Guidelines On Handling Home Visits From Social Workers
When social workers or Child Protective Services workers first come knocking upon your door it is almost certainly because they believe your child or children may be in some form of danger.
Their reasons for thinking this can be from a number of sources - a malicious telephone call from your next-door neighbor who doesn't like you, to a genuine call from a school teacher who thinks an injury may not have been accidental. Many, many, first time visits are prompted by anonymous and malicious telephone callers to your local social services office.
All social workers have a statutory duty to investigate allegations of possible child abuse, whether those allegations appear true or false. However, the initial investigative visit is where most problems usually begin. This is because many social workers lack investigative expertise and are forced to depend solely upon first impressions and gut feelings when they first interview you.
It is, therefore, very important that as a parent under investigation, you realize that in about 90% of all cases, there will be no solid reason or scientific foundation for what the social worker may do next. The social worker's next move (after the initial visit) will usually depend upon how comfortable or uncomfortable he felt when he was in your company. It is equally important that you control the situation so that you are not victimized by the social services bureaucracy.
Ironically, if you make him feel comfortable about his first visit, there's a very good chance that he will find a good reason for wanting to visit you again, and again, and again. The reason for this is because your new social worker, like most other people, prefers to be drinking coffee in a friendly environment to risking a punch on the nose in a hostile environment where a child is really being abused.
QUESTION: So how is your first time social worker going to justify his repeat visits to your home?
ANSWER: He has to tell his manager that he is not satisfied that all is well within your household and that he feels more visits will be necessary to clarify the situation.
This is where social services relationship with you will begin to break down, because the social worker has to write a report to which his superiors (and later the courts, perhaps) will have access to and which will contain his trumped up 'suspicions' about you and your family. If he dares to admit he has no suspicions, then he cannot justify any further visits. He/she may also worry that it will look as though they've wasted a great deal of time on you with nothing to show for it.
The more often you make this social worker welcome, the more frequent his visits will become. And the more 'suspicions' he will have to invent for his more frequent reports. This means that, quite unbeknown to you, your friendly social worker is building a completely false dossier about you and your family, back at his office - and to which everybody has access. If your social worker quits, gets promoted, or transfers to another department, the next social worker will pick up this dossier, read it, and believe all the 'suspicions' and inaccuracies that it contains.
Whether your friendly social worker stays or not, or not, your local social services department will hold in their files a dossier that is extremely dangerous to you and that can be - and in all probability will be - used to destroy you and your family sometime in the future. More important, this will be a dossier that may be used in any blackmail attempt, "Do what I tell you to do or I'll make sure your kids are taken into care." (This happens more frequently than one would want to believe).
QUESTION: What information is this dossier likely to contain?
ANSWER: Practically anything- unfounded suspicions, your life background, your relationships with members of the opposite sex, your children, your family - past and present, any criminal convictions and anything else you may have told him, in confidence, over a cup of coffee. And it is more likely than not that a great deal of what he has written has no relationship to what you have actually said (we know from many years experience of investigating complaints from social services victims).
At any time and for any reason, your friendly social worker may suddenly lose interest in you and not wish to be friendly anymore. And it is at this point, that his superiors will want to know whether any 'further' action should be taken in your 'case'. Out comes the dossier, out come the suspicions and all the fabrications that the dossier contains.
Now, suddenly, it becomes apparent to social services that you are almost certainly a danger to your children. There now begins a very long battle with social services. You start fighting to keep your children at home and they start fighting to take your children into care. The odds have been stacked against you by the social worker, who has both the social services bureaucracy and the Family Court system on his side.
Your ex-friendly social worker will never admit that his dossier is full of fabrications. So now he has to find even more evidence to prove you are a bad parent and, when you eventually go into court to defend yourself, you just won't believe the amount of faked evidence that has been stacked against you. You are now in very grave danger and, unless you have a very good team of defense lawyers working with you, you are likely to find your children placed in the care of the local authority by a judge who is not at all concerned about the tremendous failure rate social services have displayed over children who are taken into care.
Of course, the scenario described above is not the only reason children are wrongly taken into care. We have used it as a very good example of how a caring family can become the totally innocent victim of a badly run social services department. And, as we said earlier, it happens a lot more frequently than one would want to believe.
