Due Process
August 19, 2016 11:51 AM   Subscribe

A Family Matter. Each year, California’s child protective services agencies remove thousands of kids from their homes. Some parents decided to fight back.
posted by zarq (64 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apropos, though not directly related, are these two episodes of the Rumble Strip Vermont Podcast: posted by Going To Maine at 12:05 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kind of upset with how this article paints CPS social workers as reckless, out -of-control child grabbers. I have three different family members who worked for CPS here in Washington, and the last thing they ever wanted to do was pull a kid from their family. It's traumatic, it's disruptive, it's dangerous. But if they feel it is necessary for the child's safety or well-being, they'll do it. But it's never been their first plan.
posted by xedrik at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2016 [39 favorites]


the last thing they ever wanted to do was pull a kid from their family.
In April, four Los Angeles County social workers were charged with felony child abuse for failing to appropriately respond to numerous allegations of abuse in the case of an eight-year-old boy who was later killed. Given such high stakes, Forrest Mosten, a family-law specialist and a professor at UCLA, told me that social workers would “rather be safe than sorry. If [CPS is] wrong, they figure the family will heal again.”
And in this case, the CPS social workers were reckless, out -of-control child-grabbers.
posted by Etrigan at 12:12 PM on August 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


Working for CPS is one of the most thankless, overburdened, and stressful jobs. If they remove children from homes, they're excoriated as anti-family homewreckers, but, if they don't act and something terrible happens to a child, they're raked over the public coals as lazy, ball-dropping bureaucrats. Turnover in CPS is huge. It burns the hell out of you.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2016 [89 favorites]


This is an exceptionally long piece, and I'm wondering if it's worth my time finishing or not. I'm a bit sceptical, having read the first 20% or so, as it appears to present, uncritically, the accounts of parents who claim that their child is a habitual liar (which may be true, or may be an lie with an obvious motivation), and offer little context in the form of assessments of the scale of abuse being prevented by the intervention of social services. Does it balance that out later on? Is it worth me putting in the time to get to the end?

I am a little sceptical of stories of brave parents battling against bungling social workers, partly because of my own professional familiarity with some of these issues and partly because an adopted family member was a victim of neglect and abuse before being taken into social services care. This isn't to say that social workers and the courts never make mistakes in child protection cases, but the horrific story of Ellie Butler's murder, at the hands of her father, after she was returned to her abusive parents by the courts, is a reminder that this is a complex issue, and that, when children's lives are on the line, emotionally satisfying narratives are almost nonexistent. This article seems to be looking for that kind of narrative, so I'd be interested to know whether it addresses the difficulties with that search.
posted by howfar at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2016 [26 favorites]


Does it balance that out later on?

tl;dr -- CPS settled with the family for $750,000, and the social worker has left CPS.
posted by Etrigan at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2016


I'm honestly -rooting- for CPS to pick up my niece and nephews, as well as the children of his new girlfriend, because my brother and his ex-wife, and his new girlfriend are all drug addicts who can't care for them in any useful or reasonable way. (One of them is, at this point, a full year behind in school because they couldn't be assed to handle it. This is just the tip of that particular dysfunctional iceberg, coming to mind because it came up within the last 24 hours).

I can't personally usefully intervene, so I'm reliant on the state to see to it that my relatives are attended to. (My personal situation is: full time caregiver to disabled parents. Dad's cancer treatments means he has no immune system, so full time kids are -right out-.)

This is a miserable thing all around, and yet, the agency responsible for intervention is constantly, as Thorzdad says, excoriated, no matter which way things play out. (God knows, I've wanted to scream at them for not acting faster).

I don't know that there's a better mechanism to be put into play to help kids in situations like this. I don't know that there's a better mechanism to be put into play when it turns out there -wasn't- a problem when CPS is forced to investigate (for whatever reason).

I do know that there are really real problems out there, and the agency responsible for handling it is constantly in everyone's crosshairs, forever.
posted by Archelaus at 12:25 PM on August 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


tl;dr -- CPS settled with the family for $750,000, and the social worker has left CPS.

But does it contextualise that? As I've said, there are mistakes made both to the detriment of good families and at the expense of children's lives. A single story can be pretty misleading in that context.
posted by howfar at 12:26 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


The daughter is interviewed at the end of the article: She told me that she, too, read the CPS petition and was stunned by how her words had been twisted. “Almost everything she put in there was a lie,” Amber now says.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:28 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is a simple answer, of course. Social workers need to be better paid; better trained, managed and monitored and; absolutely crucially, given caseloads they can handle. God knows I despair of social services sometimes during the course of my working week, but I know social workers, too, and the appalling levels of understaffing they experience seems to be a constant throughout the English-speaking world.
posted by howfar at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2016 [28 favorites]


There should be a trigger warning on this, for discussion of domestic violence and sexual assault at the least.

I think it's always worth being skeptical, but the way all of it resolves makes me inclined to believe at least the vast majority of it--not just the settlement, but the things Amber says about it now, especially. They might be minimizing some stuff, but they admit to enough to seem pretty ordinary. Not a total storybook family, but normal enough. My big takeaway here was not just that it was wrong that they got pulled, but that the system was not at all set up to put families back together again once they'd pulled them apart. It's one thing to err on the safe side when looking at kids in a situation that's been reported as dangerous, but nobody seemed to really have any idea what to happen after that. The kid who molested the son shouldn't have been sharing a bedroom with anybody, the required training stuff for the parents was a total mess, the investigation process didn't even involve talking with the parents--those things are all huge red flags to me.

I suspect a lot of this, though, is because the general public would prefer to just pretend this stuff doesn't happen than to actually provide enough funding to make a system that's well-researched and where everybody involved is well-trained and well-managed. I don't think anybody in the article wants CPS to not be a function of the government; they just want it to work right. But there are definitely taxpayers and legislators who feel differently.
posted by Sequence at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


There should be a trigger warning on this, for discussion of domestic violence and sexual assault at the least.

My apologies. I normally put in a disclaimer if I think some people might find linked content disturbing / triggering, but didn't this time because what was discussed didn't reach my personal "red flag" threshold. Sorry about that.
posted by zarq at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the same as we can know being a police officer is a hard job and it's understandable errors might be might while also face up to systemic abuses in policing- we can also both have empathy for how hard, traumatic, and underpaid CPS work is while not excuses abuses that are this carried out.

