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Insider Attacks Georgia DFCS
January 17, 2008 permalink
Cylenthia Clark was the number two ranking staffer in the Fulton County (Atlanta) Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services. On March 10 of last year she was caught spanking her children. The children were removed from her custody in neighboring Fayette County and she was charged with a crime.
Mrs Clark, an insider, knows what DFCS fears most. It is not lawyers. She has established her own website unseen scars to tell her side of the story in public. In an article in today's Atlanta Journal and Constitution the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) responded. Dena Smith, a spokeswoman for DHR Commissioner BJ Walker criticized Clark's website. Even Georgia's child advocate Tom C Rawlings joined in the criticism.
Since the site is under official attack, we have preserved the homepage as of today which you can see by expanding the article below. Be advised, this is the way the most knowledgeable victim fights child protectors to get her children returned.
Sometimes They Never Heal When Child Welfare Goes Wrong
This website shares with you the worst experience of our lives. Fayette County DFCS created a case against me which set the stage for my four children to be taken away in the night. The lies that were told in the case file, on the stand in the court room, and to the press were all the reasons that child welfare can be a nightmare for families.
Unseen scars refers to the emotional roller coaster my children and I have been riding since this ordeal began. When children are abused by the system that should protect them it leaves scars that nobody can really see. It is abusive, intolerant and even criminal when children are torn away from their parents at the whim of people who call themselves child welfare professionals.
The Children Were Taken Away in March of 2007
The Clark children were removed from their mother's care after she was accused of spanking her daughter and leaving marks.
The subjectivity of child welfare allows social workers to make decisions about a families welfare based on their mood for the day; and sometimes their incompetence. The worker in this case has past performance evaluations that support not only the fact that their were problems with her performance in the past; but she had been demoted at least once... and continued recommendations for more training. So why is she still allowed to do a job her record clearly indicates she cannot.
As my parents dealt with Fayette County DFCS there was more of teh same confusion, misinformation, and conflicting information. All from the same worker and supervisor.
During the entire investigation there were numerous variances to policy and many actions contrary to best practice.
It's Not Just About Me
The Clark children were removed from their mother's care like many other children in Fayette County. It is a system of genocide that somone better begin looking into soon. The children of minorities are taken away in this county for the most outrageous reasons:
caseworkers don't agree with what you feed a child...fecal matter is found in your toilet (where else should it be?)...your child looks too little!!! I have spoken to other parents and I am outraged that anyone's children can be taken so easily.
This County Removes More Children fromTheir Parents Than Any Other in The Nation
A study completed by Richard Wexler of the NCCPR in May 2007 revealed that Fayette County Georgia is the removal capital of the nation. This county disportionately removes more children than any other county in the United States. Fayette County DFCS removes higher numbers of minorities (70%) and inpoverished children from their parents than any other county in the United States.
Friends of October 31, 2007
The Friends for Cylenthia Clark request your support of the legal fund. Email the site to find out how to contribute to the defense fund.
Donations can also be made using your visa or mastercard using paypal.
Source: Cylenthia Clark
Another page on the same website gives her family bio and the facts in her child protection case.
Sometimes They Never Heal When Child Welfare Goes Wrong
My story begins far beyond the jurisdiction of Fayette County Georgia. Although our nightmare began there our story began in Chicago Illinois in September of 1998 when my oldest daughter was born.
I am the mother of four daughters presently ages 4, 6, 7, and 9. My children have meant the world to me for the past 10 years. I say ten because from the moment I discovered that in 7 1/2 months I would become a mother my life took as drastic change. The excitement of my expectancy can never be described. I had been an informal mother (that's how I thought of myself) to 1,500 children for the previous two years as the Director of the largest Head Start / Daycare program in the City of Chicago. I had taken classes and been trained by formal setting and by trial and error on all realms of early childhood development, early childhood education, nutrition, maternal and child health and more. I loved children and at last I would be able to love my own. Of course I did all the things the overzealous expectant mom does. I bought all the books, decorated the room, child proofed the house, selected her God mother, made video tapes. Oh my it was really over the top. So first there was Caiyah my storm of a child. Caiyah was very busy always in to something, oh so smart. I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with after the first week. Then there was all this hoopla over the next baby my chocolate drop baby itty bitty Tasia. She was born a year and half after Caiyah and just the opposite. She was quiet, reserved, and never wanted to be out of her Mommy's sight because if I left the screaming began and did not stop until I returned. She got over that after a while. Somewhere in between I married their father. Then one year later there was Justice baby number three the sweetest little girl on earth. Her voice sounds like one of the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. Justice was as beautiful as she was unexpected. She always smiled and made everyday like sunshine. I called her "Butter"; short for Butterball. Then no one can forget the birth of the "BoomBoom" my baby. This was the first time my water actually broke and it was in City Hall. I knew Zyra was the last one and she is my peanut. She looked just like a little brown peanut but she acted like a Boom Boom. Zyra says what she means and means what she says!
