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What is the threshold for abuse?

Posted by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:05 AM
  • 19 Replies

Not a porblem with my teens, per se... but something one of them has gone through that just makes me so furious for him!!! 

We have custody of a child who is not ours and not related in any way. We went to our final trial on Thursday where we reresented ourselves (pro se) and won everything we were asking . However, something REALLY upset me a lot and I am wanting to get input. Or maybe just to vent. 

You see, we had to pove his mom unfit and meet the Bennett v. Jeffreys findings in order to keep him. Because of that I got to review every one of the CPS reports on his mom. 

There were MANY. All of them were the same thing: Neglect, filth, leaving them alone, medical neglect... filth filth, filth. In a couple of them she didn't even know where her kids were staying (under the age of 10) because they'd left home. One of them she left them with a neighbor and just plain didn't return. Many for medical neglect and every one of the reports included the amazing filth, lack of food, heat, hot water, etc.

Here's the punch line: Every one of the MANY reports from 2 different states was an "indicated" report. EVERY one of them she was non-compliant. EVERY one of them they closed stating non-compliant and that there were founded reports of neglect-meaning they were REAL and they found the report to be true or worse. One of them they made initial contact with her, but then she was non compliant and unable to be contacted because she was working so they CLOSED THE CASE and let her keep the kids. In that one it cited that the youngest one had an infected and oozing cyst uner his chin just smaller than a golf ball. He was roughly 5 at the time. No medical care and she didn't comply with them requiring medical care for him-so they closed the case???? 

I can see closing the case repeatedly when they make the effort to at least make it look like they are complying and just how frustrating that could be, but the reports STATE that she was non-compliant, neglectful, ABANDONED THEM... AND THEY CLOSED THE CASES LEAVING THE KIDS THERE??? She flat out said at 11 they are old enough to be on their own-and evidently that's ok??? 
I am so shocked and horrified. I could see ONE case worker but this is MULTIPLE different case workers in 2 states and 6 different counties in those states. And I am talking serious neglect here. Not just no food in the cupboard, but no basic care at all and SERIOUS filth with feces, mold and infestations. Sick, bruised and abandoned children. One ended up in the child sex trade and the FBI was involved. Yes, THAT bad.

 I guess now I understand how kids die in a crappy parent's care even after CPS has been involved.

And yet I have seen kids removed for next to nothing. Certainly nothing close to this kind of care.  

Thoughts? Experiences? 

by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:05 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Jinx-Troublex3
by Bronze Member on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Not sure what you are looking for but dcfs reports are based on opinion. What one person thinks is bad, may be better or worse than your opinion.

Sad reality is there are too many kids, too many cases and not enough staff to work them so they do the best they can.
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christina259
by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:52 AM

 Sad, we think kids have it easy but i also thinks kids are the ones that end up slipping through the cracks of our justice system and there are so many situations out there where kids just suffer untill they are out and on their own. Damage done at that point. I hate to hear this. its crazy that someone wasn't watching out for these kids more than that. No one had the common sense to pull them out of there sooner. pretty ridiculous.

DarlaHood
by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 1:55 AM

In my experience, it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen with CPS investigations.  Certainly the things you describe constitute neglect, and are enough to remove a child.  And I understand your point about CPS making the judgments, in writing, that their investigations resulted in a conclusion of abuse, neglect, danger of harm, abandonment, and lack of provision.

I have seen CPS decisions to close cases that are heart-breaking because the mandated reporter sees clear reason to investigate further or take concrete action to protect the children.  I've also seen cases that mandated reporters feel ambivalent about, yet they've resulted in immediate removal of children from the home.

I don't understand these decisions sometimes, but I do know this.  I did an undergrad internship in a foster care agency.  I decided to go in a different direction in grad school.  What I saw is that most of the Social Workers I met cared deeply about their jobs, the families, and especially the children.  They are completely over-loaded and overwhelmed, particularly if working for a county agency. The amount of cases that they carry responsibility for is often beyond reason, and humanly impossible to adequately manage.  They work very long hours, and can be called out in the middle of the night or on Saturday away from their own families to handle urgent matters.  They make relatively little money for the hours, commitment, and stress.  They deal with difficult and impossible situations and people constantly.  They are often perceived as they enemy by everyone involved - even those they are trying to protect and help. They often lack resources.  There are never enough good, stable foster families (although I met many), and there are always more neglected and abused kids to place. They are under pressure to push for reunification of families, and to try to teach parents to do better, because removing the kids doesn't always create a better situation, even when it should.  And perhaps other kids are in graver danger.

It is wonderful that you are fighting for these kids.  It may turn out to mean everything to them.  And it is not right that they've had to go through so much.  I applaud you for becoming a support for the kids in the system and for really caring.  If more people were to support the kids and the professionals in the system, perhaps things could be made much better!

