Confessions of a Baby Snatcher/ Drug using Mamas.

The question about drug use is one which the OKDHS/Child Welfare has no hard and fast rules.

Here are some things a mama should know. They do test your blood. If you do test positive for illegal narcotics then they will test your baby’s blood to see if you new little bundle of joy has been exposed to your drug(s) of choice. 

The following case is where a DHS worker decided not to take the baby even though the mother and baby tested positive. for drugs. http://newsok.com/oklahoma-dhs-left-baby-with-mother-despite-drug-use/article/3609

The mother had tested positive for Benzos, Anti Depression Medicine and also Marijuana. The baby had weed in its blood stream.This would indicate that the mother smoked pot shortly before the baby was born.The worker decided to let the baby remain with the mother and that ended with tragic results. The baby weighed more at birth than 3 months later when it was found out the baby had lost weigh. The bottom line was both biological parents had concerns with drugs. The big controversy is that with the knowledge of drug use with mom and dad plus baby have drugs then it should of been no brainer the child and sibling should of been from removed from the house. SHerre Powell Spokes-Person for OKDHS did point out that each case involving is a separate dicision bu a;; workers involved. It is a hope that a child welfare worker can help the family including dad in drug detoxication and or treatment programs and once everyone is better we will reunite the family/

So if you take drugs will you lose your baby, look at two things, If the Child Welfare worker comes see you at the hospital and talks about how harmful you could be to your kid via your drug use then probably the worker will take your baby. Some of your luck may lie on how green your worker is contrast that with vetern workers who made of already make up their judgements and have papers in tow to take your baby to the shelter. There are certain medications that cause more rapid movement to take yoru kid. Moms if you have a lab test and that test shows you have a level of meth in your system , then you may want to prepare to say goodbye to your baby.

Oklahoma is taking a serious stand on certain drugs,mainly meth and pain killers and for good reason. In fact when a child welfare reports the mother had meth and or pain pills they will more likely send one of the workers housed at the Justice center. At the Justice Center you have policemen who pick up any criminal activity, a forensice revieweing, also you will find abuse and neglect doctors.

Some thing to know where as there are no strong set procedure there should be. I almost guaranttee if it is found out you are doing meth and or oxys then you will lose your baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of a Baby Snatcher, Mandatory reporting/ The parent demands the worker tell them who reported them.

Okay new Child Welfare Workers here is the one question you might get asked most often. You are talking to the parent delicately discussing concerns about the child. You might be saying there are concerns about the bruises your son has on his thigh. The parent’s face gets red and they start to yell at you I demand to know who reported me. Well workers this was a trick statement if the parent makes this kind of statement when you have not implied anything then you got your abuser. Just fully document your conversation as it happened. But things always do not go this easily. However you will be often asked who reported the incident. The answer is simple as per regulations it can not be revealed who made the report. Well unless it is court ordered. It is easy to understand why, someone who is concerned about the welfare of a child deserves to be protected. There are seriously some bad people living in this State. If you gave out the name of the reporter the alleged perpetrator could retaliate against the person making the report. 

Do people make false reports and should they be held liable the answer is yes and of course. I will discuss this topic later. Note as a Child Welfare Worker you come across a referral and through your thorough investigation you come to believe that the report was malicious you can contact the reporter for additional information providing they were dumb enough to leave legitimate contact information after doing this. 

Who is a mandatory reporter of child abuse? Everyone knows that any health care worker or school employee is mandated to report such concerns but the reality is everyone who becomes aware of a possible case of child abuse and or neglect is a mandatory reporter. Oklahoma Statue 10 A- 1-1-101, 1-2-101. Covers who is required to report and here is the link http://www.rainn.org/files/reportingdatabase/Oklahoma/OklahomaChildrenMandatoryReporting.pdf      If you are concerned about a child yet unsure about making a report read that information.

