Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chapt2, Part 5 What if the Agency Threatens to Remove Your Child? Practical Questions

NEXT: More Practical Questions



What if a county agency threatens to remove our child and place him or her with another family if we disagree with the amount of adoption assistance proposed by the agency and continue our efforts to negotiate a rate that is more consistent with our child’s needs and family circumstances?



This reprehensible practice violates the due process rights of adoptive parents by interfering with their right under federal law to negotiate adoption assistance agreements on behalf of their child.  Although current law does not provide adequate safeguards against this practice, parents should consider taking all of the following actions.

1.   Contact Dan Shook, the adoption assistance policy chief at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).  Mr. Shook’s e-mail is Dan.Shook@jfs.ohio.gov.  You can also contact me at tpohanlon@gmail.com or 614-299-0177 and I will speak to Mr. Shook.  Be sure and tell him that the agency has threatened to remove your child for the sole reasons that you are attempting to negotiate an adoption assistance agreement.


 

2.   The following advice was conveyed to me by a state official.  Complain directly to the county involved with their adoption and AA request. Each county must have a complaint procedure by law and rule.  The family may take two actions. First, they may complain directly to county and ask to follow the local complaint process. Second, the family may call the OFC Help Desk to lodge a complaint against the county.  The family should call the OFC Help Desk first if they fear retaliation.  The Help Desk will instruct the family to follow the local complaint review process. They will have some degree of protection because the State is involved.  They will receive a letter from the Help Desk instructing them to contact the Help Desk again if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the county complaint review.  At that point the OFC help desk will refer the complaint to our foster care licensing section for investigation.


3.   Contact the children’s Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).  Tell the GAL that the agency has threatened to remove your child because you are trying to negotiate a reasonable amount of adoption assistance.  GALs may not know much about the adoption assistance program so you might need to explain that:

a.   Adoption assistance is a federal program established to support special needs adoptions by people like yourselves. It’s overriding purpose is to supplement your own resources in order to provide a permanent and nurturing home for your child.

 

b.   Obtaining an adequate amount of support through adoption assistance is clearly in the best interest of your child.


c.    Federal and state law guarantee your right to apply for and adoption assistance and to negotiate the amount of support.

After explaining the situation to the GAL, you should ask her or him to contact:

·       The agency, and

·       The local court to report that the agency’s threat is contrary to the child’s welfare, and

·       Dan Shook at ODJFS, so he can intervene and answer any questions about the purpose of the adoption assistance program and the responsibilities of county agencies, and

·       Tim O’Hanlon to work with Dan Shook and educate the GAL about adoption assistance.