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Kentucky Investigates Child Protectors
January 13, 2007 permalink
Kentucky has reported on the performance of its own child protectors.
The report is the outgrowth of a scandal in Kentucky last year that we reported on January 9 and May 13. The principal part is seventy articles in the section SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS. We give a few of them below in abridged form. Most of the abuses summarized below have been reported to Dufferin VOCA in Ontario cases. The Kentucky report is the kind of report that might come about in Ontario should the Obudsman get authority to investigate.
1. During the investigation, biological parents were contacted and investigators verified that home visits, documented in case files, did not occur.
2. Both current and former workers report documentation was omitted or added to case files to intentionally mislead the court.
11. The regional emphasis was placed on adoption, instead of family reunification.
14. Policy and legal requirements are not explained to clients and foster/adoptive parents. This results in confusion and suspicion for both parties.
16. The decision to remove a child from their parents’ home is often completed under subjective standards, especially when the allegations involve neglect or dependency issues.
18. There are cases in which, prior to and during the TPR hearing, workers have failed to advise the court and the Guardian Ad Litem that there are relatives available or appropriate for placement of the affected children.
19. Some Lincoln Trail Region DCBS employees displayed a prevalent attitude of omnipotence in interactions with clients and community partners.
21. Workers respond aggressively to any perceived challenge to their actions. For example, biological and foster parents complained children were removed from their home because they “talked back” to the workers.
27. Case plans are intended to outline the goals biological parents must achieve to have their children returned to their home. Requirements were routinely included on case plans that were expensive, relative to the client’s financial situation; required unnecessary travel; and were not relative to the family’s issues, as identified by the worker.
32. According to DCBS staff, foster children have been removed from foster homes, without proper justification. Foster parents perceive this is due to personality conflicts between the parents and DCBS staff, retaliation, or DCBS staff having a negative attitude toward the foster parents.
36. The Guardian Ad Litems are often not held accountable for meeting professional standards. Many do not meet with the child prior to court, do not actively participate in the court proceeding and do not prepare for the case, so they are unaware of the issues involved, or they are absent from court, leaving the client without representation or recourse.
41. Workers are overworked and are unable to complete documentation during normal work hours. Not all workers are permitted to work overtime, so they work weekends and “off the clock”. One worker came to the office while she was in labor and worked for three hours, after her water broke, to complete casework because a regional supervisor told her she could not take maternity leave until her cases were up to date. Cases were not reassigned or covered when an employee was on extended leave.
44. There is a significant lack of quality in documentation. For example, while reviewing case files, investigators noticed many entries were similar to the previous entries and appeared to have been cut and pasted into the record.
47. Hardin County staff has reported that other social service workers have boasted about making it difficult for clients to work with DCBS staff. Social service workers have laughed at parents as they advised them they were removing their children and during the removal process. Social service workers have called clients indecent names in the hallway and offices of the Hardin County DCBS office. One social service worker struck and cursed a biological parent during a visit with his child. The worker then entered a detailed service recording in the client’s file documenting the parent’s aggressive behavior, but failing to document her own use of an obscenity toward the client or that she struck him in the chest with her hand.
54. Biological parents complained they are held to a higher standard than some foster homes. For example, once children are placed in a foster home, some biological parents have experienced difficulty in assuring abuse and neglect allegations are investigated in the foster home.
57. Domestic violence victims have been advised by social service workers to leave their abusive spouses and go to a domestic violence shelter. Once they are living at a shelter, some victims have been told the shelter is not appropriate for children and their children will be removed if the parent does not find an alternative residence.
58. Children in foster care, who are parents, are not permitted to take their children with them when they leave, even though they do not have substantiated abuse/neglect allegations. The Cabinet maintains custody of the infant, as a dependent child, until the parent can complete a case plan and prove they are capable of caring for their child. This is a higher standard than other parents are required to meet, since there is no obligation for biological parents to prove they can adequately provide for their child before leaving the hospital after a child is born.
69. Parental visitations were changed or cancelled without proper notice to the parents or foster parents.
Feedback: The following reader response has been edited to prevent the writer from being identified, and possibly get in even more trouble from child protectors.
January 14, 2007
All I could say while reading the point form of the investigation was: Oh my gosh! that happened to me, yes they did that to me too and on and on it went. The worker in court laughed on the stand at me when my lawyer brought up to him things he had said to me. At one point the judge told him (the worker) that he had heard enough untruths from him when being questioned on the stand. After that stuff was done (this wasn't a trial just the court stuff deciding whether there was enough evidence to go to trial) they put an offer on the table to avoid a trial and offered me two specific children back and they keep [number concealed]. I was told that or get none back. They knew he lied, I know it. It sickens me because I took the offer to get the two back because the lawyer told me legal aid wouldn't pay for a trial in the case and I'd be without a lawyer and that the judge was retiring and couldn't hear the case so it would have to start over again. Another year and a half?
A lot of that stuff I read on the posting just floored me on how much was the same as in my case, except for the fact that the worker who took my children did so because I threatened to report him for sexual assault, told me if I told he'd make sure I never saw my kids again and that no one would believe me. I refused anymore of his advances the day he took my kids. That evening he returned with the police and another worker and took my kids saying we were beating them, that he just knew we were.
Source: email from reader