We were a happy family until my husband filed for divorce in 2005. At which time all hell broke loose in my life. I secured a job but it was in Georgia so in the middle of a custody battle the judge allowed me to remove the children from the State of Illinois to Georgia. We began our new life in Fayette County Georgia. I chose this particular area because it was the #1 school district in Georgia and convenient to my mother's home. This area is an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the big city. It's like the Stedford Wives with perfectly manicured lawns, beautiful shopping centers, what seemed like nice people. Little did I know that disciplining my child would land me in jail, my children in foster care, and our lives in a whirlwind of trauma and uncertainty.
The BIG Spanking
I refuse to let it end this way.
It all began as Caiyah had frequent fights in school and calls from her teacher for disruptive behavior in the classroom. She was progressively punshied by being restricted to her room and removal of privileges. I suspect that these behaviors were occuring because visits from their father had become few. He had not seen them in three months (every since the courts decided I no longer had to finance his travel to Atlanta). On the day of the spanking Caiyah was never hit 34 times. This number I have no idea where it originated. She received 10 licks with the belt. Why were there marks?---because I must admit in the hurry of the day I picked up a belt I had never used before. It was thicker than the one I had used in the past...secondly in the rush of preparing dinner for the other children she was getting changed for bed I walked in and explained her punishment began to spank her; she jumped around and thus the marks. This is really how it happened. The red marks were gone the next night. No parent ever wants to hurt their child. A parent does have the right to discipline a child for misbehaving.
Both parents believe in spanking the children. Would you rather I not spank her and the next time she slaps your wife or husband (because she fought an adult this particular day). Next the system will want to charge my child with assault and she ends up in the Juvenile Justice System.
Child Welfare All Wrong in Fayette County Georgia---DFCS Makes A Case
This is where the events get all twisted and all the devils show their horns.
- DFCS investigator interviews Caiyah
- DFCS investigator interviews Mom
- Stories are concurred and DFCS worker tells mom case will close by next Friday after a home visit
- DFCS worker finds out mom is from Chicago(an outsider-some Georgians hate outsiders) and finds out mom is an Administrator in an adjoining county
- Instead of closing case DFCS worker makes an outside referral and lies to mom about the referral
- After two weeks mom demands status of case and DFCS worker does not respond
- Mom takes child to doctor for sick visit and additionally asks doctor to interview and review child. Doctor sees no marks and writes letter to DFCS that she is pediatrician and has not seen any abuse physical or emotional
- DFCS decides to ignore doctors review and analysis
- DFCS cannot find anything else on mom so they report the incident to the press
- DFCS cannot substantiate the case so they call the police to investigate( not even their own policy--call should've been made within 24 hours if it were emminent danger
- If the bruises were that bad why wasn't she taken to the hospital; why wasn't the police called at the time? Because it wasn't that bad!
- The police confirms the story but insist on a forensic interview (usually done on children with severe lasting injuries and sexual abuse)
- Mom agrees if she is present in another room. When mom arrives police makes her leave the site of the forensic interview and keeps child in their custody.
- Caiyah is alone with police, DFCS, and medical contractors for FOUR hours. A forensice interview should only last 1 hour. This meant they drilled her over and over. She said they questioned her at least 4 or 5 times. Why would you question an 8 year old 5 times?
- Police return child to mom and has mom arrested at night when they can justify removing all four children instead of the one...there were no allegations regarding the other 3 children at the time.
