Dealing With CPS: The Danger In CPS 'Safety Plans'
The Child Protective Services agent or social worker may ask you to sign a "safety plan" or voluntarily agree to home visitation. Be careful if asked to do this.
A CPS worker may "offer" (demand) this as a means of either keeping your children now or having them placed back home on a trial basis. The purpose of these programs is to gather enough evidence (real or imagined) to build a case to take your children. Remember, states only get federal money when they put your children in foster care, not when they leave them with you under a home visitation program.
These plans often require parents to agree not to use corporal punishment or other legal methods of child rearing. For a family that has been using corporal punishment to suddenly stop creates frustration and confusion and increases the likelihood that the parent will react out of anger. It also sends a message to the child that he doesn’t need to obey his parents to avoid a spanking because a state agent will come out and tell them they can’t spank him. If the original report had to do with problems with the child’s behavior and the parent’s use of discipline; this safety plan would create chaos.
Another tactic is to impose restrictions that are outside the parent’s control, such as requiring that a child do well medically even though the child has a diagnosed condition that would prevent this. The child’s illness leaves a high probability that he will be sick, thus the parents have no control over compliance with the safety plan and are simply counting the days until their child is removed.
In one such case, the child was diagnosed with a brittle bone disease and had even fractured while in foster care. The parents were asked to sign a safety plan which required the child not to have another fracture. The chances that he would re-fracture were very high and totally outside the parents control.
In another case, a child had a weight disorder and had gained an additional five pounds during a short foster care stay. The parents were asked to sign a safety plan which required the child to lose weight. The parents had been taking their child to doctors for years to no avail. Even foster care couldn’t make the child lose weight. How then could the parents be expected to control their child’s weight when the doctors and the state had failed?
In yet another case, the parents of a child with a seizure disorder were asked to sign a safety plan which required their child not to have seizures.
Sometimes the plan is simply to have the child’s grades improve, yet this is still outside the parents control. The parents can do everything in their power to facilitate good grades, but it’s ultimately up to the child to perform.
All of these plans will fail and the child will end up in state custody. The fact that the parents have "failed" one plan gives the state grounds not to offer another plan. Thus, they will move for permanency (termination and adoption).
Safety plans are intentionally vague and therefore impossible to follow. The plan might read, "parent's will maintain a home appropriate for children". This is a subjective standard- you may think you home is excellent for children, but the CPS worker or agent might think that because you don't have safety plugs in your electrical outlets, the home isn't "appropriate". And they may get away with claims like this.
For desperate parents, the plan might seem like an easy way to get your child home or keep him home. In the long run, however, signing a safety plan could cost you your child permanently.
Bottom line - If you're not guilty of abuse or neglect, don't tolerate an unwarranted government assault and don't "settle" by agreeing to services you don't need. If the agency believes you are guilty of abuse or neglect, make them prove it in court.