About AFAC
American Family Advocacy Center was founded in 1996 by Suzanne Shell. Ms. Shell is a mom. Accordingly, this site was designed to reflect the importance of their own parents and extended family in the life of a child.

She acknowledges that this is a radically unique perspective in the child welfare industry, yet it is not as inconsistent with the states' mandates to protect children from child abuse and neglect as the states would have the public believe. To that end, Ms. Shell has created uniquely powerful and effective alternatives to "business as usual" practiced by both the professionals who administer these cases and families who are the subject of these cases.

Nothing that any society has ever historically contrived has ever proven to improve upon the family unit as the most beneficial and effective institution to raise children to responsible and healthy adulthood, thereby forming the basis of a strong society. As a former foster child, she knows firsthand the life-long detrimental effects visited upon a child that are caused by well-intentioned government interference into a family's autonomy and privacy without justifiable cause.

Recognizing the importance of their own families on the welfare of children, and observing the abject failures by Parent's Rights activists to inspire any reform in child welfare laws, Ms. Shell was the first to redefine the political issue as Family Rights, as opposed to Children's Rights vs. Parent's Rights. The circumstances whereby parents and their minor children should legitimately be legal or political adversaries are extremely rare. Yet, the current child welfare industry artificially separates the rights of the child from his family and his parents, and creates and exploits a parents vs. children adversarial posture on a wholesale basis at the expense of the best interests of the child.

Turning children against their own parents is contrary to any purported goal of reunification. Parents vs. children is never in the best interests of the child.

AFAC Principles

AFAC is founded on the principle that Family Association is a fundamental Human Right which is protected by the strictest constitutional scrutiny.

The family is an institution which predates any government, and as such, has inherent rights which supersede any state interests.

The rights of the child cannot be artificially separated from the rights of the parents without credible evidence of abuse or neglect as defined in the statutes. Risk of future harm is an inappropriate and unconstitutional standard to apply to child protection interventions. It is an immoral device designed to deprive parents and children of the right of Family Association in order to further a social and economic agenda designed to increase the size and the scope of the child protection bureaucracy.

The child has an inalienable right to the care, custody, protection, love and nurturing of his parents.The parents have the inalienable right to the care, custody and control of their children, and the absolute right to exercise non-abusive parental prerogatives without the interference of the state. These rights are not mutually exclusive, but are inextricably intertwined.

The child does not enter this world as a stand-alone entity which can be plugged into whatever slot the state decides is appropriate. The child and parents share deep and enduring bonds which should not be tampered with casually. The child’s first best interest is to be with his biological parents.

The agency that provides rehabilitative services to the family cannot be the agency that investigates the allegations - it is a conflict of interest. Child abuse is a crime and it should be treated as a crime and investigated by law enforcement professionals, not case workers.

The state makes a poor and indifferent parent. The government is not equipped to provide each unique child with the individual care and nurturing he needs to thrive and grow. Parents bear children, not governments, and for good reason. Unlike the state, we recognize that nobody is a perfect parent, but we assert that the existing family bonds of love, mutual concern and trust can overcome most parental imperfections. To require parents to meet the state’s standard of parenting perfection is hypocritically absurd, especially in view of the state’s abysmal record of child abuse and neglect in foster care.

Nobody is safe from a false allegation of child abuse/neglect. This is an issue which encompasses the entire spectrum of American society, regardless of race, religion, political persuasion, or socio-economic status. More than 3,000 children a day are removed from their homes, most of them from non-abusive parents.

Our efforts are focused on protecting the family from unwarranted government intrusions and keeping the family intact and safe. If government intervention is needed, our efforts are directed at insuring all statutory mandates are properly enforced and the rights of the family members are not violated in the state's rush to protect the children.

Contributions to reform

In her effort to offer effective and meaningful tools to families,Ms. Shell has created an extensive inventory of intellectual property directed toward educating the public and empowering families.

Her book,
Profane Justice: A Comprehensive Guide to Asserting Your Parental Rights was the first and continues to be the only book which explains what happens in a child welfare case and offers strategies to parents who want to protect their families and children during these cases. She has also provided an extensive inventory of documents parents can use in their own cases through this web site, as well as white papers and articles covering this issue. And she has provided free training for parents and family rights groups nationwide since 1998.

