It has been over a year since former Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad rocked the Yolo County Child Welfare System – at least in one case, it is not clear that much has changed.
The difference here is that the foster parent is not a politically connected county supervisor, but the six-year-old girl caught in the middle is no less vulnerable.
For “Maria” (a fictitious name to avoid any blow back) she was five-year-old “Alison’s” babysitter. In April, she received a frantic text message from Alison’s birth mother. Can she stay with you for a couple of days? the mother asked.
“What’s gong on, is everything ok?”
The birth mother said she was embarrassed. Then she opened up. “Remember those bags that were hanging on my front door for (Alison’s) school?” she ask. “Well I took them to school and there was a pipe in it?”
Maria told the Vanguard that the mother lied to the social worker that Alison was with her. The mother didn’t want them to know that she was home with Alison when she was getting high.
A teacher found the meth pipe in the bag, called the police, called the social worker and Maria went to pick up Alison and took her home.
Maria explained that she and her husband took five-year-old Alison, still in preschool, into their home. A few days in they were called into CPS thinking they would have to give Alison back. Instead, CPS, after doing some checks, gave Alison over to her.
Alison would stay with them for about eight months, but at the end of January, Yolo County Judge Stephen Mock gave her back to her birth mother.
According to Maria, the mother had done the programs ordered to by the judge. But he was reluctant to give Alison back since she had tested positive for alcohol. However, two weeks later he decided to send the girl back to her birth mother.
He did, however, award Maria visitation rights.
Maria started becoming concerned, however, the day before the hearing. She got a call from the attorney who was supposed to represent the interests of the child – except for one problem, the attorney didn’t know the child at all. She asked about her mental state.
“How can they represent her without knowing the situation?” Maria asked the Vanguard. “They never even did a visit of the mother’s house or did a home check before the mother got out of custody.”
“That never seemed to bother anyone,” she said. But it bothered her.
A social worker called her, and she had never been the mother’s home either.
The only one who does seem to have done any work was the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
“The CASA has been great,” Maria told the Vanguard.
She was told the judge gave the order for visitation, awarding her “reasonable visitation” but the time limit and frequency was not stated.
Almost immediately there were problems. Before Alison went home with her mother, Maria purchased her a bunch of new clothes for school – now kindergarten.
Two weeks later she gets an angry text message from the mother: “Where are her clothes?”
The mother was accusing her of keeping her clothes.
Maria pointed out it took her two weeks to ask where the clothes were. What had she been doing all this time?
That’s not the only problem. This woman has another daughter who is 11 and apparently staying at her grandmother’s home. But she got into trouble and was kicked out.
The mother took her back in, asked her to pee into a cup for her and then went and dropped her off at some random person’s house.
Not only does Maria believe the mother is fabricating her urine tests but she was appalled by her lack of concern for the welfare of the 11-year-old.
She’s worried but CPS doesn’t seem to care enough to check on the home.
“I don’t know what she’s living like because I’m not home,” Maria explained. She does not believe the mother is mother material and believes she cares more about her drugs and her “man” than Alison.
But even more than that. She’s worried about the system.
“No one has taken the time to look into where they are actually placing the child or check on the well-being of the child to see if she’s okay,” Maria told the Vanguard.
She said, “That really bothers me, no one is checking to see where she’s living.
“They don’t even know where the mother lives – and you’re her social worker,” she said after one conversation with a CPS who did not even know what city the mother lived in. “How do you take responsibility when you don’t even know where they live?”
Other than the CASA, Alison is treated like just another cog in the wheel. No one at CPS seems to care enough to know about her name or her situation. The only person who did was the lady from CASA.
“She’s been great,” she said.
Who does Maria blame for this situation? Everyone – CPS, the judge and of course the mother.
“I think everybody is responsible who is responsible for this girl’s well-being,” Maria said. “Anyone who has any say over her safety.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting