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.