Arming Parents with Information
Following years of complaints from parents and parent’s right groups, the city of San Diego, California is considering making adjustments to policies on parental notification when children are removed from a home by the city’s Child Protective Welfare Services. A grand jury in San Diego recently concluded that parents should receive written notification as to why their children are being removed from their home and custody.
The San Diego County Grand Jury has conducted ongoing investigations into misconduct of San Diego County Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services and their workers. Despite repeated evidence of misconduct and abuse of power over the last five years, little has changed in San Diego County except the name of the agency, now known as Child Welfare Services. The jury’s report released on June 5th acknowledged that parents currently receive little or no information from CWS regarding allegations against them, who they can contact for help or even where their child has been taken. In a reversal of prior positioning, the grand jury report stated â€œThe grand jury recognizes that the first priority of CWS must be the protection of children, but takes the position that the process could be improved if parents were given more information, especially in the initial phase of child removal.”
Within the grand jury’s report were recommendations for CWS case workers to develop a written check list indicating the allegations being investigated as well as pertinent contact information to be given to parents at the time children are being removed from the home. Suggestions were also made to expand an existing CWS pamphlet that informs parents of their rights and the appeal process. The grand jury suggested expanding internship programs for social science students to gain experience in the field as well as providing drug and alcohol abuse training to CWS in the field.
Good information is the key to improving child protective situations and with the grand jury’s newest proposals it is hoped the number of children and families negatively impacted by the process will be reduced in the future.