Update on “Elephant”

So I wrote earlier on the raid at the Texas ranch and hundreds of children were removed. This week, Newsweek published a fascinating story about a new development in the story. Officials are now investigating and suspect that the original call that triggered CPS to remove the children was actually made by a woman with a trauma history in Colorado. In fact, this woman has been accused of making false accusations previously.

So how does this affect child welfare as a whole? I would suspect that there are critics out there that may argue that CPS may have been a bit reckless in their reaction to the phone call. That CPS should have more hard evidence before they interfere in families’ lives. And I think this would make sense if we were out there prosecuting parents for maltreatment. However, that is not our primary focus. Our primary goal is to keep kids safe.

But this example does show that CPS is susceptible to false allegations. A fundamental aspect of CPS is good faith – that people report based on good faith, that social workers act in good faith. That all involved are wanting and acting for the same goal – that kids are kept safe. But here we see that sometimes someone who is not acting in good faith, in this case most likely impaired by mental illness, can throw a wrench into the system.  Again, I recommend reading the article.


3 Responses to Update on “Elephant”

  1. newlawmom says:

    With all due respect, “keeping kids safe” as in removing children from their parents is just as big of an issue as criminal prosecution. In effect children and parents are punished. When this punishment is in error, it is a problem. “Safe” has a number of definitions and in order to justify removing children it should be absolutely critical to determine that the harm which will come to children at home is WORSE than the harm that comes from separation. I’m not sure in this case that standard was met.

  2. millennialsw says:

    I guess I should be more clear in my explanation. The burden of proof is lower in CPS investigations – specifically, that it is more likely than not that a child is being harmed. The reason for this is if we had reach the same standard as criminal prosecution – beyond a reasonable doubt – rarely would CPS intervene and frankly, kids would be killed, seriously injured, and psychologically damaged. (Look at how many sexual abuse cases are actually prosecuted – very few, because of this standard).

    The problem with this case example is that we don’t have all the facts. We don’t know if they met the standard necessary to remove the kids – but I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when people were deciding this. What I expect, and what I hoped happened in this case, is that many experienced, higher level officials got together and weighed their options, hopefully realizing that their decision was going to be very public.

  3. newlawmom says:

    Hopefully caring more about how that decision would effect hundreds of children rather than concerned that their decision would be publicized. Being separated from a primary caregiver is traumatic to all children. I would suspect that these children were further traumatized by being exposed to a culture from which they had been protected. I’m all for protecting the teenage girls but I think the other children were harmed more by the experience of removal than they would have been by staying with their parents while a proper investigation was carried out. Mostly I want people to realize that separation from parents should be a last resort. Children are emotionally harmed when separation is necessary.

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