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Children? You want me to deal with children? The caseworkers lament

By johnboy 24 November 2011 31

The Liberals’ Vicki Dunne has brought more bad news on the child protection front:

Fifty nine per cent of young people in out-of-home care may not have been physically sighted by their caseworkers in a year, the ACT Public Advocate highlighted yesterday in an Assembly Committee Annual Reports hearing.

“During 2010-11, the Public Advocate examined 371 annual review reports of young people in the Community Services Directorate’s out-of home care,” ACT Shadow Community Services Minister Vicki Dunne said today.

“Of those, 120 (32 per cent) showed no evidence that child protection caseworkers actually sighted the children or young people they were responsible for.

“A further 98 (27 per cent) indicated there had been consultation, which could mean a phone call to the foster agency or a kinship carer, but again no evidence that the young person was physically sighted.

“Only 153 files (41 per cent) showed clear evidence that the caseworkers had seen the young person.

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Children? You want me to deal with children? The caseworkers lament
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Watson 8:06 pm 14 Jan 12

Jethro said :

Watson, you are right.

My comments on this thread and others have been too extreme. It’s just that I do feel there is such a bias against removing kids from their families that too often they do not get removed when it is clearly what needs to be done.

Similarly, if we are going to have a policy of keeping kids with their families, this policy needs to be supported with much more funding for support services for these families. But that’s not happening.

I agree. But I don’t think it’s lack of motivation from the staff or even bad policies perse. To me it is quite clear that you cannot fix these kind of problems unless you spend lots of resources on them. But of course that is unlikely to happen and the clash between the ideology of the case workers trying to break the cycle of abuse in these families and the budget limitations results in too many kids falling between the cracks.

And carers too. Kinship care can be a great solution but it is way more likely to be a success if these carers get proper support too.

GardeningGirl 6:11 pm 14 Jan 12

Watson said :

I once reported a neighbour to CPS. I had heard the mother only ever yell at her 6yo daughter for months and it sickened me. So when I once saw her hit the child repeatedly on the head, I knew I finally had enough evidence of abuse to report her. Especially as I had heard some shocking stories about this family and knew she had had a child taken away for serious physical abuse years earlier.
.
Now this family did actually get support. They had visits from a case worker and the child had weekly counseling sessions. If only there would be enough funding and staff to give every struggling family this kind of support, the situation would be less dire.

This example and others I’ve heard like it make me wonder. Why did somebody who had a child removed have another child? Were they working on proving their ability to have the other child back with them? Why was the situation with the new child apparently not being monitored until somebody reported it? How could they afford another child, was welfare money involved? If it was then don’t government agencies talk to each other, so the situation with the new baby could be investigated/monitored? Why should somebody who is already a drain on the system get any more money anyway until they’ve shown they’re sorting themselves out? What does it do to kids to know it’s not safe for them to go back to mum but it’s okay to leave the new baby there, or for a younger sibling to know they were left there while their older siblings were able to grow up somewhere else, or do the kids even ever find out that mum has had other kids? Why is it that at a time when contraception is safer and reliable than ever before why is it that the problem of neglected and abused kids is increasing? Those are the sorts of things I wonder about.

Jethro 1:30 pm 14 Jan 12

Watson, you are right.

My comments on this thread and others have been too extreme. It’s just that I do feel there is such a bias against removing kids from their families that too often they do not get removed when it is clearly what needs to be done.

Similarly, if we are going to have a policy of keeping kids with their families, this policy needs to be supported with much more funding for support services for these families. But that’s not happening.

Merle 12:45 pm 14 Jan 12

Watson said :

The girl visited me a few weeks later and told me she knew her mother had been reported. I was nearly in tears when she told me her mother wasn’t hitting her, but ‘petting’ her. But the girl was obviously terrified that she would be removed from the only family she knew. Which made me feel even more sad for her.

An interesting story. The above quoted is where I think the argument to permanently remove children from their families (for anything other than serious abuse) falls down – it doesn’t take into consideration how much it hurts the child to be taken away from their family, who they often love despite everything.

It’s a difficult situation, and I don’t think there any neat answers.

Watson 11:28 am 14 Jan 12

Some very black and white views here about removing children from their families. I’m sure it’s not that simple and we should have learnt from the past that a blanket policy like that can have far reaching consequences.

I once reported a neighbour to CPS. I had heard the mother only ever yell at her 6yo daughter for months and it sickened me. So when I once saw her hit the child repeatedly on the head, I knew I finally had enough evidence of abuse to report her. Especially as I had heard some shocking stories about this family and knew she had had a child taken away for serious physical abuse years earlier.

The girl visited me a few weeks later and told me she knew her mother had been reported. I was nearly in tears when she told me her mother wasn’t hitting her, but ‘petting’ her. But the girl was obviously terrified that she would be removed from the only family she knew. Which made me feel even more sad for her.

