What would you do if CPS showed up at your door? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 50 Old 09-23-2008, 05:52 PM
 
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Hi, I'm the OP from the "We've been hotlined" thread. When it happened to me, I responded way differently than the way I thought I'd respond, and the way I've encouraged others to respond if it ever happened to them. The following comment is a good springboard for me to share what I've learned --

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Originally Posted by applejuice View Post
Just as a person should prepare to protect their family in the event of a catastrophe as hurricane/earthquake/tornado/flood/fire, so should a person be prepared for the unlikely event that a government agent in the form of a CPS person would present themselves at their door.
Yes, we should learn everything we can ahead of time and be prepared. But, in the event of any catastrophe, we should also have the flexibility to respond to the actual situation at hand -- which may or may not totally fit with the "protocol" we've learned.

When it happened to me, although I'd always heard (and advised others to) "Never let them in without a warrant, never sign anything" -- all I can say is my gut told me that letting her come in and do her assessment felt like the best thing in that particular situation.

I guess I won't know for sure 'til it's all over, but in my case it looks like not letting her in would have caused her to send the report of suspected educational neglect to the school board, who would have sent it on to the prosecuting attorney. This may still happen, but I'm hopeful that maybe her assessment gave her the assurance that this was unnecessary.

And if I'd refused to sign her assessment-finding, I wouldn't now have the copy of this paper stating that our home is safe for our children.

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A person should know their rights in such a situation. If a person knows their rights, that person is likely to be more prepared in such a situation. I wish I had known. Things would have been more contentious, but more satisfactory FOR ME!
Yes, I totally agree that we all need to know our rights!

I knew I had a right to refuse the assessment -- but I'm glad I followed my gut-instinct to go along with it this time.

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that if one of my relatives made another bogus call tomorrow, with this social worker having just assessed me and found no concern, they'd be more likely to disregard that call.

My friend who refused to let the social worker in, did eventually get a case-closed letter -- but it took about 6 months, during which time she had to meet with CPS about 3 times, and jump through numerous paperwork-hoops.

It looks like I should expect my case-closed letter within about 1 1/2 months -- and by that time if I still haven't heard anything from the school board or prosecuting attorney, I'll feel pretty safe in assuming that they were never contacted.

But I can't say for sure what I'd do if this happened again. I now think each case is different, and, as I've just said, we should all arm ourselves with the facts and know our rights -- but then allow ourselves room to be flexible and assess the situation at hand.

applejuice -- I know I've said this before, but I am so sorry about all you've been through!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#32 of 50 Old 09-23-2008, 05:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I'm curious...what does everyone think would happen if you just never answered the door? Never returned a call, never allowed them into the home? What if they just couldn't get hold of you somehow?
Good idea. Try it.

Ask yourselves: how do you think you would be treated?

If you think you will be treated as well as the Ramsey family whose own dd was found dead in their own home and another child having died years before, think again. I have no opinion as to their guilt or innocence, but I have a huge problem with the way they were treated versus the way the ordinary middle class person would be treated in the same situation. They were able to pack up and move to another state shortly thereafter without even selling the house, indicted, or being on trial. Do you think seriously that you could do that if your child was found dead in your home after being reported missing?

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#33 of 50 Old 09-23-2008, 06:39 PM
 
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apple juice, I don't know what family you're speaking of, but I was just honestly curious what people thought.

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#34 of 50 Old 09-23-2008, 07:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I'm curious...what does everyone think would happen if you just never answered the door? Never returned a call, never allowed them into the home? What if they just couldn't get hold of you somehow?
My guess would be that if the call was not about serious abuse, they might just let it go, or it might get lost in the shuffle of all the more urgent stuff they were dealing with.

But if they thought there were any likelihood of children being seriously harmed, they'd probably eventually get a warrant and the police would break the door down.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#35 of 50 Old 09-26-2008, 01:55 PM
 
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Mammal mama: I definitely think listening to your gut is very important too.

applejuice: the Ramseys had another child who died?
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#36 of 50 Old 11-01-2008, 12:50 AM
 
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Yes; ten years before in an auto accident.

