S/O How dirty is too dirty for CPS? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We're not slobs, but we're not Martha Stewart either.

So. How dirty is too dirty? I've been following poor Lisa's thread and now I'm thinking maybe I should be cleaning too!

Let's see. Here are all the things 'wrong'.

We have dogs and their hair is everywhere even though we vacuum regularly. The kitchen floor is never clean b/c the dogs drink water, drip it on the floor, get their paws wet and leave dirty paw prints on the floor. If we mop, 10 minutes later it's a mess again. However, we do have a baby gate up so DD will never be on the kitchen floor. Some of her toys are on the floor though from when she drops them from her high chair. We do wash them, but don't immediately rush to do so. Toys might be on the floor for a while before we clean them and give them back to DD.

The bathroom is full of dog hair even though the dogs are never in there. I do clean the toilet and sink regularly but it would be hard to tell for an outside observer. Nothing looks dirty per se but it looks used kwim? I'm not good about doing floors so the dog hair is pretty thick.:

We tried to sell our house before DD was born and it didn't go. All the books and knick knacks we packed up to declutter are still in boxes and we haven't unpacked them yet. They fill one room in the basement and part of the attic, not part of daily living space but really we should have unpacked this stuff. THe one room is supposed to be DD's playroom, but only if we clear it out.

We recently had a ton of houseguests and the basement is very cluttered with bedding, beds, guest towels. Goodness knows when we'll have time to straighten it up and finish babyproofing. (DH is starting school, and DD is not sleeping so we still favor sleep over cleaning/organizing.)

We do dishes every day, but it never looks like we do.

Dust is having sex and reproducing faster than bunnies. Dusting is almost a futile exercise in my house.

The clean laundry is living in the playpen. Eventually it will be put away...just in time for the next load of clean stuff. :

We do have lots of food.

So would CPS take DD away?

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#2 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:18 AM
 
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No, I honestly think you guys are fine. That's not squalor.
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#3 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:26 AM
 
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I too was wondering as I am not the best housekeeper in the world and after the weekend my house is usually pretty cluttered, needs to be swept/vacuumed/mopped and dishes done etc. While reading the cps thread I came across a link that took me to a site that has pictures up where you can rate your squalor. Rate your clutter I just ignored the workbook sheet and looked at the pics they had for kitchen, bedroom, and so on and rated on their scale found here. I found that I am about a 1.5 which is messy...but not too bad.

Hope the links are as helpful for you as they were for me. Its much easier to see pics and read a written description to actually quantify my level of messiness than to try and guess. lol
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#4 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:27 AM
 
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Do you have clean places to prepare food? Are there clean dishes in your cupboards, and clean clothes in your drawers? Are your kids' toys dirty? Are you regularly leaving garbage in places other than trash cans?

I think those are some of the issues CPS would care about.
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#5 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:28 AM
 
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your house sounds like mine!

I call it lived in!
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#6 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:37 AM
 
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from this link:

http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/use...oundationc.cfm


"Other physical neglect—includes inadequate nutrition, clothing, or hygiene; conspicuous inattention to avoidable hazards in the home; and other forms of reckless disregard of the child's safety and welfare (e.g., driving with the child while intoxicated, leaving a young child in a car unattended)."

Spotlight on Chronic Neglect

"One issue in defining child neglect involves consideration of "incidents" of neglect versus a pattern of behavior that indicates neglect. Susan J. Zuravin, from the University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Social Work, recommends that if some behaviors occur in a "chronic pattern," they should be considered neglectful.7 Examples include lack of supervision, inadequate hygiene, and failure to meet a child's educational needs. This suggests that rather than focusing on individual incidents that may or may not be classified as "neglectful," one should look at an accumulation of incidents that may together constitute neglect. "If CPS focuses only on the immediate allegation before them and not the pattern reflected in multiple referrals, then many neglected children will continue to be inappropriately excluded from the CPS system."8 For example, a family exhibiting a pattern of behavior that may constitute neglect might include frequent reports of not having enough food in the home or keeping older children home from school to watch younger children. In most CPS systems, however, the criteria for identifying neglect focuses on recent, discrete, verifiable incidents.