Are there penalties about knowing about abuse and or neglect and not reporting it? Well if you are a professional such as a doctor, nurse, teacher, social worker the penalties could be quite severe. The laws are sometimes sketchy about the liability of a person who is aware of child abuse and neglect but chooses not to report it. If the person is another parent, guardian, family member care provider etc of a child and who is aware of possible or alleged abuse and do not report it to protect someone else then yes they can be charged for permitting Child Abuse and Neglect.

If a person is suspicious that a child is abused or neglected and later they find out that the child died, or was being sexually abused, tortured etc then how could you live with that if you could of prevented it.

 

Now for the parents who are upset and want to know who reported, just calm down. Listen to the concerns being stated by the worker. Chances are if you are good at listening you will figure out who made the report.

 

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Confessions of a Baby Snatcher …. New Workers Warning ..

New workers entering the field of Child Welfare should already be aware of one fact. Being a Child Welfare Worker will not win you a popularity contest with the denizens of your city and state. You are damned if you do and doubled damned if you don’t. You will be hated for your acts of commission and for your acts of omission.

The internet is full of hatred spewed toward Child Protective Services. You are a baby snatcher after all. Go to Facebook type in DHS and groups against, you will see quite a few and they all are anti Child Welfare. Stop Oklahoma DHS here is one such group. I do support free speech and do understand people getting upset. You would be upset if you were being investigated for neglect or abuse of your child, I would be upset too. If they are not upset then I come to the conclusions either they are big fat liars or are guilty of the abuse and or neglect and over confident they can beat the system. But I do have a problem with all these anti DHS groups and the anti DHS comments you see in newspaper forums etc.

DHS stands for Department of Human Services. When people complain of DHS they usually if not always are talking about Child Welfare which is only a part of DHS. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has a lot of different services. There are the Food Stamp People, The Medicare People, The Advantage Program, Adult Protection Services, Developmental Disability Services, etc. People usually do not complain if they are given Foodstamps, oh in Oklahoma its not Foodstamps its called SNAP. People do gripe about no gooders and druggies getting foodstamps but usually people are appreciative if they apply and receive those services.

So if you can’t handle complaints about doing your job and following procedures and protocol then definitely Child Welfare is not meant for you. What could though get you in real trouble are errors of omission. The newspapers are full of articles about children who are found in horrible deplorable conditions and whose families have been previously investigated by Child Welfare with no findings. Here is a blast from the past http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=13827005 This story is about the woman in Washington County who was a meth user and was convicted of trying to clean her 10 day old daughter using a washing machine which unfortunately killed the baby. Child Welfare had several calls of concern for this family and had an open case but did not act timely to prevent this tragedy. Really no news or inside information as to the worker assigned this case. Remember Child Welfare’s Prime Directive CYOB. Without information it is not fair for me to place blame. But I can assure you more than one person was aware of this case or should of been. 

Here is another link http://www.reformtalk.net/2013/07/11/lawsuit-oklahoma-dhs-2-dhs-workers-father-and-hotel-serenity-deal-case-child-death/ this is another disturbing tell of Omissions of Child Welfare Workers. This involves a case where two Child Welfare Workers were fired and then later fined in court. This involved the death of a young girl who Child Welfare had recommended be placed with the father. The child died shortly afterwards. The workers were fined because they had omitted some important facts prior to the court hearing for the placement of the kids. They failed to mention to the judge that in two previous overnight visits with her father this girl had came back with injuries both times. Oh and yikes it mentions both Child Welfare Workers names in the article. I am betting  that one of the employees was the case worker assigned to the case and the other one her supervisor. In this case the prime mandate of CYOB was employed by higher ups. The reason I say this is there were probably more than these two aware of this case. I will cover this problem later as it covers one of the main concerns I have about Child Welfare in Oklahoma and that is case audits are a joke and I will explain why later. This case is horrific. the previous link only has part of the story. The harsh reality is than two Child Welfare workers lost something in this case. One person involved in the case killed themselves. The following link has all the details of this case. I would recommend this if you are serious about a career in Child Welfare http://www.justice4caylee.org/t14084-serenity-deal-5-yo-chandler-ne-of-ok-city-ok.

