Michigan CPS workers seized a 7-year-old who drank lemonade that his father purchased for him without knowing that it contained a small amount of alcohol. (As Ted Frank notes, when CPS seized the child, he had no alcohol in his system). They put him in foster care for two days and refused to release him to his aunts. Then they released him to his mother on the condition that his father, an archaeology professor, move out of the house until a full court hearing could be held. After that later hearing, the father, found not guilty of child abuse, was finally allowed to move back into his own house. If the professor “and his wife weren’t upper-middle-class academics with access to the University of Michigan Law School clinic professors, it could have been much worse. ‘Don Duquette, a U-M law professor who directs the university’s Child Advocacy Law Clinic, represented Ratte and his wife. He notes sardonically that the most remarkable thing about the couple’s case may be the relative speed with which they were reunited with Leo.'”
CPS workers have an incentive to seize children, since the federal government gives states incentives for seizing and adopting out children, and CPS workers are more likely to be fired for failing to prevent child abuse than for wrongly seizing children, even if the seizure itself causes the child devastating psychological harm.
I wrote earlier about how temporary seizures of infants based on erroneous accusations later found to be false can become permanent, when courts rule that the infant has become attached to her foster family and thus should not be returned even if the alleged abuse that led to the seizure did not actually occur. I also discussed the violation of due process involved in the mass seizures of children in the strange FLDS religious sect, hundreds of whom were seized based on a single, anonymous, allegation of abuse by a caller pretending to be a teenager in the sect, and who continue to be held without any hearing on whether they individually are endangered (although the removal of some of the children might well be warranted if it occurred after a full judicial hearing).