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November 5, 2012 permalink
After three-year-old Amari Welburn died in an accidental fire, social workers compounded the family tragedy by taking four more children. To get parents Marasia Vanness and Derek Welburn to sign the children over, social workers used both deception (it was for 72 hours) and coercion (otherwise they will be gone for three months). It is now a common pattern that when a child dies of accidental or natural causes child protectors scoop up the rest of the family's children.
Parents speak about Albany fire siblings in foster care
On the day they buried their 3-year-old daughter killed in a fire, an Albany couple is blasting county social services for placing their other four kids in foster care.
The family, their lawyer and community leaders held a press conference Friday afternoon, calling for this family to be reunited.
Marasia Vanness and Derek Welburn say losing one child to fire was bad enough, but losing four to foster care is more than they can bear, and they feel they were deceived into allowing Albany County to remove their kids from their care – signing a paper allowing the kids to be placed in foster care for 72 hours that they claim if it was not signed, would have put the kids in the system for three months.
Still dressed in black from their 3-year-old daughter Amari's funeral, Marasia Vanness and Derek Welburn met with the media to, as their lawyer said, get off their chests the feelings they have been holding in since the deadly October 17th fire in their Benson Street home.
“I feel like my kids were tooken (sic) for no reason,” said mother Marasia Vanness. “I was violated a time of me grieving my daughter who I just lost, who I saved out of the apartment.”
Father Derek Welburn said, “I feel like the kids were tooken (sic) without any just cause. We would really appreciate the return of the children back.”
Vanness describing the consequences before and after the fire - saying that she and her kids were napping when one woke her up screaming fire, and saying that she had turned the stove on to heat the apartment because the actual heat had been out for four days, despite calls to the landlord to fix it.
“I had to leave my burners on so I could warm my house,” said Vanness.
The family contends that the county removed the kids from their grandmother’s home after the fire because of concerns they were using that stove for heat as well, even though they say it was really being used for actual cooking.
FOX23’s Walt McClure asked the family’s lawyer if they were concerned that having this press conference might do more harm than good.
“There could be some unintended consequences,” said Bernard Bryan. “Unfortunately, these folks had to get it off their chests, and frankly, they couldn’t contain themselves.”
NAACP Regional Director Anne Pope was also at the press conference, saying the organization fully supports this family, and saying that situations like this, children being removed from their parents and put in foster care, happen far too often.
Pope was at the funeral, and says anyone who saw the love between the children and their parents that she saw there would not have removed the children.
Albany County says in cases like this, it works for the Department of Children, Youth and Families to keep families together and does what is in the best interest of the kids.
Spokesperson Mary Rozak told FOX23 News, “When there are instances where the welfare of the children is in question, we do go to court. In this case, the judge agreed it was in the best interest of the children that they be placed in foster care.”
There is another hearing in the case set for November 9.
Source: WXXA Fox 23 Albany