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. :
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, ‘‘”
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.