A foster child came to me asking for help... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 12:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So, legally, what could I have done? And, what should I do now?

I stopped at a gas station in another town. (our towns all run together, so this was only 10 minutes from my home)

Just as I finished up, a little girl came up to me. She's about 10 years old. She said "I have to go somewhere, and now I don't know how to go there" So, I had her explain that she has to meet with her case worker on 101 & (name of road) But, she couldn't go across 101. She didn't come right out and ask, but she wanted me to drive her there.

I asked her name, and she told me her last name. Then I asked if she had a sister (because she looks just like an older girl I know who lives nearby) She said "Yes, but I'm just a foster kid".

She didn't want to call her Foster mother because she was running away.

I didn't know what to do... But, I'm pretty sure I can't let her get in my van. Right? Isn't that very illegal?

I asked her to go to the daycare center that was across a busy street (in rush hour) and go inside and ask them for help. She said "OK", and then a car pulled up right behind my van. The woman just glared at the child. The little girl said "I'm not getting in". The woman said "It's either get in, or I call the cops".

I asked the girl who the lady was, she confirmed that it was her foster mom. She told the mom "I'm not getting in, I don't want to be in trouble". The Mom said "Well, you are, you caused a lot of people a lot of trouble today".

So, I felt HORRIBLE, but I left. When I pulled away, the little girl had run to the side of the parking lot, but the lady drove up to her. The mom never got out, but talked to her from the car. (which was probably less confrontational, and that part didn't make me uncomfortable)

On one hand, the little girl seemed to choose me out of all the people in the gas station. Maybe it was my mom clothes, or my mom van... But, she walked past about 12 other cars to me. So, that was a really good decision on her part. But, on the other hand, I didn't really do anything to help her.

Should I try to track her caseworker down tomorrow? Or just drop it. The mom was very angry, but not scary. I am sure the little girl did cause trouble. And, had to face her consequences... but, I just feel like I dropped the ball.
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#2 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 01:03 AM
 
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What a tough situation! I would try to call the caseworker and be sure everything is ok, or just let the case worker know. They might not be able to give you any personal info about the situation, but at least you would have a bit of closure.

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#3 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 01:24 AM
 
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You have her last name, at least you could try to navigate the system and tell them what you witnessed with the foster mom.

I'd be worried about that girl, many foster homes are great, but then you hear the occasional bad story.

Sorry that is really strange situation to be in.

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#4 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 08:07 AM
 
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I would have called the police, or failing that, I would have called CPS. This was a minor child, possibly a runaway. She was at great risk for exploitation. I would call CPS today.
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#5 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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Another vote for call CPS. This is precisely the kind of information they NEED to investigate.

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#6 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 09:00 AM
 
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I would have definitely called the police too. A scared little girl could mean a huge problem. Hopefully not but better to be safe for her sake.
At least the cops could have taken a report and looked into things.

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#7 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 09:03 AM
 
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I would definitely try to do what I could - call CPS, try to get in touch with the foster childs case-worker, BUT I just want to point out that the foster mother might not be bad. It might be an ok situation, and of course she was angry - she'd just been all over the place looking for the girl! You just don't know.

It's a scary situation, and I think in your shoes I would have called 911 to report the child as a run-away, and possibly in danger to let them sort it out. Then, when the foster mother showed up, you could have told her that 911 was on their way, and would she mind waiting so they can clear things up?

I don't know, I wouldn't want to jump into the conclusion that the foster family was terrible b/c the girl ran away - although its entirely possible - you don't know based on the info given. (the OP may have more info than we do and may know that it is in fact a bad situation - but from whats posted its impossible to know).
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#8 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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I would call CPS.

You really never know what's going on...but a little girl approaching a stranger in a gas station needs to be checked up on.

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#9 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know, I wouldn't want to jump into the conclusion that the foster family was terrible b/c the girl ran away - although its entirely possible - you don't know based on the info given. (the OP may have more info than we do and may know that it is in fact a bad situation - but from whats posted its impossible to know).
I didn't get the feeling that the foster parents were bad people. The mom stayed in the car, which seemed like the best thing to do, they were able to talk in a non confrontational way. I didn't get a super good feeling about her either... just not a imminent danger feeling.

I just feel bad that any child is in this situation at all. She's a beautiful, perfect kid who's been forced by the adults in her life to live with people who don't love her the way her real mom should love her. Nobody should feel like they don't belong. (these foster parents may love her... but, it's not the same as a normal loving mature biological parent, or adoptive parents)
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#10 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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That she said that she was "just a foster child" makes me so sad. I don't know what you could have done. But I hope that little girl finds someone in this world that makes her feel loved and special.
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#11 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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Wow, I'm shocked at the number of people who say to call CPS. Other than the child making it on her runaway bid far enough to approach a stranger, I can't see what's "wrong" here. Kid tries to run away, parent or foster parent searches for them, finds them, talks to them, brings them home. Isn't that what should happen if a troubled child tries to run away? I might call the caseworker just to let her know, but I can't imagine why it would ever involve CPS.

