August 18, 2008 in Nation/World

Officials want kids back in custody

CPS concerned for 8 from polygamist sect
By MICHELLE ROBERTS Associated Press

SAN ANGELO, Texas – More than two months after being forced to return children from a polygamist sect to their parents, Texas child welfare authorities want eight put back in foster care.

Individual hearings for the four mothers of the children, ages 5 to 17, are set to begin today.

Child Protective Services has asked Texas District Judge Barbara Walther to return the children to foster care because their mothers allegedly have refused to limit their contact with men accused of being involved in underage marriages.

None of the children currently live at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, where authorities swept roughly 440 children into foster care in April.

In the new CPS petitions seeking foster placement for the eight children, the agency detailed alleged underage marriages involving the children’s fathers or stepfathers, though only one faces any criminal charges.

Rod Parker, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said the argument that families shouldn’t be allowed to retain custody of their children remains unfair.

The issue, as it was in the earlier case, is “whether the children are in any immediate danger simply because their parents choose to raise them in this religion,” he said.

“The substance of what they’re doing here is fundamentally the same.”

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