She has also created and provides accredited Continuing Legal Education nationwide as well as training directed toward the professionals and para-professionals who administer child welfare cases or who provide services to families in connection with child welfare cases. She remains the only Family Rights activist who has achieved this level of distinction in this field. This web site is just one of many resources made available to the public and the consumer by American Family Advocacy Center.

Ms. Shell also originated the practice of the Family Advocate. This was intended to be a para-professional practice, designed to provide family members with expert support, guidance and information during their child welfare investigation and case. Parents and children should not have to navigate these treacherous and complicated cases without knowledgable and creative support to mitigate the harm to the family and to insure the best outcomes for the children.

Her tried and true methods for parents and children who are involved with child welfare exhibit unprecedented success compared to other organizations or state agencies. Removal of the children is prevented or reunification is accomplished in the vast majority of cases. Reunification occurs within days or weeks rather than the months or years it normally takes. Recidivism by parents is virtually non-existent. The outcomes for the children are far superior to the outcomes demonstrated by the state agencies.

In spite of the naysayers who discount her work, the highest praise has come from her adversaries, who have observed that she "Is a strategist of uncommon ability."

Obstacles that hinder us

There have been many obstacles to the growth of this practice--obstacles including court and agency resistance. Ms. Shell has been targeted by numerous government offices and agencies for her public participation in this important social and political issue, and has suffered repeated instances of unlawful retaliation at the hands of government officials for her public participation, her speech and her publications on this issue.

The courts that are supposed to protect the rights of citizens who participate, speak and publish lawfully have been remarkably resistant to protecting Ms. Shell against government retaliation, censorship, and even physical brutality.

Lawyers in Colorado who infringe her copyright are given a free walk by the United States District Court in Colorado. Agencies and courts who impose unlawful prior restraint on her news gathering and publications and who use court orders to obstruct her legal access to the subjects of her documentary projects are also given a free walk by the same court. (You can read more about this in her

It appears that the same rights that other citizens enjoy in the protection of their property and occupations are not protected if your name is Suzanne Shell. She has had to fight against overwhelming institutional resistance at every step to enforce her rights to engage in the same free speech, freedom of association, public participation, news gathering and publishing that every other person is granted as a matter of right. Such is government resistance against educating the public on this issue, exposing abuses, and empowering the consumer to protect his family against state incursions.

There have also been repeated and multiple incursions into her business by unqualified, untrained, self-professed advocates who have not only harmed the families who relied on them, but who have harmed the reputation of this practice with their incompetence, their self-absorbed malice and the sheer magnitude of their ignorance. In many ways, these passionate amateurs are as dangerous to the welfare of your child as the most malevolent child welfare case workers.

There are many imitators in evidence on the Internet, but the strategies and analyses forwarded by many diverse organizations in the grassroots family rights movement originated with American Family Advocacy Center. So have many of the writings they presented as being their own. Certain of these organizations have failed and even refused to properly credit Ms. Shell and AFAC as their source, preferring to enhance their own credibility and stature at the expense of Ms. Shell. *

Ms. Shell is gratified to have had such a profound influence over this social and political issue, and expresses dismay that her dedicated hard work and her significant contributions to families affected by this issue since 1991 are subjected to such self-serving, shabby treatment by those to whom she freely extended the hand of help. What once was offered freely by Ms. Shell, open to all since 1996, has been misappropriated and misused by her competitors.

Consequently, she has had to take steps to protect herself from future plagiarism and continued misappropriation of her unique and effective methods of protecting families who are involved with child welfare agencies. This includes using Digital Rights Management for her online documents and requiring free membership to access the AFAC Web site.

Rather than withdraw all her intellectual property and methods from public consumption, she preferred to protect it and still make it freely available to the consumer and the public. We apologize for this inconvenience associated with these protections, and hope the reader will attribute the blame for these unfortunate restrictions where it properly lies; with those who did not deal honestly and fairly with the consumer or with AFAC.

It is our hope that the consumer and the interested public will continue to patronize American Family Advocacy Center as their primary source for credible and accurate information about this very important social and political issue.

See ShellvAFRA.com for details and identification of those prominent groups and individuals who plagiarized and infringed Ms. Shell's original work.

Our Services

As the primary innovator of strategies employed by the growing grassroots Family Rights movement, American Family Advocacy Center offers cutting edge information, analyses and strategies for families, activists and professionals involved with Child Welfare agencies and dependency courts.

