Social Services….policies & procedures

Social Services……

Once the crime is reported to the police, the police notify child protective services (CPS) of the case.  CPS opens an investigation that aims to determine whether we, the parents, allowed or created the atmosphere that led to the sexual abuse.  Given that we had another child in the home as well, they also try to determine whether both children are living in a safe environment.  This is where parents can often feel let down by the system.  In essence, our lives and home were being scrutinized like we knew the abuse was occuring!

As we mentioned in a previous post, the police opened their investigation and visited our daughter’s school to question her without our knowledge.  Within a few days of this incident, our daughter sent us a text message stating a social worker was at her school questioning her, and she wanted to know if she had to speak with the gentleman.  Based on her accounts of the interview, he basically told her that if she didn’t cooperate, he could call the police and have her escorted to the police station for questioning.  Of course, the mere suggestion that she would be hauled off in a police car while her peers looked on was yet another form of trauma for someone who had already endured so much and seemingly was still no more in control than when she was being abused.

Incensed by the lack of communication on the part of the social worker, I began calling the number that he left with my daughter after the interview.  When he finally called back, the conversation started off very hostile because we felt completely violated by his actions.  I assured him that we did not appreciate the fact that he showed up unannounced at my daughter’s school and reiterated how upset she was to be pulled out of class yet again all the while wondering what to tell her classmates.  The social worker was ready for a fight and literally began taunting me by telling me he could show up at her school anytime he felt like it and he was on his way to my younger daughter’s school as we were speaking.  That made the conversation even more hostile as I made it clear to him that he was not to show up at either child’s school without notifying us.

The conversation stayed quite heated as he rambled off policy and procedures that defined the scope of power his position provided.  I felt as though my husband and I were on trial.  Even worse, once again our daughter felt like she was being violated and we, as parents, felt powerless because of a “system” that made us part of the criminal element until they decided otherwise.  As this heated discussion continued, I made it clear that WE called the police, WE filed the police report, and WE had been pushing the police to do their jobs the entire time; therefore, WE were entitled to a little more respect in this process.  After admitting that he had not read the report thoroughly and was not aware that we had initiated the police investigation, he apologized and his tone softened. We then had a more civilized dialogue……

The social worker acquiesced and agreed not to go to either daughters’ school to question them.  Instead, we arranged for him to come to our home the following Saturday for an in-home interview with our youngest daughter.  We also arranged to take our daughter to the police station if any additional or follow up questions needed to be asked.

When the social worker arrived that Saturday, he had a brief conversation with us and explained that there are so many instances of predators living in the home with the child, and often times the family is aware of the abuse and does nothing or very little about it.  He suggested that this is sometimes cultural and in other cases it is just simply poor parenting.  He apologized for not handling the situation better and not being informed before moving forward with his investigation.

Our youngest daughter was interviewed while we sat in a separate room.  We later found out that he asked her if she knew why he was there, what was going on with her sister, and if she had been abused herself.  He also wanted to know if she thought we knew her sister was being abused.  She answered the questions honestly and at the end of the interview, he advised us that he had no reason to believe that we were aware of the abuse our daughter had experienced, nor did he believe that we had not provided a safe home for our children.  To sum it up plain and simple, there was no need for our children to be removed from our home and placed in protective custody.

CPS definitely has rules and regulations to follow, which is understandable to a certain extent.  As parents who found out our daughter had been sexually abused for such an extended period of time by a relative whom we saw often was hard enough to process…..BUT, to be the “subject” of an investigation to determine if we were in some way accessories to the crime was just way to much to wrap our heads around.  We definitely felt that sensitivity training was in order and each case should be handled based on its respective circumstances and details. Accusing the parents at the top of the investigation automatically creates an adversarial relationship, which can hinder the process of getting the justice for the victim.

At the end of the day, we say cooperate with CPS because failing to do so could be quite costly…you could lose custody of your child(ren).  It is okay to try and set some ground rules and boundaries, but if the social worker is not willing to work with you, just do your absolute best to do what it asked.  If you feel your rights are being violated, you may need to seek legal assistance.

Next week’s topic….Going to court

Category: For Dads, For Moms, For Survivors, Uncategorized |

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