Okay, that title sounds really fucking corny, but anyway-
Susan (link), mom-to-be and friend through the blog who lives only a couple of blocks away, offered to run an ACS daycare document into Manhattan for me. It was one of those we-don’t-accept-postal-mail-fax-scans-or-anything-other-than-stone-tablets-brought-in-by-Moses-on-the-back-of-a-dinosaur forms. She let me transcribe her experience:
“I went to the ACS ACD (childcare) office (Brooklyn to Manhattan), which by the way isn’t clearly marked and I was sent to….floor…then….floor….then….floor… when I got to the 7th floor there’s a door and you have to pick up a phone to be let in and when you pick it up there’s no dial tone or anything. Then a private security guard came….and wanted to know what my business was. They acted like I was there to steal children (she’s visibly pregnant). I explained that I was bringing the form in for a foster parent who was sick. The woman at a desk, she wasn’t rude or anything but she said she’s going to have to send it back because this hasn’t been filled out. I asked, can I call her [sick foster parent] and get the information? No absolutely not. I cried when I got home. I felt treated with disrespect. I’m a volunteer, not that gratitude should be hoarded on me, but it should be neutral at least.
I wanted to yell at her about how she was making things difficult for working people to be foster parents. She didn’t seem interested in making things easier for us. I was really really upset. i expected it to be a relatively easy interaction. I got home and told my husband how hard they make it for a working person to be a foster parent. There are all of these ads looking for foster parents but then they make it like a second job. You have to be on benefits to spend time on this stuff.
The office is only open 9-4, Monday through Friday. It’s the office to get childcare if you have a job. They should at least be open one Saturday or one evening a month. The best part was that she told me i could bring it back tomorrow and i said tomorrow’s Saturday and she said they aren’t open.
It’s all the worst stereotypes of public employees in that one office. And it hurts my feelings because I’m a public employee and i want to serve people.
It just drove me totally bonkers. It was horrible, i felt so bad for you. You have to have friends who have flexible schedules to do this for you. You know, like feminist studies of bread winners….[she lost me here with some smart stuff about gender equality]……”
The only thing missing on the form was a repetitive blank asking for the child’s name in addition to the hours he/she will be at daycare. And might I add, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t make this chick cry if I tried so try not to discount her emotional response.
Who wants to go for me next? :)*Susan added a positive comment below.
Just in case you didn’t believe that this blog has magical powers…
New baby’s 3 siblings now have an adoptive mom locked, set and loaded. And she’s fucking AWESOME.
Check it. I received an email from a former ACS worker who is my age, single, no kids and dead serious about taking all three siblings. We talked. I talked to the kids’ case worker. The case worker talked extensively to her. Then we talked again, for hours.
Of course there are lots of moving parts but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a done deal. She’s starting the foster parent process at my agency on Monday.
My NYC foster agency and ACS staff readers. But I understand the risk…
For what it’s worth, the only way I know about most of the foster parents being on welfare (what’s the correct term?) is from those in the field. Dozens and dozens of people I’ve met across the full spectrum of agency/ACS/policy backgrounds have raised it as an issue.
Regardless of my lowly understand of things, ACS has had an official, or unofficial, initiative to recruit some foster parents not on welfare. If there’s a public document that says such, or even a private memo (you can send it a la wikileaks), I’d love to see it.
I’m going to jumble this and stick to the more generic stuff so you can’t do a search on this ACS attorney but trust me when I say the following is literally from the “About” section (facebook comes up as their first google hit):
Notice how unprofessional this blog is and how you won’t find the name of my employment any where on it. :)
As guessed, the ACS Children’s Center (processing/warehouse place) is without electricity —Link—. Looks like they are well staffed. Their data bases are shut-down so I’m guessing they are non-functional for the most part.
Anyone know if child abuse increases or decreases in emergencies?
central processing Children Center in the region w/out power? I’m happy to go pick-up a kid under 4. I’m assuming they have 100 contingency plans, but so did NYU’s hospital…
Anybody know what’s going on there?
Update: ACS website says data system is down. I’m guessing no shuffling of kids then. Do they need [licensed foster parent] volunteers at the Children’s Center? Do they have power? I know they tend to have a lot of medically fragile kids that are harder to place…
I also called my foster agency because my old Manhattan neighborhood is without power. I can just imagine a foster parent with a half dozen foster kids under 5 and no electricity. Nightmare.
I have electricity and the the Internet. If I need a certain kind of formula I bet someone from Texas will show-up at my doorstep with it in a matter of hours!
Is there any kind of process or procedure for foster agencies and/or ACS to get notified of parents’ recent arrests, or police reports or number of emergency calls at the home of parents in the process of reunification with their child in foster care?
I’m guessing that a parent could be arrested on a Friday (for anything) but as long as they make it to the visit on Wednesday, no one is the wiser. Hypothetically, couldn’t domestic violence calls be coming in constantly to the parent’s home but without children there (since they are already in foster care), the call is never forwarded to ACS? I’m thinking that the reunification process could continue to chug along, visits be bumped up to weekends, then 5 day visits and then returned despite the continued safety issues.
