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Update pg 10. Yay!-The ever-present CPS fears have materialized for us - Page 2

post #21 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post



 

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.



It's what I was taught in law school.  Certainly different states have different practices, but damages clauses are put in contracts very frequently, and when challenged are usually found unenforceable.  Any dispute between a landlord and tenant would be in housing court btw, not small claims.

post #22 of 192

OP, I wonder, does CPS have a court order allowing them to continue their investigation?  Unless they've taken you to court I don't think you are required to allow them into your home.

 

BUT - if I were you, I would enlist all of your friends, and family, to help you get through this.  See if you can get some people on a rotating babysitting schedule so that you can clean clean clean.  With 5 kids there is sure to be some clutter, and some toys strewn about, but the more often you are sweeping, mopping, and making sure all the dishes are done and everything is spotless other than toys, the better you will fare.

 

Good luck!  I had my own issues with CPS when my ex and his mom called them on me in an attempt to get custody.  It was ridiculous, and he lost (thank god), and it sucked.

post #23 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post





It's what I was taught in law school.  Certainly different states have different practices, but damages clauses are put in contracts very frequently, and when challenged are usually found unenforceable.  Any dispute between a landlord and tenant would be in housing court btw, not small claims.



From personal experience, when our landlord took us to court, it was held in small claims court.  Also, we ended up having to pay 2 months rent on top of losing our security deposit which was equal to a third month rent.  We did not however have to pay out the remainder of the lease which was several more months. 

 

post #24 of 192

Not trying to be strange, and I am so sorry to all of the mommas who are dealing with this....  but, why not just keep your house cleaner.  *ducking and hiding head*  I am not trying to stir up a pot, but if all of this really is scaring you to death isn't easier to clean then live in fear?  I have three small kids, I homeschool, I teach online course, and we have two boxers and a cat...  my house is mostly clean.  At any moment there are dishes in the sick from lunch that I didn't have time to load into the dishwasher, etc...  but NOTHING that would ever make me think about CPS!  Also, we are all talking about a large sum of money to move.  Instead of that, why not hire a cleaning lady to come twice a month instead? 

 

Seriously, not trying to offend anyone, but let's log onto fly lady and get in gear!  LOL!

post #25 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post

Not trying to be strange, and I am so sorry to all of the mommas who are dealing with this....  but, why not just keep your house cleaner.  *ducking and hiding head*  I am not trying to stir up a pot, but if all of this really is scaring you to death isn't easier to clean then live in fear?  I have three small kids, I homeschool, I teach online course, and we have two boxers and a cat...  my house is mostly clean.  At any moment there are dishes in the sick from lunch that I didn't have time to load into the dishwasher, etc...  but NOTHING that would ever make me think about CPS!  Also, we are all talking about a large sum of money to move.  Instead of that, why not hire a cleaning lady to come twice a month instead? 

 

Seriously, not trying to offend anyone, but let's log onto fly lady and get in gear!  LOL!


This was the point I reached after someone tried to make a false allegation against me.  However, you can't assume that clean will be seen as clean. The initial report against me was completely fabricated by a caseworker on a power trip. When I saw the road she was trying to go down, I contacted the police to have them document everything while she was still there as well- and that is the ONLY thing that saved my butt. 

 

In my case, we're not talking stretching the truth, she outright LIED through her teeth. 

 

1. There were animal feces all over the house.  She took a picture made to look like a pile of animal poo on a couch.  It was a plastic hamburger from my child's play kitchen. 

 

2. DD was playing with drugs in the upstairs hallway.  First, there were no drugs in the house, second, she spilled out a box of baking soda I kept in the upstairs bath and directed DD to play with it. 

 

3. Filthy laundry was piled all over the house. She took a photo to demonstrate this, when it was zoomed out, you could see that she'd taken a picture of a load of laundry in the dryer.  She zoomed in on JUST the laundry and stated that it was piled all over the house. 

 

4.  DD was filthy and covered with lice.  Nope, she did have some powder in her hair (remember, the caseworker had directed her to play in baking soda....) but I had to get a forensic examination the next day to disprove the statement about lice/filth.