The REMAINING horror and dysfunction of this particular county goes further than DFCS. Then the rinky dink courts get involved...and it's even messier.
- Can we say NEPOTISM EVERYWHERE!!
- The judges, district attorneys, circuit clerks, court clerks, newpaper reporters, police officers, and sheriff, are ALL RELATED!!!! ALL WHITE!!!!
- You can't even hire an attorney to come to Fayette County and try a case. If you get an attorney it may cost you more because and attorney told me "Fayette County is like a third world country when it comes to the law."
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Fair treatment??? Not likely!!!!
A serious objective examination of the evidence??? Not likely!!!!!
Source: Cylenthia Clark
Addendum: A news article shows that this case has been tearing the Georgia child protectors apart. Within the government, conflicting forces want to excuse Mrs Clark, or treat her as the equal of other parents. Mrs Clark herself has reacted in the same way as a normal mother, counter-attacking the agency stealing her children.
DFCS workers felt jobs at risk in colleague's case
Fayette County child welfare workers say their superiors at the state office pressured them to protect Cylenthia Clark, a high-ranking colleague accused of beating her own child with a belt, according to a file obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The workers say that Mary Dean Harvey, director of Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services, specifically berated them for corroborating findings that Clark had abused her 9-year-old daughter and accused them of "aiding and abetting" Clark's ex-husband in his battle for custody.
The workers felt so threatened by their bosses that they asked state investigators to tell Gov. Sonny Perdue they were afraid of losing their jobs.
"If these allegations are true, there is a lot of cause for concern," said Tom C. Rawlings, Georgia's child advocate, whose office serves as ombudsman for the state's child welfare system. "One of the biggest concerns in any child welfare system is when the front-line workers are afraid that any move they make will be second-guessed by higher-ups and will come back to haunt them."
In an interview for this story, Harvey denied that the workers' jobs were ever in jeopardy.
"No employee's job is ever threatened when they are doing the right work," Harvey said. "There is no basis for people to fear for their employment." She said the state office did not protect Clark.
Clark did not return calls seeking comment.
Clark was a top DFCS administrator in Fulton County when Fayetteville police arrested her last March on child cruelty charges. She is awaiting a trial date for allegedly striking her daughter 34 times with a leather belt, leaving bruises on her back, arm and leg.
Last spring, Perdue asked the state Office of the Child Advocate to ensure that DFCS was treating Clark as it would any parent.
The advocate's investigative file shows that Fayette County DFCS workers believed that Clark was getting preferential treatment from the state office and if the county workers did not endorse that tack, they might be fired.
Clark was hired on the personal recommendation of B.J. Walker, commissioner of Georgia's Department of Human Resources, which oversees DFCS. Walker has previously said that she exerted no pressure to hire Clark.
"The way the state office has acted is to try and to protect Ms. Clark," said Dee Simms, Georgia's former child advocate, who oversaw the investigation. "They have acted reprehensibly with regard to the director in Fayette County. All she did was do her job."
Fayette County DFCS director Mary Davis told investigators that Harvey brought up "a big custody battle" playing out between Clark and her ex-husband and directed Fayette County DFCS workers to place the couple's four young daughters with Clark's mother. The father has since been awarded custody and the children are living with him in Chicago.
Davis also told investigators that Harvey accused Fayette County DFCS of siding with the father and that she would be held "personally responsible" for the case and that her office would be "under particular scrutiny."
Davis further said that Harvey rebuked her office and implied that it was incompetent in its finding of abuse. She quoted Harvey as saying: "I'm sure that you've never spanked your child, but if you had, you would know that they wiggle and you will hit everything but the back end."
Davis declined to be interviewed for this story and referred questions to the state DFCS office.
The advocate's office concluded that Fayette County DFCS "followed all polices and procedures in regards to this investigation" in a letter to Walker.
The letter also stated that the advocate's office "is gravely concerned that Ms. Clark remains employed by the state agency charged with the protection of abused and neglected children."
Following her arrest, Clark was transferred from Fulton County DFCS to DHR and currently coordinates training on a database that tracks families in Georgia's child welfare system.
Rawlings, who replaced Simms as Georgia's child advocate in July, said that if true, "a reasonable person would interpret Ms. Harvey's remarks as a threat."
