Last month, the Family Justice Resource Center held our 2022 Stand with Families Tour, and it was a tremendous success! We hosted three different events in Peoria, Decatur, and Bloomington to connect with our supporters, celebrate reunifications, and raise funds for the coming year.
Our featured speakers for Stand With Families, Peoria Area were child-welfare insiders, having personally experienced how child welfare can help children and families. However, they have also have insight on how the very same system often fails to protect children and causes irreparable harm.
Shelly Roberts is a mother of 8 children—three are grown and five live at home—who experienced a wrongful allegation of child abuse involving her two adopted children with special needs after an anonymous individual reported non-specific concerns. She shared with the audience that her experience defending her innocence was “a real-time nightmare." She said, “All throughout this time, the FJRC gave us support, helped us decipher the facts, and walked with us through the process. The FJRC gave solid counsel on how to abide by what we must do, while helping us know we weren’t walking this road alone. We are certain that our story would’ve unfolded much differently without the support and guidance of the FJRC.”
Tony Lawlor, Vice President of the FJRC Board of Directors, also shared his experiences growing up in foster care, working in child welfare, and facing a wrongful allegation involving his daughter in 2013 who experienced a subdural hematoma after a fall. Following his story, he discussed the purpose of the FJRC, saying “We are not here to dismantle the system. We’re here because we want to hold them accountable, and we are working on policies to reform the system.”
Holding DCFS Accountable
The first speaker for Stand With Families, Decatur was Sabra Brucker, a Central Illinois nonprofit senior administrator and mother of four who experienced a wrongful allegation of abuse when her five-month-old son was hospitalized as a result of a rare, congenital birth defect. She told the audience, “Like many families, without the FJRC’s knowledge, resources, and willingness to help, our story could have transpired much less favorably. While providing medical and legal resources to families facing wrongful allegations of child abuse or neglect, the FJRC also seeks to promote policies and practices that protect abused children, exonerate innocent parents, and call for integrity in child protection services.”
The second guest speaker was Patti Krueger, who shared about her federal lawsuit against OSF St. Francis Medical Center, DCFS, and the child abuse pediatrician who accused her family of abuse, Channing Petrak. She discussed how the FJRC helped reunite her family and how she hopes her family’s lawsuit will spur change at the state and federal level.
Attorney Aaron Rapier, who represents the Krueger family in their federal lawsuit, then spoke about why DCFS must be held accountable. He focused on how child abuse pediatricians and child welfare investigators violate the fundamental rights of parents, saying “Family is a shield for our individual liberties. Family protects our individual liberties from that awesome power of the state. The Supreme Court has said the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests is that familial association. The Kruger case is about protecting families from the awesome power of the state.”
Exposing Flawed Science
At Stand With Families, Bloomington, Alan Novick—FJRC Board President and 35-year veteran in DCFS abuse and neglect court—shared why he chose to co-found the FJRC in 2018. He highlighted our work in the past year and discussed how the work of child abuse pediatricians often violates the AMA code of professional ethics, saying “The results are tragic. Children spend critical months of their lives away from their families, parents lose their jobs, and families face bankruptcy due to mounting legal costs.”
Our featured speaker was Aleena Stalter, who is a Central Illinois nurse and mother of two who experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation of child abuse despite clear evidence her child had a medical condition. She shared, “Truly, I do not know what our outcome would have looked like without the help of Michelle and the FJRC. She provided countless resources, and continues to provide those resources for our daughter. Please consider donating to help other families like mine that are still out there trying to get their children home from medically-explainable false accusations. It’s so unfortunate, but the FJRC is still so needed and they have new cases continually coming in from all over the country.”
Making An Impact
The Family Justice Resource Center relies on donations to continue our important work of protecting children. Without your help, we wouldn't be able to keep providing resources to families facing the devastating impacts of a wrongful allegation of child abuse. To support our work, make a donation here. Thank you for your support!
Stay tuned for the announcement of our annual virtual event!
Thank You To Our Sponsors Who Made These Events Possible!
Borsberry Law Offices, P.C • Rapier Law Firm • State Representative Dan Caulkins • Mark & Amy Scranton • Parrott & Down Families • Windsor Family • Law Office of Louis P. Milot • Macon County Republican Central Committee & Macon County Republican Women • Drs. Ed Luan & Jill Birkholz • The Big Picture Social Media • Total Income Tax • Five Points Washington • Office Depot Peoria • Dynagraphics, Inc. • Anonymous