Monday, December 9, 2013

This Really Shouldn't Surpise Me

N's caseworker is leaving DFCS.

She's the only one in the office who speaks his biological family's language, so she is hoping they will hire a replacement who's bilingual. (And they really should. I've been vague, but I'll just say it. They speak Spanish. I don't live in a border state, but it's not like DFCS isn't going to need a Spanish-speaking caseworker on a regular basis.)

CW's last day is in about a week. No new caseworker assigned yet, nor has a new bilingual caseworker been hired. We've already had our home visit from the CW this month, so the new one won't have to come here until January.

When the CW went home with a stomach virus on a family visit day a few weeks ago, she told me that "Sarah" would cover the visit and that Sarah was "sitting in CW's office."

I met Sarah that day. She's very nice. This is her first job out of college and it was her second week on the job. I don't think she speaks Spanish and she didn't know how to find the lobby from "her" office. She was visibly uncomfortable at the idea of "supervising" the visit and asked me -- me! -- what all she needed to be doing.

I'm betting Sarah will be our new caseworker.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Falling Through the Cracks

There has recently been a well-publicized, tragic case in my area in which a family was reported for child abuse multiple times, investigated multiple times and the child died while still with the biological family.

That is the sort of case that one might think of as someone who "fell through the cracks."

I haven't been following the case. Partly because I know, intimately, how difficult it is to get the "real story" in this system, so I know that the news reports may be inaccurate. Partly because the details of the child's death are so horrific that I don't really want to discuss it with my biological children. Partly just because it makes me sick to my stomach.

But I think it impacted N's case, as the CPS offices scurry to make sure "that" doesn't happen again.

N came into care because of an injury. A criminal case was opened on the parents, based in part on the medical report given by the emergency room staff that treated him. It was also based on the fact that the family's "story" of how the injury occurred did not match the injuries that the medical report stated. Imagine that the family said he fell off a bed that was 2 feet off the floor and the medical report said that his left leg was broken in 5 places. (*Obviously, that's neither the story, nor the reported injuries.) But, here's the problem. Later medical reports don't match the original injuries stated either. (So, in my made-up example, imagine that the current X-rays show no history of broken bones in the leg at all.)

So, as best I can put it together....? Someone at the ER got their medical records mixed up.

The writer of the original medical report has been asked to submit a revised one. Until that revised report comes in, the case is at a stand still.

At the moment, N's mother, father and siblings are all living together again. He is the only one still held in care, although I think the other children may be under a "protective order" allowing CPS to check in  on them regularly and without notice. They still have "supervised" visits once a week, although they can be changed to unsupervised at the caseworker's discretion. The next court date is in February, and that is the earliest he will likely be returned home.

So, as best I can tell, this family missed out on N's 1st birthday (we were able to make that a visit day, so they at least got to see him) and will not have him home at Christmas....because someone else got their files crossed several months ago.

To be clear, the injury was big. And it's still possible he would have come into care. But I can't help thinking that he might have been ordered home at the last court date (in November) if the medical records had been correct from the beginning.

A parent aide is going to begin supervising visits in the family home (as part of the parents' case plan). The caseworker tells me that CPS can approve an unsupervised visit on Christmas Day if the parent aide feels that will be safe. I can hardly wait to meet the parent aide (that should happen next week at the latest) so that I can let her know how important it is to make that decision -- and soon -- so that we might, just might, be able to at least get them some family time on Christmas Day.

And I wonder....what happened to the child who really had all those injuries that his initial report listed?