This story did have a happy ending though – what I saw of it anyway. The mother got some support in the form of regular visits from friends with kids. She stopped yelling at her daughter and seemed more in control. The girl seemed more grounded and content. An outcome that would have no doubt been much harder to achieve if they would have just removed her from her family.

Now this family did actually get support. They had visits from a case worker and the child had weekly counseling sessions. If only there would be enough funding and staff to give every struggling family this kind of support, the situation would be less dire.

Ian 8:40 am 14 Jan 12

Thumper said :

Joy Burch is not really doing a very good job with this portfolio is she.

One could even suggest the word incompetent.

No point exceeding the electorate’s expectations, or showing up the other members of the government/Assembly.

Regrettably, I suspect “barely competent” is about as good as it will ever get in ACT politics and govt administration. “Incompetent” trending towards “grossly incompetent” is more the norm.

BDoubleC 7:36 am 14 Jan 12

GardeningGirl said :

Jethro said :

BDoubleC said :

I work every single day with the belief that a child’s place is with their family and I do everything in my power to make sure that this happens, either with the parents or extended family… and if despite all the support and resources provided to this family still aren’t enough and it is still not a safe place for these children to return to then I will do my best to find them a foster home that will provide them the stability and love they didn’t experience in home.

Thanks for giving us the perspective of a front line social worker BDoubleC.

I have quoted just one section of what you had to say because I’m really curious why someone who has to deal with cases of abuse and neglect every day believes that a child’s best place is the family.

To me, a month old baby with 10 fractures in emergency is simply not going to be better of with the people who did that. Or a girl who is raped by her dad and his mates.

I have worked with kids before (not as a social worker) and often found myself shocked and saddened by some of the things kids have to put up with. I really want to understand why kids are better off staying where they are being abused than being removed.

(On rereading my comment I can’t figure out if my tone is coming across right, but I’m genuinely curious, not having a go).

I don’t want to have a go either at anyone who is doing their best within what seems to be an inadequate and underfunded system and not getting paid nearly enough for the hardships of the job. Like Jethro, I’d like to understand the situation better.

I’m sure there are families that could get back on track with support. But looking at BDoubleC’s examples. If a baby is put in hospital with multiple injuries as part of an ongoing pattern of abuse rather than a one-off incident by a stressed or PND suffering parent then I’m sure it’s been said before, we protect animals better! And rape by father and his mates, if the mother won’t put the kid’s welfare ahead of wanting to be with that sort of man then I don’t understand why adoption can’t be an answer. Perhaps if kids in those extreme situations were rescued and put up for adoption quicker then the caseworkers would have more time to help the families that can be helped. Perhaps there would be more people volunteering to foster kids too.

But that’s just my thoughts. I think it’s important to hear from people like BDoubleC and especially from people like nyssa1976 and like Icepoet on the other thread.

I hope i answered some of your question in my last response about the extreme examples. I strongly agree with you about the underfunded system, and even more so about the fact we are in dire need for foster carers.. We are facing a crisis where we simply to not have enough foster carers to meet the increasing needs of the children and young people.

Nyssa I have been trying to think of what to write after your heartfelt response and It saddens me greatly to hear about what you have been through, I know that not always are there good outcomes from involvement in the care system and I know myself and my co workers strive hard to make sure we do everything in our powers to change this system so that this doesn’t happen to other children and young people. I feel that anything I would write to that would only be disrespectful to your experience and what you are currently going through so all I can say is that I wish you well and I hope that the family law court situation changes soon..

BDoubleC 7:25 am 14 Jan 12

Jethro said :

BDoubleC said :

I work every single day with the belief that a child’s place is with their family and I do everything in my power to make sure that this happens, either with the parents or extended family… and if despite all the support and resources provided to this family still aren’t enough and it is still not a safe place for these children to return to then I will do my best to find them a foster home that will provide them the stability and love they didn’t experience in home.

Thanks for giving us the perspective of a front line social worker BDoubleC.

I have quoted just one section of what you had to say because I’m really curious why someone who has to deal with cases of abuse and neglect every day believes that a child’s best place is the family.

To me, a month old baby with 10 fractures in emergency is simply not going to be better of with the people who did that. Or a girl who is raped by her dad and his mates.

I have worked with kids before (not as a social worker) and often found myself shocked and saddened by some of the things kids have to put up with. I really want to understand why kids are better off staying where they are being abused than being removed.

(On rereading my comment I can’t figure out if my tone is coming across right, but I’m genuinely curious, not having a go).

Thanks Jethro, 🙂 the examples I gave were extreme and these cases children would not be returned or put back in danger. I guess this is one topic that is hard to make statements about because it is always on a case by case basis, I should have added “In all cases we first seek to find suitable family members, whether it be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle etc to ensure that the children’s sense of identity and connection to who they are is protected and we try to ensure that our interventions are abiding by the least intrusive approach( hence seeking to first place the child in a home with people they already have a relationship with).