The fact that CPS work is traumatic does not make it ok for CPS workers to abuse vulnerable families without accountability. What's more, like a penal system focused on punishment- much of the struggles families are facing that lead to stress and difficulties meeting or understanding children's needs are things that could be addressed by systemic policy changes in living wages and available family support for parents. This is not CPS workers fault at all, but it doesn't mean that what they are doing is right or effective in many cases.

If the parents are too dangerous to parent (i.e. have committed sexual or intentionally dangerous abuses), than removal should be sought with attempts for adoption or group living (I would say the child if older should have options personally- some kids might feel safer in a group home with higher staff to witness abuses and some might prefer a family but there is real risk of abuse in foster and adoptive families). If the parents are struggling but need help with addiction services or mental health care or poverty- whole family support that keeps the family together during the healing process should be available. Taking children from parents increases trauma worsens addictions and mental health issues and contributes to parents shutting down and decreasing functioning.

It does not facilitate healing or better parenting techniques. If the situation is bad enough to warrant removing the child- the trauma being done to the mother will need to be addressed if returning the child is the plan. This is like using isolation in prisons to improve behavior.
posted by xarnop at 12:45 PM on August 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


The comparison to police officer feels very apt to me; the discussion of "unaccountable" CPS workers who take away children based on their personal feelings, even where that conflicts was what courts have said is familiar to me from working in criminal court. That said:

(i.e. have committed sexual or intentionally dangerous abuses)

is a woefully underinclusive definition of "too dangerous to parent," because it doesn't include unintentional dangerous behavior; unintentionally neglect is dangerous, too.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:54 PM on August 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think the same as we can know being a police officer is a hard job and it's understandable errors might be might while also face up to systemic abuses in policing- we can also both have empathy for how hard, traumatic, and underpaid CPS work is while not excuses abuses that are this carried out.

The fact that CPS work is traumatic does not make it ok for CPS workers to abuse vulnerable families without accountability. What's more, like a penal system focused on punishment- much of the struggles families are facing that lead to stress and difficulties meeting or understanding children's needs are things that could be addressed by systemic policy changes in living wages and available family support for parents. This is not CPS workers fault at all, but it doesn't mean that what they are doing is right or effective in many cases.


Speaking as a social worker (though I have never done CPS work), agreed on all points. I would suggest as well that it calls for a far more nuanced and deeper level of reporting if we want to have the conversation about the systemic problems that are impacting parents, kids, and the workers.
posted by nubs at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


Perhaps worst of all, Danyelle told me, “I’m afraid of my own children now.”

This is what scares me about this article most of all.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:03 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Back in the 90s, in Massachusetts, my mom got on my school's case for failing to provide a safe environment up to the standards required by state law. Soon after that, "someone" "anonymously" filed a 51A with the Department of Social Services full of bizarre fictions about our home life. Fortunately the social workers just showed up, had a look around, realized they were being played and left.

My next school did the same thing, except they didn't bother to pretend they weren't involved.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:04 PM on August 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


I am a mandated reporter in Illinois. The hotline you call if you suspect abuse gets about 250,000 calls per year.

I have called three times. I never take it lightly. It is supposed to be anonymous but the parents can often figure it out. What is the line between physical punishment and abuse? Is the child telling me the full story? Is my gut feeling baseless? Could I be disrupting a family where the parents are just doing the best they can? I hate these calls.

DCFS has investigated each time. In all three cases my report was considered "unfounded."

In one case I was simply calling out of an abundance of caution because the abuse was long past and the suspected abuser was not a family member, but I couldn't be sure there wouldn't be ongoing contact with him.

In two cases I was pretty sure something was going on. The student who missed months of school and had weird injuries was especially galling. I couldn't believe they found nothing.

Child abuse happens every day. Give the volume of calls they receive, they simply do not have adequate resources to investigate every time.

So I hate making these calls but I do it anyway. What if I am the only one who notices what's wrong?
posted by mai at 1:04 PM on August 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


Throughout the whole article I never saw an indication that Amber's parents ever admitted that they went overboard with her or failed to ever consider what she might want. The child was taken from her mother's home, taken from her grandparents' home and forced in to her father's house with little consultation. Maybe, if they'd made an effort to co-parent with the grandparents or discuss things over with the child, she wouldn't have rebelled in such a way.

Or maybe, if they didn't scream and throw things as a solution, it wouldn't be so easy to convince CPS that they were abusive. The younger children repeatedly said they were scared of their dad and when he went to anger management classes, he made no effort to even engage.

I've got people in my life that were abused by their parents, and while the abuse may not have ever been bad enough for CPS to pull the children, it's sure enough to cause lifelong scars. I've also been close to someone who did lose her kid briefly. When they told her she had to quit drinking and learn new parenting styles, she did exactly that. I, personally don't think she had a problem with alcohol, but she was a lot more casual about yelling and ignoring the child when she didn't feel like dealing with him that I thought was healthy. And you know what, she got her son back after she completed the programs and still to this day claims that it made her a better parent.

I think there needs to be a lot more intervention options than taking the kids out of the home. In fact, I think some times early intervention with parents is far more effective than removal. Teaching parents how to deal with the stress of life and children is essential to creating healthy families. But then again, we can't even convince people in this country that spanking is detrimental to children, so how the hell could we encourage parents to find more healthy ways of parenting?
posted by teleri025 at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


There is a simple answer, of course. Social workers need to be better paid; better trained, managed and monitored and; absolutely crucially, given caseloads they can handle.

Simple, alas, does not mean easy to accomplish.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:11 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of the types of cases I handle as an attorney are CPS cases. I represent the parents of children who have been taken into custody by CPS. It is pretty crappy work. CPS generally gets whatever they want in court. If you think that the DA has a built-in advantage in court, you should see how things play out in CPS court.

