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Old 04-04-2008, 02:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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in 2001 my friend was investigated for child neglect. It was unfounded and a week later she received a letter in the mail saying so. 4 years later she found out it was her MIL who had called.

The investigation was over something stupid she said online and was not serious, but was really irritated by another poster (from a far away message board) who said "gee if parents don't vax their kids, what other neglectful things do they do?" My friend said, oh you know leave my kid home alone (who was 4 months old at the time) so I can go pick my DH up from work.

It was really dumb and obviously she has learned her lesson about posting things like that.

Can this be held over her head?
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:00 AM
 
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Were she to get into a custody dispute, yes. She should investigate getting the records expunged, and keep the letter (make enough copies to kill a rain forest) somewhere safe.

Now the next hard thing. She and her husband need to distance themselves from MIL. They may even need to take legal action for slander. It will cement their case. MIL should NEVER be left alone with the kids, and they should see her at her house or in a neutral public place, not THEIR home. (She may find socks on the floor or further evidence of neglect.)

Considering this wasn't discovered for 4 years, MIL sounds sly and untrustworthy. DH will have to lay down the law with her.
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:14 AM
 
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I'll second the suggestion to have many copies of the letter and any other documentation stored somewhere safe. She wants to keep proof that the investigation was unfounded and closed.

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Old 04-04-2008, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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They no longer speak to the MIL. She said she is going to call the DSS that investigated and get a copy of the letter.

The agency she will be working with said they would contact them once the process was underway to confirm it was unfounded and dismissed and the exact details of the incident (HA!).

A custody dispute over whom?
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:11 PM
 
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Nope, not if it was determined unfounded it won't impact her ability to foster or adopt now.

We had a HUGE run in with a home health agency which resulted in a social worker making a false report against us, and I not only reported her to her licensure board but threatened the agency to turn them in for HIPPA violations if I learned she had continued to harrass the investigator who cleared us and went to bat against her for her behavior.

The investigator is now the manager of the investigation department. When we started this adoption last year, she actually ditched her standard letter format for us and wrote up a clearance letter stating that it was completely unfounded and untrue claims and we were cleared of all wrong doing. She wanted to make sure it caused no additional problems.

It had no impact on our ability to adopt again except for the pitb it was to go down and personally get the letter, since it was more complicated than a form letter and DHS required I pick it up in person.
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:07 PM
 
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A custody dispute over whom?
A child custody case in divorce, these things can be used as weapons. But in adoption, I don't know, depends on the state.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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who's getting a divorce?

Her and her dh?

The investigation wasn't against HER it was against THEM- equally.

She called the county where it occured, our county and the agency again. All that is needed is a letter stating it was unfounded, which the agency, if needed, will contant them about. She doesn't need to go get a letter and that would be something she would have a hard time doing since Pitt is a good three hours from here. So now she says, they sit and wait for someone to contact them about MAPP classes in May
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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Let me make sure I'm getting this straight.....so their primary concern is whether the old unsubstantiated complaint will be held against their possibililities for having a foster or a pre-adoptive child placed with them?

I would think it would be reviewed, but then found not to be an issue.

 
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:09 AM
 
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I'm just saying in general, were there to be a divorce, these things have been used as weapons. It had happened to some family friends of ours. I'm not saying anyone's getting divorced, I'm just saying that's where a complaint could come back to haunt them.

Perhaps they should go further and instead of just having a letter confirming the accusations were unfounded, they were malicious/slanderous. The puts the impression of guilt firmly on the accuser, so no agency can mumble "where there's smoke there's fire."

I feel bad for these folks that a loved one would do that to them. I hope they can foster/adopt without this happening all over again.
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I understand. No it wouldn't happen again since they don't speak to MIL. The rest of their family is pretty awesome.

We talked today and she said if calling the accusation slanderous means getting into it all over again with MIL she won't touch it.
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:36 PM
 
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It shouldn't be a big deal. CPS knows that anyone can and does make allegations, and they certainly don't have to have one ounce of truth to them.
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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I understand. No it wouldn't happen again since they don't speak to MIL. The rest of their family is pretty awesome.

We talked today and she said if calling the accusation slanderous means getting into it all over again with MIL she won't touch it.
That's a good point. It's also possible that CPS already sent her a warning letter not to waste their time or make accusations that could land her in court.
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In my experience (through others) I was always told that DSS phone calls are anonymous, so I don't know how DSS could have written the MIL a letter.

I am trying to convince her to set up an account here at MDC but she is reluctant to start posting in fear that being on a chat forum could inadvertantly affect her adoption :

She had been deeply affected by the DSS investigation, even from so long ago. She told me it took her like two years to get over the fear that just anyone could call and make accusations. And then when she found out it was her MIL who had called (years later this came out) it freaked her out even more.

Her MIL, like mine, is vindictive and verges on psychtic at times. She cannot be trusted and if she feels you have slighted her in anyway will come after you teech bared.

Anyway, you all have been super helpful and my friend has been thinking on all your responses seriously (that's because I told her that there is only one place where she could get accurate, REAL life experience information )
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:37 AM
 
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I always thought anonymous meant not telling the accused who made the phone call. I think it's good policy (just like the police) to take a closer look at accusers to see what kind of ax they may have to grind.

I don't blame your for being deeply affected. This has happened to two family friends of ours. One refuses to have her number given out to stores or co-workers (a co-worker obsessed with her husband made the call) and invites few people to the house.
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Old 04-06-2008, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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At least in our state they do not ask who you are when making a phone call. I've actually called on someone I know for abuse (physical, with marks on the child). They didn't ask who I was and I asked them when I first called if I had to give my name and they said no. But, they must investigate ALL calls. And unfortunately this gives the person who had DSS called on them a permanent record with DSS. It may say unsubstabtiated and closed, but their will always be a file with them.
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:04 PM
 
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There's a difference between confidential and anonymous. The state i'm in will, of course, take anonymous calls, but they don't like to. And the call must meet the criteria of abuse/neglect to be investigated.

