TOPEKA — While the family of Raymond and Amelia Schwab celebrated Thanksgiving together for the first time in three years, the couple, who have been engaged in a longstanding custody battle with the state, say the fight isn’t over.
Raymond Schwab said he has “woken up to what’s happening within the system,” and will continue to be vocal about the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
Earlier this week, the Schwabs appeared in Riley County court for a status hearing. According to Raymond Schwab, it was decided the couple’s five children will return to their parents during Christmas break.
“We are beyond happy,” he said. “We can begin our lives again.”
Until then, the couple is allowed unsupervised visits, Raymond Schwab said, and they will make arrangements for the children’s schooling and therapy.
“Our kids have been through a lot,” he said. “That’s going to take a lot of healing.”
In April 2015, the juveniles were taken into state custody. Initially Raymond Schwab contended the children were removed because he used medicinal marijuana. However, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled the kids were taken into state custody because of “allegations of drug use, neglect and lack of supervision.”
A federal civil complaint filed by the Schwabs in June 2016 alleges DCF engaged in a “Kids for Cash type unlawful enterprise.” The case was dismissed.
In spring 2016, the Schwabs established a protest camp at the Kansas Capitol, and Raymond Schwab undertook a hunger strike.
The couple later moved to Colorado.
Raymond Schwab said his family’s fight might be coming to an end, but DCF still needs to be held accountable.
Earlier this month, the Child Welfare System Task Force received information about DCF and its contractors indicating heavy caseloads, high turnover and unrealistic standards for reintegrating families.
“Kansas kids are suffering,” Raymond Schwab said, adding his family plans on eventually filing another federal lawsuit.