Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dancing with CPS

Daisy's new visit schedule is unlike anything I've ever even heard of.

If I understand things correctly, the judge ordered that a babysitter of sorts be present during the "unsupervised" visits that will take place in Bio Mom's home. This babysitter is not going to be contracted by the State though. I honestly do NOT understand their role exactly. If Bio Mom wants to go out during the visit, for example, can she leave the baby? I mean...SHE is the one that hired the babysitter and is paying for their services. And if the babysitter sees something that concerns them, are they required to report it? How can the State require an employee of Bio Mom's to report anything?! (Of course I would hope that any child care provider would report abuse. But what about the subtleties of this case that aren't abuse...yet...but cause great concern? ie: a baby crying inconsolably and the parent being unable to handle things)

I live in a rather large city. But it's small enough that Bio Mom contacted the exact same babysitting service as what I had already interviewed for my own, personal use.

After learning of how these visit dynamics were going to work I got concerned. I can't put my finger on it, it was just a gut feeling. It didn't sit right with me. I decided the correct thing to do would be to "drop out" myself.

So this morning I sent an email to the owner of the babysitting service. I told them that if they wanted to continue to proceed with the myriad of background checks, reference checks and fingerprinting I MIGHT consider utilizing their services AFTER the new visits with Daisy were established and I could see how Daisy was responding. But as of right now, it felt like a conflict of interests to me and I wanted to back out.

After a brief discussion, the owner of the babysitting service became rather concerned herself. She was unaware of the full role CPS was asking her company to take in this dance. She informed me that she was going to back out as well.

The more I thought about it the more I realized I had to be proactive again. I just got off the phone with Mr. CW. His voice fell as I explained the story. Even he agreed that this could be easily spun to make it sound like I was trying to sabotage things. I went ahead and documented the entire relationship with the babysitting service in an email. Thank God I'm able to prove that I made contact first and that once I realized how the dance was proceeding I bowed out first.

I have no idea what this is going to mean in the grand scheme of things. Maybe they'll proceed with the visits and not have anyone there. Maybe they'll force Mom to find a different babysitter. Either way, I bet Mom is going to be mad at me if she catches wind of any of this. But...even Bio Mom is aware that the babysitting service had met with me first and she continued moving forward herself. The owner of the company told her that when the needs assessment was done at Bio Mom's house.

Dancing with CPS is never easy!!


G said...

This whole scenario is just so bizarre! I've never heard of CPS requiring someone to hire a sitter to be present while the parent was there.... I think your state is weird. :)

grkanga said...

In CA it is common to have a paid supervisor at parent child visitation that occurs away from county facilities. This is due to inadequate funding for space and supervisors at county levels and allows visits to occur in private houses or public parks/malls/restaurants etc. The supervisor has to have specific training, county approval, and can be called to testify in court. I believe the going rate is between 75-100 dollars per hour and transportation time may be a additional cost. The supervisor is paid by the parent rather than the taxpayers.
Is anyone or group putting any political pressure on elected governmental representatives to investigate what is happening with foster care? (NOT Daisy/Ricky/Dude etc, or any specific child, but the system generically?)

Annie said...

I do really like the idea of there being supervision during these visits....but the issues you raise are all serious concerns. Maybe the point was just to help mom keep her cool and be on her best behavior (i.e. have "support" if she needs it)?

Cherub Mamma said...

CPS in our county has contracted out with at least two different independent companies to supervise visits - both in the CPS office building and out in "public".

This situation though is completely different. I don't believe I've ever heard of a situation where the judge is ordering supervision for visits that are basically on the record as unsupervised.

I know that CPS contacted the babysitter (not the owner of the babysitting company) directly to get credentials. I don't believe they explained the nature of the visits to the sitter though. The whole situation is so incredibly unique. I can't imagine ANY reputable babysitting company wanting to get in the middle of this. I'm actually a little afraid of how everything is going to proceed. All I know is that Mr. CW will keep me in the loop.

As for grkanga's comment about "someone" putting political pressure on the Texas foster care system...
Yes!! There has been A TON of pressure. A group in NYC sued Texas a few years ago. There have been other lawsuits due to children dying after being placed in kinship care. Plus The System is currently undergoing a full overhaul from top to bottom. All I can tell from the overhaul though is that more trainings have been added for caseworkers (at the agencies) and there are even more rules for the agencies to follow. I haven't seen anything good come to the kids being affected yet.

Karen said...

We had an infant who had "semi-supervised visits" once, and the "semi-supervisor" was not aware of their responsibility. The visits were held at a parent-child drop-in center. The parents were supposed to be at the drop-in center during the visit. When we took the baby for the first visit, the staff there had no idea about the arrangements- that's a big liability to dump on someone without telling them! (Although, I think the center easily could have argued they were not aware of the situation). The staff even told us that if the parents left with the baby there was nothing they could do about it!
Every one of your posts makes me a little more inclined to come to Texas after graduation.

grkanga said...

Thank you for all the sharing and information you provide. Am glad there has been pressure legally for children in foster care. Actually did not think you were in position to do much. I think doing so could jeopardize the children in your care currently ... and you are doing a magnificent job with them. I had wondered more about the group of women who wrote the book being able to build a pressure group. I am glad the state is taking another look at the whole plan and hopefully will review the status of every child taken into care over the last .. say .. 5 years.
I have found most people have little factual information about foster care.
Being charged to be present during an 'unsupervised' visit does sound spooky and legally fraught with danger. I hope this doesn't cause the judge to just give the child to the mother's care without any precautions however.
I am so impressed by how much you do in each day and your courage through out it all.
Thank you for each and every child who's life you have supported.