One of the problems with CPS having so much influence over the judge in court is that the CPS worker can begin to feel very, very powerful. Sure, the judge is the most powerful person in the court room, but if the judge is always doing what the CPS worker wants, then it is really the CPS worker who becomes the most powerful person in the system. Instead of the CPS worker adopting an approach where she tries to follow the law and follow procedures because she knows that the judge will be closely scrutinizing her actions, it can result in the CPS worker adopting an approach where the end justifies the means to her. After all, who knows better what should happen to the child than the CPS worker? The law is about process. When the process is ignored favor of outcome, then the system breaks. Very, very bad outcomes invariably result.

I think transferring cases from one CPS worker to another every so often (six months, eg?) might help. While it would create a bit of redundancy for CPS, it would be helpful to have the opinion of someone else on it. All CPS workers absolutely do not feel the same about each case.

Sometimes I characterize our CPS as the organization that likes to take children out of black homes and put them into white ones. It can feel that way at times. An alcoholic parent who lives in a gated community can hide the problems from the world better than an alcoholic parent who lives in low income housing. It is often more about support systems than it is about the parents. Rich parents are more likely to have family/friends who can help out than poor people are. It helps them keep CPS away.

But CPS does important work, of course. I have a case right now where the parents left the children on their own every day in a house with padlocks on the cabinets and refrigerator. There was a great deal of feces on the floor. Kids in situations like that need a great deal of help. I do wish that the reflexive position was to provide the parents with assistance and education rather than to take the children right away. But that is an entirely different issue, of course.
posted by flarbuse at 1:21 PM on August 19, 2016 [28 favorites]


Maybe, if they'd made an effort to co-parent with the grandparents or discuss things over with the child, she wouldn't have rebelled in such a way.

I'm not against this as a theoretical sort of thing, but in this particular situation, we're talking about the grandfather who was BURNING books they sent to her, right? I'm not sure we've got evidence here that this was a viable option.
posted by Sequence at 1:21 PM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not only burning books, but 'homeschooling' which left her uneducated in math and science.

There are a ton of disturbing aspects to this story, and due process is certainly one of them.

But honestly, would you let a hair stylist with 9 weeks of training work on your hair?
In California, caseworkers complete a nine-week course mandated by all CPS agencies across the state; for those without a professional degree in social work, it’s the only formal training they receive.
These are the people that are empowered to take away children from their parents.

The entire CPS system needs to be changed. It fails those that need saving and takes away children that aren't at risk. It's currently set up to allow teenagers to manipulate and abuse the system.

Disclaimer: I encountered CPS folks when I was a kid - they told me they could help me when I came to them with broken bones, and not before that; my abuser had specifically told me that he knew how to hurt me without leaving a mark (and then demonstrated just that).
posted by el io at 1:36 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


The thing that emerges in these stories is that there's no checks and balances in the system. It sure reads like most states' regulations around these services were drafted by (or new legislation discouraged by) lobbyists for the private for-profit "foster" industry, and they need bodies passing through their system constantly, and more every year for stakeholder revenue. I don't think they're paying the CPS agents to take kids from homes in most cases (though there are murmurs that they do pay "bounties" to cops, nurses, etc for kids), but they are dependent on as chaotic a system as possible to keep scraping as much money as possible from state and local governments.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:53 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


UK here. Cynically, it seems to go in cycles. There'll be a huge scandal, like the Orkney child abuse scandal where social workers take away children when they shouldn't. Then there'll be a huge scandal like Victoria Climbié where social workers didn't take away a child when they should have done. Until the next huge scandal reverses public sentiment, social workers - if they have any sense - bow to the new orthodoxy.

I have no evidence for this, and am not a social worker: just a sad observation about how hard it is to be a social worker.
posted by alasdair at 2:26 PM on August 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


fun fact: child services workers habitually lie in court same as cops. because they have very similar incentives and relationship to the judge and DA. ask a public defender.

it's a system.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:30 PM on August 19, 2016 [7 favorites]




It might be a good time to consider volunteering as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate in your local family court system.
posted by listen, lady at 3:11 PM on August 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


By 11 p.m., Thompson-Dunn had found foster-care placements for all three of the children through two private agencies—a bed for Amber in a Fred Jefferson home, and beds for Kelly and Cory through Avant-Garde Foster Agency.

It's no doubt unfair to judge the agency by the name, but foster care doesn't strike me as something you would want an avant-garde version of.
posted by layceepee at 3:42 PM on August 19, 2016 [6 favorites]




I cannot second listen, lady's commend enough. Court-Appointed Special Advocates are the voice of the child in court; they help prevent and correct abuses of the system. I was a CASA for a number of years; it's a wonderful program. Please, if stories like this disturb you, consider volunteering.
posted by epj at 3:58 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know it's a sidebar to the main point of the article, but I found this an incredibly difficult article to read, especially as it related to Amber. Her parents left her in foster care because they were angry at her, even though they knew their son had been traumatised in foster care. I know there's a whole big article around this point, but what a terrible moment for a troubled teen.
posted by frumiousb at 3:59 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I uh, don't have to imagine, Frumiousb.

Just sayin'.
posted by Archelaus at 4:01 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm one of those should have been taken out of a home but never was kids.

And I'm now a social worker. It's crazy the amount of responsibility they place on these people. 120 families as caseload are not uncommon. That's 120 sets of people ranging in size from 2 to 10 or above, then you get to add in kinship or foster parents. And ONE person is to keep this straight in their head and in notes, catch every problem, provide every resource, pay attention to all health appointments, behavioral problems, economic problems, school attendance and any medical issues. They are to coordinate teams of police, medical doctors, other social workers, parents, witnesses, schools, foster parents ect organize all that information ands present a case.

That's insane.

If course it is full of errors and confusion. It shouldn't be this way, but until it is funded to work, this cycle will continue.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:07 PM on August 19, 2016 [17 favorites]


I think a lot of people are missing the point of the article. Should a CPS worker have to get a warrant to remove a child from your home? Why is there no law defining "immediate danger" when we have so many about warrants and evidence in other situations? What about this families' case required removal of the child without a warrant?
posted by SyraCarol at 4:19 PM on August 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


To be pedantic, the warrant requirement secures your person, your home, and your effects.

Your child is not in that category.

