We live in a time where transparency and accountability are sought by the masses. In recent years, presidents, world leaders, government organizations, and the police have come under great scrutiny. However, the most important government agency in our country has escaped transparency and accountability. They have managed and overseen themselves for years while dodging the protective checks and balances built into our system.
Kentucky’s Child Protective Services or CPS operates mostly out of the sight. We assume if they are involved, there must be a good reason. We don’t question it. When CPS works as intended, it can save children. However, it is no secret that Child Protection Services is broken and many children and families are being hurt by the very system designed to protect them.
We don’t see the large number of excellent families who have been reported to CPS and chose not to tell anyone because of fear of being judged. Referrals are made for many reasons and parents are guilty until proven innocent.
We don’t see the adoptive or foster families dealing with behavioral issues of a child who figured out they can get extra attention by telling teachers untrue stories about their parents. Or the ones accused of abuse by biological parents who are just trying like hell to get their own child back in their home.
We don’t see that when families file complaints, they are routed back to the subject of the complaint to seek the remedy for the complaint.
We don’t know that the office of the Ombudsman (meant to assist in complaints), just reiterates the concern to CPS, and oversees nothing. That the federal government just asks the state to investigate itself.
We do not see the large number of families denied rights and case plans, given no steps to work to get their children back. We don’t see or feel a child’s body crumble in fear when they’re ripped away from their parents; when there were other ways a situation could be handled.
We don’t see the corruption or lack of transparency as a problem until we learn about its existence. We are at a point where bystanders can no longer sit by, we must demand change.
There can be no more hiding behind closed courtroom doors. Family judges sit for eight years, we vote them in! Let us see what they do!
Put body cameras on ALL social workers! Someone with the power to improve or destroy a family should not get to say whatever they want? Provide accountability! Call your representatives and tell them to demand this change.
Failures and abuses of the system have led many workers to leave the field. Perpetuating the problem as inexperienced workers are the majority of those dealing with families. Reward workers with exemplary character and hold accountable ones who lie or contribute to the problem.
Speak up and bring to light your story as a parent, a nurse, a child, a social worker, a state employee, a teacher, etc.
Get to know your judicial candidates. NOT their Facebook filled with photos they took at an event to pretend they were involved. NOT by looking at the list of organizations they participated in. Ask the hard questions! What would transparency in your courtroom look like? Would you recuse yourself if someone believes you’ve created an “appearance of impropriety?” Would you accept donations to your campaign by local guardian ad lidems, CPS workers, and those contracted with CPS to perform parenting evaluations? How do you feel about open family courtrooms? Have you yourself ever been subject in a case? Have you ever told anyone to “stay out of it?” Would you rely on hearsay instead of evidence? Would you do what is right even if it means admitting wrongdoing or making a mistake? Would you accept responsibility? Get answers and then VOTE as lives depend on it!
Tiffany Prater is a RNC-MNN (Registered Nurse Certified-Maternal Newborn Nursing), and mom in Pike County.