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Investigations of Child Abuse and Neglect: What If It Is Your Child? 

This blog post was a collaborative effort from KY SEAT, Kentucky’s statewide birth parent council.

It’s almost half past noon after a lazy Saturday morning of Paw Patrol and pillow forts. You’re feeling up in the ranks with Zookeeper Melanie after managing to get your nonstop fun-loving kiddos down for an early afternoon nap. While sweeping up the crumbs from a dinosaur chicken nugget and goldfish cracker lunch, there’s a loud knock on the door.
On the other side of the door is a case worker, a clipboard, and an allegation of child abuse or neglect. Against you.

A child welfare investigation can change a parent and family’s life for years; if not permanently. The problem is most people don’t know what to expect from the system until they’re faced with it themselves. How do you prepare for something you never anticipated would happen to you and how do others advocate for this system when they believe it could never be them as well?

No one is exempt from
a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. It can happen when you seek medical care for your child. It can happen after your toddler has a meltdown at the grocery store. It can happen when a friend, family member, or neighbor wishes to retaliate against you.

It can also happen when life catches up to you or you find yourself in a place you personally never imagined you would be in and when what you really need more than an accusation is compassion and support.

This is what the statewide birth parent council members from
KY SEAT had in mind when forming their vision – that all Kentucky parents [would] feel seen, heard, protected, and supported so no family feels alone. Because when it happened to them, they weren’t prepared to face the system, and this left them feeling unsupported and alone.

One parent reflects on their former child welfare involvement: 

“Having a pregnancy while submerged in addiction, the presence of CPS should have been something I relied on at birth. Rather I lived in denial, I lied to myself as I lied to them, blanketed in shame. I had no idea why I couldn’t stop using for my unborn child. I felt like a failure, which my encounter with DCBS only validated for me. I felt like I deserved to be charged with neglect.
After 8 years in recovery – 12 years after permanency was established via adoption – I understand that my circumstances were not due to moral failing. It was a disease, not a choice. I was still a human. And there are others just like me. Thankfully, my other children get to be a part of me knowing better, knowing what the studies and research say, and doing better. We’re [my family is] doing better.”
–KY SEAT member, Harrison County

For another parent, a DCBS investigation came as a complete shock:

“I never dreamed I would have a CPS case because I was the one being abused daily. It made me feel like the violence was my fault.”
–KY SEAT member, Fayette County

Less commonly thought of is when a lasting impact is left by what isn’t done by child protection. This councilmember thinks back to when CPS failed to show up in their time of need to intervene in a child sexual abuse case:

“We needed CPS to help us and guide us, but we [were] ignored. We went through the worst thing imaginable. I never imagined a world where CPS would abandon us. I never thought this would be me.”
–KY SEAT member, Logan County

Every child deserves
one caring adult and, whenever safely possible, who better to care than their own biological parent? Sometimes, birth parents need our care, too.

*Photo courtesy of Dreamstime