I take issue with the flat statements some are making that "if someone calls, they have to investigate." This is simply inaccurate. I am a foster parent and a mandatory reporter. I am very familiar with the system. In all the states I have lived in, calls are screened, and not every call leads to an investigation.
The myth that all calls=an investigation is one of the reasons people turn a blind eye when they are concerned. They worry what will happen if it is no big deal or if they are wrong. I think kids wait longer for help in legitimate abuse cases because people are afraid to call.
The fact of the matter is, many calls are screened out with no investigation ever completed. The reasons for this are many and varied. It may be that the described situation doesn't meet some standard of "what counts." For example, I have mentioned on other threads and maybe on this one about my dw calling when a kid she had taught for a couple of years finally told her his father beat him regularly with a clothing hanger. She had a very strong feeling (based on other hints the child had given) that this was the tip of the iceberg, and that an investigation would turn up much greater abuse. BUT, when she called, she was informed that hitting a child with a hanger doesn't constitute a need for an investigation, particularly as no bruising was evident to my dw (though it may have been under clothing). In that state, the defining factor in when a beating becomes abuse is when it leaves a mark on a child for more than a half hour.
In other cases, investigations are screened out for reasons such as proper support in the home. I once made a cooperative call with a mother of a young mom who was neglecting her baby (the mother's grandchild). Because the young mom was living with her own mother (the child's grandmother), the grandmother was able to "make up" for the neglect issues, protecting the child from the consequences. Thus, the screener for the call screened it out for the purposes of investigation. However, on our request, she did send this young mom a letter informing her of the concerns, giving her information on some medical issues that had been neglected, and referring her to a number of support resources in the community. In that case, even if it had been investigated, I doubt it would have constituted a removal of the child from her home. But I do think it would have led the mother to greater resources and given her the push to UTILIZE the resources she needed.
Recently, a member right here at MDC called out of concern regarding her BIL's abusive behavior with his kids. The call was screened out for investigation, by the account given to us, in part because the mother was present and seemed to provide the children with some protection.
At least in the places I have lived, MOST calls don't go anywhere. A minority percentage result in investigation, and still a greater minority result in removal of a child from the home.
Yes, there are abuses within the system. I've seen them first hand. And being on the receiving end of an unwarranted investigation I can only imagine is heartbreaking and absolutely destructive (I already posted that I do fear this). But I think it is important that we have our facts straight here, and the notion that all calls lead to investigation is simply a misnomer in many locations. Also, while there are awful anecdotal stories of abuses within the system, statistically speaking, there are so many children who are removed from truly abusive and neglectful situations while parents get it back together. And many parents do get it back together. In the places I've lived, only a minority of foster care cases ever result in any kind of termination of parental rights and longterm alternative to the child going back home.
|A messy house is a problem if the child can get sick (old food, fecal matter) or hurt themselves from the debris/clutter.
This is absolutely true, and I think where the concern comes from.
Most (not all, but most) of the social workers I have worked with over the years have had good common sense about this. I get worried even before our regular home visits when we have a foster kido with us. I always make sure to do a good cleaning of the house. But one of our social workers even said to me about himself: "The big joke around the office is how if anyone ever called CPS on me, my kids would get removed because of what a disaster my house is. Don't worry. I have kids too. I know what it is like. Just relax."
I know there are social workers who don't have a good grasp on reality. I have certainly worked with a few. I will never feel comfortable with some social workers when they are in my home. So I am not trying to downplay this.
But I think we ought to honor the many smart, common sense, decent social workers who are out there every.single.day visiting homes and making good, supportive decisions that help families.
|It can be evidence of someone suffering from depression/mental illness and thus the family is in need of some support.
Yup! Myth #2 is that investigation always=removal of a child. In many cases, this simply doesn't happen. I don't remember the exact figures, but the statistics are striking...like, maybe 1% of investigations result in removal or something??? In many cases, the investigations lead no where and the cases are closed. In some cases, support services are made available to families and removal of children is prevented through intervention.
The foster kids who have come into my care have almost 100% been cases of very straight-forward abuse or neglect, and have definitely been severe enough to warrant removal of the child from the home.
|I realize that a social worker coming to one's house doesn't feel supportive, just scary and intrusive
Absolutely. I think this is deserving of our consideration. When I got trained as a foster mom, we were told, "It isn't a matter of IF you will be investigated. Statistically, as a foster parent, there is a good chance you WILL be investigated, and it is more of question of how and why and when." I live with a high degree of fear as a result. As foster parents, we have all kinds of regulatory folks in our lives...we have angry and hurt birthparents...we have constant home visits...we have children who are processing a lot of hurt from their pasts and who sometimes are very mixed up...
If a social worker showed up unexpectedly at my door and told me I was being investigated, you can bet I would be too scared and too hurt and too angry and too sad and too shaken up to benefit at all from the experience. Seriously, just talking about it scares the living daylights out of me. But, on the other hand, I do understand that:
|their mandate is to keep kids safe.
and I even in all that fear I can recognize that:
|"A family can heal from an investigation, but a dead child can't."
That said, veronicalynne, it does sound like prejudice and bigotry where a part of the impetus for the call YMCA made to CPS in your case, and that is awful. And to all parents who have experienced unecessary investigations, my heart breaks for you and I am so sorry.