How To Protect Your Family Against Social Workers
For each and every visit by a social worker:
You have every right to expect that the social worker who calls is honest, truthful, a person of integrity, well trained and properly supervised. In our experience, however, we can tell you that we have never yet come across a social worker who has all these qualities. It is important, therefore, that you assume the worst and act accordingly.
Be polite to your visiting social worker, but do not, under any circumstances, welcome him/her or treat him/her as a friend. Be polite and courteous, but maintain an air of formality. He/she is investigating an allegation that your children may be in danger and, like a police officer, he is expecting you to be as devious as any criminal. If you treat him/her as a friend, he/she will assume you are attempting to hide the violent/vicious side of your character. Also, if it's not convenient to talk to him/her at that moment, you have every right to ask him/her to call again 'at a more convenient time'.
As soon as they indicate that they are from a social services organization, ask for two pieces of identification. Don't settle for a business card; make this person identify themselves to your satisfaction. Insist on some form of picture identification, such as a driver's license. If they do show you a driver's license, copy the information down. If they refuse to identify themselves to your satisfaction, explain that you don't normally admit people into your home who won't provide proper identification, and politely ask them to leave. Contact your attorney.
Before making any decision about allowing him/her into your home, tell him/her politely that you are perfectly willing to answer any questions that you consider are relevant, but that you would prefer those questions to be in writing. Your answers will be in writing - this way, nothing that either of you has said, can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. If he/she objects strongly to this, you will have to decide whether you are going to talk to him/her or not. If you don't, your social worker has the potential power to cause you a lot of problems (to teach you a lesson).
Whether you allow your visiting social worker into your home, or not, make it very clear that you intend to write down EVERY word that passes between you. Tell him/her that at the end of the interview you will expect him/her to sign each page as verification that it is a true account of everything that has been said. If they refuse, ask them to leave.
Also let the social worker know that you are going to video or tape record the interview "so there aren't any misunderstandings" about what was written versus what was said. Sit the social worker down in spot that you (not they) choose, and turn on the camera. Clearly state the date and time, then ask the social worker if they understand that they are being recorded, and if they have any objections to being recorded. If they object, politely ask them (with the camera running) to state their reasons for not wanting to be recorded. At this point, you must decide whether or not to proceed. If you choose not to proceed, inform them that they must leave. Contact your attorney at once and let him know what transpired.
Take a notepad and pen and write down word for word what he/she says to you, and word for word what you say to him/her. At the end of the interview be sure that his/her signature is at the bottom of each page. In the past we have known social workers attempt to avoid this situation by telling the parent she is being obstructive and that her attitude will go against him/her. If this happens to you, write down word for word what the social worker says and immediately lodge a complaint with the director of social services for your area. YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO MAKE WORD FOR WORD NOTES OF ALL INTERVIEWS - whether they occur in your home or on social services premises.
If the social worker wants to look around your home (they almost always will), allow them to do so. You may, at this point, consider taking pictures or video of the rooms they inspect to show exactly what they looked like at the time of the visit. If you can get the social worker in the picture, so much the better. A camera that puts a time and date stamp on the picture is a plus.
Whatever you do, do not rely solely upon the use of a video camera or tape recorder. Always insist upon writing word for word notes. This way you send some very clear messages to the social worker and his superiors. They messages are that:
You intend to be in control of every interview conducted.
You are not going to enter into any small talk (that may later be misquoted or misinterpreted).
You are not the sort of person they can easily entrap or 'railroad', and
You are going to tie them down to hours of work each time they interview you, so unless they have some serious allegations against you, they won't want to bother you again.
At the end of the interview, tell the social worker that future visits (if any) will need to be scheduled in advance. Scheduling the visits prevents the social worker from showing up unannounced, gives you some control over the interviews, and allows you time to prepare yourself and your home for their inspection.
If at all possible, have a 'friend' in attendance at each interview. Ideally, your friend should not be the next-door neighbor or a relative (they might be tempted to lie in your support). In court the 'friend' most likely to be believed could be your pastor, your attorney, an off duty Justice of the Peace, or somebody similar.