Act now, explain to a judge later should be perfectly acceptable.
posted by ocschwar at 4:25 PM on August 19, 2016


The problem is warrents are for objects. These are kids. It's not like evidence where if evidence is there it will still be evidence. If you see a child in a hot car on a summer day, you
Do not need a warrent to break into the car and rescue the kid because they can die by the time that happens.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:31 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


The problem is warrents are for objects.

I don't think this is true. If the police want to come to a person's home and arrest them, they get an arrest warrant that allows them to take the person into custody. I believe a warrant generally is just an order issued by a judge allowing a law enforcement officer to take some action.
posted by layceepee at 4:38 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've just been reading this six part series on child protection in Mississippi, and there are some absolutely heinous stories there as well. (Warning: It's bad, probably on every count that you might expect.)

There are so many factors complicating issues like this, of course social workers need some room for judgment calls. There really will be emergent situations where children need to be removed immediately, and there would be no way to clearly predict and describe what every one of those situations will be. But it sounds like in the California case, they're just making warrantless removals a regular thing, like it's part of the culture. The Mississippi articles seem to show a slightly different culture with its own set of similar but different norms.

It is complicated and it is difficult. Social workers are generally overworked, underpaid, and undertrained. People abuse the child protection pretty regularly in custody disputes and for unrelated personal disputes, which takes resources away from those who need them. There are a ton of different factors that will be at play in each individual case, and there are no clear guidelines anywhere outlining what is and is not OK, what is and is not dangerous. A perfect system is probably impossible.

But when you see the same types of mistakes happening over and over again, I'd imagine that conscientious social workers would be happy to see them come to light.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:44 PM on August 19, 2016


This New Yorker article about Bella Bond, the Baby Doe in Massachusetts who was unidentified for months. It has some interesting history about DCFS that might be relevant to this story. It's such an awful case.
posted by apricot at 5:34 PM on August 19, 2016


I've handled appeals on these cases. Even when CPS workers massively, seriously massively, mess up, they are generally immune from personal lawsuits. Just like the police. Yes it is a thankless, underpaid job, but you know who has even more thankless, underpaid jobs, ones for which an advanced degree is necessary, necessary jobs which are fulfilled sometimes only on a volunteer basis? People with actual education in the system, with advanced degrees, to stand behind undereducated and disadvantaged parents of these children, and defend their constitutional rights. I am sympathetic to individuals doing tough, emotional, split-second decision jobs (as one of them), but not to the extent of dangerous and harmful incompetence. This is a systematic issue and needs to be looked at as such.

I handled an appeal of parents who lost their children for 2 years based on 1 minor marijuana conviction on the part of one of the parents. The children contracted diseases in foster care, which when they were returned to their parents, were extremely costly to treat and entirely uncompensated. So they sued. And they lost. Because the CPS workers who decided a single possession of marijuana conviction, for one of the parents, was sufficient grounds to temporarily remove children from their parents' home and place them into unstable and dangerous environments, had "reasonable grounds," according to the courts, to think there was danger there.

It is a very racist and very classist system, and frankly I do not understand and am appalled by the overwhelming support and defense for this kind of behavior in this thread.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:07 PM on August 19, 2016 [22 favorites]


Btw attorneys defending these people have upwards of 170-200 people in their caseloads, so the crazy high caseloads are not unique to the prosecution side of this issue, and are a bit of a red herring.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:12 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't see how they're a red herring - The fact that the attorneys also have high caseloads doesn't somehow make CPS workers less overworked or give them any more resources to deal with these issues. I pretty much agree with the folks in this thread saying that a) there are some pretty clear-cut cases of abuses of the system as well as b) a wider view that is more along the lines of 'depressing on every side'.
posted by sagc at 6:16 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I really think social workers get some of the blame that is more systemic than that. Individes people do illegal things and that is wrong.

Lawyers with 170 families in process ay any given time? Or the same thing as social workers except you get to just advocate for one side. Social workers are suppose to be arbitrators for every.goddamn.thing. the are a direct report to the courts, and to the lawyer representing DCFS.

What an entirely different, and radically more accountable system it would be, what if a social worker had 10 families, or between 25 and 50 people on their caseload m they could dedicate 3.5 hours every two weeks solely to their cases (assuming they just work full time which never happens at DCFS), be able to meet with children, parents, foster parents, review developments and changes, and monitor improvements. Quality of life things could be monitored better, relationships could be formed. Questions on policy, behavioral problems, changes in children's behavior could be expressed, noticed and documented.
With 120 families a month each family gets less than 1 hour of time per month at best, and no one gets to focus on anything.

Of course stupid shit happens. It's hard to know the names of everybody on your caseload much less what is actually going on, at any level.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:27 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


For some perspective, I have a state mandated caseload for adults in an entirely different field. I work with 30 individuals (not families) in their homes with lots of health risks, but not enough for DCFS or APS to be involved. It's crazy to think that if one of my people were to get a DCFS case that their social worker who would take over would be on a case load at least 6 times the size as mine, and still have all of the issues I deal with plus MORE.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:37 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Her parents left her in foster care because they were angry at her, even though they knew their son had been traumatised in foster care. I know there's a whole big article around this point, but what a terrible moment for a troubled teen."

Yeah, but that troubled teen said her father physically abused her. I can't help but suspect the good reason to not try to get her to come home (assuming she wanted to, which apparently she did not since it sounds like she never did) was because who knows what she would have said to CPS next to get them in more trouble. She already ruined the family as is (I feel bad saying it, but....).

I do wonder why the hell she would say that, or if CPS actually did make up that level of abuse. But I was never that troubled of a kid, so I have no idea really.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:09 PM on August 19, 2016


How much should you be responsible for performing the right/correct thing in your job? What, indeed, is the correct/right thing?

If you fuck up, should they (or do they have the right to) hold your feet to the fire?

[Just a few thoughts.]

posted by pjmoy at 10:43 PM on August 19, 2016


I've spent about twenty minutes trying to come up with a reply that sums up my feelings about this article, and can only say that, from experience, I have very little sympathy for that profession as a whole, though I'm sure they do a lot of good work.

