Shaken Baby Syndrome Parents

November 18, 2008

I have a shaken baby on my caseload who is doing quite well in her foster home, although she has severe delays and will endure long-standing effects from the violent shaking she suffered at the hands of her parent(s) at 6 weeks old.  She was in the hospital for quite a while and has been in a foster home since.  There has been a criminal investigation, although it has stalled because they cannot pinpoint which parent did it and neither are admitting anything happened.

So now it is months later and I have two parents who want to parent this kid, yet I have all of this risk that I have to take into consideration.  And I am supposed to offer them services.  Yet, there are no services for parents of shaken babies.  I looked at the research that has been done and really there is just the labeling of what SBS is and guides on how to prevent it.  I am supposed to offer services to these parents to eliminate their parental deficiencies, but they do not exist.  But I also don’t feel comfortable sending home a young child with sever disabilities that are the result of the severe physical abuse by at least one of the parents.

I am frustrated.  I am in a position where I could see that these parents could possibly be good parents to this child.  However, at this point, my job is to look at the risk factors and they tell me that I cannot let the child go home.  But do I have enough to prove in a court?  My colleague has reminded me to let the court decide and have that decision be on them.  I am just frustrated because there are no services and I feel like may get the blame for that.  And it is easy to see how good things are going now – reports from the visitation are good and the parents are presenting as committed.  I just have to remind myself of what a violent act they committed and the long-term effects this young child is going to have – developmental delays, learning disabilities, and vision problems.  What an awful case.