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Appeals court affirms out-of-state placement of child with father

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A mother whose son was placed with his father in California after the Department of Child Services found her children to be children in need of services failed to convince a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals that the placement was erroneous or that the DCS didn’t make a reasonable effort to preserve the family.

“We believe that the evidence in this case supported the continued out-of-state placement with M.S.’s natural father, which the trial court found to be in the child’s best interest,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote in In the Matter of M.S. (A Child Alleged in Need of Services), and K.S., (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 67A04-1305-JC-212. “Therefore, the trial court’s decision to place M.S. with Father and eventually dismiss the CHINS proceedings was not error."

Mother K.S. admitted during a CHINS hearing to substance abuse problems and that she had no permanent residence, vehicle or phone. DCS has found her missing on a visit to her home where the children had been left alone, according to the record.

As father’s service in the military unwound, he eventually took M.S. with him to live in San Diego, and DCS requested to dismiss the CHINS proceeding. On appeal, mother argued DCS neglected its duty under I.C. 31-34-21-5.5 to make reasonable efforts to reunify or preserve a family.

“The health and safety of M.S. was served by his placement with Father,” Robb wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Michael Barnes. “Moreover, the placement of M.S. with Father was a familial reunification of sorts, albeit not of the kind Mother would have preferred. In light of the circumstances, we believe DCS’s reunification efforts were reasonable.”

Judge Elaine Brown concurred in a separate opinion, but said the father’s home should have been inspected before the boy was placed with his father and that DCS was too quick to terminate the CHINS proceeding, which took place one week after father’s home had been inspected.

“Under such circumstances, despite the motion by DCS to dismiss the CHINS petition, I believe that M.S. would have been better served had the court ... ordered that DCS continue with services for a period of time to monitor Father’s parenting and compliance with the terms of the decree,” Brown wrote.
 

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  1. I was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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