However, these courts often become overburdened and make serious mistakes sending children back Into circumstances which offer little to no hope for a bright future. Their primary goal Is to “reunite children with their families. ” Serious consideration needs to be explored as to whom; the parents or the children, this goal most benefits. I hope to thoroughly explore the system, its workers, and its structure to show its extreme need for improvement and the effects that it is having on the children involved. I also will present the dilemma that many face when determining an effective course of action for improvement.
As Toni Terming-Watt concluded in a study of the same nature, “Even If caseworkers could devote extensive time to cases, they don’t have the tools to repair all these families. However, removing children with no place to send them is not an effective solution either. ” In the state of Texas there are many reasons that CAPS can be called to a home to investigate. A personal family member can observe questionable behavior, a teacher could be concerned, or a neighbor or even a government official could witness abuse in some form or another. CAPS questions families that may be physically, sexually, or emotionally abusing a child. Usually, a home visit Is scheduled within a short period of time to witness the conditions that a child Is living In, observe their behavior and infirm that a parent in sufficiently taking care of the child or children. Usually, shot records are checked to make sure that they are up to date. Also, CAPS attempts to ensure that the child is attending school, has a clean place to sleep, clothing, and enough food in the home. If a case worker observes a mildly dirty home or missing food they may ask to come back In a few hours or days to make sure that conditions have Improved.
However, If poor conditions are extreme, the child may be removed from the home Immediately and placed with a suitable family member or foster care. From this point, the family works with their case worker to attend necessary court dates to determine the appropriate course of action for reunification. In most cases, the parents are required to improve the bad situation by getting and sustaining a job, attending classes directed at their specific problem (neglect, substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse etc. B and cleaning/preparing the home In a livable way.
A reunification date Is then set to reassess the solution and (hopefully) return the child to live with their parents. The major problem with this process is the “smoke and mirrors” approach that any parents use to get past the system. One caseworker expressed her frustration with this issue by stating, “Basically, if they cooperate, that is how they win (Terming- Watt)! ” It is simple for someone under investigation to clean up their house enough to please CAPS. I remember years ago witnessing a close family member do Just this.
She would Tyrannically call everyone Tanat seen Knew to Russ to near nouns Ana clean Tort a Tee hours before CAPS came to see her disgusting home in which the children were sorely neglected and emotionally abused. She, like many others, reenters the system every once in a while Just to be thrown right back out after covering up the neglect and abuse. “A previous study utilizing these files showed that cases involving neglect, previous referrals, criminal history of the caregiver, substance abuse, parents’ competency limitations, and social support deficiencies had a higher risk of system reentry than other cases” (Terming, 1999).
Obviously, CAPS workers are not carefully studying the situations enough. They are often overburdened, untrained, and overworked, leading them to make very serious mistakes. The strain that this poor yester puts on everyone involved leaves them careless and hopeless. “It is only a mild exaggeration to state the system, as it stands, depends on poorly paid 23 year olds who majored in art history to make life or death decisions. ” I come from an extremely abusive home. My father routinely severely beat my mother and my two brothers and l.
We lived in disgusting filth, and endured physical and mental abuse daily. I remember several instances in which CAPS was called on my parents because our clothes were smelly and dirty, one of us was covered in bruises, or someone first-hand witnessed our abuse. However, my parents were very good at covering up the truth. Even when police officers were called to intervene, we remained in the horror that we called home. To those that investigated our lives, the evidence was simply not damning enough. Unfortunately, the problem lies with everyone involved, not Just the CAPS worker.
Police officers turn their heads when they feel as if nothing can be done, teachers shy away from reporting abuse in fear that they will do more harm than good, and Judges ignore extensive warning from CAPS workers when the parents effort has been at least minimal. “In two of the four cases here risk was evident, the decision to return a child was made by the Judge, against the written recommendations of the caseworker. Thus, reentry is not always linked to negligent casework. ” Every aspect of the “child reunification” process needs to be reworked and rethought.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems concerning abused children lies with placing those that are actually taken away from their families. Currently, foster homes are overburdened, and often no better than the homes that the children escaped. There are not enough good options when a child is taken away from their parent’s home. I personally was lucky enough to experience this process first hand when a family member of mine was taken away from her parents. She spent one year in the CAPS process.
She was initially taken away at the age of nine months after an anonymous call lead police officers into a house that they “did not want to walk into because of the smell. ” Trash was thrown everywhere. There was twice as much alcohol as food, and the baby was sitting in what looked like days of filthy diapers and poor hygiene. She was immediately placed in foster care where she stayed for 3 months before being placed with my mother; the child’s aunt. CAPS fought with this beautiful little girl’s parents to make the most minimal effort. They asked them to obtain and maintain employment, buy a vehicle, attend classes, and stay drug free.
After nearly a year had gone by, not one of these goals had even been attempted. According to CAPS rule, however, they still had to wait until the year was up, giving the parents one more chance to get tenet act together. I eventually a a gain permanent custody of the child; however the parent’s rights were never terminated. Even after the state had sufficient evidence that the parents were not willing to change, they till deemed them fit enough to someday parent the child again if they choose to. I have provided an excellent, clean, loving home for her for a year and a half now.
At this point she has absolutely no idea that I and my wife are not her daddy and mommy. However, this is not always the case. Often, children are forced to live in cramped foster homes, or with relatives that provided them a worse home than what they started out in. “A final limitation outlined is the lack of options for children who are removed from their biological parents. When it is recognized by the state and the routs that the child’s needs are not being met, their options for the child are limited because of the lack of commitment of the community to provide alternative homes for these children. There are resources and areas for additional help out there. CASE is one such organization. They are a separate entity that evaluates the home situation of a family after the reunification process. This is a great idea because they can see things that others may miss. However, they are not a direct employment of CAPS. They report back to them, but unless a Judge chooses to reopen the case, their findings may not be enough! More research needs to be done to evaluate the specific circumstances of various groups of children that enter the CAPS system.