Interesting how $ and power makes a difference in the justice system and CPS.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#37 of 50 Old 11-06-2008, 12:03 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Sasha_girl View Post
We had CPS show up at our door once (my son, who was 3 at the time, was running around outside with no pants on and that offended someone driving by). I walked her through our house--in the front door and out the back door, so that she could see that our house wasn't a pit of squalor or something.
Exact same thing happened to me here after only living in this damn state 3 months: Dd got out naked and the next day they showed up at our door. I did let him in, I was in shock and didn't know what to do. He asked questions, wrote stuff down, peeked around downstairs (I told him no to upstairs, he was fine w/ that) and he left. One week later a woman sw came by to follow up and had all this wrong info that the male sw wrote down. Sheesh. (things like I'm single and dp is in nearby state...when I said we aren't married but have been together 8 years, all his family is in nearby state. this was an answer to why we moved here from west coast) She corrected wrong info, didn't even ask to come in, did ask about ds who is 6 (hs age is 6 here) and I told her we would send letter in eventually and she said fine. She left and the next week we got a closed case letter (but says we are on permanet record in this state ) Luckily it went okay and was easy and done. But I do fear that some nosey person will call again eventually b/c I homeschool and the school is 2 doors down. Luckily we are moving back west and out of this state for good (!) in May. But then there is the homebirth in December to worry about. Dp thinks someone will call for that and he may be right.

I hate that it happened. I hate that I live in fear that it could happen again. I hate that my children saw this person snooping around our house and asking me questions. It's not fair and I hate that i'm on permanent record here for good.
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#38 of 50 Old 11-06-2008, 10:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lemon Juice View Post
But then there is the homebirth in December to worry about. Dp thinks someone will call for that and he may be right.
You're not telling your neighbors you're having a homebirth, are you? We had our 2nd at home, while living in a duplex, and the people in the other duplex said they didn't even hear me. I thought I'd been pretty loud, but I guess not that loud. So it seems likely that if you haven't told people about the homebirth, they likely won't even notice.

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I hate that it happened. I hate that I live in fear that it could happen again. I hate that my children saw this person snooping around our house and asking me questions. It's not fair and I hate that i'm on permanent record here for good.


You mean it actually said in the letter that you're on permanent record? When I got my letter stating that no case was being opened, it said nothing at all about there being a permanent record -- though I've pretty much assumed that there is a permanent record of the call, and also of the social worker's visit.

I mean, don't government agencies have to keep permanent records of everything? I think they must even keep records of all the reports they choose not to investigate, 'cause when a child died in our neighborhood due to starvation , the newspaper report mentioned the CPS calls on that family that were never investigated. So either those calls were on record -- or else maybe all the people who'd made calls came forward and said, "I called, and they never did anything."

While it doesn't feel great, knowing that if someone else happens to call (because of homeschooling or our other non-mainstream living practices), the person who takes the call can and probably will pull up the previous record ...

I don't know if it would be all that awful ... I mean, it's hard to know how things "work" in these cases, you know? I think if I, as a social worker, got a report of suspected abuse or neglect on a family, and I checked records and found that a worker'd already been to the home and found no concerns -- or, as they put it, "no need for further services at this time" ...

Well, I'd like to think that this would work in my favor, since I'd cooperated and obviously had nothing to hide. But who really knows? For all I know, they could be thinking of all the cases where the social worker "found nothing" and didn't open a case -- and then the child got murdered.

But if I'm right, and there's a record kept of every report whether it's investigated or not (and I think there must be) -- then that means lots of other folks are "on permanent record" and don't even know it.

The scary thing about CPS is it seems we can never really be proven "innocent" -- and our cooperation provides no guarantee that they won't show up at our door again. I guess it has to be that way to protect children -- it just seems so unfair to all the children and families who aren't asking to be "serviced" in this way.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#39 of 50 Old 11-06-2008, 10:41 AM
 
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I was there. I never said I was not. I thought I was being co-operative with the sw from cps and believed I had nothing to hide, so I let them in. I co-operated with them, knowing I needed help with my teenage dd at a time my dh was undergoing cancer treatment.

I could not have been more wrong. I was in He77 for a year. That is the only way I can describe it.

Just as a person should prepare to protect their family in the event of a catastrophe as hurricane/earthquake/tornado/flood/fire, so should a person be prepared for the unlikely event that a government agent in the form of a CPS person would present themselves at their door. A person should know their rights in such a situation. If a person knows their rights, that person is likely to be more prepared in such a situation. I wish I had known. Things would have been more contentious, but more satisfactory FOR ME!
Applejuice,
I am afraid of CPS. I have nothing to be afraid of in that I'm doing nothing wrong. But we are poor. We live in a good area but we're on welfare and homeschool and don't vax. My dd is happy and thriving but I'm afraid my conservative neighbors or wacko mom will call or my in-laws in don't approve of homeschooling.
What would you do if you had to do it again?

