Hello. My name is Carolyn Hill and I work with the Every Mother is a Working Mother Network.
Thank you for having me today and letting me tell my story.
DHS put my two toddler nieces in my home for a year. The child advocate said they were doing well with me, happier than he had ever seen. I was on track for adopting them. Then DHS switched agencies. That agency didn’t like me, maybe because I was single in low income housing. They took my nieces one day in the middle of dinner with no warning.
They told the court it was because I had mental issues, was being evicted and had financial problems, none of which were true. Also that I didn’t have a GED or high school diploma. They dragged out a drug issue from 15 years ago which they already knew about when they first put the girls in my home. They dragged out an abuse allegation that was found not true. They did not get me a lawyer. They didn’t tell me I could appeal.
I fought back. I went to the Phila Daily News. The Daily News sent me to the Crossroads Women’s Center which helped me fight my case, do the paper work, get media, put in appeals and finally get a lawyer.
I got support from my church, family, friends elected officials. Over 35 family members signed a petition.
We fought for and won an independent psych eval which saw me and the children for several hours over five days. They said there was no problem with me having the girls. The DHS psych evaluator saw me for less than an hour, and said she did tests which she didn’t do. She said I wasn’t capable of taking care of kids.
We took the case all the way up to superior court where we lost. They had three lawyers compared to my one. The court rubber stamped DHS. They had each other backs’ and they wouldn’t let my supporters testify.
Finally they sent my nieces to a family member with more money but no connection with the family. The children haven’t seen me or the rest of the family since 2013.
Now they turn around and gave me my nephew who was in DHS care his whole life and is messed up. They give him to me so he will act out under my care instead of theirs. Now he’s in jail and they aren’t helping I’m still trying to fight for him but they are not trying to help. There has to be more help for kids aging out of foster care.
Thank you for giving me a chance to tell my story.