Invisible Kids Marcus Fiesel's Legacy. When Marcus Fiesel’s story of torture, abandonment, and a slow, agonizing death came to light, it was not exactly news to Holly Schlaack. She was an insider in the foster care system and Marcus s horrible experience was just an extreme example of how she knew the system could fail. Happily, Holly had also seen some success stories that were as inspiring as Marcus’ story was appalling. So she set out to create a way for there to be more happy endings. This book is part of the effort. Invisible Kids tells the stories of many children and foster families. It tells them straight and backs them up with statistics and facts that show why the system works, why it doesn’t, and where it needs help. It describes the special program Holly created for early identification of red flags in the lives infants and toddlers. [...]
How a Child Becomes Yours (and every other taxpayer’s) Child is suspected of being abused, neglected of basic needs, or dependent without proper care and supervision. Someone (teacher, neighbor, coach, relative, or anonymous) calls child protective services (CPS) to report it. CPS decides if the call warrants a full investigation according to the law. For example, corporal discipline is not child abuse unless it leaves a visible injury on the child (bruise, welt, abrasion). If the caseworker assigned investigates and feels the child is at imminent risk of harm (OMG something horrible awful might happen to this kid RIGHT NOW unless we get him or her to a safe place), the caseworker will consult with an attorney. The attorney representing the caseworker from CPS will file a motion in COURT and seek custody so that CPS can remove a child from a dangerous situation. VERY IMPORTANT FACT: ONLY A COURT [...]
I’ve heard parents and family members say that children’s services stole their kids. I’m pretty sure caseworkers don’t have sticky fingers. Even if they did, kids are pretty hard to steal. Some people think children’s services can walk right into a home, snatch kids away from their parents, and never look back. Not true. Only a court order allows a caseworker to remove a child from a home. That court order is only issued once an attorney representing the caseworker has filed a motion in court and a judge has ruled on it. So if anyone really was stealing a child, it would be the judge acting through the caseworker. When I was 22 and a CPS caseworker, I removed a nine-month-old from his parents. It was ugly. Dad was violent and abusing mom, mom was mentally ill and not taking her meds, and the walls of their apartment were [...]
Pay attention. Abused and neglected kids are in every community around the country. Just look at the daily news. Knowing they exist is a good first step. While you’re at it, offer up a prayer or send a good thought their way. Google it. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips. Learn more about the challenges facing kids in the system. Check out this report from Every Child Matters Education Fund: http://goo.gl/gVV7rR. Learn about what the experts say can help at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/policy-toolkit/ Learn about the political process. Where does your state stand on the funding and support it gives to protective service agencies? Learn tips and tools on how to advocate successfully for young children at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/policy-toolkit/. Speak Up. Let your congressmen know you value quality care and support for vulnerable kids. You can locate contact info at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/Children in foster care rarely have a voice. They need [...]
Conducting a home visit is the most important duty a caseworker performs. Capturing as much information as possible is critical when it comes to making decisions about the safety and well-being of children. Two different professionals can visit the same home on the same day an hour apart and come away with completely different ideas of whether the home is safe for the kids living in it. Case in point: As a GAL, I popped in to do an unannounced home visit on a Monday morning after bio mom’s unsupervised weekend visit with her three kids under age 5. Children’s services had custody of the boys who were placed with their grandparents. Though it had a foul odor, the apartment appeared clean and tidy as we sat in the living room and caught up on all things related to how the weekend went and what she was planning to do [...]
If you really want to know what’s going on in a baby’s life, all you have to do is spend some time with him. A baby will tell you exactly what she thinks and how she feels about this thing called life. Babies won’t use words, but if you look closely enough you’ll see they are constantly giving you clues. The cool thing about babies is they are not sophisticated enough to manipulate the truth. They’ve developed no defense mechanisms that mask their thoughts and feelings. They haven’t latched onto addictions that numb them out and make them go through life in a haze. Babies who are distressed, neglected, or abused will make this known through their bodies. Although they can’t use words, their bodies can’t help but absorb their stress and act it out. Keep in mind that the clues listed below are like puzzle pieces. They don’t tell [...]
We’ve all been there. At the grocery, sitting in traffic, or just walking down the street when we see it: an interaction between an adult and child that makes our heart sink and our stomach tumble down to our toes. It might include screaming, pushing, shoving, punching, or smacking a kid across the face. Maybe it involves a menacing adult towering over a terrified child while making threats about what will happen when they get home. Sometimes it’s nothing. Literally. There is no adult in the area where unclaimed preschoolers roam. The neighbor’s young kids are home alone day and night and you’ve never seen their parents. What’s child abuse and what’s just bad parenting? When do you intervene and when do you walk away? Who do you call? What do you say? What happens next? Since 1974, every state in the US has been required to establish child abuse [...]
Does a toddler have a right to continue living in the only loving home she’s ever known with the only ‘mom’ she’s ever known, even if there are no biological ties? 17 law professors from universities across the United States say YES! These men and women are experts in family law, adoption law and /or constitutional law. Miraculously, that’s A LOT of attorneys agreeing on something. We should probably pay attention to what they have to say. Click HERE to read their argument.