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DCFS Threatens, but Family Stands Firm

When a social worker from the local Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) appeared at Gilbert and Linn Marrero’s door this winter, they were shocked to learn that he was investigating them for abuse and neglect of their children.* The social worker had learned that their 12-year-old daughter had recently tested positive for an abnormally high level of arsenic.

Courtesy of the Family
A firm stand: By asserting their rights, Gilbert and Linn Marrero protected their children and home.

Mr. and Mrs. Marrero acknowledged that this result had come back from a new doctor they had just seen, but added that they had insisted that their daughter be retested, since she had no other symptoms of arsenic poisoning. They then allowed the social worker to view their five children, including their daughter, through the doorway to confirm that they were all fine.

However, the social worker then demanded to come into the Marreros’ home and interview their children. When Mr. and Mrs. Marrero declined, the social worker threatened to take them to court. The Marreros stood firm. Finally the social worker left, stating that he would be back.

Members of Home School Legal Defense Association, the Marreros called us for help. By this time, they had learned that their daughter’s first test result was false. Further investigation by the lab determined that the originally reported high arsenic level was due to a simple math error.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt called to explain this to the social worker, who insisted on continuing his investigation because of “other” allegations, refusing to say what they were. A few days later, the Marreros received a letter from the social worker, which indicated that the allegations claimed Mrs. Marrero might have Munchausen by Proxy. This term refers to persistent behavior in which a person exaggerates, fabricates, or even induces physical and/or mental health problems in others.

Schmidt immediately wrote to the caseworker and pointed out that the entire investigation was based on a lab error. He stated that the Marreros’ various doctors could testify that all medical testing and evaluations of the children were based on their professional opinions and there was no evidence of Munchausen by Proxy. Schmidt also contacted the social worker’s supervisor.

A few weeks later, DCFS closed the case without the Marreros having to subject their children to interviews or their home to an examination.

“Had we not had the excellent help of HSLDA, we would probably still be dealing with this nightmare today,” says Mrs. Marrero.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt

* See “HSLDA social services contact policy.”