 

 

In this instance, the complaint she had been told scared her, and she was creating reasons to take my daughter first and ask questions later. Obviously, it all came out ok but only because I'd had the presence of mind to stand up for myself and I had called the police to help me. 

 

This caseworker also tried to tell me that if I didn't sign papers agreeing with what she found she would terminate my rights that moment.  If I hadn't known better, that might have scared me into signing something that would have completely screwed my chances. 

 

It was horrific and frightening, but very much an anomaly. This is not a matter of all caseworkers, or even some- it was a situation of a very warped woman who should not have had the job she did. 

 

It took about 5 years to get past the terror of someone at the door.  I still can't tolerate having anything out of place in my home, because someone might twist a bad day against us, but I do much better.  I keep my house MOSTLY spotless for peace of mind.  Once I got into the habit of it, it wasn't too hard, but it is daunting to manage before you have decluttered and gotten into a pattern of keeping things just so.  At the moment, it's a bit of a mess as I am on my own and pregnant and today was a really sick/tired sort of day.  There is a blanket on the couch, the blocks are out of their bin (and have been for about 10 minutes now) and I'm just getting around to asking DD to unload the dishwasher so I can wash the lunch dishes.  For the most part though I simply don't allow messiness to happen in our house precisely for reasons like this. If something happens, it will always happen at the worst possible time. 

 

 

post #26 of 192

insidevoice, may I ask at what point you realized you needed to call the police? And did you dial 911 or a non-emergency number or what?

post #27 of 192
Thread Starter 
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.

 

Oh, they made sure to word it in the lease that it is NOT a penalty, but the reasonable costs for getting the apartment ready to rent again, or some other such nonsense. As if they don't have the same costs if we move out at the end of our lease. eyesroll.gif

 

kittywitty, yes my oldest 2 have been helping with cleaning since they were 4, and now together do as much work as I do. And my 4 yr old is now beginning, as well. He picks up toys and dries dishes. The big cleaning isn't that hard, it's the maintenance that is. Everyone loses their oomph after about a week and the backslide starts. Can't allow that now...

 

Last week when I was washing the cabinet doors from grody fingerprints I turned around, then turned immediately back around to the cabinets. Literally 1-2 seconds. dd had reached into the bag of baking soda and put 2 new hand prints on the door and a pile of it on the floor. That's honest-to-gosh how EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY is here. 1 step forward, 2 steps back with a 2 yr old and 1 yr old. I feel like I have quadruplet toddlers!

 

Plus, what's considered "appropriately clothed"? It is HARD to keep clothes on my 4 and 2 yr olds at all, and when the 4 yr old complies he's hotter than everyone else, so he'd happily wear shorts inside all year round, and never wear a shirt. Is that acceptable? It was to me, but I don't know about to big brother... Sigh...
 

 


Edited by gabbyraja - 9/8/11 at 5:39pm
post #28 of 192

When she started taking pictures of laundry INSIDE my dryer, I realized that something was wonky. I called the non-emergency number and a couple officers showed up within minutes. The officers called in two more officers as witnesses when they couldn't get through to her- and had one come in who specialized in documentation of crime scenes. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't been able to obtain help through the police.  I had tried to take pictures of her as she was 'documenting' but she took my camera and claimed she was keeping it to make sure there were no pornographic photos of DD on it. 

 

It was also very disturbing that she kept trying to tell my daughter that she would never have to worry about being with her mean mommy again.  She was never going to 'let Mommy do mean things to her'.  She did opt to take DD with her when she left, and became very angry when an officer followed her and forced her to take her to the safe house instead of this woman's own home. 

