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FlyingWolf's avatar

Should I call the social worker (details inside)?

Asked by FlyingWolf (2830points) September 18th, 2014

Someone reported my step-daughter to child protective services for child abuse and neglect. They have interviewed her children, done a home visit and are currently conducting an investigation. The social worker took my husband’s contact information and he has spoken to her. She did not take my contact information, but although she doesn’t live with us now, my step-daughter and her kids lived with me for at least three years. She is not a perfect parent (who is?), but she tries hard and none of her mistakes rise to level of abuse or neglect. She loves her children and takes good care of them. The investigation has been going on for about a month now; the worker contacted her estranged boyfriend and has told her she has found leads she wants to follow up on. My question is, should I contact the person conducting the investigation to share what I know of her parenting or does that run the risk of alienating her or causing her to become more suspicious and making it worse for my step-daughter? This is has potential to be a big, life changing issue for her, along with the fear of losing her kids, she is going to school to be a teacher and any result other than unfounded will make it impossible for her to get a job. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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18 Answers

zander101's avatar

There’s no question that this will be a big, life changing issue for her, however this would be a life changing issue for yourself as well, Please contemplate your choices in relation to this matter, have you seen her be abusive to her children? whether it be physical or mental, how valid are these leads are they factual or inaccurate? Cases involving child protective services drag on for years, its important to know what your getting yourself into.

rojo's avatar

Sometimes people contact CPS as a method of revenge when they feel slighted or have some other complaint with the parent. They know that once it is in the system it has a life of its own and is almost impossible to expunge.

I think it would not hurt for you to contact them although I would not be surprised if they just blew you off. It is certainly worth a try however for the sake of your grandchildren.

Here2_4's avatar

I think so too. When CPS has reports of abuse or neglect, they no nothing of the individual but what they’ve been told so far. If you can help them understand the sort of parent she is, you should contact them. If someone has tried to cause trouble, the workers take that seriously too. They don’t want to waste their time with false reports.

canidmajor's avatar

I would recommend a two-pronged approach with CPS (or whatever your group is called where you live).
You sound literate and articulate, so compose a written assessment of your step-daughter’s parenting. It can go into her file, so that if there is a change of case worker your words are preserved. Be positive, but honest. Include your history with her, as well as your opinions.

Call the case worker. Express your concern. You may actually have more credibility than you think, being her step-mother instead of her mother. The fact that you speak well of her, especially after having the family living with you for a few years, should carry some weight.

Hopefully, where you live, the system is reluctant to remove children from the home, and so will make every effort to avoid that.

I’m sure you have already researched on line all the relevant resources, there may also be blogs with appropriate information and advice.

I wish all the best to your family and those children.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Having lived with your step daughter and her children for 3 years, your take on her character should certainly be a factor in any decision regarding her fitness as a parent. You owe it to her to speak out on her behalf. Otherwise, you face the prospect of a lifetime of regret for not acting to avert a tragedy.

Buttonstc's avatar

Here’s another thing to consider regarding contacting the social worker, especially if it’s in writing and goes in her file.

This way you are known to them as a part of the family and someone who cares deeply about the children. Also , having lived with you for several years, the children know you and are comfortable with you.

In a worst case scenario where they do decide to remove the children from her custody (for whatever reason, they need to place them with someone.

If there are family members available, that would get the first consideration from CPS as an option for placement. Rather than placing them with total strangers, they usually try a family related placement and grandparents usually have the maturity, stability and experience to make them an excellent option.

By all means make a realistic attempt to exonerate her in their eyes. But if it fails, at least you increase the likelihood that the children will be placed with you rather than just thrown into the system. It wouid be far less traumatic for them.

jca's avatar

I was a CPS worker for over 8 years.

Often, what the general public perceives as being “non-neglectful” or “non-abusive” is inaccurate. The child welfare worker’s definition will be broader.

What you provide, in writing, may be too vague. The worker will likely want to interview you in person, in an attempt to evaluate you as a possible resource, should the children be removed.

If I were your stepdaughter and I found out you were stepping in to be interviewed, voluntarily, I might not be too happy about it.

Just showing you both sides of the coin.

snowberry's avatar

You could contact your step daughter and ask her what she thinks.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@jca it was actually her idea for me to try to contact the CPS worker, she asked if I would do it. I just am not sure if it is the right move in order to help the situation and not make things worse for her.

jca's avatar

Maybe she should provide the social worker with your contact information, and then it would be up to the worker whether or not it’s necessary.

jca's avatar

Actually, if the worker is doing her “due diligence” then the worker would have asked for names and numbers of any relatives.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@jca would the CPS worker be responsible for finding out I am a resource to speak to or would it have been my step-daughter’s responsibility to tell her? In the course of speaking to the CPS worker, my husband did tell her about me and that his daughter and her kids lived with us for a while. Would it be part of doing her due diligence to try to contact me?

I really appreciate all of the info @jca. Thank you.

jca's avatar

Part of the CPS worker’s job is to inquire about who the living relatives are and where they live. She may not contact you, or she might, depending on the circumstances of the case. Maybe she feels, for some reason, that contacting you is not necessary at this time.

If your step-daughter feels like she wants you to reach out to the caseworker, then you should just contact her and give your contact info, and let her know you’re available if she is interested in talking.

Keep in mind that if the caseworker talks to you, she is likely going to ask you detailed questions about your step-daughter, her parenting, her behavior, etc. It’s not going to be “let me tell you what a good person my step-daughter is.” It’s going to be direct questions from the worker. Questions about her leaving the children alone, leaving them with you or others for long periods of time, questions about their attendance at school, medical appointments, was there always food in the house, did she use illegal substances, did she go to treatment? if so, where? Did she go to therapy? Parenting classes? Who lives in your house? Are there any criminals? Do you work? Do the other people in the house work? Does anybody in your house have histories with CPS? (They will check). How does your step-daughter discipline the children? These are all questions you may be asked by the worker. (I’m not asking them, unless you feel like discussing them. I’m giving you examples of what the worker may ask)

FlyingWolf's avatar

I would be able to answer all of those questions honestly in her favor so I’m good if she calls. Thanks again for taking the time to answer @jca, I really do appreciate it.

FlyingWolf's avatar

Update: I spoke to the CPS worker today. She did ask a bunch of questions. We spoke for about ten minutes. Shortly after we talked she contacted my step-daughter and told her the result of the investigation is that the charges are unfounded and the case is closed. This is happy news!

Buttonstc's avatar

That’s really terrific. Thanks for the update.

canidmajor's avatar

That is so great to hear, @FlyingWolf ! Thanks for letting us know.
Can she get all this expunged?

jca's avatar

In NY she could. What state is it in?

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