By Kelley Fong, The Imprint, September 20, 2020
For many parents, it’s their worst fear: a knock on the door from a state social worker with the power to take their children. With 1 in 3 children nationwide experiencing a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation during childhood following a report of child maltreatment, this experience is all too common for U.S. families, especially Black and Native American families.
Child maltreatment conjures images of critically injured or severely neglected children. But in reality, these investigations typically aren’t about “rescuing” children in imminent danger. We task CPS with much more.
I spent months embedded with investigating social workers at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, studying how investigations emerge, unfold and affect families. I saw firsthand how calling CPS has become a crutch for well-intentioned teachers, doctors and even police officers who struggle to address challenges like homelessness, domestic violence, mental health needs and substance misuse.