Tell me there’s a process that I just don’t know about…
ACS found Jacket and she’s fine. I probably could have gotten Jacket’s mom’s new phone number and asked where they are living but I’d rather wait to hear it from Jacket’s mom directly. The ACS worker asked me if Jacket’s mom had called the detective yet and so far she hasn’t. However, I assume it’s just a matter of weeks before she’ll contact one of us.
The ACS case worker reported that Jacket’s mom’s reasoning for not being in touch with me is because she felt pressured by me to sign the “papers” that she didn’t look at. This is actually the most sane thing I’ve heard coming from Jacket’s mom. Never mind that she told the detective that she wanted me arrested (the detective said it was all erratic nonsense), or that I asked her to get back in touch when her life is more stable. Not wanting to sign random forms that you can’t read is totally rational and smart. Given this, I think the more space the better.
I assume they’re still living in the same apartment, just as I suspected.
So, of course I have a game plan for eventually tracking down Jacket. The thing is, let’s say I find her- then what? The moment Jacket’s mom gives me a phone number or address I (ethically) have to give it over to ACS. In turn, Jacket’s mom will know that I ‘snitched’ on her and she’ll be back on the run. She (or, more likely her family) knows all of the in’s and out’s of dodging ACS and are quite successful.
My concerns for Jacket aren’t new or different even though they’ve supposedly moved out of the apartment. I never know where Jacket actually is at night or what new felon is living in the house at the time. I’m on medium, not high, alert.
So my plan, in no particular order:
1. Tell the detective. Her mother just died so I haven’t bothered her with what, sadly, is routine Jacket drama. I will let her know soon. I gave the ACS case worker her number, her level of involvement and they can always call her as well.
2. Continue to pay the $14.99 to keep the (locked down and only for calling me through skype) Ipad Internet going. No one has turned the ipad on in almost two months. It’s 50/50 as to if it’s been sold, stolen or lost.
3. “Bump into” grandma (and possibly Jacket and her mom) just outside the foster agency as they are coming and going to visit Jacket’s cousins on Fridays.
4. Likely the most successful attempt will be if I leave a bag of stuff (left overs from my recent clothing swap with friends, some of the books for Jacket I found on the street, homemade brownies) and a simple apology note for Jacket’s mom/grandma at the foster agency.
5. Google stalk the whole family and piece together where they are living. (**Don’t underestimate an adoptee’s internet research skills if they found their bio parents without so much names or ages.)
6. Hire a private investigator. Always an option but a bit too stalkerish for my preference. I would wait at least a year and then I would only do it to make sure Jacket was in school (if she’s not, I’ll call in my own ACS child abuse case).
All in all, I expect Jacket’s mom to roll back around eventually. It’s only been a couple of weeks and she’s got to figure out how to get Jacket to corroborate her we-were-living-in-Florida-but-now-we’re-back story. Not to mention she thinks she has to convince me that her life is stable now. I will forever cringe at this mistake.
Another great graphic, found on City Limits, on how NYC child abuse reports are routed and handled. I’m not finding a slide on what happens when a case worker can’t locate
Jacket the child…
I know someone who spotted grandma last week and Jacket’s mom and grandma are inseparable. I’m sure they are all still in the city somewhere. But god knows where.
So what does ACS do now? Close the case? Leave it open and try visiting once a month? Do they track down SSI/SSD checks? WIC appointments? Visit the family members in jail and ask them where they are?
Or does Jacket get lost among all of the other needy kids on their case load…
Just don’t judge me on the lack of clarity or datedness of references. Lots of useful links at the end though for case workers, clinicians and the like.
The phone numbers included Jacket’s grandma’s cell, her aunts’ phone numbers, ex and current boyfriend numbers and landlines.
Also the case worker asked me a question about Jacket’s family that I didn’t have but I know the foster agency case worker did. I called that case worker (who no longer works there and wanted me to send her a photo of my tattoo of Jacket- I did- she thought it was hilarious) who confirmed that the info would be in the foster agency’s file and she gave me a contact person familiar with Jacket’s case so that the ACS case worker could make a straight call to get the info she wants.
At first I assumed that a new accusation and new case had been made against Jacket’s mom. Turns out, although the case worker had decided to close the case, in a last review her team decided otherwise. She said that she had informed Jacket’s mom that this was a possibility so changing her number and not sharing it isn’t ok.
The case worker asked if I’d heard from Jacket’s mom in the past two weeks. No. I was able to immediately confirm that the detective had not either. So, she’s going to go by the apartment to try and find them.
I’m so relieved to know that Jacket is back on someone’s radar.
ACS never showed, but I figure they’re slammed trying to get into homes where the actual abused and neglected children are. I can’t even imagine trying to schedule meetings with 25 Jacket Moms at one time.
Also, I’m pretty sure most of the agency goes on vacation during the end of August each year. Maybe someone can confirm this?