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Friday, June 27, 2008

Order of Praise: Toddler, Relative, CPS

This is an awful/wonderful story of a 2-year-old who survived 6 days alone in the house after his mom died.

What annoyed me in the story is how everyone gushes over the Child Protective Services worker (who called police to break into the place and find the kid). But what is the big deal? The only reason the CPS worker even knew to check the house was that a concerned relative called them. And if the kid hadn't survived by eating cat food--everyone is calling it a "miracle"--then the CPS worker's approach would've led to his death!

Does everyone get what I'm saying here? A concerned relative calls CPS and says, "Lisa has been very sick and I'm worried about Noah. Please check to make sure they're OK!"

And it takes Noah being with his deceased mother for six days before the authorities actually help him. The concerned relative didn't bother breaking into the house, probably figuring, "Well I called the authorities, what else is a citizen supposed to do?"

So rather than CPS saying, "Whoa, let's do an audit of this, and revise our protocols so that a kid doesn't have to miraculously survive on cat food for six days..." instead they heap praise on their worker for saving his life.

What about the cat food manufacturers? What about the cops that actually broke down the door (or whatever)? What about the phone company employees who kept the phone lines in working order to facilitate the relative's initial call?

Incidentally, if you think I'm being a jerk, re-read the article. The concerned relative called on June 16, and the boy was found on June 26. The autopsy hasn't occurred yet, but right now they say that the mother had been dead for up to six days. That means CPS had at least four days' notice before the mother died. So explain to me why we are congratulating CPS on this one?

One more clarification: I'm not saying that the CPS procedures ought to be revised. Obviously, no matter what the protocol, occasionally kids will die in cases like this, because you can't go breaking into people's houses whenever you get a phone call and the mother doesn't answer the door. (Maybe they went out to the grocery store, etc.) So my point isn't to condemn the CPS for the 6-day delay (though that does sound crazy to me), but rather to question why we are pointing to this as a great success story?!

3 comments:

  1. Bob, the article says that CPS visited on the day it received the call and several times thereafter before finally getting the police to break in. Maybe their breakin protocol is wrong, but it seems they were on the ball.

    A question that youyu didn't ask is where the heck were this mother and kid's relatives? CPS should have been feeding reports back to them, and one of them could have broken in earlier.

    Also, water is much more important than food. The toddler survived because it could figure out how to get water, from a faucet or somesuch.

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