Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ignore HSLDA! For the Good of Your Children Cooperate With CPS

Libby Anne wrote an excellent piece outlining the ways that HSLDA interferes with Child Abuse Investigations nationwide. As I was posting her writing I was googling for the proper photo to go with the article and I kept running into an increasing number of blogs where the bloggers were being looked at by CPS and instead of cooperating called HSLDA and allowed HSLDA to dictate the terms of the investigation.

My first reaction was 'What?!?! How on earth can CPS allow this?'

Yes, so I know personally that Evangelical Fundamental Christianity frowns upon any government control or what they judge interference by a government agency. Which hurts them in many ways. Many will not take advantage of the freely offered early childhood education programs like Headstart that would benefit their children. But the worst part is that they think they should be above or exempted from any oversight or investigation by the government.

Let me explain a little bit about child abuse investigations, how the reporting happens, what the social worker's goal is for the kids and how it really behooves the family to cooperate.

I've worked in the field of child abuse, as a investigator, as a social worker, as a social worker at a national licensure board and now in a residential treatment center for abused/neglected/emotionally disturbed children. I don't claim to be the ultimate in experts but I have picked up enough knowledge through the years to see that calling HSLDA and not cooperating is a very bad idea.

So who reports possible abuse? It could be anyone in the child's life, from a friend or a neighbor all the way to a doctor or nurse or even a teacher. There are those in the community who are what are considered 'mandatory reporters'. Usually mandatory reporters work in a field where they come into contact with large numbers of kids, such as a teacher, social worker, psychologist or doctor. Any time there are obvious signs of possible abuse they must report it or lose their state license. That is part of the duty they knowingly take on as part of their position.

I'm a mandatory reporter because of what I do for a living, which means when my neighbor across the street had a screaming fight with her 11 year old and threw him out at midnight one night I had to call it in to the authorities. Even if the mother might have been my friend or a relative. It's the law here.

Just because child protective services shows up at your door doesn't mean they are picking on you or out to get you. CPS is required to investigate any allegation involving the safety of a child. That means they are just doing their job to make sure no child abuse is occurring.

Not allowing them into your home to conduct interviews or investigate looks very bad, like you have something to hide. Most of the time they are going to come in, get a feel for if it's just a regular family with some simple explanation for whatever the complainant alleges. They have to speak with the possible victim and they have to speak with the child alone in order to gauge if the child feels unsafe or threatened in any way.

Most of the time it ends right there, everyone leaves, the CPS social worker and the cops, a letter goes out to the person who reported possible child abuse indicating that the allegation was unfounded after further investigation.

Your county social services is not looking to snatch up every single child that crosses their path regardless of what fetid fantasy HSLDA tries to sell along with their legal services. Most foster parent homes are already full and any facility or shelter that might house the child is also operating at capacity. They aren't full because CPS takes everyone's child away, they are filled due to the epidemic of parents that are immersed in drugs and alcohol, or criminal behaviors to the exclusion of all else, like caring for their child.

Most of the children in the system have suffered from beatings, or lack of parenting, or abandonment or a host of other things that would horrify you. Nearly every day at work when some child's records cross my desk I feel like crying reading through what has occurred to land that child in our facility.

You homeschooling your child or possibly not doing the best as a parent isn't even in the same universe as what the parents of most of the children in the system have done.

I'm not saying that CPS doesn't make mistakes. Of course they make the odd mistake, intake a child that should be home with their parent, but usually those are quickly rectified. The caseloads most CPS workers deal with are at least double what the recommended number is and with a heavier load of investigations there are going to be some slip ups.

The bottom line is that people don't become social workers to torture homeschooling parents or evangelicals or any other group. They do it out of caring for the welfare of children. Love. Wanting ot make a difference. It's a job with an insane workload, crazy hours and a paycheck that can't even start to make up for the working conditions. Caseworkers have been killed by families they've tried to help.

Cooperate, don't give in to the fear tactics that HSLDA sells and things will work out right. Keep telling yourself that this is done to make sure your child is safe and well cared for. You might even learn something useful from the caseworker or be offered parenting classes or help.

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