Welcome back and thanks for joining us for this discussion on how the current Covid19 pandemic is reshaping the way CPS responds to child abuse and neglect situations. As we mentioned in the previous article, the agency has a history of being reactive, in that they have traditionally waited to hear a report about potential abuse or neglect, and then stepped in to respond to that. Now however, since the number of reports has decreased dramatically since quarantine and social distancing became the standard, the agency is having to pivot away from a reactive stance and focus more on changing to a proactive approach.
CPS is changing their stance to be more helpful in how they deal with struggling families
According to Executive Director of the Children’s Services Agency, JooYeun Chang, the agency realized that there were a number of families who came to their attention long before they had any real need for intervention. However, it’s these same families that are more prone to struggling during difficult times (like this pandemic), and who are more likely to end up needing help. So the agency started to wonder – what could they do to meet those needs in proactive ways that keep families together, instead of waiting until a tenuous situation has become an untenable one?
The first step towards change has to do with how we think about it…
The first step, Chang says, is changing the mindset. “COVID-19 has shown us that we are all just a few steps from needing that help.” she explains. “We have to be willing to ask those questions – what I can do for you, instead of saying, you know, I’m going to call you into this hotline and report you.” Chang notes that the current system has a long history of treating some parents as “bad people” simply because they have fewer resources, which leads to false assumptions and poorly handled interactions.
Chang says racism and classism have informed the old system.
“It’s been based on racism and classism and all these different isms, right? Where we treat some people as ‘less than’ and we no longer want to be a part of that, right?” she explains in an interview with WoodTV. “Our child welfare agency wants to treat all families with dignity and respect and assume that like us, they care about their children, want the best for them, but maybe are just struggling for a helping hand.” Being connected with a local food bank if you’re struggling to put balanced meals on the table, or being provided with help to get the bills paid on time during financially tight months can make all the difference to a struggling family.
CPS is hoping to become an agency that helps, not hurts, families
It’s a noble aspiration, and one that’s long overdue. But while we applaud CPS’s attempt to change the way they’ve traditionally handled these types of situations, we know that it’s hard to make major changes within a large organization. Mindsets can be slow to adapt, and people who’ve grown accustomed to handling things a certain way can be slow to reconfigure. All that to say, we suspect it’ll be a long time before Michigan families stop needing our help to protect their parenting rights and defend their children against an invasive agency, however well-meaning.
We can help you protect yourself and your family during these changing times
We are living in unprecedented times, and facing unique challenges, both as individuals and as parents and caregivers. Here at The Kronzek Firm, we understand it’s a hard time for everyone, and parents are being stretched to their limits (and sometimes beyond!). But you don’t have to defend your children and your parental rights alone when things get out of hand. If you or a loved one have been accused of abuse or neglect, or have had a CPS worker make accusations against you, contact us immediately at 866 766 5245. The skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have been successfully defending parental rights for decades. We can help you too!