:Mama to 2 :
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#40 of 50 Old 11-06-2008, 11:17 AM
 
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If CPS showed up at our door, I would call my lawyer.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#41 of 50 Old 11-07-2008, 07:04 PM
 
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#42 of 50 Old 11-08-2008, 05:41 PM
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I dunno what I would do. On one hand, I don't know what they could or would possibly see or think. I mean, there is nothing in our home that I think could even be lied about as being neglectful or dangerous. I was worried when we coslept before dd had her own room -- she still cosleeps but her room looks real nice and mainstream like , so that isn't a worry. I worried about the fact that we are vegetarians but it is clear she is healthy and thriving.

I live in a state where children get actually lost in the system for years and where I think the last thing social workers want to do is remove a child because the system is so taxed. I also have a best friend who was a deputy sheriff for 8 years and reassures me all the time of what she had to frequently walk into where the kids weren't even removed and in her opinion, they should have been (like needles lying around and roaches crawling all over piles of trash ), but where the judge declined to order removal.

I know people have had terrible experiences, I realize that and I am not dismissing that -- but I think I would probably react like mammal_mama did -- or just not answer the door (pretend I wasn't home) and contact them on my terms after seeking legal advice.

One thing I do need to do though for my comfort level is to get dd's vax exemption (very easy to obtain here, I have just procrastinated).

I also acknowledge that I have white, hetero, married, Christian, middle class privledge and that I have the luxury of feeling safer than some
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#43 of 50 Old 01-06-2009, 01:49 PM
 
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#44 of 50 Old 01-06-2009, 09:52 PM
 
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First of all they wouldn't be allowed to peek past the threshold without a warrent. If need be I would SHOW them my children to prove that they are healthy and (mostly) injury free. I would advise them that I would be more than willing to cooperate with them provided they go through the proper legal channels to make sure everything is on the up and up and neither one of us are signing our rights away

Then when they left I would call a lawyer, call as many friends as I could wrangle up and clean my house spotless, beg borrow or steal a bed for the kids bedroom (we cosleep, they don't have a bed) figure out how to put together my crib and make d@mn sure every i was dotted and t crossed.

Then if need be I would get as much info as possible to prove that YES my son is leaning on track with or ahead of his peers and go from there...

I thing through this WAY too often, my IL's are 100% opposed to our parenting choices home/un schooling is top of the list

Renae wife to J :, Mama to 4.5y/o J-bird and 2y/o A : and E coming in late Dec/Early Jan. My husband had a living donor kidney transplant! :
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#45 of 50 Old 01-08-2009, 11:40 AM
 
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for EXACTLY that reason my home is ALWAYS tidy. i clean things up immediately, my kids bath a lot ( they love it, though) , just in case anyone shows up there is absolutely nothing they can do. I moved here from germany, so i always think people must think " a foreigner! she must be beating her children & live in filth!" so if there was someone at the door i'd get a lawyer, fil, bil & dh home. i prefer having men home in that sort of situation, oldfashioned, but they tend to get more respect over here anyway. (i'm in the uk).
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#46 of 50 Old 01-09-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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My plan: smile unthreateningly, look apologetic, and say, "I know you're just doing your job so please believe me that this is not personal, but it would be irresponsible of me as my children's mother to trust a total stranger to make decisions about them, so I need to have some protective safeguards in place before you do the investigation. What that means is that I need to have witnesses here while it's taking place, including a lawyer, and it will be videotaped. Please let me know when it would be convenient for you to come back. Meanwhile, let me get my children so that you can see that they're all right."

I know someone who's an investigator for CPS, and he's fantastic, very aware of the difference between alternative lifestyles and abuse. But in a county near us there's an investigator who I've heard has come down very hard on people who are a lot like us -- extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, unschooling, non-vaccing, don't do doctor visits unless we're sick, unassisted birth, that sort of thing. I don't know anything about CPS in our county, but it's a very conservative area so it makes me nervous. It's really hard to believe that an investigator would try to make a case on those things, but add in something like an injury and I fear bias against those things could be a very effective fuel for suspicion of abuse.
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#47 of 50 Old 01-10-2009, 01:29 AM
 
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My plan: smile unthreateningly, look apologetic, and say, "I know you're just doing your job so please believe me that this is not personal, but it would be irresponsible of me as my children's mother to trust a total stranger to make decisions about them, so I need to have some protective safeguards in place before you do the investigation. What that means is that I need to have witnesses here while it's taking place, including a lawyer, and it will be videotaped. Please let me know when it would be convenient for you to come back. Meanwhile, let me get my children so that you can see that they're all right."
I did that for a friend, I came as a witness to her inspection with a videocamera, and I was told to turn it off and she took the children outside and told me to get lost. It was my friends house, so I did not make a fuss. It would be up to the mother to enforce her parameters and rules. Maybe a few tough looking relatives to back up the mama would help.