We provide well researched and proven information to protect your family and to protect the Fundamental Human Right to Family Association.

We also provide CLE accredited training for professionals, community and grassroots organizations interested in being more effective in their efforts to insure the welfare of the child and the integrity of the family. We have introduced a trade publication for legal professionals at AFACLegal.com in partnership with Family Rights Advocacy Institute, designed to provide information and resources to help legal professionals improve their practice in the child welfare arena.

Our Mission

Redefine the issues relating to child protection. We have been instrumental in redefining the issues surrounding child protection from parents rights vs. children’s rights to establishing the the fundamental human right to family association without state oversight or interference. We continue to redefine the issue as a family rights issue. Our position is, if you are pro-child, you are anti-family.

Devise and implement strategies to insure child welfare agencies obey the law and policies during interventions. We have originated most (if not all) of the tactics now being employed by families which have proven effective in insuring that child welfare agencies are held accountable for their actions under existing laws. We continue to instruct on and publish effective strategical information to assist families throughout the state’s intervention. Our goal is to shut down the illegal intervention as early in the process as possible, before the family is at risk of termination of parental rights. We also advocate that if services are necessary, they be reasonable, relevant and fair to all concerned and do not violate any of the rights of any family members.

To devise and provide education and resources to professionals who administer child welfare cases as to their responsibilities and duties, and to provide tools for them to perform this important job more effectively, with less expense to the taxpayer, and with better outcomes for the children and families served.

Train and oversee Family Advocates for families involved with child welfare agencies and train advocacy groups nationwide. We are the originators of the concept of proactive family advocates and have initiated educational programs for organizations and individuals nationwide to fill the need for advocates for parents and children who have been victimized by child welfare agencies. We train advocacy groups around the country and provide assistance to family advocates who find their practice thwarted by state agencies. We also exercise authoritative oversight over the entire practice of family advocacy.

Expose the inconsistencies and abuses of child protection, to insure that truly abused children are being properly protected and that non-abused children are not traumatized by over-zealous, dangerous and unnecessary ‘protective’ intervention. We have seen that many times, truly abused children are returned to their abusers while non-abused children are routinely removed from their homes without having met the statutory definition of abuse or neglect. Studies have concluded that children are 10 to 28 times more likely to be abused in foster care as in their own homes. In 1997, 50% of the children who died of child abuse, died in foster care. CPS agencies are not held accountable for these abuses because they are the only agency charged to investigate them, and can cover the incidents up.The agency that commits the abuse cannot be the agency that investigates the abuse. Additionally, there is no mechanism by which children can safely and effectively report abuse that occurs to them while they are in state custody. Regardless of CASA and GALs, the children truly have no voice in our current child protection system.

Provide public and professional education and awareness into the realities of the child protection industry and its effects on all members of the family and on society. This includes training for respondent parent attorneys, as well as presentations and speaking engagements addressing all aspects of this issue for churches, legislative bodies, administrative agencies and professional associations. We assist groups or individuals seeking knowledge and advice on this issue, relevant to their area of interest or professional practice.

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.” Louis D. Brandeis
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Recommended links:

American Family Advocacy Center Blog

Sage Wisdom Press - books and more for anyone seeking information about child welfare

Legal Resources - for attorneys only, parents not allowed

Family Advocate Consumer Advisory - exposing harmful advocates

The Mighty Pen

If you don't know your rights, you have no rights.

If you know your rights and the court won't enforce your rights, you have no rights.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Gavel blog.

FRAI Project

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EMAIL THE AMERICAN FAMILY ADVOCACY CENTER ***  Our client lists are confidential. Please do not ask who disclosed certain information to AFAC. This information is not available to the public and will be vigorously guarded from disclosure to protect those clients whose children remain at risk of state-sanctioned kidnaping of their children.

Information included on these pages is not legal advice, we are not attorneys. You are advised to consult with an attorney on any legal matters.

Any legal documents on this site were prepared and/or drafted by attorneys or under the supervision of an attorney, or by pro se respondent parents and/or subject children and are published here with their permission. Any phone calls or other oral communications with our staff may be recorded at our discretion. Any person engaging in conversation with any of our staff is presumed to have given express consent to be recorded. ALL MATERIAL ON THESE PAGES IS COPYRIGHT 1996-2011 SUZANNE SHELL reproduction without written permission is prohibited.

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