When they mess up, they mess up badly: whether its sending the child of good parents to foster care, or calling a child a liar to their face and sending them back home with no further help or comment.
posted by pan at 11:30 PM on August 19, 2016


It is very easy to generalize social workers, police officers, soldiers, teachers, preists and others as either heroes or villains. I've met both really fantastic social workers and really shitty ones. Unfortunately as with other professions people too often let individual experiences or anecdotes overly prejudice their perception. They end up defending the bad ones or condeming the good ones. The result it that reform becomes a lot harder.
posted by humanfont at 11:52 PM on August 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


There is a related story in today's Guardian, focusing on the handling of the Baby P case in the UK and its consequences.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:44 AM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have three different family members who worked for CPS here in Washington, and the last thing they ever wanted to do was pull a kid from their family.

1. That's a strange piece of anecdata to offer; it's like saying "I have three family members who are cops, and the last thing they want to do is shoot a black person."

2. Our focus shouldn't be whether CPS workers are good or bad people; the question is whether the CPS system, as it currently stands, tends too far towards "grabbiness".

3. One thing I often wonder about is whether poor, homeless, or uneducated families are disproportionately targeted by CPS, the way these classes of people are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:11 AM on August 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Like in so much else, follow the money. The problem I have seen with CAS in my province is they address most issues with "do this [impossible] task or I will take away your children"; [impossible task]= get immediate (within 24 hours) help for currently treated mental health issues when the wait list for a new doctor is months-long; have the sole-support parent quite their well-paid Union job to stay home instead; get utilities re-connected immediately when the reason they were cut off is the parent has no money or way to suddenly make money; put children into child care costing thousands per month while the Stay At Home Parent (too disabled to work) was available; make children meat-based food in a family that observes vegetarianism as part of their religion; stop being poor and the wrong class. Instead of focusing on the causes of abuse and neglect (which is often poverty) the solution is to just remove children and pay other people to look after them. What if the agency paid the parents the same amount and offered the non-judgemental support and resources they give foster parents
posted by saucysault at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Instead of focusing on the causes of abuse and neglect (which is often poverty)

I was abused by my father, who is upper middle class, and who was also abused by my wealthy grandfather.

Of course, wealth often insulates families from the law, but abuse isn't caused by poverty. It's caused by abuse, and it's passed down from parents to children.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:50 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Absolutely, but "neglect" is something that is often due to a lack of resources and is often prioritised by CAS workers over severe forms of abuse thst are harder to quantify (such as psychological abuse) - especially if the abusive family has resources. I have heard more than one worker say there is no abuse in wealthier families because they never see it, so they go after the poorer families that are more deferential to authority .
posted by saucysault at 6:03 PM on August 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


We should massively reduce the protections given to cops, social workers, etc. under qualified immunity. If you fuck up somebody's life, then you should be in real trouble. Cops, CPS agents, etc. should not walk away scott free by simply says "He's coming right for us!" Judges would certainly take working conditions into account, but criminal charges should be filed against recklessness cops, etc. much more frequently than occurs now.

In particular, government officials should not generally be shielded when they violate their victim's right to due process. In this case, the complaining child Amber said that the CPS worker Thompson-Dunn lied in the report. Ideally, that should suffice to bring criminal charges against Thompson-Dunn. And our laws should be tweaked to make that easier.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:02 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


CPS performs an absolutely necessary function that requires the ability to take immediate action with very little oversight. Sometimes, they investigate a tip and discover two toddlers locked in a bathroom with a single peanut-butter sandwich for a weekend... while the parents are out of town partying. (Mom was a social worker; this is not a hypothetical example.) And that's minor, as some of the cases go.

However, "need to move quickly" has shifted to "need to not be held accountable for mistakes in judgment." Some workers are well-trained and look at each case, as much as they have time for, with the intent of really understanding the family before taking any action. Others make decisions based entirely on their personal hot buttons... anything that makes them uncomfortable is a sign that a child doesn't belong in the home. Like Pagan religious accessories. (Again, not a hypothetical example.) And knowing that "religion" is not an acceptable reason to yank a child, they will twist all the other evidence they find to show that a home or family is unsafe.

(I had a long personal interlude here, and then decided that this thread might not be the best place for 500+ words of personal anecdote. Short version: I've encountered severe bias in CPS, and it's left my whole family traumatized for years. Just thinking about it fills me with shaking rage and sick fear, even ten years later. I hope that it starts to fade next month when my youngest turns 18.)

While I know that CPS can do good things, and it was founded for a very good purpose, my belief is that, if you aren't ready to storm the house and take the child away at gunpoint, the situation isn't bad enough to warrant notifying CPS.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:42 PM on August 21, 2016


While I am not a CPS social worker, my work obviously has some overlap. My mom was also a child protection social worker and supervisor for decades in the county in my state with the majority of the child abuse fatalities. She later went to work for the state in a policy and training capacity. Based on my own experiences and my upbringing, I have some pretty clear bias. I try to be aware of that bias and remind myself that the system (for lack of a better term) is far from flawless and has certainly re-victimized some children and caused other problems.

That said, I'm having a really, really hard time giving the linked article a fair read. The author is making a lot of very, very clear framing decisions to paint the parents in the best possible light and the CPS workers in the worst possible light at every turn. For example, quoting the line "battered women often protect their abusers" as an example of another outrage in the family's mistreatment.

The thing is, what the CPS worker is alleged to have said can be true, sort of. I don't really think of it in those terms, but what is true is that DV victims have a very hard time cooperating with any sort of investigation or enforcement. The last statistic I saw was that a DV victim takes an average of 7-10 attempts to leave their abuser. I had one call recently where there was very clear, very violent domestic abuse, with a couple with only one child. I still wrote the report for it, and in that report I clearly stated that I am extremely concerned for the safety of the victim and her child. But she maintained for the entire time I was there that she had "fallen out of bed," despite the fact that her abuser had bailed out of the house and I tried everything I could think of and every trick I've been trained in to elicit cooperation.

Is she "protecting her abuser"? Well, no, not really. She had several reasons for not cooperating, including the fact that she doesn't work, she's worried she and her child would be homeless, she worries her abuser would use her depression against her in court, she's worried she'd lose her child, she's worried he'd kill her if she cooperated with police. The end result, however, is that both her and her child are continuing to live under the control of an extremely violent man.

