News & Politics

Arizona Child Welfare Workers Caught Wearing 'Professional Kidnapper' T-Shirts

(Facebook screenshot via Terri LaPoint)

The Prescott Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) is down to only one child-abuse investigator after having to fire at least eight others for wearing t-shirts that say “Professional Kidnapper” on them and posting the photos on Facebook. The terminated child-welfare employees had these shirts made up with the phrase “Do you know where your children are?” in bright pink as a “joke” that no one who has battled DCS for custody of their children thought was funny.

Another photo of the Professional Kidnappers, i.e. CPS social workers in Arizona, proudly showing off the despicable truth of what Child Protective Services really does.

Posted by Terri LaPoint on Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The agency has not released the exact number of investigators who were fired—news reports say “multiple” individuals were canned.

Parents in Arizona and across the country have regularly accused government agencies tasked with child welfare of illegally kidnapping their children and denying them their due process rights. It is devastatingly traumatic for a family when DCS or Child Protective Services (CPS) gets involved and removes children — a whopping 62% in 2018 for vague accusations of “neglect.”

That means the parents accused of neglect are generally no charged with criminal abuse and cannot defend themselves in a real court with real due process. Instead, they are shuffled through family courts with low standards of evidence, where they must prove they are innocent instead of the other way around. The process bankrupts almost everyone it ensnares, as public defenders are not available to people who aren’t accused of crimes. Many of the families mixed up with child welfare lose everything trying to pay legal bills to get their children returned. The average time child welfare holds children away from their parents is twelve to fifteen months.

Families are put through this legal and mental hell by people like the women pictured above, who think it’s funny that they have so much power over the lives of families and brag about it on social media. Families like the Thompsons, who have been tied up in court by the Prescott, Ariz., DCS office for years, are the ones left without justice.

(Image credit: Ashley Thompson, used with permission)

Ashley Thompson, a recovering addict who had her children removed by the Prescott office contacted PJM after the investigators were caught in the despicable shirts. “It was completely disheartening to know these are the people who have control over my children’s needs and well-being right now,” she said.

Thompson has been in treatment for her drug addiction and says she’s done everything in her power to get her children back, yet they won’t return them. “I completed treatment, all services, still testing and I have my youngest son back,” she said. Four of her other children are still separated from her. “DCS has my children separated, in two different foster care homes, over two months later.”

Worse, Thompson says the original complaint to DCS was against the father of the children, who is not a part of their lives and is incarcerated. “Maricopa County DCS says I’m fit to parent. Prescott says I’m not, with NO new allegations against me,” said Thompson. The photographs of the caseworkers in the t-shirts upset Thompson deeply.

“Changes need to be made. It just shows that the attitudes of the caseworkers are so disempowering toward parents,” she said as she described her experience with the Prescott DCS employees who she felt did nothing to help her get her kids back. ” Thompson wrote an emotional letter to the court when the Prescott DCS removed her children.

“I think it’s important for the courts to put faces to this case. We are human beings.  We have feelings. We’ve spent the time putting work into blending our family. The children have developed close bonds with each other. It’s saddening that DCS stereotypes families because of substance use issues. It’s an injustice to make the assumption that all parents who struggle with addiction issues neglect their kids.”

Thompson is right. According to some studies, children with parents who are drug users still fare better at home than they do in foster care. Children in the foster care system are at a much higher risk for sex trafficking. Michael Dolce at Newsweek reported the grim statistics.

Here’s the ugly truth: most Americans who are victims of sex trafficking come from our nation’s own foster care system. It’s a deeply broken system that leaves thousands vulnerable to pimps as children and grooms them for the illegal sex trade as young adults…Most people don’t know about our nation’s foster care to sex trafficking pipeline, but the facts are sobering. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) found that “of the more than 18,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2016, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Of those, 86 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing.

The outcomes of law enforcement efforts against sex traffickers repeatedly support the NCMEC estimate. In a 2013 FBI 70-city nationwide raid, 60 percent of the victims came from foster care or group homes. In 2014, New York authorities estimated that 85 percent of sex trafficking victims were previously in the child welfare system.

In 2012, Connecticut police rescued 88 children from sex trafficking; 86 were from the child welfare system. And even more alarming: the FBI discovered in a 2014 nationwide raid that many foster children rescued from sex traffickers, including children as young as 11, were never reported missing by child welfare authorities.

Instead of offering in-home services to parents struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, child welfare yanks the children out of the home and, in many cases, refuses to house them with relatives, opting instead for foster placement with strangers.

These are the faces of the family the Arizona Department of Safety destroyed. DCS had all the resources available to provide our family with in-home options and services to truly help our family. Instead of making reasonable efforts to keep our family intact….they made every effort to tear us apart,” read the letter from Thompson. “We never claimed to be perfect parents (perfect just doesn’t exist), but we tried our best…we were always engaged, loving, imperfect parents who tried our best to ensure our children were safe, happy and loved.”

Parents who have drug addictions are often treated as child abusers even when no abuse is found and no charges of abuse are ever brought against them. “They need to start empowering parents that are struggling,” said Thompson. Instead, she says she felt terrorized by Prescott DCS and victimized by people who cared nothing for her or her children.

The impassioned plea to the court in 2018, which Thompson wrote in her most desperate time, continued, “Not long ago I was a very independent single mom of three, who worked hard to support her family,” wrote Thompson. “This ordeal has turned me into a ghost of the girl I used to be. Today I’m an unemployed, homeless mother who is grieving the loss of my children and the loss of all the ‘happy’ things in life that I loved…Does that sound like justice? Does the punishment really fit the crime?”

Since then, Thompson has been in recovery and has rebuilt her life, but the Prescott DCS has still not reunited her family.

If you or someone you know has been targeted by the Prescott DCS office contact PJ Media at [email protected]