MORRISTOWN, NY - Controversy Surrounds CPS.

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MORRISTOWN, NY - Controversy Surrounds CPS.

Postby tommixx » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:16 pm

Controversy Surrounds CPS
St. Lawrence News
Written by Nathan Barker
Tuesday, 24 March 2009 10:01 ... &Itemid=69

The controversy surrounding Child Protection Services usually falls into two camps. On one side, parents and privacy advocates trade horror stories of CPS workers following up unfounded reports, refusing to close cases, and tearing apart families. On the other side, communities assailed by the horror of an abuse case deride Child Services for not doing enough to protect the children.

One such case in Oswego county prompted Dave Renzi, challenger to the 48th District's State Senate Seat, to propose "Erin's Law", a measure named after Erin Maxwell whose abuse case was seemingly bungled by CPS resulting in her death at the hands of her step-brother.

Oswego County residents site numerous cases of apathy and disregard by CPS workers in the county, saying that they are not investigating cases, failing to protect children, and allowing needless deaths to occur.

By the same token, the June 1997 murder of 4-yr-old Joshua Sharlow sparked a similar outrage at County worker's failure to identify a dangerous situation. In that case, the boy's father won a wrongful death suit against the county which, according to many residents, has caused a reactionary stance in St. Lawrence County CPS.

Complainants indicate over and over again that CPS in this area are being overzealous in their pursuit of abuse, finding it where it doesn't exist in order to justify their investigations.

A Massena woman whose 15-yr-old daughter has a documented history of violence, says CPS launched an investigation into her household when her fiance grabbed her daughter's arm to prevent her from hitting another child in the house. In that case, workers secrectly interviewed the siblings at school on more than one occassion, visited the fiance at work, repeatedly arrived unannounced at their home, and according to the woman, has lied and deceived the family on several occassions resulting in disharmony in the household, problems for them at work, and unresolved stress.

Workers are supposed to make a finding within 60 days on whether or not a case merits further investigation. The Massena woman in question indicates that although the worker has told her on several occassions that the allegations are 'unfounded' and that there would be no further investigation, that the case remains open nearing the 90-day mark and repeated requests for information regarding why have resulted in a quote from the worker "Do you want to do my job for me?" The woman in question is a degreed social worker herself with considerably more experience. Her response was livid.

Some defenders of the actions of Child Services workers have pointed out that if a case has no merit then the investigation will be declared 'unfounded' and everything is fine. These defenders fail to recognize that the effects of even opening an investigation could have long-lasting negative repercussions. Many people work in positions where an ethical standard is required by the job. Even an allegation of abuse could cost teachers, police officers, customs brokers, and even some accountants their jobs. Despite declarations of confidentiality, school officials, doctors, neighbors, and co-workers are likely to become aware of a case. The stigma of allegations and the actions of the investigator can lead to problems for the family both within and without the family for years to come.

No one would question that children do sometimes need to be protected, even from their own family members. The cases of Erin Maxwell and Joshua Sharlow are just two among hundreds of cases where actual abuse or danger to the child existed in the home.

The New York State Office of Child and Family Services maintains the Child Abuse Hotline and governs the administration of the laws protecting children from abuse. New York State Law defines an 'abused child' as one who "has had serious physical injury inflicted upon him or her by other than accidental means." The state further indicates that normal disciplinary measures are not considered abuse.

One would then believe that a mandated reporter such as a school counselor, not typically being a psychologist and able to document a pattern of continued emotional abuse, would, in absence of glaring physical evidence of neglect (severe drug use, hunger, filth), be primarily reporting on cases of serious physical injury.

Among the changes to the system that Erin's Law proposed was the restoration of budget cuts to an overworked system. Presumably this was intended to stop cases of actual abuse from "falling though the cracks" as it were. It would seem that perhaps a better solution to caseworker overload would be a better system of eliminating unfounded cases. Too many investigations are launched on malicious reports - those made by individuals or institutions with a grudge against a parent and are unfounded from the beginning.

The intent of CPS is to protect children. Statistics show that beyond a shadow of a doubt, the way to protect children is to help the family. CPS is even mandated to pursue this end by preference. With the rare exception of extreme cases of abuse or neglect, it would seem to be unhelpful to destroy a family during an investigation - whether one founded on legitimate evidence or an unfounded case filed maliciously.

One local resident summed up the ideal rather well in saying that "Child Protective Services' workers need to remember that they work for the Office of Child and Family Services. That their mandate is to help children and families, not make them worse."

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Postby raven » Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:32 am

The stress is unbelievable from thses people ,and when you express how much the children are understress it seems to go right over their heads ,they have repeaditly come to my house unanounced .They enjoy what they do they love the power they have.

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Postby vmchilds » Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:56 am

talking about the stress cps causes... They have caused me and my fiance to split up, my daughter has to change schools because they placed her with my mom out of district, I currently have no food stamps or medicaid for my children because I had to change all the information and they have been reviewing it for over 2 months. What happened to "what's in the best intrest of the children"? Life was great until cps came into it!

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