A child protection social worker is charged with protecting the children. And I can promise you that if your policy is "let one parent have custody because only the other parent is currently accused of abuse," you are going to get incidents where the abuser is called back to the house and children are injured. That's not an "if," it is a guaranteed "when." People call up partners they have domestic abuse no contact orders against all the time, and to get such an order you have to actually cooperate with police and prosecutors! So the idea that "just let me have the kids, I'll keep my husband out of the house" is a viable option for a CPS worker that sincerely believes children are in danger is just not correct.

Does this mean that the case outlined in the article was handled appropriately? No. It does mean that this is one example of something that's being cast as an additional indignity or abuse when in fact it is not. Similarly, you could be removing children from the worst, most physically abusive home in the country and that scene will still be traumatic and awful. It will always be ugly. Always.

"They couldn’t understand how a stranger could take their kids after just ten minutes in their home, no warrant, no formal review, no time to tell their side of the story."

This is a power I have as a licensed peace officer. It is granted in state statute, and that power exists because without it, children would die whose lives could have been preserved. I can pull children from a home and transport them to a shelter or hospital and have the children held there for a few days, giving medical professionals, child protection, and a judge time to safely determine if the children must continue to be held or if they can return to their home. This is obviously a very serious power and I do not use it lightly or often - I have, however, had to use it. I have also had to articulate very clearly why I declined to use it in an instance where a child had sustained serious injuries as a result of abuse.

And here's the big thing that the article writer acknowledges early on in the article and doesn't touch on again (so far) as I'm reading:

"As they stood in the doorway of the Brannings’ two-story stucco home, Curry explained to Danyelle that he had been dispatched to the house because earlier in the day, Amber had told her school counselor that during the argument her father had pushed her against the wall and head-butted her. He said there was some bruising on Amber’s arm. This also surprised Danyelle; she hadn’t noticed it."

Emphasis mine. Kids get bruises just from living, but it's still very rare that I encounter children (or victims of domestic violence) with visible bruising or other visible injury. That there was some physical injury is extremely concerning to me because that means that if abuse occurred, it's already at a higher level than most situations. So, especially depending on California statute and child protection best practices, immediate removal from the home pending further investigation may be the best course of action.

"Richard Wexler, the executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, told me that “all over the country, social workers take children entirely on their own authority.” According to a report from Wexler’s organization, caseworkers in most states have “unlimited power and no accountability.”"

I find this statement ludicrous on its face, and I'm not really sure that it's great journalism to run a sensational quote from an organization whose hostility to CPS is apparent in its name.

The quote from a sociologist from the preceding paragraph is however much more useful: “[CPS workers] have a limited amount of information with which to try and predict which kids are unsafe.”

Foster care systems and their problems are an ongoing, horrible, and difficult to solve issue. The research I'm aware of indicates that children generally have better outcomes with their birth family, and so current best practice (I think) is that CPS agencies attempt to return children to their homes after services and counseling have hopefully ameliorated the issues that removed them. In the meantime, those children must live somewhere. While I certainly haven't looked into any of the research on the issue, the impression that I've gotten is that foster care is frequently a source of revictimization of children. If this impression is accurate, I would certainly support measures aimed at improving that system.

"The Brannings were banned from seeing their kids without a government-approved escort, but they were so desperate that on Tuesday, they snuck into the school and waited for them in the cafeteria. When Cory saw his parents, he darted over and plopped into his mom’s lap. Kelly arrived shortly after and threw her arms around her dad’s neck. Kelly decided not to tell her parents about what had happened to Cory—her mom already seemed so upset. Instead, Kelly asked if they knew how Amber was doing. They didn’t. They were still angry and hadn’t tried to see her."

Doesn't this paragraph worry anyone?

They violated a court order to see their two children they'd had together, but made no effort to see the child (apparently with injuries!) that alleged abuse. The child that was removed permanently (which requires a court order) from a previous home. Children with that background typically have serious behavioral and mental health problems. For the entire length of the article so far, I have found it pretty easy to imagine a situation in which Amber appears as as an interloper in the home, isn't viewed by her new parents as really one of their children, those parents accuse her of being a chronic liar, she struggles with her own mental illness, and later shows up with injuries and alleges abuse. Is it really so wild to imagine that she may in fact have been injured by her dad?

"Randy found a dildo and condoms in her room. She promised that they were a joke, but Randy didn’t believe her. “You’re not a whore, so quit acting like one,” he told her."

Really deeply not a fan of this.

"Ruth Supranovich, a professor of social work at the University of Southern California, worked in San Diego County’s CPS office on and off for 14 years. After about two years as a protective-services worker and near constant exposure to abusive households, she said that she “got burned out to the point that I didn’t trust people.” Supranovich likened being a caseworker to being a police officer. “You have to remind yourself that we deal with 1 percent of the population, and it can skew the way you look at the world,”"

This is extremely true and extremely difficult. I am aware that my own work is warping my outlook on the world. I try to fight that warping, but it's tough.

"In some cases, the court can provide expensive services that might not otherwise be accessible to families. But other times, parents can feel patronized, compelled to complete unnecessary programs for the sake of complying with their caseworker and getting their children back."

I have yet to meet a domestic violence suspect who feels that their arrest was appropriate. Robbers, thieves, and burglars will at least sometimes go with good grace. Not always, but sometimes they understand that they got caught committing a crime and that the result is they have to go to jail.

Domestic violence suspects NEVER have that attitude. Ever. The victim deserved it, the victim did something wrong, there wasn't injury, the victim is a crackhead and a liar, etc.

"Danyelle felt trapped and angry: She insisted that she didn’t have a drinking problem and hated the idea of going through a treatment program she didn’t need."

How commonly do alcoholics say "yeah, you're right, I've got a problem"?

"The next day, at the Murrieta Juvenile Court, Art seemed much more at ease. The judge there was a friend of his. Danyelle overheard the two of them talking golf in the hallway before the trial began."

We're comfortable with this?

"The police had found no evidence of wrongdoing and decided not to press charges"

"Not filing a criminal complaint" is not the same as finding "no evidence."

"There had been one particularly vile fight where Danyelle had stormed from the house and Randy had snatched her car keys and hid them."

You would not believe how common this 911 call is. Car keys and phones. Every night.