 

As I said, this was not a simple CPS investigation, it was an incredibly warped woman who should never have been in the position she was in. Sadly, because of the system, I had to watch her take my child and then I had to fight to get her back. (Which did happen rapidly.  I agreed with this woman's boss to sign DD over to kinship care with my parents as the mess was sorted out- mostly to get her out of the immediate area. I had her back within less than 48 hours.) This woman kept working with CPS for over a year after this happened.  

post #29 of 192
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by insidevoice View Post

When she started taking pictures of laundry INSIDE my dryer, I realized that something was wonky. I called the non-emergency number and a couple officers showed up within minutes. The officers called in two more officers as witnesses when they couldn't get through to her- and had one come in who specialized in documentation of crime scenes. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't been able to obtain help through the police.  I had tried to take pictures of her as she was 'documenting' but she took my camera and claimed she was keeping it to make sure there were no pornographic photos of DD on it. 

 

It was also very disturbing that she kept trying to tell my daughter that she would never have to worry about being with her mean mommy again.  She was never going to 'let Mommy do mean things to her'.  She did opt to take DD with her when she left, and became very angry when an officer followed her and forced her to take her to the safe house instead of this woman's own home. 

 

As I said, this was not a simple CPS investigation, it was an incredibly warped woman who should never have been in the position she was in. Sadly, because of the system, I had to watch her take my child and then I had to fight to get her back. (Which did happen rapidly.  I agreed with this woman's boss to sign DD over to kinship care with my parents as the mess was sorted out- mostly to get her out of the immediate area. I had her back within less than 48 hours.) This woman kept working with CPS for over a year after this happened.  

 

OMG!... OMG!
 

 

post #30 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabbyraja View Post


Last week when I was washing the cabinet doors from grody fingerprints I turned around, then turned immediately back around to the cabinets. Literally 1-2 seconds. dd had reached into the bag of baking soda and put 2 new hand prints on the door and a pile of it on the floor. That's honest-to-gosh how EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY is here. 1 step forward, 2 steps back with a 2 yr old and 1 yr old. I feel like I have quadruplet toddlers!

 

Plus, what's considered "appropriately clothed"? It is HARD to keep clothes on my 4 and 2 yr olds at all, and when the 4 yr old complies he's hotter than everyone else, so he'd happily wear shorts inside all year round, and never wear a shirt. Is that acceptable? It was to me, but I don't know about to big brother... Sigh...
 

 


The first paragraph, yeah, I only have ONE toddler and thats what my days are like.  Yay!  Do the best you can, enlist the neighbors, friends, family, people from church or school or wherever to help you as much as possible. 

 

Appropriately clothed, well, don't worry about that.  If the 4 & 2yo's don't like clothes, keep some clothes handy, and if she shows up act like they JUST took off their clothing and make a fuss about putting it back on.  And really, as long as they aren't wearing shorts outside in the snow, who cares.  My ds wears shorts in my apartment in the winter b/c its kept so ridiculously HOT in my building that even I don't wear many clothes inside - but we change to go outside b/c its COLD outside.  Just be sure to have clothing on hand (I know you do), and offer it to them - its not worth the power struggle to force them to wear clothing, but you also don't want the social worker to think that you don't HAVE appropriate clothing, kwim?

 

Also, if you are worried about her lying about this stuff, keep a tape recorder handy.  In most states its legal to tape record conversations, even if one party doesn't know about it (check the laws just to be sure), and you can tape record the visits. 

post #31 of 192

hug2.gif I can't imagine how scary this is for you.

 

What sort of support community do you have? I know, for example, that if I called my sister and asked, she would come up and clean for a whole day, as would several friends. 2-4 adults cleaning all day would get my house from cluttered and a bit sticky to showplace worthy. (As did one person cleaning for 5 days -- bless my MIL for doing that when I was in the hospital for 5 days after dd was born). My sister deep cleaned dd's room in 5 hours last week.

 

Once you're clean, then you spend 20 minutes every day tidying, cleaning the sinks, etc. If you and your husband and your 2 older children each work 15-20 minutes a day, you'll be fine. Even your 4 year old could help. The key is to give the children very specific tasks. When my kids were 4 and 7, I made a 'chore bag' with things as specific as "pick up 20 things in the living room" (so the fact that we HAVE 20 things on the floor in the living room tells you what state we were sometimes in).

