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Against the Poor

other SPRING 2009 articles


  Spring 2009

Exposing the Child Welfare Empire to Celebrate International Women’s Day
“Stop the War on the Poor, Reunite our Families”

The Photo Bus Tour of the $125 million Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) Empire left from Welfare Warriors Mothers Organizing Center at 11 AM on March 9 to celebrate International Women’s Day and the tenth Global Women Strike. The Tour addressed the economic incentives for unjust removal and detention of children from safe homes in the costly child protective empire as well as the failure of the BMCW to properly place and monitor children separated from parents. The Bureau was recently responsible for the torture of two babies in foster care and the death of the youngest victim, Christopher Thomas.

“Tourists” included Vets United in Community Service, university students, mothers and children.  The bus tour stopped at six of the 172 sites funded by the Bureau, which has expanded dramatically since being privatized by the state of Wisconsin in 1998. In addition to the 169 private vendors, the Bureau funds nearly 850 staff positions to remove 2774 children each year from about 1400 families on unproven allegations of abuse and neglect.

Tour director Pat Gowens provided the tourists funding and staff figures of this growing empire, as well as the legal definition of abuse and neglect under WI State statutes 42.02 and 42.98. She explained that the Bureau often fails to properly implement Child Abuse Statutes, thereby endangering children. Moms and a grandmother whose children are suffering unjust state detention described their struggles to reunite their families.

At their first stop in front of the Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI), the tourists poured out of the bus with protest signs and cameras to photograph the new block-long building. MCFI helped build their “home” by providing case management, and mandatory parenting and nurturing classes for moms who must take their classes to secure the return of their children.  Sharon S. told tourists that she lost her visits with her infant when an MCFI worker objected to the odor in the hallway of her apartment building. The worker also insisted that she must move out of a poor neighborhood if she wanted to see her child again.

An MCFI staff person spoke with the tourists.  She denied receiving funds from the Bureau and insisted that “our director personally raised all of the funds for this building.” One tourist remarked that those must have been some mighty big bake sales to fund a multi-million dollar dynasty.

MCFI not only receives a contract from the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, but they have been receiving state money since 1997 to force moms who receive a welfare check to work off that check—for no pay—at MCFI.  Their notorious “job training” required moms to count out pogs from a box and return them.  When asked at an earlier protest how this helped women get jobs, the supervisor snapped, “It teaches them to get up out of bed every morning.”  (Single moms!)

The next stop was at the $108 million Bureau headquarters in the “Schlitz Park.” The bus had trouble finding the exact location in the large corporate enclave. When tourists stepped off the bus chanting “Stop the War on the Poor, Reunite our Families”, high school students on a lunch break questioned tourists.  Their school, The Alliance, was nearby. Bigots had protested at their school twice in the last two weeks. (The Alliance school is for youth who have faced intolerance and bullying because of their sexuality, size etc.) Students reported that the bigots told them their books probably had AIDs on them and their teachers melted down babies into botox!

Three of the students joined the Photo Bus Tour. Two had a friend who was being abused in foster care.  The fourth child had run away from foster care himself.

At the Bureau’s Region 3 on busy North Ave, a mom came out of the building applauding the tourists and repeating that all she wants are her babies back home. Cars honked in support of the protesters and one man on the street joined the Bus Tour.

Patricia S told tourists that the caseworkers at this agency have kept her children from returning home for 6 years and still require her to have supervised visits. She said she loves her children and has met every condition for their return.  But the ten caseworkers on the case refuse to reunite her family. Pam M described her nightmare when women from Region 3 took her two grandchildren away from her safe, loving home. The Bureau decided that her daughter’s hospitalization for mental illness was dangerous to the children. Yet she had never harmed them and she and her children lived with her mom to guarantee their security if she got sick. The Bureau placed the children with a chronic criminal and convicted child abuser and forced the 8-year old boy to get therapy and drugs because of his demands to return home.

Up the street, the tour bus stopped at the largest Bureau agency, the $22.2 million CFCP run by Children’s Hospital. CFCP (Children’s Family and Community Partners) keeps their identity hidden while they require visits between moms and their children to be supervised by three caseworkers on the dole.  Destitute moms must provide food and games for the visits despite CFCP’s huge budget.  Since the state’s privatization of Child Welfare, supervised visit centers have sprouted up all over the city and supervised visits have become routine even for moms who never harmed their children. Visit supervisors can delay reunification based on a mom’s petty childrearing “failures” indefinitely.

 Sharon S. told tourists that Children Hospital took away her six-month-old baby because the baby was “overweight.” She had brought the baby to the hospital for a cold, which turned out to be pneumonia.

Tourists sang “The Mother and the Child” while staff inside CFCP stood at the windows.

At Acacia Clinic Gowens explained that both Psychiatrists and therapists receive financial support from the Bureau gravy train when moms are mandated into drugs and therapy to secure return of their children. To get her daughter back, Welfare Warriors founder Theresa Nix was forced by Acacia Clinic and the Bureau to be injected with Haldol at her home every three weeks. Yet Theresa had never neglected her daughter. This unnecessary chemical restraint resulted in Theresa’s death.  Her daughter, Veronica, a disabled child, was alone with her dead mom for days before they were found.

