Hello, I am a teacher who is very concerned about one of my students. She currently lives with her grandparents who are verbally abusive, and in the past have been physically abusive but have stopped since a CPS referral was filed.
Student (age 15) resided in Arkansas with her mother but successfully had herself and two sisters (ages 12 and 13) removed from the home due to abusive situations and drug use. They were then sent to an aunts house (who was given legal guardianship) and stayed there for a short time until they were then moved to Washington State to live with the grandparents (we think that guardianship was transferred to grandparents but not sure). Since the CPS referral, there have been regular (every few days) threats to take the children back to their mother in Arkansas and the social activities of the kids are becoming more and more restrictive since grandma feels like she cannot trust them anymore. There is no reason to think that the mother will be able to get guardianship back because she is still using drugs. The girls are doing well in school and do not want to go back. They know that the situation with their mom would not be a good place for them.
Here are my questions:
1. If the grandmother continues to threaten to take the kids back to Arkansas, what rights do they have to stay in Washington and who should they contact to be able to do so?
2. Will the courts consider the childrens' wishes if they petition for a change of guardianship from the grandmother considering that she is wanting to take them across the country to a potentially dangerous situation?
3. Emotional abuse is very difficult to prove and often overlooked by CPS. Although these kids are receiving emotional abuse on an almost daily basis, how can they document this for court purposes?
4. CPS has refused to intervene. They have only interviewed one of the kids and broken confidentiality by allowing the grandmother to read the original referral document that was put together by my student. What is the next step she can take to have this taken seriously?
5. My spouse and I are licensed foster parents. if the girls or even just the oldest were to petition for us to become their guardians is there any possibility of this happening?
These kids have given up on the system because it has failed them miserably. They need to know that there is someone that cares for them. The kids are like family to us, but I am really scared about the possibility of them going back across the country and not having any way to help keep them safe.
I know that I have covered a lot of topics very briefly. Any help would be greatly appreciated.