One study found that many children who had been referred to CPS for neglect did not receive services because their cases did not meet the criteria for "incidents" of neglect. It also found, however, that all of these children had, in fact, suffered severe developmental consequences . In recognition of this issue, the Missouri Division of Family Services (n.d.) has assigned one of its CPS staff as a "Chronic Neglect Specialist." This office defines chronic neglect as "…a persistent pattern of family functioning in which the caregiver has not sustained and/or met the basic needs of the children which results in harm to the child." The focus here is on the "accumulation of harm." CPS and community agencies across the country are recognizing the importance of early intervention and service provision to support families so that neglect does not become chronic or lead to other negative consequences.9"


As a social worker who has had to call CPS due to severe abuse or neglect, the cleaning aspect is pretty tough to meet at least in NYS where I live. The big ones are cat feces and dirty dishes (like so dirty you have white sqiggly critters in your sink and drain!). Very rarely have I heard of families just getting nailed because of the condition of the home. Usually the home is secondary to physical/sexual abuse, neglect related no supervision or severe educational neglect.

I suspect in the the food issue was the greater concern in Lisa's case and the condition of the house just sealed the deal for the investigators. I am hopeful if she gets the house cleaned up, her self scheduled to see a therapist and follow the recommendations, they will get those kids back ASAP. But, I am an optimist and recognize that same states/counties are crazy about removing kids.
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#7 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:45 AM
 
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My cousin had her kids removed a few times due to her home being too dirty. All times involved a huge mess but also rotting food and animal feces indoors.
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#8 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:50 AM
 
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I guess the criteria would have to be along the lines of a health/safety hazard. If there is, say, more rotten food than healthy food in the fridge, fire hazards, etc.

I am not a neat person and I wish I was. But I have been in some houses where I see the difference between them and me. All surfaces are covered, often with garbage like milk containers and old food. None of the clothes have been washed. Neither have any of the dishes. Cigarette butts on the floor.

It's kind of like art vs. pornography. You can't define it but you know it when you see it?

That's not saying I don't think there should be a tight criteria for CPS. I would suggest

1. The house is so messy it ceases to be functional. There's nowhere proper to sleep, nowhere to safely eat, etc.
2. Due to the messiness, the house has a far higher than normal level of harmful bacteria and pollutants.
3. The children cannot where clean clothes or lead normal daily lives due to the mess.
4. The house could be deemed a "public menace" due to the dangerous it presents to neighbors. (Rat magnet, disease magnet, etc.)

That's just my suggestion.
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#9 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 10:55 AM
 
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http://www.nsgcd.org/resources/clutt...rdingscale.pdf
I would say my home is between 1 and 3 on that scale.
I know from past experience that I can get my house to a 1 in a day or 2 working hard on my own so I'm guessing my house wouldn't be too bad.

When dd was younger though it was worse though.

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#10 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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When we had a CPS case going, they said it was clean...but they made us do a bunch of "safety" things that normally we wouldn't do. We had outlet plugs in all the outlets of course, but they wanted corner protectors on all corners, extra locks on all the drawers etc. (baby wasn't even sitting up yet, and my others were old enough that it wasn't an issue) and some other stuff I don't remember. OH!!! One thing they made us do was get a crib! Co-Sleeping was unacceptable and he had to have a crib. :

The clean thing wasn't too bad...we just had to have food and look "safely" clean which wasn't an issue anyway.

I will admit...with the pregnancy dragging me down, and 3 others at home 24/7 my current house isn't as clean as it should be...but it's safe. I have worried about CPS showing up at any time and seeing a mess, or what not, but it's really a ridiculous fear based on what I'd been through before.

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#11 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 12:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post
http://www.nsgcd.org/resources/clutt...rdingscale.pdf
I would say my home is between 1 and 3 on that scale.
I know from past experience that I can get my house to a 1 in a day or 2 working hard on my own so I'm guessing my house wouldn't be too bad.

When dd was younger though it was worse though.
Wow, my house is a 1 on that scale. Although...maybe not. My daughter has urinated in several places in my house, and I cleaned one thoroughly but it still smells. The other one I haven't yet cleaned as I want to get something more specialized to treat it. And the clutter in the room I've cleaned does inhibit the use of that room, and in the laundry room too. So maybe we are a 2. In terms of dust and laundry, we might even be a 3, although there is only one overflowing hamper in each bedroom.

Interestingly enough, this week is decluttering week here. I MUST get off the computer and get started.
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#12 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Epiphany View Post
Oh my goodness!

