges, social workers and other professionals evaluate and decide reunification is safe and in the best interests of kids, the child welfare system routinely reunifies parents and children.

However, Kaardal said the child protection system is a public health abuse because counties can remove children before a trial.

He said that it was at a trial that Weber was able to show that the countys claims of neglect were false.

Weber went further, saying social service workers knew their claims were inaccurate and still proceeded to remove her son. She and advocates at the news conference said it was wrong for authorities to force her to cooperate. Zayvion was in foster care for 90 days.

The Family Preservation Foundation represents 4,300 parents and guardians who favor shutdown and re-engineering of child protection services in Minnesota. In June, Stop Child Protection Services From Legally Kidnapping, asked a federal judge to declare that certain state laws that govern when and how children can be removed from their homes are unconstitutional and deprive families of due process.

Randy Furst 612-673-4224

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