Law in 12 States OKs Separating Kids From Parents If They Fail to Pay Debts
By-laws in at least 12 states say it’s OK to take kids away from their mothers and fathers forever if the parent didn’t pay a little-known debt to the government. It is considered the ultimate punishment from the court to lose your parental rights. Unpaid debts for foster care can delay the reunion. Even though the feds instructed the states to stop, some parents are still getting bills.
This bill is what parents receive after their children go into foster care to reimburse the government for some of the cost of that care. Parents rarely lose their children because they’ve failed to pay in most states.
It is often a confusing process for mothers and fathers, especially in one state where NPR investigative correspondent Joseph Shapiro found that parents can follow the court-ordered steps and still lose their children forever.
According to a published post by NPR, In North Carolina, upon a review of appeals court decisions over the last two years, there is a dominant situation that highlights the failure of debt payments. This seems to contradict the best practice and the latest law on child welfare that prioritizes keeping parents and children together.
The state steps in especially when parents go through periods of crisis and their children are at risk. With this situation at hand, kids go to foster care. A judge tells parents all the things they need to do to get their kids back.
A certain couple in the names of Courtney and Jeremy Johnson of Beaufort County, N.C., lost their battle to get their twin sons home this summer. North Carolina’s Supreme Court ruling came days after the Johnsons made their July visit with the boys to celebrate their seventh birthday. After that, they were unable to see the boys again and were not able to bid their goodbyes.
Why and How Do Parents Lose Their Rights to Their Kids?
Loss of parental rights comes to parents when there’s been significant abuse or unfixed neglect. The Johnsons faced allegations of neglect wherein child welfare officials said they didn’t get their twins to medical appointments and didn’t supervise them enough when one boy burned his fingers on a barrel of burning trash.
As a result, the Johnsons were forever separated from their sons on the grounds that they failed to pay a little-known debt to the government to reimburse part of their boys’ foster care.
In accordance with an investigation in the previous year which raised questions about the practice of billing parents for their child’s stay in foster care. Earlier this year, the federal government told states to stop but one month after that new federal guidance, the state court ruled against the Johnsons for nonpayment, even though the Johnsons say they weren’t told to pay that money.
It was stated in two lines of the document that the county issued a warning. But then they didn’t get around to issuing a payment order for another two years, not until after it started the process to terminate the Johnsons’ parental rights, where the failure to pay was then used against them. Jeremy Johnson says he didn’t find out until the day he was summoned to court.
The Johnsons were told to pay $17,000 in arrears. Seventeen thousand for three years of foster care. That’s a lot for a family that’s living from paycheck to paycheck. The couple stated that they could have been able to pay if they were just told to do so.
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