Since that first hearing, all 465 children have been placed in foster care, with siblings staying together when possible, throughout the state.
Family reunification the probable aim
Experts expect the DFPS plans will mostly call for children to eventually be reunited with their mothers, but possibly not with their fathers and probably not at the YFZ ranch.
"The mother may have to get a job or enroll in a job training program, or go to parenting classes to learn about problems with sexual and physical abuse," says Mr. McCown. "Then [the plans] will address the needs of the children, such as they may be put in counseling [and] receive an educational assessment."
Attorneys ad litem, representing each child, will weigh in on that child's plan and possibly negotiate changes with the child's social worker. Parents, too, all represented by individual attorneys, will have an opportunity to sign onto that plan.
"Some of the lawyers are advising their parents to sign the plan and some are not," says Rod Parker, an attorney in Salt Lake City who is acting spokesman for the FLDS group in Texas. "If it were me, I'd be advising parents not to sign them."
The plans' vagueness sets parents up to fail, Mr. Parker says. "For example, the plans say parents have to provide a safe environment," he says. "That language raises three questions: One, is it [the state's] position that the parent can or cannot return to the ranch? Two, is it [the state's] position that the parent can or cannot teach this religion to the children? Three, is it [the state's] position that the men can or cannot reside in the home?"