I strongly believe that (where appropriate) before looking at long term orders and a life in care we should do everything in our power to implement supports and assistance into the family to try to get them to a point where the children can be returned – ie a mother who has had a breakdown and needs some respite or a family who have been using drugs – assist them with rehab, counseling, support and bringing in extended family to share care, there may even be families that have been using inappropriate punishment so we assist them in developing new ways to communicate, teach and discipline their children.

Jethro allegations of abuse are taken very seriously and you are constantly battling with the consequences of decisions such as take emergency action and remove the child from everything they know… or to leave the child in the home and trust in the supports and safety measures you have put in place. This is the heartbreaking decisions that workers make everyday… some situations you can see immediately what the right decision is and others are in that grey area..
I hope that makes sense?

GardeningGirl 11:31 pm 13 Jan 12

Jethro said :

BDoubleC said :

I work every single day with the belief that a child’s place is with their family and I do everything in my power to make sure that this happens, either with the parents or extended family… and if despite all the support and resources provided to this family still aren’t enough and it is still not a safe place for these children to return to then I will do my best to find them a foster home that will provide them the stability and love they didn’t experience in home.

Thanks for giving us the perspective of a front line social worker BDoubleC.

I have quoted just one section of what you had to say because I’m really curious why someone who has to deal with cases of abuse and neglect every day believes that a child’s best place is the family.

To me, a month old baby with 10 fractures in emergency is simply not going to be better of with the people who did that. Or a girl who is raped by her dad and his mates.

I have worked with kids before (not as a social worker) and often found myself shocked and saddened by some of the things kids have to put up with. I really want to understand why kids are better off staying where they are being abused than being removed.

(On rereading my comment I can’t figure out if my tone is coming across right, but I’m genuinely curious, not having a go).

I don’t want to have a go either at anyone who is doing their best within what seems to be an inadequate and underfunded system and not getting paid nearly enough for the hardships of the job. Like Jethro, I’d like to understand the situation better.

I’m sure there are families that could get back on track with support. But looking at BDoubleC’s examples. If a baby is put in hospital with multiple injuries as part of an ongoing pattern of abuse rather than a one-off incident by a stressed or PND suffering parent then I’m sure it’s been said before, we protect animals better! And rape by father and his mates, if the mother won’t put the kid’s welfare ahead of wanting to be with that sort of man then I don’t understand why adoption can’t be an answer. Perhaps if kids in those extreme situations were rescued and put up for adoption quicker then the caseworkers would have more time to help the families that can be helped. Perhaps there would be more people volunteering to foster kids too.

But that’s just my thoughts. I think it’s important to hear from people like BDoubleC and especially from people like nyssa1976 and like Icepoet on the other thread.

Jethro 6:45 pm 13 Jan 12

BDoubleC said :

I work every single day with the belief that a child’s place is with their family and I do everything in my power to make sure that this happens, either with the parents or extended family… and if despite all the support and resources provided to this family still aren’t enough and it is still not a safe place for these children to return to then I will do my best to find them a foster home that will provide them the stability and love they didn’t experience in home.

Thanks for giving us the perspective of a front line social worker BDoubleC.

I have quoted just one section of what you had to say because I’m really curious why someone who has to deal with cases of abuse and neglect every day believes that a child’s best place is the family.

To me, a month old baby with 10 fractures in emergency is simply not going to be better of with the people who did that. Or a girl who is raped by her dad and his mates.

I have worked with kids before (not as a social worker) and often found myself shocked and saddened by some of the things kids have to put up with. I really want to understand why kids are better off staying where they are being abused than being removed.

(On rereading my comment I can’t figure out if my tone is coming across right, but I’m genuinely curious, not having a go).

nyssa1976 6:26 pm 13 Jan 12

@BDoubleC, I think I’m definitely qualified. I have YEARS of experience in dealing with those topics you raised. I even have first hand knowledge. I also work with kids and have had them disclose and I have reported it, only for NOTHING to happen. I spent 16 years living in fear as a child and then as an adult BECAUSE no intervention happened and you live with what you know….luckily I stopped the cycle myself, CPS did NOTHING.

CPS are a waste of time and space. You reported abuse in the 1980s, they’d call the perpetrator and walk away. Now, they call the perpetrator IF they are concerned and still the child goes home. As someone who has experienced that, let me tell you, it’s not fun at all.

Then you get the ignorant case workers who say “we don’t want to involve anymore people in the situation”- there is none btw….and the child has attempted suicide due to being forced (by Family Court) to be near his abuser.

Having been a victim I have fought against a BS system that cares not for children being abused. My own children, despite several requests for assistance AFTER serious issues around the court ordered access to their abuser were IGNORED. AND this was after being told CPS couldn’t intervene….which is BS btw. They can intervene.

Rant over.

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