I thought my house was a mess, I don't even think I'm a 1. I was raised by psychotic clean freaks though, so I have problems of my own.
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#13 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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I hate to say this because I don't want to offend anyone but my house is a lot better then I thought it was. Heck currently all I have on teh floor are 4 stuffed animals, a toy horse and 3 pillows that are naked (since the bedding is on the line)
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#14 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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My house is an interesting case.

The top floor? You could eat off the floor. You'd probably die, but hey, you could do it. (kidding, of course) We have hardwood and tile on the entire upper floor, so it's easy to keep that clean. If you were to walk into my house right now, you'd see that it's slightly untidy in some areas (desk, bookshelves, master bedroom), but not dirty. Counters clean, floors clean, toilet sparkling -- the important stuff is "done". The living room is very, very safe and clean, as is the kitchen, because these are DS's areas. My bed is not made, and I could vaccum the corners of the room I guess.

My basment/storage area, however? Terrible. Messy. Dirty. DS never enters that area -- it's for storage only. And I am slowly starting to get it cleaned and organized. But would CPS/Social Services enter that area and judge it? I don't know. I hope not. I have about six loads of laundry (maybe more) waiting to be washed down there. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of things I never use. I have stacks of papers, dirty outdoor things, furniture, everything you could imagine. I even did have the kitchen sink once, when we were renovating! It is not an area where I would consider DS to be safe and clean if he were to go down there. But he never does. So I do wonder about that.
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#15 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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Thanks for the link! We are about a 1.5 most days I'd guess. Though I never have clothes and non kitchen things piled up in the kitchen. If I don't do dishes all day then the dishes part can easily get to a 2 just from 3 meals of dishes.

The biggest difference though is that we don't have trash anywhere but trash cans. You are likely to find clothes all over my bedroom floor, folded and not put away clothes in the living room and toys every where but no trash. I think that is just to be expected in a small home with 2 small kids and a pregnant mom.

Even knowing that its normal still doesn't make me like it though!

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#16 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:09 PM
 
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I think the concern becomes a CPS issue when rotting food, even if it's in the sink, and pee/poo come into play. There's a line, that to me is pretty obvious, between a messy house and a house you walk into and immeditally want to leave because of the gross factor.

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#17 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:10 PM
 
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OMG I am looking at those photos, and my top floor isn't even a 1!

My basement isn't that "messy" either. Just stacked with crap.

Hmm now I feel a bit better about things. Keeping organized and clean has been a LIFE LONG struggle for me. Growing up, my Grandma would pick up after me all the time. When I left home at 18, I didn't know how to cook, do anything other than the most basic laundry, clean, anything like that.
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#18 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by loitering View Post
Do you have clean places to prepare food? Are there clean dishes in your cupboards, and clean clothes in your drawers? Are your kids' toys dirty? Are you regularly leaving garbage in places other than trash cans?

I think those are some of the issues CPS would care about.
1. sometimes otherwise we eat cheese sticks and stuff that doesnt need "preparation."

2. Sometimes. Sometimes they are in the dishwasher, I only have 6 plates/bowls,

There are NEVER clothes in the drawers because I live out of laundry baskets. Works for us! dont care if CPS doesnt like it.


3. My kids dont have very many toys...and not dirty because they dont get played with! LOL

4. Sometimes there is garbage on the kitchen counter. Sometimes it takes me 2 days to clean up the carrot peel I left there.

I figure some of this is normal

Watching tv and all the "June Cleaver" houses that pop up make me think that our definition of "reality" is big time skewed.
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#19 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:15 PM
 
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Wow, the Squalor Survivors site...I think I've been there before, but I had forgotten how bad it could get.
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#20 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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when the house is messy, its like a 3. (except all the garbage although my kids like to play with garbage and I let them if its safe/clean like water bottles and sometimes they raid my (unused) tampons )

I have a cleaner come in every 2 weeks. If i didnt have that, I may be cps worthy.
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#21 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post
http://www.nsgcd.org/resources/clutt...rdingscale.pdf
I would say my home is between 1 and 3 on that scale.
I know from past experience that I can get my house to a 1 in a day or 2 working hard on my own so I'm guessing my house wouldn't be too bad.

When dd was younger though it was worse though.
Wow, that scale is eye-opening and a little tricky. Notable in my house:

The fourth bedroom/dh's office, has become pretty much impassable with clutter. And it has an outside door that's blocked.

