Sat 13 Aug, 2016 04:35 pm
I'm going to try being as brief as possible...
My husband and I are recovered addicts (don't worry, that's not why I'm facing CPS). While we were using, we met a couple, I'll call them Bob & Beth. They were also users. The time came where my husband and I had had enough and decided to get clean. Bob & Beth used awhile longer, but eventually Beth decided that she wanted to try getting her kids back from living with her mom, so she put the drugs down. She seemed to want to better her life.
During that time, Beth watched the 3 of my kids on a few occasions, she would send a note to me with everything they did and ate. She always seemed happy around them, and my older children- 5&7 at the time- didn't have a problem with Beth.
Then in November, my husband dropped my then 14 month old son off by her so that he could go with Bob to work for a few hours for cash. I had also been at work. Only my baby had been sent to Beth because my mom had recently had major surgery and couldn't handle my youngest, only the older 2. My husband picked me up from work later that day, we picked our sleeping bundled baby up in the dark- she brought him outside to us, we went home and that's when we saw that something bad happened. Our son's face had multiple bruises, on his cheeks, forehead, eyelids, ears and all, so we took him to the hospital. That's how Milwaukee, WI CPS got involved.
Social services talked with us a few times, first though they talked to my older kids in school before I even knew that they were notified at the hospital. We were in a good light, they said his injuries were obviously intentional and Beth's story didn't add up. She got arrested. At the time we didn't have our own phone, and CPS left a message on my mom's phone that we were supposed to meet the DA to pursue charges.
We didn't get the message on time.
So Beth is free and off the hook just like that. Social services says their goodbyes, we move on rather bitterly that Beth got away with hurting our baby.
A short while later, we get a letter saying that we've "been substantiated for neglect of our son due to making a decision to let a drug user babysit him, putting him in harm's way."
We appeal it.
We get another letter saying the same thing, but this time the reason is,we didn't pester Beth about why she didn't have custody of her kids. Even though I repeatedly told them the reason was obvious, it was because of her addiction.
So I appeal that as well. On June 20th, I have a phone conference to set a date for the hearing. We agree on August 29th. He tells me to have all witness information and evidence sent in by 2 weeks before the hearing at the latest. I ask where can I send the information, where is the hearing taking place? He tells me that all the details will be in a letter that I will receive shortly.
It is now August 13th. I haven't received a single sheet of paper from the CPS department.
I have recently tried to get in touch with a lawyer to represent me, but cannot afford a regular lawyer, and none of the low income assisting lawyers will take a CPS case on.
My questions are-
Is it legal for CPS to continue with the original hearing date of August 29th when they didn't carry out their obligations of keeping me informed?
If the hearing date must still occur August 29th, Can they "convict" and officially declare me neglectful if I've failed to give them my witnesses information and failed to obtain a lawyer, due to their lack of informing me?
What are the possible consequences that we will face if their final determination is "neglectful", due to the decision we made as I described above?
Could CPS get in trouble for failing to keep me informed?
I need input, it's really bothering me. I've always taken proper care of them and would never put them in harm's way... My children would tell CPS themselves that they are happy, have set rules, that when they get punishments for misbehaving, it's proper corner time or removal of their video game, that they've always been safe in their parent's care. It's a shame that they're too young to testify.
I just don't get how they can push so hard to accuse me of neglecting my child, and then let Beth off, who hurt an innocent 14 month old baby, just because the phone that they left the message on didn't belong to us and I didn't get the message? With the doctors and social workers saying that it's obvious that Beth abused him, how in the hell does she get off while I suffer because I did the responsible thing by taking my son to the hospital? Some system.
Read about whatever you can about CPS in your state. I doubt that failure to contact would come into play if they can show they made every reasonable effort. But it's worth a shot. Talk to whoever is on your treatment team, too. See if they have suggestions. I cannot imagine you are the first person in recovery, ever, to have issues with CPS.
And then contact the press.
I am being utterly serious.
If you can't get legal help then push to get a crusading reporter involved. They may be able to get you to an affordable attorney - sometimes these places want to hear from someone other than the potential client before they'll take on a case. Or the reporter might be able to dig something up about CPS if there's been a pattern of this kind of behavior.