---

Anyway. Case studies are important, but they're not enough, and especially so when they're one-sided. A successful attorney with a significant financial interest in showing that CPS workers are overreaching really can't be our final word on the system. The U.S. chronically and severely underfunds CPS and other human services, wallows in outrage when those systems fail, and then continues to underfund them. The county I work in - the most populous in my state - has 0 on-call CPS workers outside of regular business hours. Nothing. We (as in law enforcement officers) have a voicemail box that is screened by workers from a religiously affiliated charity. I believe that foster care has serious problems in many parts of the country.

At the same time I'm very conflicted about the article. I really disliked its framing and a lot of the choices the author made. I'm very much not sure that articles like this actually do a whole lot of helpful work to correct the problems that may be there.
posted by firebrick at 7:55 PM on August 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


Having written my novel and now going back through the thread:

"3. One thing I often wonder about is whether poor, homeless, or uneducated families are disproportionately targeted by CPS, the way these classes of people are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement."

This is a really, really difficult question to untangle. Poverty does not cause abuse - the example of a family with a violent husband and father in my above comment is in fact a wealthy family - but they are often co-morbid. If you plot ten years worth of dead children on a map of your state, you're going to find that those corpses are concentrated in the poorer neighborhoods. Depending on your state, the poor neighborhoods are quite often - but not always - going to have higher percentages of persons of color. Growing up in violent, disordered homes typically makes things like "getting good grades" more difficult, it makes it harder for you to find work later, it tends to create cycles that repeat across generations, and so on.

Law enforcement in my city concentrates its resources where we're getting the most shootings, murder, robbery, etc. Those neighborhoods are also our minority neighborhoods. The middle and upper class white neighborhoods have less violent crime and less property crime, so they get fewer cops. And what cops are technically assigned there are often pulled to the more violent neighborhoods to answer calls when all the cars assigned there are already tied up on something.

People think questions like these are straightforward, but they're not.
posted by firebrick at 8:06 PM on August 21, 2016


The CPS worker fabricated the report they gave the court, firebrick. And placed the kids in a foster home where one suffered sexual assault. In fact, there were so many serious problems with this CPS that courts green lit a class action suit against them, presumably so that a wide array of smaller damages could be handed out. All these problems will happen because people are frequently idiots, but cop, social worker, etc. who fabricate evidence like this should go to jail. It's fine if they must record all interviews as a result.

There is a second good partial solution to CPS being underfunded, simply reduce the political or legal repercussions for CPS failing to act, and give CPS agents more leeway not to act. In questionable cases, CPS can simply tell the parents they have decided not to pursue the matter this time, but warn them that interview contents will be revisited relevant if their names show up in any future investigations, and recommend they seek treatment. We know such "soft touch" strategies actually work really well with many categories of crime.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:39 AM on August 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


CPS can simply tell the parents they have decided not to pursue the matter this time, but warn them that interview contents will be revisited relevant if their names show up in any future investigations

I would like to point out that a single, anonymous, entirely groundless investigation become a permanent record, a flag that says "maybe this family commits criminal child abuse." There is no appeal from this record; it's considered perfectly reasonable that the state marks some families with this flag.

My two biggest complaints about children's services agencies:
1) No oversight - I understand they have to make sudden decisions, but I want serious penalties for them making the wrong judgment calls, and
2) They aren't there to help struggling families; they exist for the sole purpose of deciding "is this situation bad enough that the child(ren) should be removed from the home?"

They can decide yes, and pull the child (into foster care with its own set of problems); they can decide no, and walk away; or they can decide "maybe, unless X happens," and the parents have to bend over backwards to meet an externally imposed standard of parenting with the constant threat of "if you fail to follow the instructions well enough, we'll take your kids away."

Free Range Kids blog lists plenty of situations where children were reported, sometimes removed from their parents, for the horrid neglect of letting them walk around outside alone. Or, in one case, for playing alone in their own back yard.

I'm not going to feel comfortable supporting CPS for intervening in cases of abuse until they stop intervening in cases of parenting style that differs from what they think is ideal.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:16 PM on August 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is an article about how the prison and foster care industrial complexes function to sustain inequality and oppression of the people most damaged by the loss of public safety nets and services focusing on black communities.

There are so many known things we can do to reduce these abuses, ensuring that mothers have financial security to leave abusive situations while remaining in housing, with food and living supplies- ensuring that mothers who need these resources who want to stay home with their children while nursing or parenting the toddler years have the option. Breastfeeding in known to reduce abuses by mothers but supporting mothers with staying home during the nursing years with financial options is barely even talked about, it's all pumping options while they are forced to work even though it is known in research this doesn't work for most women and reduces the ability to follow through with breastfeeding plans.

More free play groups and mother support spaces that don't require people be pathologized to need support. Access to post partum doulas and trauma care services for mothers with abuse histories and whole person support with healing from abuse and resetting thinking about parenting style and it's impacts. (Harsh parenting styles lead to worse outcomes etc.)

"Services" to help poor and "at risk" mothers are often openly monitoring systems filled with judgements and assumptions that the people targeted to "receive" this assistance are not blind to. The reasons people avoid this "help" are often totally legitimate because they are essentially mandates who come from priveledged people who have no idea what the people they are trying to control and dominate are actually going through or what kind of support would actually empower and heal them and help them be their most healthy parent for their children.
posted by xarnop at 6:42 AM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think regular law enforcement must always deal in long-lived black marks, ErisLordFreedom. We run into problems when officers get pushed to bring as many cases as possible into the judicial system. An important part of those officers jobs must be to leave borderline cases as "just a black mark". And not traumatize everyone by pushing them through the system.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:35 AM on August 23, 2016


"1) No oversight - I understand they have to make sudden decisions, but I want serious penalties for them making the wrong judgment calls, and"

This comment is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. The first is that I think it's easy to claim there's "no oversight" when you're looking in from an outsider's perspective. I do not have in-depth knowledge of my county's CPS system, but just based on statute there's a lot of judicial oversight at the very minimum. 72 hour holds are reviewed by a judge, a judge must be the one to make all serious orders after CPS presents their case, etc.

