Youth Rights

Removal of Children from Families

08.13.12

Child welfare agencies perform an important task by evaluating potentially dangerous living situations, and protecting children who may face immediate harm. However, a 2011 Cuyahoga County case in which a young boy was taken from his mother’s care by child protective services because he was morbidly obese raised serious concerns regarding the government’s ability to remove children from households.

The ACLU and other advocates believe that children should only be removed from households when their health and well being is in eminent danger. While obesity may be a long term health risk, the child was not suffering any problems that necessitated immediate removal from his mother’s care. The child was in treatment for minor health problems, and enrolled in a wellness program.

The ACLU and Cuyahoga County Public Defender represented the mother in the case In re K.W. The court ruled the mother should regain custody of the child, and continues to monitor his weight loss and expose him to programs that will help stimulate wellness.

Read the ACLU’s docket item on In re K.W.