I don't understand anyone who could look at the basics of this situation and say there was nothing to act on, or who would suggest that this 10 yr old is "used to manipulating adults" so therefore there's nothing to do. The above post says it all: 10 yr old alone at a gas station asking a stranger for help is absolutey a bad situation (and a potentially disasterous situation in the making, given that pimps and other exploiters of children all over the country are looking for children in exactly that type of situation).
|Btw to whoever said that in their area CPS has nothing to do with foster children in private foster homes, I'd be interested to know which state you live in (or maybe you're not in the US?). I've worked closely with ACF (federal child welfare agency in the US) and in every state in the U.S., a child removed from their family because of abuse and neglect, no matter what type of foster home they're placed in (private agency, private institution, public institution, CPS foster home) they are ALL still in the legal and physical custody of the state agency and therefore, CPS is involved. By definition. So calling CPS/the child's caseworker should be the same thing in every state. The child might also have a caseworker at the private agency (and usually they do), but there is always a CPS caseworker who is supposed to be monitoring how that child is doing and who needs to know if a child is not doing well. 10 yr olds running away = not doing well, even if the foster parent is awesome and the child running has nothing to do with problems in the home. It's still something CPS needs to know because maybe there's more they need to be doing for this child.
Are you sure it's different in your state?
I guess my point is that the contact with the DHS worker and the children's agency worker is pretty minimal (as i understand it) and that when the DHS worker becomes involved its usually when the agency worker is seeking additional funding, services etc and needs county approval. The day to day updates on the kids? no.
A kid is a kid is a kid. Kids end up in care because of someone else's fault, not theirs.
Me. With 1 spouse, 4 kids, 16 chickens, 74 matchbox cars, 968,562+ legos, a dishwasher waiting to be emptied, a washing machine waiting to be filled and a lost cup of tea in the house.
You're leaving out one very important point...that before the OP could call the police or act the child's mother showed up! At THAT point, the child was NOT "alone", would not be approaching strangers, etc.
Example: If that same child approached and the exact same person drove up but there was something very concerning about them (they threatened the child, they looked crazy creepy, the child freaked out when they drove up) would you still say there was nothing anyone could do? Nothing else about the situation would have changed but right there, even though the mom drove up, many in that situation might have felt like they needed to talk to the mom and say "I'm not sure what's going on, but because this situation is so strange I'd like to call this caseworker/the police to just make sure this child is ok."
As OP reports it, she didn't see anything concerning about the person who drove up, but she still had a bad gut feeling about the situation (understandably). In that situation, for me, the above reaction is still just as appropriate.
Who knows what the mom might have done, and I'm not suggesting if mom got out of the car and dragged the kid in that I'd hold onto the kid's other arm and try to keep her out. But if mom forced child in, I'd write down the license plate and make of car and I would call the police after they drove away. If mom was willing to wait while I made whatever call, then we'd just seee what happened after that.
Again, not saying OP "should" have thought of or done that, just saying that it's incorrect to say or assume that once mom pulls up, that's it, no other options.
If you really feel a child is in trouble or the situation is concerning and you don't really know what's going on, there is almost always some way to report it if you have some indentifying information on the child or the person to comes to get them.
But like I said before, no matter what the OP said or says to someone at a local DSS office, she is not legally entitled to any information about this girl or her situation, and the office is not going to confirm anything to her over the phone.
Quite frankly, I'm surprised that no one has considered the possibility that this girl left her foster home and approached a stranger to help her meet her "caseworker", when she was really on her way to possibly meet a bio-parent. That seems very plausible to me, especially based on the information the OP provided. The foster mother's comment even makes me think there's a possibility that something like this was going on. Like I said before, we primarily deal with elopments with teens, but it's not unheard of for a young child of this age to do it, or to leave the foster home to attempt to get back to a bio-parent. In fact, two weeks ago, I got a voicemail from an 11 year old telling me I *had* to put him in respite or remove him from the home before of how he was being "treated". Turns out his video games privileges were taken away for a couple of days for refusal to do his homework, and when I explained to him that I don't take kids out of homes because their foster parents are reinforcing proper limits, he hung up on me, and took off down the road. He was back within 45 minutes and the foster dad followed him at a distance, but he did it anyway.
