Jun 13, 2008

143 FLDS kids are back at YFZ Ranch

Brian West
Deseret News
June 13, 2008

One third of the FLDS children seized by Texas officials have returned to their original homes on the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado.

Of the 440 children who were returned to their parents earlier this month, 143 children are living in 30 households on the 1,700-acre Yearning For Zion Ranch, said Texas Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins.

Most of the children from the Fundamentalist LDS Church — 178 children — are living in 33 households in the San Antonio area. The rest of the children are living in different areas of Texas.

No other details about those locations were released by CPS.

The information was gathered as the parents picked up their children from various foster facilities. Each parent or guardian was required to be photographed and fingerprinted. They also filled out forms listing their addresses and telephone numbers, as well as a list of names of adults and children who would be residing in the same household with the children.

Judge Barbara Walther released the children back to the custody of their parents after the Texas Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals decision saying the state had acted improperly by seizing the children from the ranch. All were returned by June 4.

Some parents who are renting homes and chose not to return to the YFZ Ranch, at least for now, told the Deseret News they wanted to avoid additional scrutiny from CPS that might occur if they moved back.

CPS officials say they have no preference about where families live, but attorneys for the agency have repeatedly argued since the raid that the ranch was an unsafe environment for the children and was a single-household community that fostered a dangerous pattern of abuse.

Some attorneys have also advised the parents not to return to the ranch.

Crimmins said CPS is continuing to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. As part of an agreement, child welfare workers can make unannounced visits to the homes between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day. During such visits, medical, psychological and psychiatric examinations can be conducted, according to the agreement.

CPS has also received "partial" DNA results from the maternity and paternity testing that had been ordered from the children and parents. "The results are being reviewed and analyzed to determine if the DNA results can help investigators in the multiple investigations to determine if abuse occurred," CPS officials said in a statement on its Web site.

Many believe that DNA evidence will also be used in ongoing criminal investigations against the sect.

E-mail: bwest@desnews.com


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