A safety plan is usually offered to a family when allegations of abuse are made and the County agency feels the need to protect a child or children in a home.   Typically the agency will threaten to place the child(ren) in foster care if the family does not “agree” to the safety plan.  Mr. Freeman represents families who are in this situation and has filed several civil rights lawsuits over the unconstitutional use of safety plans by county agencies obtaining two Federal Court decisions in favor of families over the past two years.  These recent Federal Court decisions in Pennsylvania have dramatically altered County Children and Youth Service agency implementations of safety plans.  The Federal Court decisions have agreed that asking a family to “agree” to a safety plan under the threat of placement of their children in foster care is coercive and triggers a due process right for the family to have a court hear the matter.  Prior to the Federal Court decisions County practice had been to coerce families into a safety plan and then not give the family any court hearing to contest the safety plan.  Now, after the Federal Court decisions, County agencies appear to be making attempts to give families some due process.  Whether the due process, if any, being offered to families by these County agencies is Constitutional has not been addressed by any Court.   If you are in this situation and are being offered, or have already signed a safety plan, you may want to consult with Mr. Freeman about your case.

In the first Federal Court decision, both parents were forced out of their home after they were falsely accused of abusing their son.    They were permitted only supervised visits.  Their son had a medical condition that was misdiagnosed as having been caused by child abuse.  With good legal representation, they were able to get their children back, get the dependency petitions dismissed, the ChildLine report dismissed and after they get their children back, filed suit to recover damages for their being forced out of their home.  Mr. Freeman represented this family throughout their ordeal.  The Federal Court decision is available on the Court’s website.  Click here for a copy of the Federal Court’s decision on safety plans.

In the second Federal Court decision, the father was accused of abusing his son and was forced to “agree” to a safety plan when the County threatened to place the son and an older daughter into foster care.  The father was permitted only supervised visits at the County agency once a week.  The father was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child and was arrested.  With good legal representation from Mr. Freeman, the parents won the dependency hearing and the return of their children.  Mr. Freeman was able to get the criminal charges against the father dismissed.  Mr. Freeman filed a Federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the family against the County and won. The Federal Court decision is available publicly on the Court’s website.  Click here for a copy of the Federal Court’s second decision on safety plans.

If you are in this situation and are being offered, or have already signed a safety plan, you may want to consult with Mr. Freeman about your case.  You can contact Mr. Freeman at mark@markdfreemanlaw.com or 1-800-580-0084.

This web page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.   You should consult a competent attorney your specific case.

Counties using safety plans:

Adams County Lackawanna County
Allegheny County Lancaster County
Armstrong County Lawrence County
Beaver County Lebanon County
Bedford County Lehigh County
Berks County Luzerne County
Blair County Lycoming County
Bradford County McKean County
Bucks County Mercer County
Butler County Mifflin County
Cambria County Monroe County
Cameron County Montgomery County
Carbon County Montour County
Centre County Northampton County
Chester County Northumberland County
Clarion County Perry County
Clearfield County Philadelphia County
Clinton County Pike County
Columbia County Potter County
Crawford County Schuylkill County
Cumberland County Snyder County
Dauphin County Somerset County
Delaware County Sullivan County
Elk County Susquehanna County
Erie County Tioga County
Fayette County Union County
Forest County Venango County
Franklin County Warren County
Fulton County Washington County
Greene County Wayne County
Huntingdon County Westmoreland County
Indiana County Wyoming County
Jefferson County York County
Juniata County
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  • Mark Freeman is an attorney that got involved in defending those accused of shaking a child when a close friend was charged with child abuse for allegedly shaking his son.
  • After spending hundreds of hours investigating, reading medical journal articles and speaking with doctors from around the country about shaken baby syndrome, Mark confirmed with science what he knew in his heart, that his friend was innocent and that the doctors were wrong.
  • Since that first case, Mark has vigorously defended innocent parents of false charges of child abuse, regained custody of children for innocent parents and has defended innocent parents of criminal charges. Mark is now pursuing civil rights lawsuits in cases where false accusations of child abuse resulted in the violation of parents' civil rights.
  • Mark is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and consults with local attorneys in other states. Email Mark at mark@markdfreemanlaw.com or call Mark at: 1-800-580-0084