 

Do you have any place you could temporarily store 'stuff'? Your parents' garage? A friend's basement? One way to keep the house cleaner is to get rid of a lot of stuff. Less stuff = less stuff strewn around. If you could pack up a lot of your stuff and take it out, it would look better. Since you're moving, you might set yourself a goal of packing one box a day, and throwing out or donating 1/2 that amount of stuff.

 

Most of all, keep your cool. Try to refute the allegation that your son was out for 45 minutes.

 


Edited by LynnS6 - 9/8/11 at 6:14pm
post #32 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post

Not trying to be strange, and I am so sorry to all of the mommas who are dealing with this....  but, why not just keep your house cleaner.  *ducking and hiding head*  I am not trying to stir up a pot, but if all of this really is scaring you to death isn't easier to clean then live in fear?  I have three small kids, I homeschool, I teach online course, and we have two boxers and a cat...  my house is mostly clean.  At any moment there are dishes in the sick from lunch that I didn't have time to load into the dishwasher, etc...  but NOTHING that would ever make me think about CPS!  Also, we are all talking about a large sum of money to move.  Instead of that, why not hire a cleaning lady to come twice a month instead? 

 

Seriously, not trying to offend anyone, but let's log onto fly lady and get in gear!  LOL!


Hmm I think this is a little insensitive. The OP mentioned chronic fatigue & thyroid issues... I deal with this too, though maybe a bit more severe, and honestly I'm functionally disabled. Our house is currently semi-manageable because DH was laid off & spends a lot of time cleaning and helping me declutter, but it would be horrible if someone dropped by unexpectedly and if DH ever finds a job I don't know that I can keep the house in order on my own (I couldn't before) or afford to pay for someone to clean it. I don't know, maybe the OP could keep things cleaner if she made it a priority, but the assumption that everyone can keep a clean house if they'd just log onto flylady is a bit... IDK, hard to hear I guess. greensad.gif
post #33 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post

Not trying to be strange, and I am so sorry to all of the mommas who are dealing with this....  but, why not just keep your house cleaner.  *ducking and hiding head*  I am not trying to stir up a pot, but if all of this really is scaring you to death isn't easier to clean then live in fear?  I have three small kids, I homeschool, I teach online course, and we have two boxers and a cat...  my house is mostly clean.  At any moment there are dishes in the sick from lunch that I didn't have time to load into the dishwasher, etc...  but NOTHING that would ever make me think about CPS!  Also, we are all talking about a large sum of money to move.  Instead of that, why not hire a cleaning lady to come twice a month instead? 

 

Seriously, not trying to offend anyone, but let's log onto fly lady and get in gear!  LOL!


The caseworker in the OP's story said her house ISN'T "even very cluttered for having 5 kids." Meaning, the house was already CLEANER than you would reasonably expect it to be. There is certainly no freakin' reason she needs to clean it any better than that! We're not talking about filth here, but clutter. Clutter means things like unsorted mail on the table, dishes in the sink waiting to be washed, spice jars left out of the spice rack, toys on the floor, maybe an errant candy wrapper, perhaps a few of the kids' garments didn't quite make it into the hamper... the kind of "mess" that's constantly being produced as a result of living in a house. I really can't imagine anyone keeping the house with five kids clutter-free 24 hours per day without 24 hours of full-time housekeeping, i.e. no less than three live-in maids.

post #34 of 192
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

Try to refute the allegation that your son was out for 45 minutes.

 


The only thing I can't really substantiate it, but I always look at the clock when I take the baby up, so I know if she's been down "long enough" when she wakes up. 11:03. I walked upstairs, peeked into ds's room to see him watching Thomas the Train. Saw he was being quiet, wouldn't wake up the baby, so I didn't disturb him to tell him where I was going (won't ever do that again). Took the baby in and fell asleep. Let's say it took me 2 minutes for all of that. 11:05. Then, if he ran down the stairs and out the door without talking to anyone and ran all the way to the office he could have gotten there in THE SHORTEST 10 minutes, more likely 15-20 (and he talked to people first, too). (he's 4 and not very strong. Takes over 20 minutes to walk there with him) Now it's 11:15 at the earliest. He was found by a neighbor outside the office and brought inside. Then the office says they had to pull files to find his siblings in order to find us and call. I took a pic of my caller id tonight. 11:28. I walked into the office while they had been on the phone with my husband for about 4 minutes, 11:34. I sat there, child in arms, LONG lecture from the manager and back home at 5 minutes 'til noon.

