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Update pg 10. Yay!-The ever-present CPS fears have materialized for us

post #1 of 192
Thread Starter 

I have never posted in this forum, but most search results for CPS came up in this forum, so here is where I need to ask for advice.

 

I have 5 children. I stay at home with them/homeschool. I am an incredible advocate of Positive Parenting. We don't hit, "punish", or even yell if I can help it. I don't belittle the kids, use hurtful language, etc., etc. Not trying to brag, but literally everyone that knows us or observes my kids (doctors, dentists, other parents, old friends, etc) says they are exceptional kids and I'm the most patient parent they've even encountered (when I'm well).

 

That said, my housekeeping skills are not the best, especially when I'm not feeling well, like when I'm pregnant, or dealing with borderline chronic fatigue, as I am now. Therefore, I'm always dealing with a dread of CPS in the back of my brain.

 

I am back in college after my bachelor's 8 years ago, and the schedule is grueling, so I've not been getting enough sleep. Last week I was putting the baby down and fell asleep. My 4 year old was looking for me and, for reasons we can't figure, my 8 yr old told him I'd walked to the pool (at the leasing office of our complex). He walked alone to the pool. They found him outside the leasing office crying, couldn't remember his last name or where he lived, they called the police. They pulled the files for apartments and looked for his brother's and sister's names and found us. All this happened in a span of about 20 minutes. When they came to the door my mother answered (dh was at work). She thought he'd lain down with me, SURE that he would have NEVER done something like that (I'd have been equally sure of that until that day). She woke me up, I was immediately in shock, shaking and crying all the way to the office to pick him up, get a long VERY judgmental lecture from the leasing office manager, while still crying and got home to quickly clean as much as possible because the police would be there any minute. The police officer warned me she would have to pass this on to CPS. I cried all evening and night, terrified they were going to take my children for neglect, thinking of all the things that could have happened to my baby, etc.

 

Of course, once CPS is involved the leasing office has all sorts of tales to tell, about complaints from the neighbors (that we've NEVER heard from anyone) about my children playing in the van in the parking lot on a hot summer day (NO WAY! we keep it locked and I routinely tell them that pets and kids die in hot cars), or taking off and wandering the complex on other occasions (NO), the townhome was "disgusting", all blatantly false. There is NO way. This was a completely isolated, totally horrifying event.

 

Anyway, CPS officer came to the house first thing the next morning. I had read here to never let them in, so I tried to keep her out and stay strong. But she got very angry, said because there was a claim that the house was dirty she HAD to see it. If I didn't let her in she'd HAVE to get a warrant, and if I made her do that it wasn't going to be pretty. So, I caved, crying again, of course. She said the kids looked great, the house was far from disgusting, and the kids gave all the right answers to her questions. No, we never spank them or hit them, no we don't get drunk or use drugs, Yes they feel safe talking to us, etc. She saw no reason for concern, and loved that we'd already installed an alarm that goes off very loudly whenever the door is opened. However, she then ties a few strings.

 

"While the house certainly isn't disgusting, or even very cluttered for having 5 kids, it isn't really all that clean, either." She asked if I'd like a referral to a local program through some non-gov't group that will come out once a month (or week, can't remember) and help me develop a schedule for cleaning with little ones, etc. She kept stressing that she has no part in it, totally voluntary, etc. Perfectly willing to take all the help anyone is willing to offer, because I do have a lot of children/responsibilities, and because she was not involved, and because I didn't know how it would look if I declined, I said yes. Then she tells me that they send her a report after every visit, "but because the file is closed she won't even look at it, just put it in the file."

 

Now, on the surface, this seems harmless, but I'm still terrified of CPS. I've now got one half-strike against me. What if they send a bad report? What if I make some kind of mistake again in the future and the reports say I wasn't doing a good enough job? Is this something I need to worry about? I don't want CPS in my life. I want them gone. Forever. Is there a graceful, non-black-mark way to retreat from this? Help.

post #2 of 192

(((hugs)))

 

The only thing I can suggest (having been "referred" to similarly "scary" services myself) would be to (either at the first visit or scheduling phone call) to let them know that you've figured something else out to help you organize the house and that you won't be requiring their services. 

