Julie Ketterman has an often unpopular and thankless job. As a CPS defense attorney for more than 18 years, Julie has tried thousands of cases against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Child Protective Services branch (CPS). She fights daily for the rights of parents, grandparents and children—many of whom are poor and disadvantaged. She battles what she sees as a corrupt and unfair family-court system designed more toward failure than the success of the American family.
Going through a CPS investigation is terrifying for the entire family, worsened by the overload of information and misinformation gathered, recorded and evaluated for any possible wrong. Julie has the task of advising parents how to survive a CPS case: ways to deal with CPS caseworkers and their supervisors, the attorneys ad litem and the guardians ad litem for the children, and more importantly, the judge. The fight must be focused on getting the children back. But many of these parents are challenged by poverty, addiction and domestic violence, all while trying to raise their children amongst the chaos. Sadly, this often results in parents making poor choices preventing them from successfully reunifying with their children.
Julie fights many CPS cases where parents, or grandparents, are unjustly harassed by CPS or have had their children illegally or wrongfully removed. CPS has overstepped its bounds by removing sick children from parents who have made alternative medical decision for their child; children from parents who are forced to use boxes because furniture is considered a luxury for the family living only in a shack; and children who were allowed to play, unsupervised, in their own front yard. The homeschooled, the child exposed to alternative medicine and the free-range children are all at risk of being wrongfully removed from their home by the very entity that is charged with protecting them.
Time and again, Julie sees children subjected to the life-altering trauma of being ripped from their home, literally, by strangers in the night. Once a child is removed, CPS becomes a very real, extremely powerful bully, subjecting the parents to a performance of family-based services they must successfully complete to earn their children back. The list of services is a vicious cycle which can be unilaterally changed and can last indefinitely. Sadly, if the parents fail, as they often do, then CPS will petition to have the children permanently removed and the parents’ rights terminated. Ultimately the children are placed for adoption.
Scientific evidence is beyond dispute: it is clearly so traumatic for young children to be separated from their families that it disrupts their brain development and causes irreparable harm. Furthermore, the child might experience not only a sense of confusion and terror but also blame himself or herself for losing the parent.
It is incumbent upon each professional who is in contact with children and families to become knowledgeable about CPS and the family court system. In many professions, it is mandatory to report suspected abuse or neglect to CPS. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to provide education about the process and impact.
Julie Ketterman delivers a powerful presentation geared to legal professionals, law enforcement officials, medical and mental health groups, education and special education professionals, child advocacy and corporate groups about what really happens in the family court system. Learn how our children are impacted and the long-term effect on the family.