In the best interests of the child

When should a child be removed from an alcoholic, addicted or mentally unstable parent? The Seattle Post-Intelligencer follows two Child Protective Services workers in a depressing but illuminating story.

Cynthia Martin, who handles chronic cases, as opposed to (Mary) Marrs’ emergency calls, was preparing to visit Heather, a 33-year-old alcoholic who’d stumbled onto her son’s school bus so drunk that the driver called 911. Last fall, the then-4-year-old child had been seen walking alone along an arterial highway at 11 p.m.

“I hate my mom. I don’t want to be there,” he told a police officer, explaining that he’d been going to Safeway to find food, and planned afterward to sleep in his apartment complex’s pool house. When the cop asked why, the boy said, “Because she hurts me,” smacking himself on the forehead to demonstrate.

The incident had been rated “moderately low risk” by intake workers . . .

The system relies heavily on the CPS worker’s judgment, and there’s little consistency from one office to another in the criteria for placing a child in foster care.

About Joanne


  1. Bluemount says:

    As much as schools may look like prison and encourage youth in fanatical self-righteous judgement, the members of society who are failing all of us are lamely unchastised. You could probably get a more serious reaction for a lawn infraction than regularly neglecting and abusing a child. If she home-schools no one will ever complain again.

    With a high school diploma and a few hours in a class you can care for a foster child, the mentally retarded or the elderly in your own home. The pays pretty good if your too incompetent to do real work. The sad thing is this child could actually be better off where he is, some social workers know that.