Contributed to TLB and written by: Health Impact News and Medical Kidnap staff
It started with a simple accident, something that could happen in any home with children. The child’s doctor concluded that it was just that – an accident, one that happened in a good home with a “loving” and “attentive” mother, according to the family’s pediatrician. But that didn’t stop an overzealous daycare worker from calling Child Protective Services (DSC) and reporting the mother.
She has never been charged with a crime, but now, Aprilli Coumpy is fighting to get her 5 children back from the state of Arizona. She faces a Permanency Planning Hearing at the Maricopa Courthouse on Thursday, July 30 at 9 am.
“My kids have never even been away from me! The state is trying to penalize me because I’m a single mom, and the kids were being kids.”
“Helpful” Children Accidentally Spill Hot Noodles on Toddler
The events that started the Coumpy family’s snowball into the nightmare they now face began with children just trying to help. As most experienced parents know, sometimes that “help” can be anything but helpful, but their heart was in the right places. For most families, the consequences aren’t nearly so steep as the price this Arizona family is now paying.
While their mom was still sleeping one Sunday morning in February, the 6 and 7 year old woke up early and decided to fix breakfast for their mother and the family. Ordinarily, if the children woke up before their mom, they would wake her up, and she would fix breakfast. But she had been working hard, and her children wanted to help out.
“Mama, we didn’t want you to have to cook breakfast today.”
They decided to add noodles to the menu, and some of the hot noodles got spilled onto their 2 year old brother’s leg and burned him. It was allegedly an accident.
Their mother, who is not only an experienced mom with 5 children ranging from 16 years old to 1 year, is also trained as a medical assistant and a phlebotomist. When she phoned the doctor’s office, she spoke with the nurse on call. She reports that she treated the burn with neosporin and aloe vera covered with a gauze dressing, as well as applied ice packs, per the nurse’s instructions. The nurse reportedly did not seem worried, and told Aprilli to watch for signs of infection. They scheduled an appointment for Wednesday.
Day Care Reports Burn as Abuse and Takes Child to Hospital
On Tuesday of that week, Aprilli took her children to Jumpstart Learning Center, the day care that they have been going to for years. She reports that she let a day care employee know about the burn on her son Kingdom’s leg, giving instructions to make sure to leave the dressing on the burn, to reduce the risk of infection. She told them that she had an appointment scheduled to take him to his doctor. She was told that she would simply need to bring in a note from the doctor for their files.
She was horrified to find that, while she was gone, the day care owner took it upon herself to take her son to the hospital and call Child Protective Services. The doctors at Maricopa Medical Center applied bacitracin, changed the dressing, and prescribed a pain medication for the burn they diagnosed as a 2nd degree burn. The day care employee had removed the dressing that Kingdom’s mother had applied, which, according to Aprilli, subjected her son unnecessarily to a risk of infection.
The hospital did not have any complaint about Ms. Coumpy, but a case was opened by Child Protective Services based on the call from Jumpstart Learning Center.
Family’s Doctor Writes in Support of Mother
In a letter dated 2/18/2015, the day following the day care report, the family’s doctor, Cynthia Jacquemart, MD, explains that the injury was an accident:
In regards to the recent accidental burn suffered by King: I have known this child since birth. King has been seen regularly in our office for well and sick visits. His mother … has always been attentive to his needs and the needs of her other children. She has followed our medical advice consistently. King and the other children have a good loving relationship with their mother when observed in the office. They are well mannered, well dressed and well nourished.
This recent event that resulted in a second degree burn to King’s thigh has been explained and is consistent with an accidental injury. As an experienced parent, [Mrs. Coumpy] often takes care of simple injuries without an appointment. She is not medically trained so she was unaware of the different treatments for the various burn categories, but she did keep the area clean and covered. … My nurse did verify with mom that King was not in pain and the burn did not appear infected. I do feel that Mrs. Coumpy … meant no harm to her child and is taking good care of this injury.
However, Child Protective Services was now involved. This was not going away any time soon.
DCS Demands Meeting
Because of the report made by the daycare, DCS Specialist Geoffrey Harding sent a letter, dated March 4, to Aprilli Coumpy, stating that “we have concerns regarding the care of your children and request a team meeting” to be held on March 6.
“We will be discussing the services we can offer to better stabilize your family.”
She couldn’t believe that they were actually serious, because she had done nothing wrong. On March 5, she wrote a letter to CPS, informing them that she would not be attending:
“I Aprilli Coumpy will not be attending YOUR team meeting tomorrow. I have other things to be done; I am including references from my kids’s doctor as well as my medical credentials in reference to my background. A daycare is only supposed to report abuse or neglect in which neither is present in this case. I gave Jumpstart specific instructions per Kingdom’s Dr and they purposely ignored it and did what they wanted to do which is a violation of privacy for me and my children … Again as I have told you before, if you have real concerns about my children, contact their Dr. Not a nosy childcare lady without ANY medical history at all. After giving specific instructions and due to Jumpstart unwrapping his leg, Jumpstart actually subjected my son to any type of infections. …”
She told them that her 6 year old was having “emotional issues due to the extra drama caused by Jumpstart and CPS” and asked them to leave her family alone.
