Is DCF In Contempt Once More? Our Story

by sshinkel

In reference to the consent agreement– JUAN F. 1991 United States District Court.

What is a consent decree?

A consent decree (also referred to as a consent order or stipulated judgment or agreed judgment) is a final, binding judicial decree or judgment memorializing a voluntary agreement between parties to a suit, in return for an end to a civil litigation or withdrawal of a criminal charges. In a typical consent decree, the defendant has already ceased or agrees to cease the conduct alleged by the plaintiff to be illegal, and consents to a court injunction barring the conduct in the future. Sometimes a consent judgment memorializes a payment of money damages, and sometimes the defendant expressly does not admit to fault, illegality, or damages. Consent decrees are used most commonly in criminal law and family law, and sometimes in United States antitrust law.
A consent decree can be either interlocutory or final. The former is given on some plea or issue arising in the cause which does not decide the main question; the latter settles the matter in dispute, and a final decree has the same effect as a judgment at law.

Once entered, a consent decree is binding on the consenting parties and cannot be reviewed except on a showing that the consent was obtained by fraud or that the decree was based on mutual error or a failure of consent.

If the party against whom the judgment is rendered, in this case DCF CT; violates the terms of the consent decree, the judgment is as binding as any other, and the non-breaching party, or in this case Maggie and her family; may seek enforcement through a contempt action.

What I want to know is DCF responsible for the consequential damages, because of their failure to provide specific services as outlined in the consent decree to protect, specifically the children involved who were at risk by their own definition; of abuse and neglect because their mother suffered from a “history of Major Depression” and suspected cognitive impairment. Not that they could do anything for the latter; but this in and of itself does not deem a person unfit to be a parent, but people who suffer from Depression (major Depression) symptoms include:

* Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
* Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
* Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
* Reduced sex drive
* Insomnia or excessive sleeping
* Changes in appetite — depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
* Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
* Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
* Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
* Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
* Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
* Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
* Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
* Crying spells for no apparent reason
* Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
which has been shown to lead to abuse or neglect, in Maggie’s case neglect. She has Never abused her children physically or allowed anyone to her knowledge to abuse her children either.

I am arguing that if DCF did what they were court ordered to do; ‘ provide service to this family’ to address mental health issues- that the outcome could be different. And, there is no evidence of services rendered or that an attempt or even a reasonable attempt was made to address the mental health issues.
This case has been open for 9 years.

So back to the question now; Would it be reasonable to argue that if a person or in this case (DCF-CT) was in contempt of a court order or consent decree and serious consequences occurred because of that contempt specifically as it relates to this case, Maggie has  substantiated neglects that allegedly prompted  her children being removed from her parental care, and the only services they offered were after they decided they were putting the children up for adoption wherein we seem to think  they were attempting to gather evidence to terminate parental rights. So they place these 2 children whose behaviors would indicate autism with Maggie’s Uncle and wife who have no other connection to Maggie but the same last name but who are for all intents and purposes, family according to DCF. They tell Maggie they want to give them guardianship until she completes a list of things- NONE to which address her mental health. So now she has 10 months to get a full time job and acquire an apartment of her own if she wants her children to be back. Mind you now- she HAD her own apartment after she separated from her physically and emotionally abusive husband who in the absence of a court order refused to help her financially to keep the apartment or care for their children. The only source of income she had was SSI in the amount of $600 a month for her then, 7 year old autistic daughter Kara and her rent was $625. Maggie says she asked Janet (DCF worker) for help to remain in the apartment and she said Janet told her that the department was going to pay her rent but they never did; and Maggie was finally evicted. According to the consent decree DCF should have had these funds to prevent an eviction. However, they did not; and instead they made Maggie and her 2 special needs children Tommy and Katie move into her mother’s already filled to capacity and financially strained home in the BASEMENT which they claimed after inspection was suitable. There was no time to prepare. The decision was made on a Friday and Maggie and the children were living in the basement that same weekend. Tommy and Katie present with the same behaviors of tantrums and self injurious tendencies that their sister Kara presented with; that would indicate autism.

Jeffrey Gold: you can read about his arrest here

came out to visit Maggie Post removal of the children and according to Maggie said, I know we were talking about guardianship while you do the things you need to get done but now (and for apparent or discussed reason) we are leaning more toward adoption. He explains to Maggie that because the kids are presenting with special needs, if she fails to meet the departments requirements that the children would be harder to place if Fred and Linda (the family members) decide later on they don’t want to continue guardianship or adopt the children. And, that it would be in the best interests of the children if she voluntarily terminated her parental rights so that Fred and Linda could adopt the children; at this time Fred and Linda had already agreed with DCF to adopt the children according to Jeff Gold . Maggie then states she asks “what if I don’t agree with that”? she says that Jeff then replies, If you don’t voluntarily terminate your parental rights and allow Fred and Linda to take the children then we will remove the children from them and place them in a home that is willing to adopt them and you risk NEVER seeing them again. Maggie feels out of options. She does not want to go to her family because she is humiliated and appalled by the things DCF alleges- and it isn’t until her relationship is strained with Her Uncle Fred and his wife that she realizes and tells her mother- I don’t think I am going to see my babies ever again and decides she has nothing to lose and she shows her mother the confidential report that was presented to the court as a preponderance of evidence- and she (Maggies’s mother) presents this argument on her behalf. Which also raises the question: if they suspected Maggie may be cognitively impaired, or retarded- should she even be involved in such matters- who was protecting her rights?)
Ref. Consent Decree Agreement of 1991. pg. 51 section {c} Placement Prevention and Family Preservation Services.

Also reference from consent decree Pg. 55 Voluntary Service Units Paragraph (1.) in conjunction with section(3)

A voluntary services unit shall be considered pilot programs reviewed by the monitoring panel- its purpose to provide information, advice, limited case management and access to services to:
Specifically to this case is #(3) families with minor children who are at-risk of abuse or neglect, because of substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence or other serious problems with the families environment.

DCF clearly had a responsibility to meet the needs of this family including but not limited to addressing the mental health issues Maggie had/has to protect the minor children who were according to the aforementioned would indicate the children were “at-risk” because of Maggie’s mental health; and that the person/s whose life/lives was/were harmed because of said action/or in this case the lack thereof- should be afforded the due process the consent decree orders, without prejudice.

We let DCF strip families of their most important of all liberty “interests” the parent-child relationship with a failing grade even AFTER 20 years. And we then in turn point an accusatory finger at the agency and appoint blame- when WE the people enable them. We have the power to reform this entity. What we lack is the courage.

If a judge could find favor in this case it would mean a new and positive direction on the responsibilities and requirements of DCF and the power that We The People have entrusted them with. And could pave the way to reforming a system that has been calling for such reform for 20 years. By holding them; DCF accountable for their failures and the consequential failures because of such failures.