Children’ Service Society of Wisconsin was the next large Bureau stop. CSSW is an adoption agency. Yet they have the power to keep children in foster care and terminate the moms’ parental rights. Gowens suggested that this is a blatant conflict of interest.

The final stop on the Photo Bus Tour was the $11 million Bureau agency, LaCausa. The staff and director at LaCausa were responsible for the homicidal neglect that enabled the torture and death of Christopher Thomas. Dorothy K told the tourists that LaCausa removed her two sons claiming she was guilty of “medical neglect” when the fathers failed to keep several doctor appointments at Children Hospital. La Causa workers arrived with three squads of police to take the boys.  The cops pulled their guns on the family puppy.

The children were not harmed from their missed MD appointments—until LaCausa placed one boy in 5 different homes, one where he was sexually abused and one where he was in the home of one drug addict and one convicted pedophile.  The other child was placed with a dad who was homeless, charged with drug possession, and who allowed the boy to miss school for 48 days!

LaCausa has voluntarily terminated their contract as of May 1. Children’s Hospital is expected to receive the bulk of their money and cases. The Bureau plans to simply transfer the LaCausa workers.

Rebecca Welk, of Citizens Protecting Abused Children (CPAC), said her group will fight against this dangerous decision. She wants to see La Cause workers required to reapply and be retrained. Both Welfare Warriors and CPAC demand that all Bureau workers be required to have prior full-time caregiving work experience before being given the authority to determine who is an unfit mother and who is an appropriate foster placement. Currently no Bureau workers are required to have any (mother)work experience.

On their return to the Mother Organizing Center, Gowens explained how the legal system is involved in the child protective empire. About 98 lawyers— 8 judges, 64 Guardian Ad Litems, 15 District Attorneys, 32 private Public Defenders, and 6 Public Defenders—receive county and state funds to go along with the pack of ten Bureau caseworkers on each case. The Legal Aid Society receives a grant of  $1.06 million to provide the children’s Guardian Ad Litems.

The Bureau need only prove “with a preponderance (51%) of evidence” that the mom abused or neglected her children. However the Bureau rarely has to actually prove this because moms are never advised that they have a right to a trial to prove their innocence. Instead all lawyers urge the mom to “agree to conditions to more quickly get the children back.” That starts the months and years of court “hearings” where no legal proceeding ever take place. Instead the professionals hold gossip sessions about the mom’s progress in meeting the conditions--which expand at the whim of the caseworkers.

As the tourists disembarked, they promised to submit their favorite photos to the Welfare Warriors who will be creating an educational photo poster to expose and stop the dangerous, costly Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare Empire, which unfortunately is similar to child welfare agencies across the US. 

Legal Definition of Abuse / Neglect

 WI State Statute § 48.02

Abuse means any of the following:

Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Physical injury includes, but is not limited to, lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent  bruising, or great bodily harm.  

WI State Statute § 48.981

Neglect means failure, refusal, or inability on the part of a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person exercising temporary or permanent control over a child,  for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care,  food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter so as to

seriously endanger the physical  health of the child.  

WI State Statute § 48.02

Emotional Abuse means emotional damage for which the child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian has neglected, refused, or been unable for reasons other than poverty to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to ameliorate the symptoms. 

The Mother and the Child
Sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”

The mother and the child
The mother and the child
Watch Child Welfare tear the mother from the child

The Social Workers say
That mama’s not okay
Based on their bigotry they take the child away

The Case Worker Gangs
Judge moms in petty ways
They damn our families to guarantee their pay

The G. A. L and judge
The P.D. and D.A.
These lawyers go along to guarantee their pay

The mother and the child
Will cry and beg and pray
But the professionals alone will have a say

The therapists and shrinks
Will also have their day
Watch how these “experts”
guarantee their obscene pay

The supervising “Team”
Of tearful visits say
“We can’t unite the family cuz we’d lose our pay”

Mom’s mandatory groups
On parenting and rage
That’s how the not-for-profits guarantee their wage

The child misses mom
For each and every day
So the professionals can guarantee their pay

This costly secret scam
Drains billions from our pay
While the community is kept out of the fray

The mother stands alone
The child stands alone
Let’s help the mamas now that all these facts are known            

169 Private Vendors Funded by BMCW in Milwaukee    

4 Star Achievement  

Ability Specialized Support Services, LLC  

Acacia Clinic  

Adkins Counseling Services  

Affiliated Clinical Service  

All Care Transportation LLC  

Alpha & Omega Transportation  

Alternatives in Psychological Consultation  

Applied Therapies & Wellness Center, S.C. 

Aro Counseling Centers, Inc.  

Associated Counseling & Training Services  

Associated Mental Health Consultants  

Attic Correctional Services  

Aurora Family Service  

Behavioral Consultants Inc.  

