[Guest post by DRJ]
In a hearing today, the Deseret News reports that Judge Barbara Walther ruled that infants under 12 months will not be separated from their mothers:
“The Texas judge who is overseeing the massive custody case involving children seized during a raid on the Fundamentalist LDS church’s ranch earlier this month said today she will not separate mothers from their infants. But mothers whose children are over 12 months will have to be separated, according to the judge.
The decision came during a briefing between the judge and Texas child-welfare authorities.
Lawyers for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said that officials relocated 111 children on Tuesday. “All arrived safely at their destinations and are making adjustments and doing well so far,” said attorney Gary Banks.
The state’s Child Protective Services said its plan was to separate mothers from their children when they began placing the rest of the children who are still inside the San Angelo Coliseum. But Judge Barbara Walther said she would prefer that the 18 girls with infants would not be separated.”
Based on the use of the term “girls,” it’s possible there are 18 underage girls with infants. It’s hard to tell if that was a quote or if the term ‘girls’ refers to underage mothers or younger – but not underage – mothers. [EDIT: It could also refer to underage mothers with children over 12 months of age, since all mothers with infants under 12 months will stay together pursuant to the Judge's order.]
The report indicated the Judge “peppered” the CPS representative with questions:
“Throughout the hearing the judge peppered CPS with questions about the conditions for the children once they are placed in foster care.
She moved quickly over topics such as parental visitation, practice of religion and education. CPS officials said the children will be free to practice their religion. Educational assessments also will be done.
“It might be down the road, they would be integrated into the school system but that is not the plan right now because there may be a little bit of culture shock,” Banks said.
The judge also asked if CPS could provide clothing that meets the unique aspects of the FLDS Church. Girls wear long prairie-style dresses and boys wear long-sleeved shirts.
“We think that is something that needs to happen because it is a big part of who they are,” said Banks.”
All children have had DNA samples taken and placement in foster care facilities is continuing.