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#12 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:44 AM
 
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I think this is a situation to call CPS because a foster child is under the care of CPS.
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#13 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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I think calling CPS in case there is some serious abuse or such going on in the home. I think the assumption is that it takes quite a bit of bad stuff to get a kid desperate enough to run away and approach a complete stranger for help.

I'm guessing I would have stayed with the child and called the police to come and figure out the situation. Could it be "normal" pre-teen angst causing her to run away? Sure. Or it could be something else. The desperation of approaching a stranger at a gas station just sets off a huge red flag for me.
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#14 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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Wow, I'm shocked at the number of people who say to call CPS. Other than the child making it on her runaway bid far enough to approach a stranger, I can't see what's "wrong" here. Kid tries to run away, parent or foster parent searches for them, finds them, talks to them, brings them home. Isn't that what should happen if a troubled child tries to run away? I might call the caseworker just to let her know, but I can't imagine why it would ever involve CPS.
I don't really know too much about these things, but doesn't the caseworker work for CPS? And, since the little girl was trying to get to her caseworker, I'd definitely try to track him/her down and fill them in.
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#15 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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Yeah, this isn't a case of where calling CPS might mean that CPS unnecessarily intrudes on someone's lives and makes it miserable. CPS is already a part of their lives. I agree that calling CPS/caseworker today and just letting them know in a calm manner is the way to go. They have way more information than you have- about the child and the family.

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#16 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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I would have called the police or taken her there.

She may have been meeting someone, but it may not have been her caseworker. Why would her caseworker meet her on a corner, one that she couldn't get to. This girl could have been meeting someone she'd met on the internet.
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#17 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 11:43 AM
 
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well i dunno, a kid that age can get upset and try to run away..i did it, not to that extreme but i got half way down the street and my mom came and got me..my dd decided to pack up and leave one day when her cousin told her nobody wanted her there (we were staying with them), she packed up some clothes in a bookbag and headed for the door in tears and then I walked into the room and found out what happened of course I snatched her up and hugged her and told her I wanted her and loved her and we would be getting our own house soon..which we did. but the point is kids will take extreme actions over the craziest things! I probably woulda walked her into the station and called the cops since I would be a complete stranger.

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#18 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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Let me clarify, as someone who works in child welfare: This is not a case of definite child abuse or neglect. However, a foster child is under the care of the state and CPS is their "guardian". An incident where a child is attempting to run away from a foster care placement is something that CPS definitely NEEDS to know about, so they can do a further investigation. It might mean there is abuse going on in the foster care home, it might mean the little girl is very troubled and needs therapy, it might just mean she needs more attention from her caseworker, it might just mean she had a bad day. But, as a foster care child, CPS is her guardian and thus needs all the information possible about her situation. You are not accusing the foster care parent of abuse, you are providing more information for her caseworker who can follow up with that family.

Perhaps most people on this board aren't aware that CPS has two different functions: investigating suspected abuse or neglect, and caring for children where abuse or neglect has been confirmed (often in foster care, but also with the child in the home and parents in treatment).

Please make this phone call today and talk to her caseworker.

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#19 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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Wow, I'm shocked at the number of people who say to call CPS. Other than the child making it on her runaway bid far enough to approach a stranger, I can't see what's "wrong" here. Kid tries to run away, parent or foster parent searches for them, finds them, talks to them, brings them home. Isn't that what should happen if a troubled child tries to run away? I might call the caseworker just to let her know, but I can't imagine why it would ever involve CPS.
Her caseworker is part of CPS, I personally would have asked her to give me the number of her caseworker ( since she said she was on her way to meet her ) and then called her from my cell. But given that the foster parent showed up so quickly I'm not sure there would have been time for that.
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#20 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 12:10 PM
 
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At the risk of getting flamed.....here's my 2 cents.

I would have taken her where she wanted to go and I would have asked the foster mom why the child was so afraid of her. If foster mom called the cops that would have been great, then the little girl would have more advocates.....then I get to tell my side of the story and the little girl has another advocate. Obviously the child was afraid, I don't believe she would have approached a total stranger unless she wasn't. If the little girl had caused some kind of trouble the case worker would have been a mediator between the little girl and the foster mom. Of course the foster mom isn't going to cause a ruckus in a parking lot out in public, of course she is going to play it completely calm and "together". The little girl clearly did not want to go with the foster mom. Huge. Red. Flag.

Hind sight is always 20/20 and we can say what we would have done, should have done or could have done but there is really no way to know unless it happens to you. Maybe you did the right thing....I wish the system was 100% but it's not and it really sucks for the children, who are the point anyway.

