Kidnapped by California Bureaucrats

Melinda Smith is suing Los Angeles county after being separated from her sole remaining parent for ten years. The county’s excuse: They couldn’t locate her father, who was paying monthly child support while she was in foster care. From Sploid:

When Melinda Smith was born in 1989, her parents were not married, but her father agreed to pay child support. Until the girl was four, Thomas Marion Smith regularly visited with his daughter. All that ended when Melinda’s mother decided to move away.

Though [Thomas Marion Smith] continued to receive and pay bills from the county for child support, he had no idea where his little girl was. She had simply disappeared as far as he was concerned.

Records show that in 1995, after two complaints of suspected child abuse, Melinda’s mother turned the young girl over to foster care services.

[…] Even though her father continued to receive bills from the county, records had Thomas listed as whereabouts: unknown.

“He’s a registered voter with a valid driver’s license and an open child support case,” Thomas’ attorney, L. Wallace Pate asked the Los Angeles Times. “All they had to do, at any time during those 10 years, was pick up the phone and ask the L.A. County Child Support Services Department, ‘Do you have a contact on this man?‘”

There’s just no excuse for this kind of bureaucratic bungle. Every dime of the child support money should be paid back to Smith and her father, and I hope some criminal charges are filed as well for kidnapping, obstruction of justice and whatever the hell else will scare some accountability into L.A. county’s social services organization. For shame, this kind of stuff should never happen… and it sure as hell shouldn’t have happened for the incredible span of ten years.

  1. … now, if only government agencies were capable of being pressed criminal charges against under the same clauses that corporations were…

  2. California also won’t locate mom’s for fathers trying to find them in child support cases. Did you know that? Officials have told me personally that they were precluded from aiding a father in finding their child and other parent, regardless of the reason.

    Clearly, they operate in “the best interests” of the child.

  3. Frank, I know the father in this case very well and have known him the entire time. What you say is EXACTLY what happened to him. He was going to the child support bureau asking where she was. They said they couldn’t say where mom was… thus leading everyone to believe she was with mom, and they weren’t saying where she was.

    Thanks for your comments. People who know what they are talking about, and have faced the same thing the Smiths have, know that this is how “the system” operates. It seems kind of unbelieveable to anyone who hasn’t lived it. But your comments bolster the credibility of the victims (tom and melinda) in this case. They were failed miserably.

    Ian… Criminal prosecution is what I’m hoping for, but it seems unlikely.

  4. Oh, one more thing, Frank. Not only did the child support bureau REPEATEDLY refuse to help Mr. Smith locate his daughter, they cited confidentiality rules to justify doing so. They told him to hire a lawyer, which he did. They also refused to tell the lawyer where she was and advised that they hire a private investigator. Which was done… also to no avail.

    When Mr. Smith’s lawyer for the current civil case inquired with the child support bureau, they had the huevos to DENY that they refused to turn over the information. Oh, well, there are plenty of credible witnesses, including the original attorney who tried to locate this poor child, who are willing to testify.

  5. Nottherealme — I would hope criminal charges are pressed as well; the question though then becomes: who individually do they get pressed against?

    The organization is *CLEARLY* at fault as it was CPS’s policies that lead to the kidnapping event… but CPS is immune to prosecution.

    *sigh* — Ahh, well.