I was exhausted in the year 2000 I was working 6 and 7 days a week. My caseload was overwhelming and difficult. The crack epidemic was destroying generations of families. You had a mother, grandmother and other relatives all on crack. You had babies being born and being placed up for adoption. There were so many babies that not all of them were adopted. The rush to create a new solution made legal orphans.
The one thing that I knew, by then, is that institutions do not make good parents. The law was created to keep children from languishing in foster care. The law was not created to make them legal orphans without any family. Foster care was a mix between caring and uncaring foster parents. If a child was lucky he/she would end up in a loving inclusive foster home if not, well they would be emotionally injured. The realization that CPS does and can create emotional injury to children despite the positive intentions, is the one message that I hope to make clear. CPS can and does hurt children. Not from a point of view of lets hurt the children.
It is the thoughtless, reactive decisions that hurt children in the system. It is not seeing the humanity of the child, family and all of those that are impacted by CPS that hurts children. It is the fostering of dependent behavior without giving the loving guidance that is needed to help child become whole. None of these things are intentional, just like their parents unintentional behavior.
CPS reacts and responds based on social policy, political environment, the knee jerk reactions of the benign humans that believe that they are being helpful. The hurt does not come from a place of hurt or uncaring but a place of not knowing a different way to assist another human in pain. During the crack era, much was unknown about the pain that the community was going through. The community was destroyed by "crack" and lots of people were trying to find solutions for the drug exposed children.
The behavioral problems of children that had been drug exposed was being documented. Taking on a child that had drug exposure was a significant unknown. The behavioral problems started to show up when they went to school. Many had Attention Deficit Disorder Hyperactivity. I remember a child that I had worked with and I noticed that the child would go into an uncontrollable rage. The child would start rocking prior to an outburst. If you could get the child to relax before the outburst then there would not be rage. Otherwise the child could be very destructive. What I did was put the child on my lap. In a quiet voice I would have the child count with me while I was rocking the child.
The combination of the rocking motion and counting would be distracting enough so that the storm would subside, In the moments that it took for the calmness to come over the child I would often think, how did this happen. How did we get to this point in time that a young child experiences rage because of what happened to them.
The unintentional consequences of their mother's behavior was not because of a lack of love or caring. I looked at the child and wondered how could this child be given a chance to heal, if I can't recognize the origin of the pain. The easy thing to do is to blame the mother. Oh wait do you blame the teen age drug dealer that can't get a job. Oh wait do you blame the education system that didn't prepare the child for the world of work. Oh wait, do you blame the family that suffers from generational trauma. Oh wait, do you blame the CIA that put crack into the community to pay for the wars in Central America. Oh wait do you blame the social worker for not doing a good enough case plan. Oh wait, when you peel back the layers of what happened to the child sitting in my lap the child's suffering has multiple causes with limited solutions. Oh wait.....what am I to do.