 

And I'm not saying you have to lie to them. Creating a cleaning schedule, declutter the house, enlisting the kids to help you tidy the house, or getting the help from friends or family to watch your children while you tidy(or waking up a couple hours before the kids), or, if you can afford it, hiring a cleaning service can all help you to keep the house tidy. I know what its like. At most times, I would be terrified to even find out that a friend was coming over in 5 minutes, let alone the police who may be thinking that I am neglecting my children!

 

But it looks like you are in a good place as far as CPS is concerned. Breathe.

post #3 of 192

Easy for me or anyone else to say, but honestly, I would not worry.  I worked in child welfare for years, and what happened is pretty much exactly what should happen/is supposed to happen.  Complaint goes to CPS, they check it out, they determine that your kids are fine, *offer you resources to "strengthen" the family*, and close your case.  I would not worry that they had offered you services.  That is really a good thing.  Their purpose in doing so is to offer families they see as "at risk" services to help parents continue raising their children in their own homes.  I am not saying your kids are at risk, because you sound like a wonderful mom.  But, they don't know you.  They have a pretty good feeling that things are fine, or they would have kept your case open, yet they see that there might be areas in which they can help you, and so they are offering you that.  Truly, it is not a bad thing and their intentions are not to spy on you or catch you slipping up.  When the system works as it is supposed to, needs are identified within a family, and CPS works to help families meet those needs with the children in the home. 

 

If you don't want to keep dealing with them, I would clean my house up as much as possible, maybe do the services you agreed to for a month, and then call up your social worker and tell her that while you appreciate the help, you really don't feel you need it.  Invite her to come out again if she'd like and ask her to please close your case entirely, if she hasn't already. 

 

Also, don't worry too much about this "strike" against you.  I can't tell you how many "strikes" the average family who has their kids placed in foster care typically has.  My guess just based on experience and no real stats, is around 10 reports of abuse and neglect.  CPS fails all too often by not keeping children safe who are in terrible situations.  It is rare that they make the wrong call in the direction of pulling kids out of homes who should be with their parents. 

 

Also...you may want to consider moving at some point, just for your own sanity and peace of mind.  Why on earth are they making false accusations about your kids being in a hot car, etc?!?!  That would worry me more than CPS.  Good luck mama. 

post #4 of 192
Thread Starter 

Oh, we're SO moving. We were waiting out our lease (and our credit repair efforts) in April to buy a house. Now, we'll break our lease in order to buy a house. We were borderline on the credit, and I think when we pay off the ccs next week we'll be good to just go ahead and buy. And then we're SO gone! I HATE this place and all their crap. DH went to talk to them about what happened and they told him that he should get someone else to watch his kids. He was furious! He told me it made him so mad because I'm a really good mom (cried again because he's so sweet). They can take their overpriced rent, obscene privatley billed water bill, extra parking fees, garage fees, pet fees, satellite dish fee, etc. etc. and shove it.

 

Thing is, I think they're going to try to evict us. We get an eviction notice with 10 days to correct every time there is any minor infraction (we didn't pay our dish fee, for instance, because they NEVER TOLD US THERE WAS ONE until the eviction notice for non payment, 15 months after we moved in). Any lease violation is cause for eviction, and unattended children is a lease violation. They're horrible, so I fully expect them to pursue it. So, they may put a black mark on our credit and everything happen too fast for us to buy, but we're checking out rental houses, too. I WISH I cared so little about my credit that I could stiff them, but they'd probably sue us for $10.

 

Anyway, thanks for the reassurance. I really do hope this is not a way to trap me.

post #5 of 192
It sounds like for a visit from CPS, it went as perfectly as you could have wanted. The worker saw right away that the complaints were groundless. She told you as much, complimented you on your great kids and your prompt response to the incident by installing the alarm, and then gave you a referral to an organization that will provide support you need. I don't see any reason for you to be terrified of CPS or to consider that they have any strikes against you.
post #6 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabbyraja View Post

Oh, we're SO moving. We were waiting out our lease (and our credit repair efforts) in April to buy a house. Now, we'll break our lease in order to buy a house. We were borderline on the credit, and I think when we pay off the ccs next week we'll be good to just go ahead and buy. And then we're SO gone! I HATE this place and all their crap. DH went to talk to them about what happened and they told him that he should get someone else to watch his kids. He was furious! He told me it made him so mad because I'm a really good mom (cried again because he's so sweet). They can take their overpriced rent, obscene privatley billed water bill, extra parking fees, garage fees, pet fees, satellite dish fee, etc. etc. and shove it.