Okay I picked a few graphic and really horrific cases to give as example. And I am also saying that for the most part if you do follow protocols and procedures your butt will be covered. Most of those who go into Child Welfare are not like me and go for selfish reasons. Most are eager to help children and families and seriously believe they will always do well or do their best. Most workers even honest and hard working ones will have cases that have bad results. It is rare that you might actually face charges based on your case work and again if you follow protocols and procedures most likely you will be okay but this will not reverse the harm done on the child or reverse your own personal feelings of failure and regret. Most of these problems are caused by the following reasons.

1-Most of the Child Welfare workers are bright eyed fresh out of college and with little experience of real life.

2-The biggest problem with these kind of acts really are most likely due to really overworked case workers with case loads which are not manageable. One thing which is pressed with Child Welfare workers is their work must be timely. I am not talking about getting to the child and providing safety for the child I mainly am talking about State Guidelines for case completions and case closures. The reason the State wants the workers to close their cases is not due to work efficiency. In fact this practice is one of the things which seriously needs a good looking at in Oklahoma. No the State wants the cases closed so the worker can have more cases.

3- To be discussed later, the audit of cases is a joke.

On a final note to this warning I would strongly recommend that if you are a licensed social worker that you do not work for Child Welfare. First of all you will not be compensated for your expertise. Secondly although getting in serious trouble is rare, and in most cases you will not be charged or actually be a defendant in a law suit, however having a license is another matter. If the parents attorney gets hold that you hold a license they may not be able to get you in court but they can sure assist others in making complaints to the State Licensing Board. And facing losing your license is a real possibility. 

 

 

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Confessions of a Former Baby Snatcher continued….

I can not of course give specific details due to confidentiality and for the protection of children and families. I did have a case that convinced me that the Child Welfare System in Oklahoma was broken and at times evil.

I was assigned a case of a 17/1/2 year old child that had been taken to a facility and abandoned there by a “responsible” adult. First of all I was put off by the fact this child was barely a child under the State Guidelines. The second thing this case was given a Priority One status due to the fact she was without adult supervision not because she was in clear and present risk, the risk they gave me was if she was taken to the hospital or needed emergency treatment she could not sign consent for it. Bare in mind too that if there was a really serious emergency i.e. with risk of loss of life that doctor’s can bypass the consent issue.

This adult/ child had a previous history with Child Welfare about two years prior to this case. But her whole childhood was unfortunate. First of all she had been living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. She and another girl was adopted by a local couple several years earlier. No other previous Child Welfare history except for that earlier case. It was reported that the adopted father of these girls had developed an interest in candid photography with the girls when they were showering. Oh but that case was closed by Child Welfare due to failure to locate the adopted parents. The former worker must of tried very hard oh and I was able to locate the adopted parents with a little investigative work. And there was at the time of my case still an active police investigation of that matter. However when I tried contacting the police to give them my updated information I was told that that officer was on vacation and they would have the officer contact me. They never did.

So what happened to the girls after this report? My client went to live with a classmate and her mother, and the sister of the client also moved to a classmate and friend of her and the mother. Okay I am confused why didn’t Child Welfare consider these children to be without care of a responsible adult then? So my client moved in with this classmate. Okay my client was not an angel. She was reported to be using marijuana for non medical reasons, and drinking, and smoking and cursed like a sailor and argued with the “responsible” adult she lived with. Also it was reported my client was seeing an older man. My client was a senior at a local high school. She had a part time job at a local fast food type place and had been accepted to a State College. So she had some idea as to what her future would be.

But the problem child was too much of a problem for this family so the “responsible” adult took the kid to this place where adolescents can go to get help to compose themselves. But also a child who was 17 could sign themselves out of this place. So I eventually go to this place only to find my client had signed herself out the night before and it was an older man that came and picked her up. Okay this older man did turn out to be 20. So I went back to work and gave my supervisor an update. I was told to contact the school and I did leave a message with an administrator as it was after school had let out. 

* The rule for a Priority One case is the worker must make three documented attempts to contact the child during that day and one attempt every day afterwards until the child is found. My first attempt was to go to the place that had the child, my second attempt was leaving a message with the school,my third attempt was contacting the former household of the child.

Okay so I am thinking this may not be a big deal. Maybe the child is with that older man. All that was known was a probably first name of the guy. The next day the school called back and said that my client had not shown up to school that day. However later that day I got a call from a woman saying that my client had contacted her for a place to stay and that she was inquiring about perhaps getting some help in the matter. So later that day I met my client for the first time. She told me her story, and about her life’s goals etc. One thing she did tell me is that if Child Welfare took her into custody she would elope. I again consulted with my supervisor and told her I thought that we should work with this family. I talked about helping the girl with emancipation. However I knew that my supervisor was hellbent on making this child a ward of the State. But left for the weekend trying to forget about this case.

Of course when I returned to the office the next Monday, the first message I had was from this new family reporting to me that my client had caused problems there and no longer lived there. When this information came out I was told by my supervisor to start the custody process. In front of the judge, I did present the information including the fact that this client had said she would elope if put into custody. The judge did talk about emancipation but ultimately awarded the State custody of this near adult. Her high school also made contact. Here was the plan I would go with another worker (since she had threatened to elope) to the school the next day. The administrator would call her to the office for some reason then we would snatch this baby up. You could tell by the look in my client’s eyes she knew what was up but was not defeated. She went quietly with us. I signed her in  the shelter that day. It would be the last time I ever would see this client.

So the shelter takes the kids to the school. Basically they go on a bus and are dropped off and picked up. When they took my client to school that day she acted like she was going to school and when the bus left she circled around and was gone. Of course this was reported and as it turned out according to protocol I had to make some more attempts to contact her. It was a bet she would not show back up to school and that she probably was with this mysterious older man that we did not know anything about except a first name. My client had talked a little about this guy, not giving up too much locating information just said he was  friend from church, She told me she did not love him and had him wrapped around her finger. Okay the case was over right? Yea pretty much. But I was able to find out a good deal more. Remember the previous case had been dismissed due to failure to locate the parents. I did go by the house only to find it with a For Sale Realtor sign. I contacted that agent and found out the couple had relocated to another state and had moved from that house quickly and only contacted the agent via email. The father had contacted the responsible adults of both girls via email only. Oh yes and that the father also had a temporary residence in this area as he was attending a local school which was known world wide for its aviation training. My break in the case came when I got a call from a couple in another county west of my area. Yes my client was on the move. And then I could close the case as she know was in the jurisdiction of another county and she was their headache now.

So I got dizzy etc went to the hospital, I did return to work for one day, and in clearing my phone calls I had a message from a lawyer’s office a few states west that they were calling with concerns about this client.

So what happened was that we had a young adult that was almost nearing completion of high school. She had been without real adult supervision and she was not perfect but was using what she had to get through life. She was not able to go back to school. Once the school found out she did not have a responsible adult they dismissed her. She was on the move to the state where her former adopted parents lived. There is so much more to the story but it ruined me knowing I did not help this young lady out. In fact my involvement lead her to a live of running.

 

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Confessions of an Ex Baby Snatcher.

Okay relax I have never snatched up a child that is no child that it was not my responsibility to snatch up.

I am starting this blog in part to memorialize thoughts and concerns I had when I worked in Child Welfare.  Also I want my thoughts and words to help bright eyed youngsters fresh out of college who feel that Child Welfare is the chosen career for them, and also for slightly graying social worker professionals who may be contemplating a switch from their current hum drum job to the exciting fast paced career as a Child Welfare Worker.  To the later I can simply say don’t do it. Child Protective Services is for the young. Unless you are the type that loves working over 60 hours a week, and never taking a vacation cause your case load is not current.

A little about me and my journey to and beyond being a baby snatcher. Okay I know that term baby snatcher is a tad creepy. It is just a common derogatory term for Child Welfare Investigators. If you go to work for your State’s Child Welfare Program as an investigator you will be called that term so get use to it. And sometimes you are that, you know, you go to a maternity ward, go up to a new mama whose tears well up when you introduce yourself to her and tell her, sorry mama, I am going to take your baby cause you are a drug using skank. No don’t say that to the parent but there will be times you do take a new born baby to protective services. If taking a baby away from a new mama sound unappealing,  it is.

I actually never grew up or really at any stage really wanted to work Child Welfare. As an older male I was going through one of my frequent manopause segments. You know where you become consumed with a goal or an acquisition and that you get consumed with that goal.  I had worked as a social worker for years mostly in various capacities working with developmentally disabled adult and children. I even had 2 years in Adult Protection Services and yes was a granny snatcher at times. I simply was being consumed with my dream, my goal. I had been in a few graduate programs and had advanced toward my master’s degree only having to stop. I now was mid way through my latest attempt, getting my Masters in Social Work. My ideal was to become a therapist.

So why the lure to Child Welfare? Two fold reason, one I was nearing the point I would have to enroll in my last practicum in my MSW program. The concentration year practicum requires a 25 to 40 hour a week commitment to your practicum site. I was working as a case manager in Developmentally Disabilities Service Division. That is a 40 hour a week job. The problem becomes how to work and complete a practicum. It is really impossible especially in the realization that your job and your practicum are both 8-5 gigs. Do the math, even if you could work weekends with one of those gigs still you are not going to be able to do it. But there is a rub in the State of Oklahoma. Child Welfare has a program where if you qualify they will pay for your schooling, and also provide the Practicum experience while working full time. Sounds sweet, it is sort of. I will hold back why I think this program is a sham. Mainly your practicum as a masters level social worker is suppose to be clinical in nature. The State of Oklahoma and the university I attended had an agreement.

So I transferred to child welfare for selfish reasons. I saw it as an opportunity to finish my degree and I figured I could do the two years post graduation with Child Welfare and then get the hell out. I was so wrong. So lets look at the path to becoming a Child Welfare Worker.

You will be welcomed to your unit with open arms. The fact is that for years Child Welfare goes through employees at warp speed. I have not seen research but I would be comfortable in saying the actual average of length of employment in Child Welfare in the State of Oklahoma is probably less than a year. The more workers a unit has some implications as to the assignment of the more serious Priority One cases. I will discuss the rotation and meaning of the assigned priorities later. The main benefit to a fully staffed unit is that the brutal on call period that your unit will go through every month or two is a little better. If your unit has say three workers and is on call then that means you will have to be on call for two days that week at least. Being on call also means that you will be getting calls and you will be going out to investigate serious matters late in the night and be required to go to work the next day with no sleep. Oh and when you are at work that next day you will be working on court papers if you took a child or children in custody and also you probably will be giving a Priority One through the normal rotation and have to leave your unfinished work to go rescue another baby. Oh relax I know what you are thinking, how can I do that in 8 hours, well the truth is you can’t. But you do have the options or working late even overnight at the office and also they provide you with VPN so you can work at home if you want or if you don’t want doesn’t matter if being at home is important to you, you will be working at home.

As a new worker you will be given a check list of tasks to complete. To be honest most of these are useless. The only part of your pre-training that is beneficial is that you will have the opportunity to go out with more seasoned employees as they investigate the newly assigned case. Remember though the seasoned employees you will be going out with some are just a month or two post academy and really know the same or less than you. But when you go out with a well seasoned employee you will learn some beneficial skills such as time honored shortcuts that become necessary when your case load docks into overdrive.

So you get through your pre-training and it is time soon to go to Academy. Most State of Oklahoma jobs have an intensive training called Academy. The State of Oklahoma main facility is in Norman Oklahoma. This meant weakly drives to and from your home. Now they do have a Child Welfare Academy training in Tulsa. What will you learn in Academy? Mainly that most of those State Office types have been long removed as a field worker. The training with the Kids System is important. You will learn to navigate through the complex data system of Child Welfare. They will go through a provided case scenario and you will get to practice interviewing and role playing as family members and others involved in the case. You will get to type your interviews using the KIDS system. Oh don’t worry if you get hopelessly lost and behind, cause you really do not gain real experience till your working on a case you are assigned. The rest of the training, er um mostly fluff and useless, oh the Bruise Lady is interesting and there is important information but to be honest most of the useful training does not happen till you graduate Academy and are assigned cases of your own. Oh wait another good thing about the training is they show you this case, which if you are interested is about a former Child Welfare worker in Maine who quits then adopts some children, then ends up killing one, true story. .http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/ That link takes you to the true story of Logan Marr who died as a result of being duct-taped to a chair. 

Okay now you graduated academy, hurray, time to break your “cherry”. This will be the first time you have to take a child or children into custody. So your career begins as a child welfare worker.

A Little More About Me or Why I Quit and or was Fired:

After I graduated Academy and was doing cases and doing on call and having all that fun, early on I knew that I did not trust or respect my supervisor. Early on a supervisor from a different area of Child Welfare came to our unit, my desk was near the door, she leaned over to me and said I do feel sorry for you, you got the worst supervisor in DHS. lol shock, I know not professional but the truth is this supervisor was right. Oh and I need to add about the culture of the world of Child Welfare that there is one important thing you learn and that is that CYOB, is the prime directive. CYOB of course stands for Cover Your Own Butt and later I will give examples of how important that is.

Beyond the fact that I had a crappy supervisor, I soon learned that in my heart that Child Welfare was not for me. I believe that a child needs to be with their own family and this is the best environment for the kid. Now I know there are some really bad parents doing some really bad things. But there will be times you will have to take kids away from their parents even if you know in your heart this will cause more harm than good. I had a case that was the case that broke the camel’s back. I will discuss this case a little later. Also with child welfare they tell you that the State of Oklahoma is dedicated to hiring more case workers and reducing the case load. The thing is that the number of reported incidents of child abuse and neglect is just increasing at an exponential rate. With our society today the fact is children are being exposed to acute and chronic abuse and neglect.

So it is obviously that my case load always near the maximum and in fact went over as there are tricks the supervisors can use to assign you a case but not make it an officially assigned case counting toward your case load: This is the famous OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED. I was working 60 to 70 hours a week at a salaried job. I worked at home every night except Thursday when the Kids System is shut down for weekly patches and Saturdays which was my day, as long as I was not on call. I remember one case I was working on typing in the report. I sent it to the supervisor box and she sent it back to make corrections. Yikes I had actually fell asleep writing that report, true story the report had several glitches like this: Mother said that her child had gone to school and when the kid came back zzzzzzzzzezeeeeeeeeeeeeee, then after going to th3eeeeeeeeeeeee nurse zzzzzzzzzzzzzz really so embarrassing.

The on Call was killing me, it came around every month or two and often meant 1 or 2 days of sleepless nights, One time the phone did not ring but most nights on call you are setting there in dread and just when you are relaxed and thinking of getting some zzzzzzzzzs, the ring of the phone and off you go in the middle of the night. Oh and if you are lucky you might get to wake the judge up in the middle of the night and take a family of 5 or so to the shelter. I am a person that has insomnia. I have to take a sleep aid so those nights of being on called meant no sleep. And the next day even though I was not on call I often had to rush through some paper work and then toward the end of the day rush out to a Priority One that had been assigned to me.

I needed a vacation but never could get my case load where I as allowed to take off. I was near exhaustion, one day after rushing back from court, I became dizzy and my supervisor convinced me to go to the ER. I was put on FMLA leave and basically never came back. My heart checked out well, the diagnosis was exhaustion and anxiety. I was overworked but also was faced with so many moral dilemmas, forced to do things I was not comfortable with. I wanted to help children and families and came to the realization that often involvement with Child Welfare Services does more harm than good to the child. This was especially so with my case that broke the camel’s back. 

 

 

 

 

 

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