Abruptly, and shortly after an audit was announced for California’s Child Protective Services, the agency has completed its controversial investigation into one family’s actions, and confirmed there will be no more monitoring.
WND had reported earlier this month that California lawmakers voted unanimously to order an audit of the state’s powerful Department of Child Protective Services after parents stunned their representatives with testimony of atrocities.
The audit is now in the hands of California Auditor Elaine Howle.
One of those stories – that made national headlines – involved the Nikolayev family.
They unwittingly became the face of the controversy over the CPS, which eventually drew a vote from California lawmakers for the audit.
But Tuesday, the battle for the Nikolayevs came to an end. In a hearing, all monitoring of baby Sammy, as well as mandatorily attended medical visits, were ordered ended.
Anna Nikolayev, the baby’s mother, told WND how concerning follow up visits had been, because she said officials would walk in her home and “ask questions again to try to prove their case…(to make them) look good.”
Or, she said, the worst thing that could happen would have been if Sammy wasn’t gaining weight, and then she was “afraid they would say, ‘Oh, she’s probably not holding him the right way, not feeding him correctly.’”
She said that she and her husband “always, always worry about that.”
Upon receiving the news that Child Protective Services will no longer be imposing monitoring and other check up visits on the Nikolayev family, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly released this statement: “I am pleased to see that CPS has recognized its error of inserting itself unjustifiably in the lives of Anna and Alex Nikolayev and their young son. It is critically important that we remain vigilant in holding our government accountable.”
Donnelly added that people all over the state have contacted him with their own disturbing encounters with this government body.
“We have a long battle ahead as we push for reform, but stories like this reminds us what we are fighting for and shows us there is hope,” he said.
Donnelly told WND, “I am proud to know there are people like Anna and Alex Nikolayev, who refuse to bend in the face of such a personal, intimate form of tyranny. This is one small victory for parents all over California who have suffered under this oppressive agency, and one giant step toward reforming CPS and getting them back to protecting kids instead of abusing them and violating their parental rights.”
No one seems to know why this family had to continue to undergo scrutiny even after if was determined that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Nikolayevs. No comment was made regarding the audit, nor was there any acknowledgement of the alleged abuse of power in the Nikolayev case.
Two months ago, the police entered the Nikolayev home and pried the baby from his mother’s arms.
But other families continue to wait. Ruby Dillon’s daughter, Alexis, was removed from her family 16 months ago.
“It’s the most helpless feeling in the world when this happens to you,” Dillon told WND earlier this month. “It feels like there is no hope left. I have not seen my daughter since December … she doesn’t even look like the same child any more. There is nothing in her eyes. She looks hopeless, and there is just nothing I can do…”
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is the federal law that prompts most state and local legislation and funding for child protective services.
CAPTA was a federal mandate enacted in 1988. It directed that Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families provide grants to communities for child abuse prevention programs. It mandated that states implement child abuse laws on their own, in order to qualify for massive funding and federal grants that will match and reward those on the state level.
This experimental federal mandate, backed by significant funding, was intended to keep more families together. However, the National Coalition for Child Protection (NCCPR) reports that the results of CAPTA are quite different than the original intention. NCCPR says that CAPTA, in fact, disrupted more families, and has made life for children in this experimental government program much, much worse.
NCCPR says that the failings of today's child welfare system "can be summed up by the very rationalization often used to justify the way it works today, an approach that can be boiled down to 'take the child and run.'"
The parental rights group says that foster care is a bad answer to the suspicion of a problem.
Their studies indicate that abuse in foster care is "far higher than generally realized and far higher than in the general population."
They say orphanage abuse rates are even higher, so that is not the answer, either. NCCPR maintains that its research indicates that in most, but not 100 percent of cases, the best scenario is that the family remains intact until "due process" takes place.
Orange County CPS spokeswoman Ann Broussard said in an interview with WND earlier this month that she had "no comment" on the Baby Sammy Nikolayev case. But she described the scenario whereby CPS says it is entitled to take children without a warrant:
"We regularly bring police. Sometimes police call us. The term is exigent. If there is imminent danger to the child we do have the legal right, if it is deemed. There would be a social worker on site; they would consult with their supervisors, and the authorities. Often we are called by a hospital. They are mandated reporters. So is a school district," she said.
It was on April 24 when Alex and Anna Nikolayev took their young child, Sammy, to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., with flu-like symptoms. Baby Sammy was born with a heart condition, and they knew he would need surgery eventually.
While he was there, the Nikolayevs witnessed a nurse giving him antibiotics – something doctors later confirmed should not have happened.
Shortly afterward, they were told Sammy needed immediate open-heart surgery. Already questioning the treatment their son was receiving, they decided to seek a second opinion before putting their child through such a risky procedure.
They were told, "You can leave the hospital, but your baby cannot."
The Nikolayevs decided to take Sammy to another hospital, despite the hospital saying they could not do so. Police and CPS agents showed up at the second hospital under the belief that Sammy was in danger. After seeing that the mother was pursuing medical care for her son, they concluded that the child was not in danger.
But that would not be the last the Nikolayevs heard of CPS.
The next day, Child Protective Services showed up at the Nikolayev home with five armed police officers. The mother, a German immigrant, was skeptical of government and captured the incident on video.
One officer can be heard saying, "I'm going to grab your baby, and don't resist, and don't fight me, okay?"
Donnelly said he felt compelled to act, as a father, and as a legislator.
"The footage is frightening for parents everywhere to think that your children might be confiscated should CPS disagree with your parental instincts. It's chilling to think that a government agency can take your child right back to a hospital that you as a parent have lost faith in, but it happened."
Donnelly began demanding answers. In a letter, he asked Sheri Heller, director of California's Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CPS, to account for how this was allowed to happen.
Heller responded that she couldn't share that information with an assemblyman, unless a judge ordered her to do so. Donnelly responded, "It has become clear that CPS answers to no one, but this abuse of power cannot be tolerated."
"I'm hearing all kinds of stories about children being horribly abused," said Donnelly, "and CPS does not rescue the child from that imminent danger, which is why they have this immense power in the first place."
Yet another case alleged that two young girls were taken away from their mother based on a social worker's fabricated story.
Deanna Fogarty won a $4.9 million judgment against Orange County, which ultimately paid $11 million after losing appeals all the way up to U.S. Supreme Court.
Orange County has never admitted to any wrongdoing although the court found the social worker involved had filed false reports and suppressed evidence that would have cleared Fogarty. That same employee was later promoted to supervisor in charge of training other social workers.
Appeals court justice William Bedsworth wrote in his opinion, "the evidence adduced at trial obviously caused both the jury and the judge to conclude not only that something seriously wrong was done to Fogarty-Hardwick in this case, but also that the wrongful conduct was not an isolated incident."
Fogarty told WND the case destroyed her life, and that no amount of money changes that. She has become a volunteer spokesperson for the cause, because she says that "child abuse has become an industry that actually pays states to legally abduct your children and put them up for adoption."
She continued, "Counties can bring in big dollars for each child in foster care. Lack of accountability allows unbridled access to this revenue creating more incentive to remove children from their families."
She notes that these kinds of profits are hard to resist for these CPS workers, and also the foster parents.