Today is another Go Blue Day, but for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Thousands of Texans will wear blue, the official color of prevention, to show their support for children. Many community events and activities are scheduled throughout the month to emphasize the critical importance of preventing child abuse and neglect and keeping children safe.
Some of you are aware that I used to work for Child Protective Services. I left there because I thought I wanted to be a teacher, and HA! No, I do not.
I’m currently pursuing law school in order to become a CPS attorney.
Working with kids in foster care is extremely hard work, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I never felt like I was going to work, and I never dreaded going to work. I absolutely adored my job, my kids, and my parents.
Sometimes I feel like CPS is this closed off little world, and it usually has a negative connotation behind it. I’m here to bring you some positives about CPS, and what I learned as a CPS worker.
1. Not all parents who have their children placed in care are bad people.
There is an obvious stigma about people who have had their children placed into the custody of the state. (They’re bad people, How could someone do that?, etc)
I went into CPS thinking this, like most people.
But not all the parents that appeared on my caseload were bad people. Most of them had a substance abuse issue they just couldn’t beat without the right help.
Granted some of them, I’m totally fine having an officer come arrest them for the horrible things they’ve done. Those cases though are few and far between.
The best part of my job was watching a woman who was in a domestic violence situation leave and get her children back, or watching two parents come together for the best interest of the child, or best of all watching a parent come back from a substance abuse problem. The love for a child can do amazing things, and sometimes CPS has to be that wake up call.
2. Some people have ZERO idea on how to raise a child, and we have to teach them.
“Can you feed a six month old McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets?”
Some people just have no idea how to parent, and 99% of the time, it’s not their fault. When you meet a grandparent, it all makes sense.
They are either young parents, or people who came from a broken home and just don’t have a clue. CPS does come in and help, and teach these parents how to be parents. It really is an awesome experience to see a parent, who you could tell was just at the end of their rope (which is when things become dangerous), learn the necessary parenting skills and implement them.
3. CPS kids just want to be normal
“But, you know, she’s a foster kid.” Anddd…….
Trust me, most of the kids in CPS care, know they’re in CPS care. You don’t have to make them feel any different than they already feel. CPS kids can’t go to sleepovers, unless we have a background check on everyone in the home over the age of 14. Asking to do a background check on a freshman in high school will never not be weird. CPS kids can only jump on a trampoline one at a time….. How boring is that?
Treat CPS kids like you do every other kid. Don’t give them special attention, and definitely don’t treat them like they have the plague or something.
4. You have to let go of some kids
Kids runaway from care. A lot. We look for them, but sometimes they don’t want to be found. They hate being in care, and want to do life on their own without someone telling them what to do every two seconds. You know, like most teenagers. Sometimes, you just have to let them go, and it’s the hardest part of the job.
5. You learn how to not cry/scream in a courtroom full of people
I have been chewed up one side and down the other in front of a courtroom full of people.
I’ve also had to bite my tongue so much, I’m surprised I still have one.
You learn how to not cry until you get to your car, and how to talk to your CPS or County attorney in order to set the record straight on what took place.
It’s hard but I’d rather have someone chew me out, then chew my kids out.
6. Stoneface. Stone cold face all the time.
Parents tell you their life story. Whether you ask for it or not.
Children tell you things, and you just have to go along with it.
You have to be prepared for people to say anything to you, and not have a shocked look on your face. Most people in my personal life can’t read my emotions a lot of the time because I have become immune to shocking things.
7. Media cases are the devils handy work.
A media case is just that, a CPS case that is in the media. These are the cases that you see on the news, the one that stands out for most Houstonians is the baby in the oven case.
CPS workers have strict rules on talking to the media. They are not allowed to speak to the media, period, especially about cases.
News Reporters don’t care about said rules. If you are a caseworker on a media case, you will quickly learn the number to your media specialist, and that bad boy out every time a reporter comes up to you.
8. You will never, ever, ever, have the same day twice.
You also have no idea what you’re day is going to look like. You may be jumping on a plane, or you may be in court all day. You never know.
You also will never become bored with your job. Ever.
9. These kids will melt your heart, and you’ll love them like your own.
I love my kids. I don’t even work at CPS anymore and I still love my kids. I started in the foster care realm at 22 years old. Some of these kids were just 5 years younger than me, and I basically controlled their lives. It’s a weird feeling.
But my kids were so special to me, and they still are. You’ll have a lot of kids come in and out of your life, but all of them will take a small piece every time they leave.