Letter: On Changes in the Child Welfare System

(**ANONYMOUS FOR FEAR OF RETALIATION. I was not sure how else to provide this submission but hope it can somehow reach the community)

I have long wished to comment on the situation in our community surrounding Child Welfare Services, but have kept quiet for fear of retaliation. Now, however, I feel that I must say something, even anonymously, and I hope this message has the opportunity to reach my fellow community members.

While I am not a social worker, nor do I work directly in the legal process surrounding child welfare cases, I work in one of the many programs in the community that collaborate closely with the child welfare and the families they serve in Yolo County. Working with children and families is all I have done and all that I wish to do in my career, and that is why what I have seen is so profoundly heartbreaking.

In the years I have worked in serving the most vulnerable of our county’s families, I have had the honor and pleasure of working with the staff of Child Welfare Services. While they are far from a perfect institution, I have to say, sadly, that the agency only truly became the underperforming and unsafe entity that Supervisor Rexroad made it out to be after the Supervisor made these claims. I have seen the social workers with whom I have collaborated over the past years visibly age. I have seen them burn out. I have seen them leave. Talented and caring social services professionals have felt as though their hands were so tied in the atmosphere that Supervisor Rexroad has created. For the time I have known any of them in a professional capacity, they have worked to improve their rapport with families struggling with their demons, be they addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, poverty, or anything else. Now, their ability to be a team with clients and to meet them where they’re at in their processes of growth and recovery is all but annihilated in a series of actions that is completely devoid of consideration for the implications of mental health and generational trauma. As recently as two years ago, those I had the privilege of working with in the agency had a sense of hope and faith in the limitless potential of their clients to do better and to be better. Now, they have been thrown into circumstances where believing could cost them their jobs.

Supervisor Rexroad’s actions are nothing short of vertical violence, and our children – especially those in the child welfare system – may very well be worse off for it. The social workers who once had greater amounts of time to collaborate with partners like myself are now stressed, overworked, and bogged down by new policies in an agency that has been shaken up and torn down to the point of losing sight of what their real goals should be.

One of the most important traits to possess when working with and for children is a sense of joy in what we do. Since Supervisor Rexroad’s decision to intervene, I have seen the joy leave the eyes of the child welfare staff with whom I interact. The expression I see in their eyes, instead, is something akin to a child being bullied on the playground, and as a member of this community, I feel that I must speak out for the staff of Child Welfare just as I would speak out for that child.

I ask, finally, that the staff in Child Welfare Services stay strong and try to again find the joy in the work you do, as it has been and will continue to be some of the most important work in our community.

Concerned Neighbor
Woodland, CA

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Tia Will

    Concerned Neighbor

    I greatly appreciate your willingness to share your perspective. Because of my 30 year career, also involving the well being of families, I see the situation significantly differently. I am going to review the major differences one by one.

    1. Supervisor Rexroad did not create the current situation. This failed attempt to balance parental rights vs well being of the child has existed for at least 30 years and is built into California and federal law. The lack of appropriate risk assessment has led to the deaths of two children under six years old in the past three years in Yolo County. Supervisor Rexroad did not cause that to happen. That is the result of a faulty system.

    2. While I agree the social service workers are hard working, diligent and caring ( I have never met one that is not), many buy into the same legal and philosophic belief system that creates generational abuses and horrific circumstances for some children.

    3. While I have no doubt that many of the biologic parents are themselves victims of parental abuse, I do not see that when they themselves have failed multiple times to overcome their own demons, that it is in the best interest of their child to be placed with them. This is a way to perpetuate the abuse for another generation, not a way to solve the problem. And yet, this is what our law mandates that doctors, social workers and judges must do.

    4. However, the law does allow for some latitude. It allows all of these professionals to consider the true risk to the child and not advocate placing the child in a high risk situation. Anyone can make a mistake. I do not believe in punitive solutions. It is only when a professional consistently favors re unification, even when a clearly high risk situation exists, that I believe the professional should undertake alternative duties, either voluntarily, or perhaps be given a nudge in an alternative direction.

    5. I do not believe that Supervisor Rexroad under took this action lightly. I believe that he felt  he had exhausted all other options before taking this granted difficult and unusual step. I pass no judgements on the accuracy of his perception but do understand the position of deep caring by which he arrived at his conclusion.

    1. Mary Cantrell

      So social workers are careing? You will have to excuse me that i do not believe you. My story with yolo county cps is truly sad and makes me angry the way cps treated me and my boys.

      The investigation report was filled with nothing but lies. Gave me a diffrent name gave me a daughter i never had. Lets not forget the arrest record they gave me from DUIs GTAs spousal abuse parol violations. They even said i did my time in Tracy. Thats not my arrest record parole never been to prison let alone Tracy since last i knew tracy was a mans prison.

      The social worker even signed her name at the bottom of the report. I declare under the state of california penalty of perjury.. Well there was at least 10 lies in the first page alone. So when does penalty come into play. I am not saying we dont need cps we need cps that dont care for the bonuses they get. We need honest loveing careing workers who believes in families and family values. I have taken my story to senators governors the grand jury even went to dr. Phil. With no help from my letters. My children were not in danger in my custody that was proven.

      I do not only blame cps i also blame juvenile court judges and court apointed lawyers also. Because even they lied to me. I have not given up on fighting cps and their lies. I never will.

      I have met 4 other families in woodland alone with almost the same story as mine. With all the same outcome.

      The only thing social workers care about are their bonuses when children are adopted out……

  2. Liz Miller

    The focus in these articles has been on whether children are safe in their parents’ care.

    It’s important to remember that children may be injured, killed, and/or molested by foster parents.

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