Phase V, ACT VI: Child Protective Services, The child catchers

The story went like this… Neighbors saw two toddlers out in the middle of the street without the supervision of their mother. A call was placed to Child Protective Services who promptly removed the children.

I began seeing the mother through a county program that provided mental health services for people who did not have medical insurance. In order to continue servicing her needs, my work was to be transitioned to the child welfare department as an independent contractor. I immediately found myself having difficulty understanding her rambling, disjointed thoughts and sheer anger with the department. I asked her about the work that she had been doing with another therapist and she was unable to clearly articulate any information that she had been able to retain. I knew that that she was suffering from a learning disability that would significantly interfere with her ability to process any information delivered in a linguistic format.

Through my own digging I was able to find out was that this young mother had gone to a local physician up river after feeling depressed. He had seen her over time for a multitude of issues and prescribed her more than 5 different medications. Because of her depressed state and strange speaking pattern, he diagnosed her with Bipolar Disorder and prescribed her another medication. It was then she began to act erratically. That led to the incident where the neighbors saw her two children out in the street and called CPS. I suggested that she see another physician who changed her medications and her behavior stabilized.

I was able to have her seen and evaluated by a clinical psychologist who formally dismissed the Bipolar Disorder and concurred with my diagnosis of a learning disorder. He suggested that she continue counseling with me and that there was no reason she would not be able to effectively parent.

CPS was convinced by an assessment conducted with the mother that she needed Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I was able to convince the department that the woman was in need of some accommodation due to a learning disorder. I decided to take the most emotionally salient issue, her CPS involvement, and use it as a teaching tool instilling the best of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy tenets. The approach was tailor made for this woman and enabled her to learn skills that would make her more successful in her interactions with CPS case workers.

Using this adapted modality, this young woman felt more in control of the often contradictory and demeaning treatment that she received by the department. My notes reflected her ability to master awareness in her CPS interactions through noting differences in the people that she was forced to deal with and alternating her approaches to each person, using their responses as a way to gage whether she was being effective. She slowly mastered the skills through witnessing her own ability to meet the incessant demands placed on her.

Despite my positive feedback to the department, it was clear that they wanted her to lose her parental rights. Because I supported my client, I began to be harassed and told that she had NOT done the training because I did not use a book. Since I was not going to continue to work with her, as they saw fit, they were proceeding with termination of her parental rights.

During this mounting pressure, a hearing was held “to transfer the children to a family member” so that she “will be more likely reunited with her own children.”

She turned to me frantically, “I know what they are up to… They want to move the children further away, out of state, so that I cannot visit the kids. Then they can make the argument that enough time has gone by and I haven’t been able to visit…They don’t want me raising my kids. It doesn’t matter what I do.”

Her public defender told her not to worry and so did I. She was complying with the court expectations. You know something? She was right.

At the termination hearing, which I was not allowed to attend, the mother of these two young children was asked specific questions about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Of course, she was incapable of responding. Her parental rights were terminated.

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