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Judge orders county CYF office to return baby to father

Thursday, June 27, 2002

By Barbara White Stack, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Francisco Vidal Sr., who turned to Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families for help only to see the agency's actions turn against him, got his baby back yesterday.

"I am happy. I got my baby back for two months. I am happy," Vidal said after a hearing in which Common Pleas Judge Kim Clark ordered CYF to release the infant to him from foster care.

Clark denied CYF's request for custody of the child, but she decided to review the matter in two months because she wants to be sure by then that Vidal obtains an order preventing the baby's mother from getting custody of the child.

That's because the mother had threatened to sell the baby.

The CYF case began with Vidal's attempt to prevent the mother from carrying out that threat.

When the baby was born May 12, Vidal, a Cuban immigrant, reported to hospital officials his fears about the mother's intentions. Hospital social workers called CYF. The agency asked Clark to issue a temporary order giving Vidal custody so the mother could not get the baby.

Clark did that on May 20, but just four days later, CYF returned to court asking Clark to place the baby in foster care because caseworkers disapproved of Vidal's baby-sitting arrangements and because he'd allowed the infant's homeless mother to spend a night in his apartment in Homestead. The baby was not there at the time.

Clark allowed the agency to place the baby in foster care, but she ordered that the infant be given to his father on weekends when he was not working.

To keep the baby in foster care, the agency would have had to prove yesterday that Vidal was a threat to the boy or could not provide adequate care for him.

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