by Valerie Robinson
Jerry Strothers is a critic of the increasing number of family breakups taking place under so-called welfare reform. He brought two mothers to speak of their family tragedies to Women for Racial and Economic Equality at our October meeting in Cleveland. Jerry is a member of Citizens for Good Government and a communications major at Cleveland State University. His mission is to do something to stop the forcible separation of welfare children from their mothers by the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services (CCDCFS). Here is his message:
- No more taking kids out of a home with a phone call from Children Services caseworkers to the Juvenile Court instant custody order hotline!
- All parents and kids deserve a right to have a hearing first! Taking kids without a court order is a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution.
- Juvenile Judge Gallagher is illegally giving caseworkers the power to be judges, and that is power not vested in him by law.
- Juvenile Administrative Judge John W. Gallagher’s Kids 2 Go policy is wrong!
Angela Thompson, a mother who spoke to us, stated: “My kids were kidnapped from me.” Five years ago, a misrepresentation of the facts, concocted with malicious intent by the father, brought the police to her home while she was away. Her five children were taken by the police to Children and Family Services, and she has not been able to get custody of them since. She was told that she had been neglecting the children. This was not true, but no one was interested in her problems. Eventually a case plan was made for her, and although she fulfilled the recommendations, including arranging for housing, she was informed that she had not completed the plan to the satisfaction of Children and Family Services. She had worked to perform all of the obligations and more, taking parenting classes and submitting to humiliating tests, but nothing she does appeases the authorities. She is worried that her oldest daughter feels unwanted and that the children are being bounced from place to place, not getting the proper care. At this time, she has appealed her case, but is discouraged about the five long years she has not been with her children.
Jerry and concerned mothers have demonstrated for family rights in front of the CCDCFS building, and Jerry created a website (www.JerryDK.com) devoted to the issue. When asked about solutions, Jerry said that one possibility is to “place the children with relatives when a family is in crisis—until things are sorted out.” Jerry speaks of the “genocide of welfare families.” He agrees that with the approaching end of welfare for 25,000 families across Ohio on October 1, 2000, the problem can only become more severe, as families continue to be torn apart because of poverty.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #39, December 1999-January 2000