I had my GSD : with me at the door last time cps came calling. She did not come back.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#48 of 50 Old 01-10-2009, 05:16 PM
 
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It happened to me. My dh answered the door and let them in : If I'd answered I'd have asked them what they were calling for and then told them to come back at a more suitable time. A time where we weren't still in our pyjammas at 3pm!

A "concerned neighbour" called saying that they hadn't seen me or the children out much recently. Which was a load of rubbish IMO - what they actually meant was "they don't send their kids to school." It was about 2 weeks after the schools went back after the summer, so they'd waited to see if we sent them to school then made the call to social services when they saw that we hadn't.

The two social workers had done some background checks on us because they knew that the children weren't registered at a local school, and that they hadn't had any vaccinations. They asked me why we'd chosen not to vaccinate and I couldn't think of a decent answer. Its been 8 years since I last researched vaccination! I couldn't seem to pull up any facts or figures from the depths of my brain. I just mumbled somethng about the side effects. Then they asked me about their education and what sort of things we did, if we had a timetable or some sort of curriculum to follow, and I didn't really feel like I answered that very confidently either. It's not their job to assess our education provision anyway. (at least not here in Scotland - its the education authorities job, not a social service issue) They seemed satisfied, so said the case was closed and left.

I really felt like I'd let my family down though. I wished that I could have confidently answered their questions - like this is what we do and we're proud of it. (And we're also doing nothing wrong or illegal.) So I'd advise making sure that you have some prepared answers for any questions that might be asked. I've got some answers prepped now cause I expect another visit at some point. The nosey neighbours don't get to know the outcome of the investigation, so they might feel the need to call again.

I had thought that if something like this happened I wouldn't let them in, meet on some neutral ground or something, doccument and record stuff etc, but I was completely caught off gaurd (my house was pretty much a bombsite too). It worked out fine though. I feel like it might have gone badly if I'd been hostile - well more hostile anyway! I think I sounded pretty angry when they were talking to me, and dh was kind of standing over them in a threatening manner, but I think they'd probably have been suspicious and investigated us more thoroughly if dh hadn't just let them in. (they didn't even ask to see my baby who was sleeping upstairs at the time.)
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#49 of 50 Old 01-11-2009, 01:43 AM
 
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Luckily we don't live in a house so they'd have to find us first () But I wouldn't even begin to talk to them with out some sort of warrant.
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#50 of 50 Old 01-11-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds View Post
My plan: smile unthreateningly, look apologetic, and say, "I know you're just doing your job so please believe me that this is not personal, but it would be irresponsible of me as my children's mother to trust a total stranger to make decisions about them, so I need to have some protective safeguards in place before you do the investigation. What that means is that I need to have witnesses here while it's taking place, including a lawyer, and it will be videotaped. Please let me know when it would be convenient for you to come back. Meanwhile, let me get my children so that you can see that they're all right."
What an excellent idea! I think this is exactly what I'll do if they ever knock on my door again.

Sarah, I'm glad everything went okay. I don't know what the vax laws are like in Scotland, but where I live (Missouri, USA), I've learned that you can get a religious exemption without even having to specify your religion. We've never bothered to get the card, since like you we homeschool, but now whenever we see a new medical person for one of our girls, when they ask the vax question, I just say --

"We don't vaccinate." If they ask why (sometimes they do, but not always), I say, "Religious exepmtion."

We saw a new doctor for my youngest the other day, and she actually followed up by asking our religion, and I just said, "I know I don't have to answer that, and it's personal." And she dropped it.

Yeah, since we've already had a CPS visit (because of toxic relatives who don't like our homeschooling), I felt a little scared that the doctor might find my refusal to discuss my religion "snarky" or something, and look for some reason to report us --

I've just learned that in "discussions" of why we don't vax, the doctors always come off as more knowledgeable than me, and I can't really "win" or be respected in such a discussion, so it's better to say as little as possible.

So even though I was kind of scared to refuse to answer a question, for all I know it could have gone even worse if I'd told her we were Christian, and, no, we're not part of any sect that prohibits vaccination, we just don't believe in it, yada-yada.

So, overall, I just find it safer to refuse to discuss it. And I think even if you're well-versed in all the scientific reasons for not vaxing, it's probably better to just refuse to engage in the first place.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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