The shower in the half bath is unusable because we store the broom, mop and ironing board in there.

Taken out of context that sounds pretty horrible.

But, while the state of the office is REALLY ANNOYING and a source of shame for dh and me, the room is kind of extraneous. No one sleeps in there and we don't store anything vital to daily life in there. And the shower in the half bath is unnecessary anyway. We have two full baths for the four of us, this shower isn't used anyway. I thought turning it into a broom closet was pretty clever.

Interesting.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#22 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:20 PM
 
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I have garbage all over on my floor lately... seeing as how the trash and recycling bins are DS's new favorite play places. He's constantly dragging out pop bottles and boxes *all* over the place. Nothing nasty, It's "clean" garbage, but garbage, none the less. And it makes me :
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#23 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:28 PM
 
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I, too, thought my house was pretty bad.. but looking at those pictures most of our house is barely a one.. the kids room is about a 1.5 to a 2.

Our huge issue is laundry!

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#24 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmmm. Well I guess based on the photos we're okay. The boxes are purposeful storage instead of random junk. And I can't unpack the books until we get bookcases (with doors to decrease the dust).

However, get a cop or CPS person who is a neat freak, does not have pets or children and I could see how I would get flak. They have no way of knowing that the dog hair all over the kitchen floor is current, not weeks or months old. And it is kind of off-putting how DD's toys are 'nesting' with the hair on the floor.

But it is not humanly possible to keep up with the dog hair.

And our counters are cluttered. We have to keep stuff out of reach of DD and we have a small house so stuff piles up fast.

Anyway, this whole thing has been a kick in the pants to get me cleaning which is not a bad thing.

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#25 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:34 PM
 
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The shower in the half bath is unusable because we store the broom, mop and ironing board in there.
Mine has those big five gallon water jugs and the big bag of cat food stored in it. The half-bath is downstairs and all the bedrooms upstairs, so all four of us just shower/bathe in the full-bath upstairs.
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#26 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:34 PM
 
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Wow. We are not even a 1.

I don't mind a little clutter (like clean, unfolded laundry on the bed or a stack of mail on a clean kitchen table). But everything must be deep down clean ... clean counters, floors, tub and toliets, clean linnen and made beds.

My dh, on the other hand, can't stand clutter. So between the two of us, we are pretty organized and uncluttered. Ds's room used to be my biggest problem with toys everywhere but a few months ago we bought large drawer bins and now he has a place for every type of toy. So it's organized and he can clean up after himself.

We have no pets, so that makes it easier as well.

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#27 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:39 PM
 
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Someone mentioned that it's more likely the food than the mess in Lisa's case:
Did Lisa have a food issue? The only things I can find about food in that thread is that the kids are fed and she's gathering the receipts for her last few grocery trips. (And if this had happened to me, I wouldn't have those receipts because they would've gone out with the recycling already. I hope that a judge would accept a bank statement showing $XX spent at the grocery store.)

I don't see anything in that thread about the police looking to see if the family had food.
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#28 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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I didn't see anything about it on there either, though she did mention needing to fill the fridge.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#29 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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Wow, those pictures were crazy! I can't even comprehend how someone gets to level 4 let alone level 9!

It definitely made me feel better though. We're mostly 1's here, with some patches sliding a little closer to 2's (eg on top of the cabinet in my bedroom, on top of the fridge etc). None of my floors look like level 2's though.

The basement is a bit worse around level 2 with patches of level 3.
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#30 of 124 Old 07-28-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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I lived in a 4 growing up...behind all the furniture was gigantic piles of cat crap and they peed everywhere...nothing in the kitchen was clean, the floor was the garbage can. Mold everywhere, you couldn't walk into our huge laundry room becasue of the 3 foot high pile of laundry that covered the entire floor. When my parents split when I was 11/12, they had to bring in the dumpster the landfill offered for residential use and they filled it multiple times.

My house now is a 1, on those days when I'm working a lot of have a migraine, the kitchen might see a 2, but just barely. Technically, it's better then a one because there's never any pet mess but a tiny bit of fur. Oh, we do have one outside door blocked, we have 2 doors in the laundry room to the outside and one opens the opposite of what it should so it's very hard to use...we stuck shelves there and that's my pantry

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