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Child Protection Officials Ignore Child Abuse Plea

Why is it that CPS is very fast at removing children from homes
where no abuse occurs while it ignores things like this?

I am sure many here can relate to stories like this. I have had
women tell me that CPS threatened to charge them with abuse and
remove their children from them if they did not "testify" against
their husbands to get them out of the house. It did not matter that
the things they were told to say did not happen.


child protection officials ignore child abuse plea

Pleas for help preceded boy's beating

Aunt says she called state officials many times before her sister,
Terrell Thomas, was charged with assaulting son.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/30/04

Monika Eubanks said she pleaded with Fulton County child protection
officials to remove her 8-year-old nephew and his two siblings from
their mother's care.

She said she begged them in May, when she suspected her niece had
been abused by one of her sister's friends. Then she became adamant
when she learned that schoolteachers had spotted bruises on her
nephew, Curtis Thomas.

"I was on the phone with them. I was so loud. Screaming, 'What else
do you want to happen?' " said Eubanks, adding that she feared her
sister a single, unemployed mother of three was falling apart

Eubanks said her sister, Terrell Thomas, reached the breaking point
Monday. Police said Thomas, 28, beat her son with an iron, a knife
and other objects at her house on Holly Road in northwest Atlanta
sometime after midnight Sunday.

Curtis received several stitches in his head at Hughes Spalding
Children's Hospital and was placed in state custody, along with his
3-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister.

State child protection officials on Tuesday fired the Fulton County
caseworker, Cedric McMiller, who was handling the family's case.

'Swift action' taken

The firing comes about a month into the term of Department of Human
Resources Commissioner B.J. Walker, and almost a year after the
state began an effort to repair the dysfunctional agency for child
protective services.

"Poor casework will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Swift
action will always be taken," DHR spokeswoman Dena Smith said

McMiller, the fired caseworker, could not be reached for comment.

Eubanks, the injured boy's aunt, said changes at the Division of
Family and Children Services apparently haven't improved the
agency's ability to respond to cries for help.

She said she called McMiller about a dozen times in May, and said
that many calls were not returned. She said the caseworker said he
had many cases to handle. When she could not reach him, she said she
called his supervisor several times, getting no response.

State child protection officials say they do not believe this
particular case reflects larger systemwide problems. McMiller, whom
they described as a veteran caseworker, was not burdened with a high
caseload, as are many other child protection workers, they said.

Eubanks said the system failed her nephew. "My sister has a temper.
I know she disciplines her kids. She blows up," she said. "She

Shaqueria Dawson, the children's 14-year-old baby sitter, said the
mother greeted her at the front door in the predawn hours Monday
with blood on her arms and thighs.

The teen found Curtis in the shower "bleeding all over his head,"
she said. His mother was in a rage over something the boy had done,
she said, and had hit him with an iron. While the baby sitter was
there, Thomas walked into the bathroom with a big knife, about 9
inches long, and started banging him on the head with the sharp
edge, opening wounds, Shaqueria said. Then she spit on him, the teen

Girl, 10, begs for help

The baby sitter said she started to leave the home but was stopped
by the boy's 10-year-old sister. The girl begged Shaqueria to stay,
saying she was afraid her mother would kill her brother.

Shaqueria said she decided to try to get Thomas out of the house and
suggested she go party at a local dance club.

"She stopped everything," Shaqueria said. "She didn't even wipe off
the blood."

Shaqueria said the mother put the boy in a closet and told him: "You
might as well prepare to die when I come home."

Thomas and Shaqueria walked out of the house together. Then
Shaqueria slipped away, quickly borrowed a cellphone and called the
police, she said. Atlanta police confirmed that the baby sitter
called them.

"I believe I saved that child's life," Shaqueria said. "I thought he
was going to die."

Eubanks said family members wanted to take temporary custody of the
children while her sister got her life together. Thomas had been
drinking and losing weight, she said, but the caseworker would not
declare the woman an unfit mother.

DFCS had placed the 10-year-old daughter in her care for about two
months in May, Eubanks said. But the other children were left in
danger, she said.

DFCS officials declined to discuss specifics about how the case was
handled, citing confidentiality on behalf of the children.

On Tuesday, Thomas stood silently in a blue jail jumpsuit as a judge
set bond at $101,000. She is charged with aggravated assault, child
cruelty and reckless conduct.

Eubanks said she is now fighting just to see her sister's three
children. She worries they are afraid, surrounded by strangers.

"They just didn't think anything was wrong. They thought she was
just going through something," she said of DFCS officials. "They
just don't want to do anything."

Staff writer Bill Montgomery contributed to this article.

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