 

Does that sound like he was in the office unsupervised for 45 minutes?

 

post #35 of 192

Edited because I didn't want to get off track of the OP's thread by asking about irrelevant issues. 

 

OP - my father has been a landlord for 25 years and they will and do (unfortunately) pursue different claims in small claims court.  He has actually never lost a case, so be prepared that you may get sued if you try to just abandon the property without fulfilling the contract.  Depending on the landlord they can be very persistent in getting their money. 

 

Super-single mama - my father has won a few cases in small claims and yes, they enforced the contractual  obligations of the tenants.  I'm sorry to go against what you "learned in law school", but what really matters is the real world experience and this is what has actually happened.  Asking for 2 months' rent for breaking a contract is not excessive.

 


Edited by velochic - 9/9/11 at 4:55am
post #36 of 192

gabbyraja, since it's hard to substantiate how long, can you offer character references to the caseworker while your case is open?  Where I'm coming from is this:

I've actually been on both sides of the fence, former family support worker but we had a (fortunately short lived ) Children's Aid (we're Canadian) investigation when the kids were small.  Like you, we were homeschooling at the time (don't now), so no info from schools.  We were in a housing cooperative, my wonderful DH was the stay at home parent.  An unfriendly member of the cooperative claimed all three kids were left unattended outdoors for hours (very untrue, our 20 month old was never out of DH's sight, and the older two were, well, older, so at ages 4 and 5 they played outside in the gated back yard quite a lot and were checked on when DH was inside).  There was also a complaint about the house being messy (And it was, somewhat.  Our five year old was acting out a lot, there were special needs at play, and sometimes cleaning had to take a back burner).  Anyhow, the case worker actually asked for character references to help her clear up if the allegations were unfounded.  We used a good neighbour (not a best friend or anything, just someone honest) who was able to tell them that she was outside a lot with her toddlers, had never seen our young one unattended, and frequently heard my husband checking in through the window when he was busy with baby inside.  The doctor (where we live contacting the family doctor is required during an investigation) also had good things to say, so that helped.

 

While enlisting whatever cleaning help you can, you may also want to bring up with the caseworker that with a two year old and a baby, your top priority is their care and supervision, and that you keep up with the cleaning as best you can when it is safe to do so.  When I worked with parents who were gaining skills to regain custody of their kids after apprehension, they were taught to prioritize: 1)Children are safe and supervised.  2)Children have care and comfort (like, if your child is crying because she hurt her knee, you don't say,"Later, honey, I'm doing dishes", and yes, some people do these things) 3)Children are adequately stimulated (very small requirement, this is in line with at least talk to your child and don't leave them alone with the TV all day  THEN you get into cleaning 4) Clutter is under control (This comes before cleaning because it overlaps with the number 1 requirement for safety.  People can trip over clutter, it's a fire hazard, and it can block safe exits from the house), and especially the exits to the home must be unblocked. 5)Lastly cleaning, especially the kitchen and the bathroom because these areas can lead to infections and illnesses if they aren't maintained.

 

Be as clean as you can, and cooperate as much as possible, but if you have the odd bad day and the caseworker shows up, I would word it like, "My two year old has been so active, today!  I've been really busy keeping up with him, so I'll have to finish this (whatever the cleaning project is) when he sleeps or when my husband gets home".  It sounds like your home is reasonably clean, and better than they expected for the number of kids, so (if you can, I know it's scary!)instead of panicking if they come in and it's not as tidy a day, focus on framing it to show the reality (busy, dedicated mom of 5 who isn't a superhuman!)

post #37 of 192

I am thinking all sorts of evil things about the leasing office......