“It was an unfortunate accident but it was just that. An accident.”
She also stated that “there are no resources you can provide me.” Aprilli would later learn that when DCS “offered” their “services,” it isn’t actually an offering of optional services, but a demand for complete compliance with the consequence of losing one’s children if the parent does not submit. Some would call that tyranny, or blackmail.
Oldest Child Runs Away
In the real world with real families, problems and crisis sometimes have a way of happening right on top of each other, and the Coumpy family is no exception.
Less than 2 weeks after the day care crisis, Aprilli’s oldest daughter, who was almost 16, decided to run away after a conflict over house rules about chores. Aprilli called the police to report that she had run away.
Later, while Ms. Coumpy was in the shower, the 6 and 7 year old again decided to try to be helpful and go look for their big sister. This was not at all typical behavior for the children, reports Aprilli. Ordinarily, she could trust them to stay inside when she showered. A neighbor saw them outside searching for their sister, and apparently notified authorities. The police arrived at the door with a DCS caseworker, who had allegedly been watching them ever since the burn incident.
Children Seized: Mom Believes It Is Retaliation
They took all of the children away, citing a “lack of supervision,” and “failure to control” the children. The caseworker reportedly took great issue with the fact that the children got up before their mother on the Sunday morning that King got burned.
Aprilli believes that the actions of the case worker in seizing her children was retaliation for her letter standing up for her family and asserting that she didn’t need their services.
It was 2 months before Aprilli was able to see any of her children again. They are now ages 1, 3, 7, 8, and 16 years old.
Services Used as Blackmail
It quickly became clear that acceptance of the services “offered” by DCF was a requirement, not a request. There was nothing voluntary about them. In fact, the court very clearly stated that failure to comply with whatever they “offered” could result in her children literally being adopted out.
DCF-Required “Services” Not Easy to Complete
Aprilli is willing to comply with all of the demands, because, like most parents, she desperately wants to be reunited with her children. However, that is proving to be difficult.
Many parents have reported to Medical Kidnap that the court orders services, yet when the parents try to comply, they cannot get social services to provide the services that they are demanding. It is a story that we hear over and over. Aprilli Coumpy is no exception.
A Parent Aide is supposed to meet with Aprilli every Sunday. However, Aprilli reports that the Parent Aide reschedules every single week, changing the date. She is working, and she has blocked out time out of her schedule for the meetings with the Aide. When she calls to reschedule, Aprilli has to scramble to rearrange her schedule to make it work.
DCF has ordered a psychological evaluation, but there is no one available to do the evaluation for months. Court is this Thursday (July 30th).
Aprilli has not been charged with any crime.
Baby Sent to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for Questionable Surgery
The baby, Christian, was born with a condition that his pediatrician and mother have been watching. Aprilli says that her doctor says that there was a good chance that he would grow out of it. They had an appointment scheduled with a urologist, but that never took place because the children were taken by the state. Since that time, DCF allegedly said that he had a hernia, something that the family’s pediatrician never diagnosed. Despite his mother and doctor’s wishes that no surgery be performed, DCF took Christian to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for the surgery.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital has been the subject of a large number of articles involving medical kidnappings.
Family Is Broken-Hearted
Aprilli Coumpy is a strong woman, but the loss of her children has devastated her. Like so many families in her situation, she has felt alone, and has felt that the system is treating her children unjustly. All she wants is for her children to come home.
Her prayer is that the judge will realize that her children should never have been in the system in the first place, and will return her children to her. There was an accidental injury, one which her doctor acknowledges was, indeed, an accident. But because daycare worker decided to report the accidental injury to the Child Protective System as abuse, her family has been torn apart.
“I couldn’t even see my kids on their birthday!”
She says that when she sees them now, the place they have her meet is dirty, and has roaches. Other family members are not permitted to see the children. Her oldest daughter is in a separate foster home from her younger siblings. They haven’t seen her since this whole ordeal began.
The separation has been very difficult on the children. The 7 and 8 year olds blame themselves. At one visit, they said in front of the DCF caseworker:
“Mom, we’re sorry we ran away. We were just trying to find our sister. When can we come home?”
That is that question that Aprilli is asking as well. She prays that the judge will let them come home soon.
How to Help
Supporters are invited to come to the Maricopa County Courthouse on Thursday morning, July 30, for the Permanency Planning hearing at 9 am. The address is 3130 West Durango.
A Facebook page has been set up for supporters to follow their story, called Parents Protecting God’s Children. Aprilli says that she realizes now that this is so much bigger than just her family, and she wants to work with other families to see justice happen.
These stories continue to come out of Arizona, the state with the highest percentage of children being taken from their homes and put into foster care. Are parents to fear that a simple accident will result in their children being imprisoned in the system or taken away from them forever? Activists have been calling upon Governor Doug Ducey to do something about this. He may be contacted at 602 542 4331 or reached here. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Representative Rick Gray represents the Coumpy’s district. He may be reached at 602 926 5993, or contacted here.
The Senator for their district is Senator Barbara McGuire. She may be reached at 602 926 5836, or contacted here.