 

Thing is, I think they're going to try to evict us. We get an eviction notice with 10 days to correct every time there is any minor infraction (we didn't pay our dish fee, for instance, because they NEVER TOLD US THERE WAS ONE until the eviction notice for non payment, 15 months after we moved in). Any lease violation is cause for eviction, and unattended children is a lease violation. They're horrible, so I fully expect them to pursue it. So, they may put a black mark on our credit and everything happen too fast for us to buy, but we're checking out rental houses, too. I WISH I cared so little about my credit that I could stiff them, but they'd probably sue us for $10.

 

Anyway, thanks for the reassurance. I really do hope this is not a way to trap me.



That sounds terrible :(.  I really do not believe CPS is trying to trap you.  Besides being a social worker myself, the majority of my friend pre-kids were/are social workers, and I have never known any colleague, co-worker, or friend try to "trap" a family or a parent by offering them services.  Truly the main goal is child safety *within* the biological family home.  I have seen some really wonderful and creative ideas offered to families who were truly struggling with a variety of stressors to help them continue to parent their children.  I'd be shocked to find out that they are offering you services for any other reason that to help you with any stressors that could be impacting your family.  (Again, NOT that a messy house is impacting your family, but they don't know you and they like to offer help before things get desperate). 

 

As for breaking your lease, I don't know if we just got lucky, but DH and I broke our lease on a terrible rental property with a billion safety and other issues and our landlord took us to court and we essentially lost (had to pay 2 months rent but not the 6 months remaining in the lease in which we bailed).  Anyhow, we have since bought two houses and two cars and it hasn''t ever come up on our credit report.  Not to say it won't in your case, because I really don't know, but it might not.  Also, it takes time for it to show up too, so you might be able to stick around until you buy a house and then break the lease.  It is *not* easy for landlords to evict people either.  The courts tend to rule more frequently in favor of tenants even in crazy situations...we have a few family members who are landlords and they are always complaining about how bad it is for them. 

 

post #7 of 192
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post





That sounds terrible :(.  I really do not believe CPS is trying to trap you.  Besides being a social worker myself, the majority of my friend pre-kids were/are social workers, and I have never known any colleague, co-worker, or friend try to "trap" a family or a parent by offering them services.  GOOD!

 

Also, it takes time for it to show up too, so you might be able to stick around until you buy a house and then break the lease. That's the plan. The "penalty" for breaking your lease is a fee of 200% of your rent, not the remaining lease's rent. We'd rather not, but we can handle it right now. We like to believe things happen for a reason. We were waiting to buy a house and figure this whole thing must have happened right now to push us to get a house now. Positive thinking! :)

 

It is *not* easy for landlords to evict people either.  The courts tend to rule more frequently in favor of tenants even in crazy situations...we have a few family members who are landlords and they are always complaining about how bad it is for them. GOOD again! We've always paid rent on time and in full, so hopefully they'd have a hard time winning.

 



 

post #8 of 192

Even as wary as I am about CPS, having been on the wrong side of a false allegation and a really terrible case worker, I would simply accept the offer of help, keep in contact and ask them to close things finally for you in a month or so.  It sounds like they looked and saw what they needed to and everything came out perfectly for you. (When they WANT to find something, they will.  Even if it's manufactured, sadly.  However, most caseworkers really are more interested in keeping kids with their parents than taking kids away from intact families. The power-hungry vindictive types are NOT the norm, though they do sometimes exist.)

post #9 of 192
Thread Starter 

I just got a call from the worker. "After talking to the leasing office" angry.gif "and the length of time the said he was in their office, 45 minutes" 20 minutes, tops, if I fell asleep the second I went upstairs, "the case will have to stay open for 3 months with weekly visits." I started shaking again as soon as I picked up the phone, and crying as soon as I put it down. I DON"T WANT THEM IN OUR LIVES! I'm stuck. And with hoping to move in a month or so it's going to be a disaster in here! Does anybody know if it's a scheduled visit or if they just show up? She's sending it to "an ongoing worker", so I'm up in the air on the attitude of the new person. I'm so tired of being scared.

post #10 of 192

You are living my worst nightmare.

 

I have a hard time keeping up with the house. I worry all the time that someone will find fault with our semi-crunchy lifestyle and report us and the messy house will get us in trouble. Then if anyone digs a little deeper they will see some of the unconventional choices we have made and we will be in the same boat.