 

In any event, I would call the leasing office's managers and report them for lying.  I might even threaten to sue them for libel or slander.  I would not be a happy camper and I would not let this slide without at minimum a complaint.  Complaining to a governmental rental tribunal may also occur.  

 

Here is a link to Michigan rental agreements and the law.  Hopefully some of it useful.  Did you sign a contract agreeing to the 200% (!!!!) cleaning fee?  It seems very large to me, and it is fishy that only people who break the lease have to pay it.  

 

http://www.michigantenants.org/resourcelib#eviction

 


Edited by purslaine - 9/15/11 at 7:37am
post #38 of 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabbyraja View Post




The only thing I can't really substantiate it, but I always look at the clock when I take the baby up, so I know if she's been down "long enough" when she wakes up. 11:03. I walked upstairs, peeked into ds's room to see him watching Thomas the Train. Saw he was being quiet, wouldn't wake up the baby, so I didn't disturb him to tell him where I was going (won't ever do that again). Took the baby in and fell asleep. Let's say it took me 2 minutes for all of that. 11:05. Then, if he ran down the stairs and out the door without talking to anyone and ran all the way to the office he could have gotten there in THE SHORTEST 10 minutes, more likely 15-20 (and he talked to people first, too). (he's 4 and not very strong. Takes over 20 minutes to walk there with him) Now it's 11:15 at the earliest. He was found by a neighbor outside the office and brought inside. Then the office says they had to pull files to find his siblings in order to find us and call. I took a pic of my caller id tonight. 11:28. I walked into the office while they had been on the phone with my husband for about 4 minutes, 11:34. I sat there, child in arms, LONG lecture from the manager and back home at 5 minutes 'til noon.

 

Does that sound like he was in the office unsupervised for 45 minutes?

 



CPS has to CYA too (you know, cover their booty so that if there is a dangerous situation, that they have offered appropriate services), which is probably why they reopened your case, since obviously the caseworker wasn't concerned enough to keep it open in the first place.  Practically every time a CPS case is in the media with a terrible outcome (ie. child killed by parents/foster parents), there was prior CPS involvement and the social worker dropped the ball on monitoring the family and offering them appropriate services.  Some counties are bigger into the CYA game than others, and it sounds like your county might be one of them.  That does not mean they are more likely to take your kids from you.  It just means they are more concerned about making sure there is not an issue going on. 

 

In terms of supervision, I would go buy some of those door knob covers that keep kids from getting out, and duct tape them together so your kids can't break them open.  If that doesn't work, stores sell little alarms you can screw into the top of the door.  That should make your worker happy. As far as clothes, social workers are parents too.  My three year old rarely has clothes on.  Most kids go through that, and most social workers know that.  As long as you have clean clothes in your home for your child, that should not be an issue. 

 

Insidevoice's story is awful (and I am really sorry that happened to you IV), but that sort of thing is extremely extremely rare.  The fact that your worker closed your case initially is a very strong indication that she is not some nut on a power trip.  Re-opening your case is very likely her just covering her bases for the "what-ifs".  Remember she doesn't know you and doesn't know your leasing office is lying.  All she knows is that if something happens  to your kids, she's going to be screwed.  If she keeps your case open for three months and the ongoing worker can document that there is nothing wild going on in your home, they can close the case and say they did their job, which they will have.  Were you to turn out to be one of the families who really was neglecting and abusing their kids (and I know you are definitely not), and something happened to your kids, they would at least have documentation that they did what they could.  Breathe, mama, breathe.  Your worker sounds really reasonable.  I think this will all be behindy you soon. 

 

post #39 of 192

200% of the rent=2 months rent, its written into the lease and it stands up in court. Its not considered breaking the lease though, its an early termination option.

post #40 of 192

couldnt read and not send along hugs. we have broken lease before and they made us pay the 3 months left on the lease. but we were able to do payments. good luck.

 

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