Second the contrast in attitude regarding punitive measures with regards to CPS workers vs. CPS clients is fascinating. The general consensus of the thread when it comes to parents is that punishment (or frankly any intervention) ought to be a last resort and we ought to have a very high bar to reach it. When it comes to CPS workers, the consensus appears to be that punishment ought to be a lot easier to mete out, both in the form of criminal prosecution (possibly requiring entirely new statute to be written) as well as personal civil liability and something approaching the elimination of qualified immunity.

If we are so convinced that punishment is counterproductive in the one case, why are we so invested in expanding it in the other? Do we really think an approach of "make it easier to levy harsher punishments against more CPS workers more frequently" is going to result in improved outcomes for children? Keep in mind that any such push will inevitably also provide for harsher punishments in the cases where a child ends up dead or seriously injured. If your goal is to have CPS workers approach with a softer touch, a punitive approach may have the opposite effect, because the really serious consequences are going to occur when kids get hurt.

jeffburdges, I don't think it's necessarily accurate to say the CPS report was "fabricated." Amber alleges that it was fabricated, in part, years after the fact and after she never returned to the home apparently of her own choosing. Recall that Danyelle has accused Amber of being a chronic liar. Who do we believe when? If a child comes to you and says "I have these bruises on my arm, my father threw me against a wall" - who do you believe? What is the CPS worker's motivation for inventing allegations out of whole cloth? I think it's very, very risky to take anything from this article at face value, and even if you do I find that there are numerous things I find very troubling.

None of that is to say I think everything went swimmingly here either.

ErisLordFreedom - CPS work in general strikes me as trying to balance on a pretty horrific see-saw. On the one end you have the corpses of dead children. On the other end you have families and children traumatized by the courts and foster systems. And blogs where people tell their side of the story are a really dangerous place to get information from, because no one is going to provide the full context in borderline cases. Was the child playing alone in the back yard while the parent was sleeping off a few shots inside? Were the child's clothes covered a week's worth of dirt, was there broken glass or other hazards in the yard? If any of those things were the case, would those facts ever be reported to that blog or site?

"The reasons people avoid this "help" are often totally legitimate because they are essentially mandates who come from priveledged people who have no idea what the people they are trying to control and dominate are actually going through or what kind of support would actually empower and heal them and help them be their most healthy parent for their children."

My mom came from a physically and emotionally abusive home. Many of her coworkers also had really troubled childhoods. Her office was one of the most diverse offices you could find, with coworkers of both genders and many racial and cultural backgrounds. "Social work" is one of the fields people are drawn to after they had a difficult upbringing and want to give back to their community. I'm not saying you don't get ignorant suburbanites in the field, but it's my suspicion that it's one of the fields least effected by that problem you could find.

Like I said before, it is my understanding that the most recent research shows that outcomes for children are best when they remain with their families when possible. It's also my understanding that the field of child protection social work is broadly aware of this research and current best practices are to attempt to keep children in their homes. There are nonetheless a lot of homes where children must be at least temporarily removed for their own safety. Although calls to "hold social workers accountable" feel really satisfying to make, I don't necessarily think that an increasingly punitive approach to CPS work would actually improve the lot of children. This is especially true keeping in mind that for every story you can find someone telling about "CPS took my kids unfairly," you can probably find another story of "I was in an abusive home and the cops and CPS did nothing."

In terms of concrete positions, I think CPS worker case loads are generally way too high. It would make sense to me for victim/child interviews to be recorded when possible. I think our foster system has some serious problems and I personally don't have good ideas as to how to address them.
posted by firebrick at 2:13 PM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think punitive measures are what I was talking about personally. I think I stated the fact that we fail to provide support structures to families in need is not social workers fault and the fact that their job is to offer punishment and control is a problem.

To change social work behavior you have to look at the principles on which the system is set up and what they are being taught and expected to do. To work as a licensed social worker you need a masters degree and to be able to get a masters degree you are not very likely to come from the foster system or a be runaway or come from the kind of poverty you are being given power and control over people who are coming from.

For one thing even if your childhood was bad, you were able minded and bodied enough to get a masters degree. That is often a huge difference from someone scrambling to hold on to minimum wage jobs that don't even pay the bill or resorting to sex work or selling drugs. No one who has mastered the system is having the same experience of being harmed by that system.

And so they will see the problem as the individual rather than tackling the system itself. And they are paid BY the system to UPHOLD the system- not to dismantle it and free people from being harmed by it. So yes they can be part of the problem but and we can say that without saying they need to be locked up in an abusive prison to make up for it. Lot's of social workers know that we should be doing different things but they are not paid to do those things, lot's of social workers know that the families need more financial security but they are not given liberty to provide the amount that is needed.

I was happy to leave a year long social work internship because I saw that people's needs were being so poorly met that becoming a social worker would just trap me in agreeing to perform a set of duties that weren't working and I want to tackle the public and beurocratic ideals and false beliefs leading to such utterly harmful ideals of placing blame on the poor for their ooverty, on the traumatized for just fixing it, on the struggling for struggling. Even the social workers who abhor these ideas have to work within a system which is contantly being controlled and defunded by people who want to infect such ideas into out social services if not remove them entirely. The education about the public as a whole impacts what beurocrats are able to pass off as acceptable and what social workers going into the job might already know and therefore able to challenge more effectively.

So knowing and sharing ideas about the effectiveness of supporting families with financial security, living wages, trauma care, parenting funds (this is something we don't really do in the US but many countries offers families caring for children money to do this, not as a temporary assistiance while they are forced to work 40 hours and go to school; but as in-- to actually care for their kids.) The list goes on and on and on- mothers who are unsupported and dealing with a lot of stress are much more likely to deal with postpartum depression and to behave abusively. Caring for mothers, ensuring their needs are met is part of creating healthy families.

We don't even have a notion of supporting healthy families by meeting their needs, we just live out this nightmare of threatening and torturing families with removal until they submit to good behavior when these techniques only damage their ability to function more.

If your goal is removal and to destroy any shred of hope the child's family will be healthy thesea re good techniques- if the goal is actually to help parents heal, have emotional health and knowledge of the ways different parenting syles and behavior impact their kids and the ability to change and shift thinking and behavior and form healthy bonds you are going about it in all the wrong ways.
posted by xarnop at 7:03 AM on August 24, 2016


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