 

I've had at least 2 night time scares, where I was in the bath and DH was on duty. When I was ready to be on duty again I asked where are the kids and he was like, Ahhh, in the living room? and the kids were really outside, once, down the street playing. This was when we lived in a neighborhood where my kids were the youngest and nobody else allowed their older kids to play outside because they felt it wasn't safe (it totally was safe!)

 

What really bothers me about your situation, is that your mother was there to watch over the kids while you nursed/napped, and made a mistake. How were you suppose to know something was wrong until you woke up? It's like getting in CPS trouble because your kid missed the bus home from school, nobody called you, and when you showed up at the school looking for him 45 minutes later the police had been called and you had been reported for not picking up you kid.

 

hang in there OP. Get a lawyer, cooperate with CPS the best you can and get the heck out of that apartment complex as soon as possible.

post #11 of 192
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately it's also my worst nightmare. Well, them actually TAKING the kids or losing them any other way, but still. I called a lawyer. He said I basically have to just take it (which I already knew), be my polite self, and try not to let the door hit them on the butt at the end of the 3 months. Also said, though, that if they start being really critical, or extend the "probationary" period to call him back. So, guess I'm just bending over and holding my breath for the next 3 months.

post #12 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabbyraja View Post

I just got a call from the worker. "After talking to the leasing office" angry.gif "and the length of time the said he was in their office, 45 minutes" 20 minutes, tops, if I fell asleep the second I went upstairs, "the case will have to stay open for 3 months with weekly visits." I started shaking again as soon as I picked up the phone, and crying as soon as I put it down. I DON"T WANT THEM IN OUR LIVES! I'm stuck. And with hoping to move in a month or so it's going to be a disaster in here! Does anybody know if it's a scheduled visit or if they just show up? She's sending it to "an ongoing worker", so I'm up in the air on the attitude of the new person. I'm so tired of being scared.



That sucks.  Just remember though that they are really looking at very very basic things.  They want to see that your kids don't have a billion unexplained bruises, that there aren't any glaring safety issues in your home, that you're not using drugs, and that your kids are generally well cared for.  Well cared for is a loose term...and their standards are probably a *lot* lower than your standards.  Well cared for means you're not starving them for 12 days while you buy beer and let piles of feces sit on your kitchen floor.  Seriously.  Relax, mama.  You'll be okay...  Before you know it this will just be a really bad memory. 

 

post #13 of 192

And by the way.... you should ask your lawyer if the 200% penalty for breaking your lease is even legal.... I haven't ever heard of that and am really wondering if that would stand up in court. 

post #14 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

And by the way.... you should ask your lawyer if the 200% penalty for breaking your lease is even legal.... I haven't ever heard of that and am really wondering if that would stand up in court. 



I'd guess it would be legal..  200% of rent, as the OP stated just means that they'd have to pay 2 month's rent (at least that's how I interpreted it).  That seems pretty reasonable, actually.  At a minimum it might mean them also retaining the deposit.  That's standard for breaking a lease early.

 

OP - I know you are saying that every single thing has been taken out of context by the people of the apt. complex, but in your OP, you mentioned that you are a good, patient parent "when I am well".  What does that mean?  Do you sleep a lot?  I know you mentioned having difficulty with housekeeping when you're pregnant.  Are you pregnant now?  If not, are you on medication for your fatigue that might make you sleepy, for example and not get housework done?  These are all things that you could either discuss with your case worker, or that perhaps you really do need help with if you are not able to manage things.  I don't think CPS is out to "get" people or to "trap" people.  I'm looking at this from the outside and just from what you are saying, I don't see that CPS is overstepping their bounds.  I wish you luck, but I also hope that you avail yourself to the help they're willing to give if you feel that you do need it.  And if you don't need the help that they get out of your life asap.  Stay strong.


Edited by velochic - 9/8/11 at 1:33pm
post #15 of 192

yikes mama!!!! what a nightmare.

 

it seems like your nosey neighbors have made it difficult for you.

 

i know this sounds hard to do but dont freak out over your babies being taken away.

 

they have to make a paper trail. if you get the help, clean out your house you wont have anything to fear.

 

i had the same issue with neighbors (not so aggressive though). they accused me of leaving my 3 year old home alone and sooo much more. this is the same person who was doing drugs in her apt and didnt want her landlord to know.

 

anyways we were in the process of moving and we did. went to a nicer place. with nicer neighbours who were truly supportive instead of rumors.

