After controversially taking a five-month old baby out of the custody of his parents at gun-point for seeking a second medical opinion on flu-like symptoms, Child Protective Services (CPS) sent a letter to a State Assemblyman of California, Tim Donnelly (R). In the letter, dated May 1, 2013, Sherri Z. Heller, the Director of Health and Human Service (HHS) which is the authority in charge of CPS, refused to release information to Assem. Donnelly.
Heller of HHS asserted that, due to “Welfare and Institutions Code 827” requiring “that juvenile cases be kept confidential,” CPS’s authority to determine what is “best” for children against their parents’ best wishes, where “risk” is seen, is inviolable and unilateral.
The unfolding of a nightmare scenario for parents
Alex and Anna Nikolayev, parents of five-month old Sammy, entered Sutter Memorial Hospital for assessment of their son’s flu-like symptoms. Sutter doctors recommended heart surgery for the heart murmur Sammy has had since he was born.
The Nikolayevs left the hospital without a formal discharge, and went to a different hospital, Kaiser, for a second opinion. Both a doctor and a police officer cleared that Sammy was not in any danger by remaining in his parents’ care, and the family went home.
But the following day, armed police arrived at the family’s private home and demanded, at gun point, that the baby be handed over, without a warrant. The officers specifically informed the Nikolayevs that they would not be told what location the baby would be relocated to.
The home video clearly shows that police, who arrived at the home in numbers, showing their overwhelming force, used the stern phrase, “I’m going to grab your baby, don’t resist.”
After a week without custody of their child, Alex and Anna Nikolayev were finally reunited and “given” back their custody and natural rights to make Sammy’s medical decisions. In order to receive this “gift” from the state, the Nikolayev’s say they were required to submit to continued CPS monitoring, which they did in order to get their son back.
State assemblyman: “They’ve committed no crime”
“They’ve committed no crime, why are [the parents] not just free to determine what is in the best interest of their child?” Assem. Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, asked in an interview.
Sutter Memorial Hospital, the hospital from which the Nikolayev’s exited on their own volition, released a message that said “a pediatric patient’s health in danger” requires nurses and physicians to call authorities.
In the Nikoleyav’s case, seeking a second opinion was considered “danger.”
CPS has refused to comment directly, citing their legal code of confidentiality.
In the letter to Assem. Tim Donnelly, HHS Director Heller outright refuses to disclose the justification for CPS’s actions, stating their actions are determined only by “senior agency personnel.” The full letter is available to read from the News10 link below.
Retroactive judicial supervision of CPS only
The only exception to CPS’s autonomy is that it must open its behavior to scrutiny if ordered by a judge, said the letter to Assem. Donnelly. However, Heller acknowledged, typically, a judge’s review occurs only after the CPS has taken actions that separate children from their parents.
Sammy’s father, Alex Nikolayev, said on Tuesday, “I’m not sure who is the higher authority over them. The higher authority needs to look into them because they have a very bad track record, and somebody needs to investigate them.”
Said Assem. Donnelly, “I’m not getting any answers. I’m getting this run-around that CPS, whatever they do, they’re allowed to operate in secret, and they’re accountable to no one,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly added that he has been hearing from other parents who described similar incidents, and has called for the state to audit CPS.
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