Best Way Transportation  

Bonnie Schwebke 

Bracy’s Psychological Services  

BridgePoint Health LLC  

Brighter Days Counseling Center  

C.D.A Transit LLC  

Career Youth Development  

Center for Behavioral Medicine  

Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing  

Change 4 Children  

Child Adolescent Family Marriage Therapy  

Children’s Hospital Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  

Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin  

Children’s World Learning Centers  

CHS Pediatric Extended Care  

Clonal LLC  

Communication Specialties International Inc.  

Comprehensive Care Connection 

Connections Counseling  

Cornerstone Consulting Services, LLC  

Current Initiatives Counseling Services  

Davis Transportation  

Deaf Communication by Innovation, LLC  

Delta County Alcohol & Other Drug Services  

Discovery & Recovery Clinic, Inc. 

Dr. Anthony Jurek  

Dr. Gary Kendziorski 

Dr. Kenneth Sherry / First Step Clinic, Inc.  

Dr. Lula F. Reams, S.C.  

Dr. Marcia Tipton (Eutopia Family Services)  

Dr. Paul Callier  

Dr. Stephen F. Emiley  

Dr. Susanne Lisowski  

Dr. Tyrone Carter  

Easter Seals Kindcare SEWI 

Eau Claire Academy 

Ebenezer Child Care 

Esenahs, Inc.  

Exodus Family Services LLC 

Express Drug Screening, LCC  

Faith Changing Learning Resources, Inc. 

Family and Children’s Center 

Family Counseling Center, LLC  

Family Enhancement Program, Inc.  

Family Management Solutions, LLC  

Family Options Counseling, LLC  

Family Services of Northeast WI  

Fokus Family Services, Inc. 

Foster Care Youth Independence Center of WI Frankie Woody  

Fresh Start Counseling Center, Inc.  

Gateway to Change 

Genesis Behavioral Services 

Glassman & Stanik  

Goodwill Industries  

Heavenly Angels Community Center, Inc. 

Holifield Counseling and Consulting 

Honor Roll Education, LLC 

Horizons, Inc.  

House of Jabez, Inc.  

Jake Hartmann 

International Institute of Wisconsin  

Islamic Family & Social Services, Inc.     

Jackson Clinic  

Jamil Family Services  

Janesville Psychiatirc Clinic  

Jenny Johannes 

Jill Berry  

Joan Nuttall PhD 

Jodi L. Lopez 

Johnny Walker Transportation  

Joyce Burton  

La Causa, Inc.  

Lad Lake, Inc.  

Lake City Counseling 

Lakeshore CAP, Inc. 

Language Source LLC  

Lawson’s Transportation  

Life Span Family Services  

Lisa Heglund Interpreting Service  

Loving Care Transport  

Lutheran Social Services of WI and Upper MI  

M&S Clinical Services 

Mala K. Boyce 

Malen and Associates  

Mary Selvig  

Maxim Healthcare Services  

MD Therapy, LLC  

Mental Health America of Wisconsin  

Meta House  

Milwaukee Center for Independence  

Milwaukee Health Service Systems II  

Miss Essie Mae Child Care  

Moua Consulting Group, LLC  

My Home, Your Home, Inc.  

New Concept Self Development Center, Inc.  

North Shore Psychotherapy Associates 

Oconomowoc Developmental Training Center  

Oshkosh Counseling Center, Inc.  


Pathways Counseling Center  

Peacemaker Social Services, Inc.

Performance Enhancement  

Positive Development, Inc.  

Positive Impact Family Services  

Priscilla Moyers 

Professional Interpreting Enterprise  

Professional Services Group  

PsyCare-Milwaukee LLC  

Psychiatric & Psychotherapy Clinic  

R&D Transportation Service, LLC  

Recovery Network Inc.  

Renee Compton (Sandstrom)  

Renew Counseling Services  

Reversing the Trend, LLC  

Running Rebels  

Salvation Army- Harbor Light Center  

Sankofa Family Services, Inc.  

Sebastian Family Psychology Practice, LLC  

Shorehaven Behavioral Health, Inc.  

Smallwood Transport LLC  

Social Rehabilitation & Residential Resources, Inc  

Sojourner Truth House 

Southern Wisconsin Interpretation and Translation 

St. Aemilian-Lakeside  

St. Catherine Residence, Inc. 

St. Charles Youth and Family Services, Inc.  

St. Rose Youth and Family Center  

Steven Klein, Ph.D.  

Sylvan Learning Center - Brookfield  

Sylvan Learning Center - Brown Deer  

The Counseling Center of Milwaukee, Inc.  

The Garden Family Enrichment Center  

The Parenting Network  

The Psychology Center  

The Right Way Development Center/ SEA Group  

The Way & The Truth Community Development, 

The Youth and Family Project, Inc.  

TLC Transportation 

True Love Family Child Care  

United Community Center  

Unlimited Potentials, WCS  

V. E. Carter Development Group, Inc. 

Valentin Clinic, S.C. 

White’s Residential Treatment Facility, Inc.  


Willowglen Academy, Inc.-Wisconsin  

WI Exceptional Children Advocacy Network  

Wood County  

Working Together, LLC

Pat Gowens
Editor, MWV

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