 

and cps came and closed their case. that was 8 years ago and we havent had any problems since then. but yes i have now been tagged by the system. so if anyone says anything, they will come out to check things out. however worker was v. nice and noted in the file that it was exh issue.

post #16 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

I'd guess it would be legal..  200% of rent, as the OP stated just means that the'd have to pay an extra month's rent.  That seems pretty reasonable, actually.  At a minimum it might mean them also retaining the deposit.  That's standard for breaking a lease early.


I think we read it differently now that you point that out.  OP-- Does 200% of rent mean that if you have six months left on your lease that you have to pay them 12 months rent?  (which is what I was thinking you meant when you said that which sounds like it might not be legal).  Or, did you mean that you just have to pay one month of rent doubled and then you're out of the lease?  That I am sure is legal...
 

 

post #17 of 192
Thread Starter 

No, no. Lease is up in Apr of 2012. If we leave now we pay the equivalent of 2 months rent. I think that's fine, just more than we wanted to pay. Luckily we have it, because usually we wouldn't.

 

No, my baby is 11 mo old and dh has had a vasectomy. I just meant that I didn't like the kind of angry parent I was last summer, hot and super irritable all the time. Since then I've found traditional foods and proper nutrition has made all the difference in my health and attitude. So, back then I would be patient and so on on my "good days". Now it's very infrequent that I have bad days. But, if I'm sick (once a year) or super tired because of the adrenal fatigue/too much to do, etc., I can be snippy. Others see this and STILL say that I'm more patient than they would have been, I just feel like I'm not at my best. That's all I meant. I'm not on anything but Armour Thyroid, so no worries about drugs or anything. :)

post #18 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

I'd guess it would be legal..  200% of rent, as the OP stated just means that they'd have to pay 2 month's rent (at least that's how I interpreted it).  That seems pretty reasonable, actually.  At a minimum it might mean them also retaining the deposit.  That's standard for breaking a lease early.

 

OP - I know you are saying that every single thing has been taken out of context by the people of the apt. complex, but in your OP, you mentioned that you are a good, patient parent "when I am well".  What does that mean?  Do you sleep a lot?  I know you mentioned having difficulty with housekeeping when you're pregnant.  Are you pregnant now?  If not, are you on medication for your fatigue that might make you sleepy, for example and not get housework done?  These are all things that you could either discuss with your case worker, or that perhaps you really do need help with if you are not able to manage things.  I don't think CPS is out to "get" people or to "trap" people.  I'm looking at this from the outside and just from what you are saying, I don't see that CPS is overstepping their bounds.  I wish you luck, but I also hope that you avail yourself to the help they're willing to give if you feel that you do need it.  And if you don't need the help that they get out of your life asap.  Stay strong.


I highly doubt a 200% penalty is legal.  Breach of contract is neutral in legal terms, and penalties for breach aren't legal.  Keeping a deposit is legal b/c its a liquidated damages thing, but a penalty on top of that is generally not legal.

 

post #19 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post




I highly doubt a 200% penalty is legal.  Breach of contract is neutral in legal terms, and penalties for breach aren't legal.  Keeping a deposit is legal b/c its a liquidated damages thing, but a penalty on top of that is generally not legal.

 

 

How do you figure that?  They are breaking a contract.  It's 2 months' rent.  I don't think any small claims court would argue about that, but I don't know Michigan law, so who knows.  It's not really the issue at hand, anyway.

post #20 of 192
I am so sorry. We dealt with them a few years ago for an unfounded claim that was proven wrong the second they got to my door. Luckily they were out of our lives in a few weeks, but I now live in fear. nothing like someone showing up to your door unannounced to inspect and accuse and tell you they can take your kids from you for even minor things.

As far as cleaning-your oldest two at least are old enough to help out more around the house and keep it "respectable" for CPS. Even if you have to pay them to keep it spotless until the CPS deal is over with. (((Hugs)))

As far as people saying they're just doing their jobs-I can see that sometimes. I have seen times when CPS rightfully did a great job. But I also had experience with my own case and that left me jaded about them. I was 100% pro-CPS before that. Having someone stick their nose in your house like they have the power of God and snooping in all of your stuff to find any possible evidence of anything at all-even things benign like cosleeping and homeschooling (for us) and then make it seem like you're a child abuser when there are really terrible evil parents out there who really shouldn't be in charge of children...it's just aggravating and humiliating and depressing.
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