Wednesday, February 06, 2002
I have two very good friends who are social workers. Neither, I will note, work for the government. Social work is a challenging, thankless, high-stress, low-pay job. But that doesn't excuse some of the injustices that government Child Protective Services sometimes perpetrates. The fact that 99.9 percent of the time social workers do the right thing should not be lightly dismissed. But the 0.01 percent of the time that they do the wrong thing shouldn't be chalked up as the cost of doing business. That small percentage is host of shattered families.
Foxnews.com highlighted a couple of recent cases where CPS appears to have gone too far.
The first troubling case involves a woman who took her daughter to see her father in prison. The father was in jail for sexually abusing the daughter. Sounds like a stupid thing to do. But not so fast.
(Deborah) Rabideau said she is trying to understand how she can minimize the long-term impact that abuse has on her daughter’s life. "There’s no excuse for what he did and I will not excuse what he did," she said.
But after extensive counseling, Rabideau believed the next step in healing was forgiveness. She thought the best way to help her daughter cope with the trauma was to help her put her anger behind her.
"For her not to forgive him will devastate and ruin her life much more than it will ruin his," she said.
Her daughter "wanted to see her father desperately," Rabideau said, and counselors the family was seeing recommended the visits. "If my daughter didn’t want anything to do with her Dad, I wouldn’t have pushed her," she said.
Rabideau, a Christian, was trying to do what was best for her daughter. Counselors recommended the visits. The state CPS didn't voice any concern until...
Weeks later, Rabideau said state troopers stormed her house without warning, grabbed her daughter and threw the child into a van.
"She was clutching, she was screaming," Rabideau said. "She almost vomited from the violent force with which they threw her into the van," she said. That same day, Rabideau received a notice from the prison informing her officially that she could no longer visit the facility with her daughter.
Rabideau says she would have stopped the visits immediately had she known she was jeopardizing her custody, but that she never received so much as a warning from the state.
Problems here include a lack of communication and the Elian Gonzalez-type of raid that CPS staged. That sort of commando-type abduction can be very emotionally scarring to a young child, especially when it was wholly unnecessary.
Massachusetts authorities are recommending that Rabideau lose her parental rights to the child. A judge will rule on the case in the next few months, but taking this girl away from her mother would be a mistake.
Massachusetts officials are also involved in another case involving overzealousness. Diana Ross (no, not that one) of Ware had her newborn son taken away from her one day after his birth. Why?
The neglect that warranted Aaron Ross being placed in foster care were charges that Ross was not holding him or his bottle properly during feeding.
The hospital staff did not voluntarily file a neglect report on Aaron; they were ordered to by DSS who was aware that Ross was about to deliver. The nurse who filed the report noted in Ross’ medical records that the form was "sent to DSS per their request. DSS aware we are unable to establish neglect in such a short period of time. Form sent regardless."
There's more to the story, of course. Ross has 1 other child in the foster care system. He was placed in the system because Ross' kids had a history of walking around outside unsupervised. Ross definitely isn't a model parent, but CPS in Massachusetts certainly appears to have a certain overzealousness in taking children away from parents.
At one time Ross had two other children in the system, but that changed when one of her sons, 3-year-old Kyle, was mauled to death by the foster parents' rottweiler. Ross had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the state before her youngest son was taken from her.
The state is currently seeking to have Ross' parental rights terminated. A trial is scheduled for March.
CPS social workers have a tough job to do. But they need to admit that they too make mistakes, and not continue to persecute parents, rather than admitting they are wrong.