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The way Occupational Therapists can use Child Protective Services and the SPCA

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:56pm
I was ranting about the sad state of the Child Protection Service in NY state in this recent post that you may choose to reference for background reading.

I am still assigned to that case and the living conditions continue to be unacceptable for children. The lack of basic hygiene places the children at risk for health problems and it also makes for an unsuitable environment to provide any kind of developmental therapy service. I just continue to document all of the issues but my hopes sometimes falter.

In a completely unrelated case one of my therapists was providing occupational therapy to a four year old in a family home. It is not easy finding therapists to work in urban conditions because to be honest it is a cultural issue and many therapists don't know what to do when they are faced with an environment and culture that radically departs from their own experiences. I know that people take classes and talk about the importance of cultural diversity in college, but trust me people are not so liberal and free with their attitudes when you ask them to go practice that multiculturism in the real world. That is a topic that deserves a lot of further elaboration at another time.

Anyway as my therapist was playing with the 4 year old, a younger sibling toddled up to them and handed the therapist a bag of marijuana. The therapists promptly handed the drugs over to the parent who then scolded the child for being 'bad' and for touching 'bad things.' The therapist called me and I sent them over to the nearest police station to make a report. From there CPS was contacted and an investigation was initiated.

I got the final CPS report yesterday that said that there was no indication of child abuse or neglect because of a lack of evidence. I phoned the CPS Supervisor and in no uncertain terms told them what I thought of their system. Apparently, a licensed professional in NY State who is a mandated CPS reporter seeing a toddler with a large bag of marijuana is not sufficient evidence of anything.

I was a little frustrated, so I told them that I was going to hang up the phone and pray that God would watch over the children because the people on Earth who were charged with the job were abdicating their responsibility. It wasn't a particularly productive statement but it was kind of all I could think to say at the time. The CPS Supervisor numbly repeated some scripted response about insufficient evidence and it was obvious that any of my attempts to reach a heart were not working. That was kind of disappointing.

Anyway I was glad that I was working for myself because I felt free to rant and I knew that I couldn't be fired for telling the CPS Supervisor what I thought. If I worked for an agency I probably would have been told that they were operating within their job parameters and my getting angry at them wasn't productive. Still, I am hoping that the CPS worker thinks twice about it all, or maybe wakes up in the middle of the night and considers what what I told them on the phone. I hope the same for the CPS workers who read all my documentation about that other case.

I guess there is nothing else to do for the marijuana carrying toddler - I can't let my therapist go back there after they are the ones who blew them in to the police officers. I still have plans for the other case though. The family just got two puppies, and there is a lot of dog feces in their cages and not a lot of room for them to run and play. I am thinking that the SPCA might get outraged over the living conditions of the dogs. I've seen that happen - and wouldn't it be something if the SPCA worked faster to protect the puppies than the Child Protection System worked to protect the children?
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