 

 

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#21 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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I think I would have called the police. She was young and seeking help. I wouldn't have taken her to the corner in case it was a predator or something, because I can't imagine a caseworker not picking her up at her house or school or something.

I wouldn't have wanted her to go with the foster mom w/o the police or CPS checking out the situation.
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#22 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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I am surprised at the folks who don't know why this constitutes a serious call to 911 or CPS. This was reprotedly a 10 y/o girl, trying to reach a destination without a clear plan, at a gas station, asking for help. This child was in need of immediate help. The risk is high for unwanted attention, or worse, in this situation.

I don't think putting her in the car and driving her would be a good plan. Staying there until the police arrived, perhaps waiting in the gas station, would have been appropriate.
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#23 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I made two phone calls. One to CPS, they said "You can not even imaging how many K****** G******** we have in our system, at least 1000 with that name." I told her what I could, and she said she'd do her best, but it would be very hard without a birth date or address of a foster home.

Then, I called the nearest grade school. They have only a few kids by that name, and none of them are in foster care.

I'm still sad, and clearly uneducated about how many kids are in foster care.
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#24 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 01:57 PM
 
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I think I would have called the police. She was young and seeking help. I wouldn't have taken her to the corner in case it was a predator or something, because I can't imagine a caseworker not picking her up at her house or school or something.

I wouldn't have wanted her to go with the foster mom w/o the police or CPS checking out the situation.

I would have taken her to meet her caseworker (but called the police to let them know to cover my own hiney) and then I would have stayed with her to check the caseworker's ID and called CPS to verify that she was, in fact, a caseworker.

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#25 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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So, I made two phone calls. One to CPS, they said "You can not even imaging how many K****** G******** we have in our system, at least 1000 with that name." I told her what I could, and she said she'd do her best, but it would be very hard without a birth date or address of a foster home.

Then, I called the nearest grade school. They have only a few kids by that name, and none of them are in foster care.

I'm still sad, and clearly uneducated about how many kids are in foster care.
Would a description of the foster mother's vehicle help at all?

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#26 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 02:48 PM
 
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Let me clarify, as someone who works in child welfare: This is not a case of definite child abuse or neglect. However, a foster child is under the care of the state and CPS is their "guardian".
Okay, now I understand. If she knew how to reach her caseworker, then I think calling her directly and waiting would make the most sense. If you had the caseworkers number, then calling afterward so she'd know about the incident would make sense. I think it's good you called, and unfortunate they can't find the child in their system. Any chance she's not actually a foster kid, given what the school said? Didn't you say she looked like an older child you know?

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#27 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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So, I made two phone calls. One to CPS, they said "You can not even imaging how many K****** G******** we have in our system, at least 1000 with that name." I told her what I could, and she said she'd do her best, but it would be very hard without a birth date or address of a foster home.

Then, I called the nearest grade school. They have only a few kids by that name, and none of them are in foster care.

I'm still sad, and clearly uneducated about how many kids are in foster care.
I'm glad you called. It does seem pretty unlikely, though, that there would be a large number of foster kids in your area with the same name. Even if you lived in New York City and the child's name was some super common name, I can't imagine hundreds. Was this the number for the state? Or for a local office? If it was a state office, maybe it would be possible to get a number for a local office?

I can imagine how hard being in that situation was and continues to be.
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#28 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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OP, you did the best you could. I think it's good you contacted CPS. Hopefully the person you spoke to will be able to track down the little girl. It makes me said she said she's "just a foster kid"

Since she risked asking a stranger to take her somewhere I wonder if there was something she wanted to tell the case worker that she's unable to say in front of the foster mother. In any event, I hope the little girl is okay.

I do want to suggest calling CPS again on another day. You may get another person on the phone who's willing to dig a little further.
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#29 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 04:54 PM
 
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That response from CPS seems weird to me. Even if her name was Jane Doe, they seriously have thousands of kids with an active file with that name? I don't believe that. Sounds like a brush off to me.

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#30 of 70 Old 10-22-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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That response from CPS seems weird to me. Even if her name was Jane Doe, they seriously have thousands of kids with an active file with that name? I don't believe that. Sounds like a brush off to me.
I agree, 1000s of kids in one state with the same name all in foster care?

I have to say call again, many times you get some really unhelpful person dealing with DSHS, CPS, family services type stuff....There are social workers who care and those who just don't give a crap. I dealt with calling the state a few times with my pregnancy medical because my paperwork was screwed up and I had 3 instances where the people were plainly grumpy and awful(2 women, 1 man). Then I finally got a woman who was awesome, she said she didn't understand why I was denied at first and then qualified. She actually took the time to help in my time of need instead of the others who treated me like I was just another loser looking for a handout.

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