Seems really weird not to take the callers info...the reported is an important person for the investigator to contact.

You can get DSS cases expunged, if it wasn't substantiated.

But truly, most people recognized that any crazy loon can dial a number and make a cps report. anyone can be reported...its important to look at the circumstance behind that report.
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Old 04-06-2008, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Then it is truly odd that they even investigated the case. The investigation was baed off an internet forum. One post which was meant to be fatecious (sp?). My friend was so enraged that others were accusing non-vaxers of neglectful behavior that she flew off the handle and said, "oh yeah I do this too!" Afterward she said she was not serious but had been just really frustrated.

Someone called her mother-in-law (she had done a secret santa on the forum) and someone found her MIL based on her last name, asked the MIL if she knew them, told her about the post and the MIL called DSS.

The MIL cannot stand my friend. She feels she stole her son from her and is using him as a meal ticket (he is a teacher- not a lot of money there) and is a freeloader (yet she manages the entire household from top to bottom).

Ugh, my poor friend.
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:07 PM
 
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Well, there have been unfounded DSS cases that have gotten out of hand before. I think it would be in everybody's interests if false accusers had a consequence.
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree.

I think if you knowingly report something false then there should be consequences to that. You shouldn't be able to have the power to have someone's life turned upside down simply becuase you don't like them.

And, on the other hand, I do know why they allow anonymity for those reporting. They feel it's better to stress an innocent person out with an investigation then perhaps dissaude someone from reporting abuse/neglect because they fear a lawsuit against them.

But then, if you are not sure of abuse or neglect then you shouldn't report.
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And when I reported I would have been happy to go to court over the neglect. I had so much on these parents.

And DSS, didn't take the kids. The worker said that because they had running water, electricity and heat that they could not take them. Nevermind there was no furniture in the place, and the carpets were sticky and the house smelled like a garbage dump.

And yeah, dear old daddy would hold his lovely son, who has asthma while he smoked. UGH!

Anyway... I do see your point about the case.
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:56 PM
 
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But then, if you are not sure of abuse or neglect then you shouldn't report.
I disagree. I'm a mandated reported as part of my work. If I suspect something isn't right (neglect or other abuse) then I HAVE to report. It's not up to me to prove that it's happening. That's DSS's job. I'd rather an innocent family get investigated and cleared based on my misinterpretation, than a child not get the help they needed because I wasn't 100% sure.
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Old 04-06-2008, 05:08 PM
 
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I would completely agree with the multiple copies of the dismissal letter, we have many of ours. A very unstable neighbor called on us and alleged 10 different abuses against us, the police were contacted by the cps agency and the allegations were found unsubstantiated. The police officer who had initially responded our house the day before the allegation for a disturbance issue actually told cps that the woman more of a danger to our family than we could ever have been to our kids. After a very stressful few weeks we received our letter. We are also a bit worried that if we were to ever pursue adoption that it would cause some difficulty, but I have been assured by a few friends who have adopted that it will be a non-issue, mainly because our file actually states the officer witnessed us being threatened by the neighbor, with the officer stating that the woman had obviously not been taking her medication. I know that in RI the information about who called cannot be legally released to the person who was investigated, the only reason we knew was because the investigator asked about the police visit and knew information that could only have been connected to the neighbor, they then answered our questions about the report. I know that this was not allowed by the usual rules, but all of the people involved were very sympathetic to our position and felt that we were being unfairly harassed by this woman.
I do still feel threatened and it does color how I parent, I am nervous about what could happen, through no fault of our own that could make our lives h***. I really do wish that the reports would have to at least be collected with confidential information so that erroneous reports made for revenge would be caught before lives were ruined.
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:10 PM
 
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it is illegal to knowingly make a false report, and the person can be prosecuted. its just really hard to prove.

i am obligated to make a report if i 'suspect' abuse. its not the lay person's job to investigate abuse...that cps' job. but i understand what you mean. there should be consequences, because not only is a cps investigation absolutely devastating to a family, but it detracts from the cases that need to be investigated. cps workers don't have time to deal with malicious reports, and there are children out there who truly need to be protected.

i know that in my state (and i have made a million reports because of my job AND worked for cps (allbeit briefly)) that anonymous reports must meet a higher level of criteria. and the hotline operators really try to prevent people from reporting anonymously.
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Then what of my friend's case? Is the typed word enough proof of neglect?
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:29 PM
 
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well it sounds like no, thats why the allegation was unfounded.

honestly, we have no idea what the report really said. you know it was based off an internet conversation. but what the reported actually said to cps could have made the situation look much different than it really was. obviuosly, whatever was mentioned in the report was enough for cps to investigate. then they investigated and realized that the allegations were unfounded, so it was ruled out.

i'm not trying to minimize your friend's experience. having worked for cps, an investigation is one of my biggest fears. but truly, she should be able to obtain a letter, and if it continues to pose a problem, she could have someone summarize the investigation so that it makes it pretty clear that the investigation was malicious.

i'm sorry this is causing your friend so much stress. i do make some decisions in my life b/c of fear of cps (like always being vigilent on well baby checks). having worked in a hospital, some things are mandatory social worker consults and/or cps reports, regardless of the parent's story. it is very scary.
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I appreciate your candidness. It's helpful and I am sure my friend feels the same after reading here.

She hasn't had any trouble with the case because she hasn't finished the application to turn in yet But we both wait patiently.
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