A former juvenile court judge, Rawlings said it is up to the court to determine where children involved in a custody battle should be placed. "If people at the state office were in fact calling Ms. Davis or anyone else at Fayette County and making sure the father didn't get the children, then that raises some very serious concerns of extreme impropriety," he said.
In the interview with the AJC, Harvey said her actions were all aboveboard. "From my view, my involvement was appropriate and, given my history, totally consistent," Harvey said. "This case was no different from many other cases I deal with."
Harvey denied trying to keep the Clark children from their father. "I can simply tell you that I gave no such instruction," she said.
Simms said that she told Perdue the state office was pressuring Fayette County DFCS.
"I also told him that every DFCS office, if they were doing their job, would have substantiated physical abuse. That was a given, looking at the case," Simms said.
A Perdue spokesman said the governor is up to date on the case and has expressed confidence in Walker.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Addendum: An editorial expands on the dilemma in this case.
Welts, not welfare
Boss's protective maneuvers send a message that undermines DFCS mission — children's safety
It was bad enough when Fayette County police arrested high-ranking child welfare official Cylenthia Clark for allegedly striking her own young daughter with a belt 34 times on the back, arms, legs and face. Now it appears that Clark's boss, Division of Family and Children Services director Mary Dean Harvey, pressured Fayette child welfare workers to bend policy to protect Clark.
A damning report by the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate cites numerous interventions by Harvey on behalf of Clark, assistant director of the Fulton County DFCS office. Because it involved a top DFCS employee, this case was fraught with mine fields that demanded that Harvey tread carefully.
Instead, the report of the child advocate suggests that Harvey thudded through the investigation, pushing the DFCS office in Fayette, where Clark lived, to bend rules and give Clark special treatment. According to Fayette DFCS director Mary Davis, Harvey told her, "I'm sure that you've never spanked your child, but if you had, you would know that they wiggle, and you will hit everything but the back end."
If Harvey uttered that bizarre statement, she has handed every parent in Georgia charged with child abuse a fresh line of defense: "I didn't mean to strike my 6-year-old's face, but she put her face in the path of the belt."
Davis told investigators that she received 20 calls at home on a Saturday from the state office pressing her to give custody of Clark's four children to Clark's mother. She said Harvey directed her office to place the children with the grandmother rather than the father because of "a big custody battle." (The kids are now with the dad.)
Davis also said that Harvey warned her that she would be held "personally responsible" for the case and that her office would be "under particular scrutiny." The case manager told investigators she feared for her job.
The Clark case and Harvey's alleged interference sully the credibility and integrity of the child welfare system, yet Department of Human Resources Commissioner B.J. Walker has remained eerily quiet. She has allowed Harvey to simply wave off all the allegations by the Fayette staff, laid out in a detailed 12-page report by the advocate's office.
This summer, a grand jury indicted Clark on one charge of first-degree child cruelty stemming from the February incident in which police contend that she beat her child hard enough to leave marks that caused the school to alert social services. While awaiting trial, Clark has taken her case to the public, creating an incendiary personal Web site where she accuses Fayette County child welfare workers of incompetence, genocide, racism and nepotism. The last allegation is interesting, given that Clark got her $73,000-a-year job because she knew Walker when both worked in Chicago.
She also offers her own defense for the marks on her daughter: "Why were there marks? ... because I must admit in the hurry of the day I picked up a belt I had never used before. It was thicker than the one I had used in the past ... secondly in the rush of preparing dinner for the other children she was getting changed for bed I walked in and explained her punishment began to spank her; she jumped around and thus the marks."
Not only does she attack her own agency on the Web site, but Clark also asks other aggrieved parents to contact her. (She further solicits donations for her legal fund.)
After her investigation of the case, former Georgia child advocate Dee Simms told Walker that her office was "gravely concerned that Ms. Clark was still employed by the state agency charged with the protection of abused and neglected children. ... Allowing Ms. Clark to remain an employee of Georgia DFCS sends the wrong message to the public, the message that the state DFCS office believes that is acceptable for an employee to abuse her own children."
That is the exact message conveyed by Clark's continued employment and Walker's silence on this unsettling case.
— Maureen Downey, for the editorial board
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution