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.