CPS: Friend or Foe?

I got a note from CPS a week ago, Tuesday.  It involved the incident when Joshua escaped out of the gate with the faulty latch and ended up down the street a few weeks ago.  I got a call from a Public Health nurse who  discussed the concerns in the report, and will complete an assessment for our family.  The information in the report was considered low risk, so at least Child Protective Services will not be contacting me at this time.  We should be getting “services” from Early Family Support Services, who are supposed to “give families in-home support services and prevent further Child Protective Services involvement”.  The nurse came out Friday and was quite helpful and kind, understanding of the difficult job it is to care for an active, autistic 4 year old.  We looked at the fence, and the gates,  and talked about the area behind us where there’s a rockery and for a boy, who is part monkey, a fun way to go around the back fence and into the neighbor’s yard.  My daughter had the thought that perhaps, Joshua got out through the neighbor’s yard.  I had already called the landlord when Josh escaped regarding seeing how to fix the gate, but I planned to talk to him about the fence when he came out on the weekend.  To our delight, he agreed to fix not only the gate, but add an extension to the fence so Joshua wouldn’t escape, at no cost to us!  We were so grateful for his concern and willingness to fix the problem.

What was of concern through all of this, was that a report had been made at all as I had informed all of our neighbors of Joshua’s autism and that if he were to escape, to please just grab him and come get me.  That is exactly what happened.  I’m guessing a neighbor turned us in, as the report had my full name on it and the person making the report stated that “Joshua is frequently left unsupervised and this has happened several times” where he has gotten out and down to the busy street.  In order to have the accurate account of what goes on with Joshua, I had to have the nurse come out to do the assessment and take my statement to go into my “CPS file” (Oh, goody!  I now have a CPS file!).    In all actuality, in the two years we have lived here, Joshua has gotten out and down to the street twice.  The first time I posted about in January, where we had a broken latch on the door and it had been left unlocked on accident (we needed it to be deadbolted to keep him in while we were waiting for the landlord’s fix it guy to come fix the door).  The second time was on the 17th, this particular incident.  He had gotten out of a gate that the kids didn’t close earlier this spring but a neighbor caught him and chased him home, alerting me to the problem, which was then fixed.    Other than that, when we go to the car, he will run from our yard, if he’s not holding anyone’s hand, to the neighbor’s; runs around her yard to her driveway, with either me, or a sibling in hot pursuit.  Anyway, he is certainly supervised and I am always checking on him, or having a sibling checking on him, when he is in the back, fenced yard, playing.  I would bet, however, that when the neighbor sees Joshua standing and jumping off his play structure (it stands about 5 feet tall) it freaks her out.  If anyone can train him out of jumping, let me know!  I’m hoping to get a trampoline, but they cost quite a bit, so it will be a while.  (Joshua has a need for deep joint compression and jumping helps with that.  We have a mini trampoline for inside that currently is needing to get fixed, but, by the grace of God, he hasn’t broken any bones…yet.  Since he is now trying to jump off the piano, we are looking where to get the mini trampoline fixed ASAP.)

"I'm watching you!"

There he goes!


Through it all, he's just fine! He's got a Legion of Angels caring for him!

As it stands now, the CPS report should be considered unfounded.  Having worked 10 years in Children’s Mental Health, with over 26 years working with children, safety has always been my number one concern, especially with my own children.  The nurse was quite helpful but in terms of being able to offer me any in-home supports, (I wish), there is no monies available as Washington State is broke.  Joshua is currently on a 7 or 8 year wait list for any financial assistance from the Department of Developmental Disabilities.  The nurse did tell me that I could try applying for SSI for disability for Joshua and had called this morning to say that Seattle Children’s Autism Center has people available to help with the application process.  I’m not holding my breath, but it may be worth a shot.

In the mean time, I have been so grateful to everyone’s support as I shared my CPS story.  It’s a bit unnerving and I have felt offended that who ever did make the report, didn’t just feel they could come and talk to me about their concerns with Joshua.  I’m approachable and definitely open to suggestion.  I’ve gone out of my way to be outgoing to my neighbors, which is not hard at all for me as I’m quite sociable and so are my children.  It was a shock to me getting this notice in the mail and it has been reassuring that others have felt the same.  Joshua’s teacher shared with me that, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for parents of autistic children to, at some point, get a CPS report called in on them.  Wonderful.   If this is a “Village” don’t we need everyone to simply come along side and offer a helping hand, or should we stand along the side and criticize when they falter and fall?  Raising an autistic child is not easy, and I’m not perfect, by all means.  My feeling right now is, if a neighbor is having concerns, come on over and pitch in!  I have plenty to do and since my husband is working so hard, providing for us, the kids, house and yard are on my shoulders and I could use all the help I could get!  Since I try to see how God brings good out what could be considered, “bad”, I am so grateful for our landlord’s quick response to make sure the yard is safe for Joshua to play in and not escape from.  I’m also thankful Joshua is safe and we are supported by so many family and friends.  Just looking at the ChipIn totals for our fundraiser for sending Joshua to camp can attest to that!  Now, I just need to get out and do some yardwork!  Anyone who would like to come over to help, I’ll make some ice tea, a tasty lunch, and we can play in the Buzz Lightyear Sprinkler when we are done!  (Our pool got holes in it from some rats this winter…darn vermin!)   Perhaps we might even have some ice cream or sorbet we can eat when we are done!

No getting out of this yard, Little Joshie Monkey!

Sideways view of the now, bolted gate. This gate will no longer be used as we have two others and it wasn't latching properly due to gravity.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 at 11:28 pm and is filed under Autism Resources, Autism Treatment, General Autism Info, Sensory Integration Disorder. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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