BUT - I worry that there will be a rush for people to be righteous and indignant without the willingness to step up do something to help or contribute.  It's easy to sit at our computers or on our phones and say that something should be done.  It's much harder to put in the effort to be part of the solution.

fantasticfour
by Grumpy on Mar. 3, 2013 at 2:52 AM

The problem with CPS is that it actually takes alot for a child to be taken away from the biological mom. I know in our situation, the CASA reports were usually 30 pages long, detailing the differences between my home and the biomom's home.  It was astounding.  The kids had no idea what a real family was like, and no it's not just their mom's fault, it's my hubby's fault as well.  That's the problem.  He allowed this behavior to go on and on and on so the judge feels that he will continue to allow it to go on if I decided to do it too. 

The CPS reports all said the same thing too.  However it took years for us to gain custody and now that we have custody it's a mess still because she still gets to see them for her time of abuse.

MamaSnaps
by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:19 PM


Quoting Jinx-Troublex3:

Not sure what you are looking for but dcfs reports are based on opinion. What one person thinks is bad, may be better or worse than your opinion.

Sad reality is there are too many kids, too many cases and not enough staff to work them so they do the best they can.

I understand opinion coming from whomever is calling the report in, but when the investigators statement is that there IS neglect and there IS abuse and there IS abandonment-and then for her to NOT comply with their conditions? That is what shocked me. 

I've had CPS called on me twice-same person. Within 2 weeks. She had been committed to the mental health ward and called on her sister-my BFF and me because we said she needed to be there to get better. The workers were shocked in both cases that someone were wasting their time and immediately closed it. 

LuckyMom822
by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I had a boss whose sister and bil are horrible parents. Mother and father are mentally ill (mom even has munchausens by proxy and father shot at one of the kids!), filthy, roaches everywhere, deplorable living conditions. My boss' other sister who is an attorney had the children every time they were taken from the parents. Dfacs ALWAYS gave the children back to the parents. I understand your frustration. The system is broken and they are not true advocates for the children. I think social workers try but they don't have the final say so. A judge does. And there lies the problem.

MamaSnaps
by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Now in that situation I'd ask why the sister who had the kids didn't file for custody and prove the best interests of the child? CPS actually pushed me to file for custody of the one we have. We only wanted to be able to talk with the school and doctors, etc. She'd have left him here with no way to do any of that. 

In our case the kids had never gotten to the judge to even have the final say-and I think it should have by far. One report she had left them with a neighbor and not returned. The neighbors didn't know where the kids had gone, they only thought the kids were spending a weekend there, but mom never came back and kids went elsewhere. No one knew-including the mom-where the kids were even at! They could have been kidnapped, in a gutter or living on their own-3 kids under the age of 10. Kids were going to school and gave their home as mom's apartment when asked. The apartment she'd been evicted from. Yet they left the kids. 

At least in their situation they took the parents. And they must have complied in some way with their requirements to get them back? Well, that assumption might be BS after what I have seen too. 

Quoting LuckyMom822:

I had a boss whose sister and bil are horrible parents. Mother and father are mentally ill (mom even has munchausens by proxy and father shot at one of the kids!), filthy, roaches everywhere, deplorable living conditions. My boss' other sister who is an attorney had the children every time they were taken from the parents. Dfacs ALWAYS gave the children back to the parents. I understand your frustration. The system is broken and they are not true advocates for the children. I think social workers try but they don't have the final say so. A judge does. And there lies the problem.


LuckyMom822
by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 1:07 PM

The sister did file for custody but was turned down. Repeatedly. No the parents didnt comply. After the shooting incident, the sw told the dad that he could get the kids back when he got rid of the guns. He is schizophrenic so by law they could ask him to turn them over to the state. He refused. Then sold everything the kids had. Toys, beds, clothes, everything. It was so sad. Dfacs gave the kids back anyway. We were in shock. We couldn't believe it. The one child was still on tube feeding due to the complications from the poisoning all those years when she was a baby. It makes no sense to me. Here, no child can be returned to the family until a judge decides so I blame the courts. 

Barabell
by Barbara on Mar. 3, 2013 at 3:04 PM

I don't have any personal experience in social work or with abuse and neglect (fortunately for me). I do work for a regulatory government agency, and I can tell you on the flip side it can be just as frustrating for the workers. Even if we know something is wrong with the person or business that we're regulating, we cannot act unless we have clear-cut proof and if the law is on our side. The laws are a wonderful thing to try to ensure some protection to the general public and people dependent on certain services, but sometimes it is also limiting in how people upholding those laws can respond because to act we have to meet threshold X, Y, Z, etc. Again, I have no experience with social work or how things are supposed to go in that area, but I wanted to let you know that just because the case worker closes the file for whatever reason it doesn't mean that is the action they wanted to take.

Barabell
by Barbara on Mar. 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM
1 mom liked this

Also, the teen you are taking in is lucky to have you now.

you rock

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