Update on “Elephant”

August 9, 2008

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.

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