I got a voicemail from an 11 year old telling me I *had* to put him in respite or remove him from the home before of how he was being "treated". Turns out his video games privileges were taken away for a couple of days for refusal to do his homework, and when I explained to him that I don't take kids out of homes because their foster parents are reinforcing proper limits, he hung up on me, and took off down the road. He was back within 45 minutes and the foster dad followed him at a distance, but he did it anyway.
That's kind of the feeling I got. The fact that mom showed up quickly made me wonder if she was a block or two behind the girl and watching from a distance. In our traffic, it could take mom a minute or two to make a left turn into the gas station.
I just don't know. I'm fairly positive that I can't put her in my car and drive away. It's not my place to do that, and I really don't want to be arrested or investigated for that.
So I would have called CPS or the police (if she was meeting her case worker what kinda of crappy case worker tells a little girl to meet them at the corner of here and there?) and explain to them what was going on and stay with her until authorities got there. It could be that her foster parents are evil. It could be that she is being a difficult child. It could be that it is just a bad fit. It could be she is deeply troubled and needs help. Whatever it is the child is running away from home and the authorities need to be notified for everyones protection.
The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it. We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.
Um, wow. Yeah certainly its ONE possibility that the little girl is being abused by her awful FP, is afraid of her, and someone needs to look into it further.
But its also likely, perhaps MORE likely, that this is a little girl with emotional issues, with a history of running away, etc. The fact that you said this little girl woudnt go with a stranger unless she was afraid....have you never heard of RAD (reactive attachment disorder)?? MANY kids who have grown up with neglect have this, and even if they dont have RAD they may have a total lack of boundaries, of understanding what is safe and what is not. If the child was "afraid" its POSSIBLE that she knew when she got home she was in for some heavy duty consequences for her actions (no tv for a week, stay in her room all night, no phone,whatever.) Who knows if she was REALLY meeting her caseworker (why would the caseworker not meet her at home?!?) Maybe i'm jaded but the fact that she said "im just a foster child" doesnt make me feel all it makes me ...i'm thinking "oh she played the 'pity me im just a foster child, now give me what i want' card!"
I wasnt there and cant judge the "vibe" the OP got from the girl, but please PLEASE be aware some kids are REALLY good at charming strangers and getting what they want. I'm living with one!!! It really sucks for everyone to think how wonderful and sweet and problem-free your kid is, wonder why you are so strict, even "mean" to her, wonder why you are so quick to give a consequence for some "minor" transgression...when they dont live with her. You have no idea if this girl has a mental health diagnosis, a history of running away, etc. You dont know if this is the tenth time this month this girl has run away.
Where i live the caseworker has nothing to do with CPS, most foster children are placed with private agencies with their own caseworkers, totally independant of DHS...you would probably eventually be able to get to the agency worker via a call to CPS but frankly they have so much stuff to deal with they might not really have the incentive for "this little girl said she was a foster child, she looked to be running away, then her mom showed up, was mad about it, and they drove away." That sounds like a pretty *average* day with a (possibly) troubled ten yr old foster child.
(i'd have to reread the OP but is it only what the girl said, that we know she IS a foster child? she could have just been saying that! did the mom confirm??)
I think there may have been different responses had this been posted on the Adoptive and Foster Parents board.
Plus, the foster mom showed up almost immediately, which tells me she was out looking for the kid and found her.
Katreena, 39 year old Alaskan Mama to 1 and 1
So I think that was a very smart little girl. :-)
I have had a similar experience, last June I was traveling home late at night on a 600 mile long car ride, pulled into a gas station, and a woman with two kids came up to me and asked me for help because her husband was after her. My heart broke for her. I was not from the area, could only give her gas money to see her through until morning.
Anyway, we do the best we can at the time. There may have been a bad vibe that you got, but no one knows the truth except for her and her foster mom. She sounds like a smart and tough cookie though.
Mom to three boys 7/7/00 11/20/02 and 10/29/2011
Writing at: http://paisleymama.blogspot.com/ and other places!
Why is the fact she is a foster child even an issue? Wouldn't it be the same problem if it was her birth mother who drove up? I would have treated her the same as any other child (although I'm not sure how that is!!) even though she already has a relationship with 'the authorities,' whatever that may be in your state.
A kid is a kid is a kid. Kids end up in care because of someone else's fault, not theirs.
The situation was more like if you saw a nanny doing something odd, that you weren't quite sure was okay with the parents, and you thought about telling the parents about it.