We are new (4 years) residents in a gentrifying neighborhood composed of mostly old-timers who've lived here all their lives and non-English speaking immigrants. We must be doing something to piss the neighbors off, because in the last 2.5 years we've had CPS set on us twice. The reports are obviously vindictive, not a concerned neighbor misinterpreting something. The latest incident was last night - a caseworker showed up and said that they got a call saying that our children are constantly outside naked in November, and that they were seen alone and naked in the car for hours at a time. (UPD: OK, I thought this was obvious, but apparently it needs to be stated - my kids have not been unattended in the car, clothed or otherwise; nor do they go outside naked in wintertime.)
The caseworker went through all the formalities, noted that our house is filled with clothes, books, food, and that everything is obviously OK, and left more or less satisfied with the situation. But I am on pins and needles because we don't vaccinate, which means they will be calling my pediatrician AGAIN to confirm that we are not religious nuts who deny our children healthcare. And she made me sign a release with my social security number to check against some city-wide mental health database, which really feels like an invasion of my privacy. And we co-sleep, which meant that I needed to explain about the family bed arrangement and attachment parenting theory, etc etc. As luck would have it, we did have the spare bed set up last night, so I just said that it is where my older child sleeps, but it was still unnerving. And worst of all, the children were actually both naked when she knocked at the door, because we were in the middle of finger-painting. So I am still not sure that I have heard the end of this. And of course, I don't know which of the neighbors called.
I feel extremely vulnerable to this kind of harrassment. My pediatrician is not 100% comfortable with us not vaccinating as it is, and if he starts receiving calls from CPS every month or two it could lead to a tense situation. And my kids ARE naked at home a lot of the time - not because I don't let them wear clothes, obviously, but try and explain about toddlers ripping their clothes off every chance they get to a early-20s college grad who just started in a social work job, and has no children of her own yet! Also we don't have health insurance at the moment, and pay for doctor visits out of pocket. I'm sure it's a situation that many families find themselves in, but combined with the no vaccinating and general lack of complaints I'm sure it makes us look like a cooky anti-medicine family. In short, while we are doing nothing wrong, I think we do enough things in an unusual way to make us look strange in the eyes of government agencies, and if the neighbors keep up their calls I am going to go crazy.
Has anyone been in this situation? What can I do? I don't even know which of the neighbors it was, and if I did I have no idea how to talk to them without stirring up even more conflict.
Edited by aelial - 11/17/10 at 12:54pm