October Blog


This outstate Minnesota story bears repeating.
I have come to know this family.    They don’t drink, do drugs, or have a history of crime or violence.   John has always worked.   They love their children.   This is their side of the story.   I spent five days working with John and have come to believe him.
Mary and John and their four young children suffered a house fire that ruined part of their home last year after the birth of their last child.

John was working too much (the fire repairs made them broke) and Mary was suffering from post partum depression.

The house fire required John to make quick repairs to accomodate the family until they could adequately rebuild. The house was messy because of this and Mary’s depression.

The family is poor and did not have insurance for their fire repairs.  They were struggling with the cost of repairs to rebuild their home.

Mary called child services to get help.

Instead, the county removed their children from them a few weeks before Christmas (putting them in separate homes), and then fought with John and Mary for months to keep the children from returning home.   When the children were returned, it was one child at a time, visitation was made very difficult, and instead of helping the family get back on its feet, charged them $6000 in court costs.

The trauma experienced by these children during this process was terrible and it is still with them.

As a guardian ad-Litem, I have experienced this fear first hand. There is nothing more frightening to a child than to believe that mommy and daddy are gone. Young children do not understand court procedures and words don’t comfort.

Children experience real and long term pain and suffering as a result of this trauma. Removal from the birth home should never be taken lightly and children should receive professional help to deal with their trauma during and afterwards.

This family reached out for help to overcome a personal disaster and depression. Instead they were treated very badly.

In the end, the presiding judge reversed the aggressive position of the social workers with hard words to the department.

This process did nothing for the benefit of the children or the home they live in. In fact, the $6000 court costs have set the family back even more, and the children will carry their PTSD type fears for years to come.

In my twelve years as a guardian ad-Litem I have worked with about fifty children and have never met a social worker that meant to hurt anyone, or act out of meanness.

Social work is complicated business that involves a great deal of knowledge across a broad spectrum of factors. Training and public policy are critical to the adminidstration of programs and methods that are meant to protect children.

Depression and poverty are a part of many lives in this nation and every nation.

Punishing people for human problems serves no one.   Calling what happened to this family child protection is a misnomer.   Child protection would have been to help this family solve it’s problems (not add to them).

“Defining our institutions by what they actually create instead of what they were designed to create“* would be the first step in making the changes necessary to fix our poorly understood and vastly under-resourced system.

It is only “We The People” that will bring attention to our dissatisfaction with public policies that need redirection and resources.

Not calling your state representatives and not voting won’t help.

Please submit your own stories to me and I will post those that fit on this website.

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*Quote from Kathleen Long, Author of Demons and Dragons

Consider starting or joining an online action/discussion group on this website to bring this dialogue into your community.