This Article Was Written by a Caseworker in Oregon- If He Knows It is Corrupt Why Doesn’t Anyone Else

Child (or Agency) Protection?
By heyrigneys
November 22, 2008, 4:34PM
“You guys do more damage to kids than the parents!” Most Child Protective Services Supervisors and caseworkers would consider this malicious slander. As a Child Protective Services caseworker of eight years, however, I know it to be true. I’m not alone. The above observation uttered by a loving parent with borderline intelligence is echoed by many. Consider the following irony lamented by Duke Law Professor, Doriane Lambelet Coleman (2006): “…in the name of saving children from the harm that their parents and guardians are thought to pose, states ultimately cause more harm to many children than they ever help.”

Few in the field argue that Child Protective Services (“CPS”) nationally has myriad problems that are well documented in the form of media, research, congressional sub-committees and expert reports. Documentation supporting this fact is ubiquitous and readily available on-line.

However, the most grievous problem is that those who can most benefit from this knowledge, those who might use it pragmatically to improve the lives of children and families – the caseworkers and supervisors of CPS – appear either ignorant of or indifferent to the damage that removal of children perpetuates. That is: the most profound problem with “Child Welfare” is that it is not about the welfare of the child.
Rather, it is about the welfare of the agency itself. The internal paranoia that a “Cover-Your-Agency” (CYA) mentality creates has become so pervasive that most caseworkers and supervisors are determined not to make any decision that might jeopardize their career… and the children are afterthoughts. The agency hierarchy itself reinforces this CYA mentality due to its understandable desire to remain off the front page of newspapers. This “defensive social work” is helpful in preventing bureaucrat heads from rolling. The tragic wake of this status quo, however, is strewn with the lives of children and parents.

Estimates I’ve come across in my research reckon that between one-third and two-thirds of those children currently in foster care nationally should be living with their parents. Furthermore, it has become undeniable that despite many saintly foster parents the government makes a poor parent. The research shows unequivocally that CPS should be loathe to remove kids from their homes because, in most cases, there is nowhere better to put them. As a result, the state is stuck between a rock and a hard place: remove children from marginal parents, causing well documented, irrevocable emotional damage (not to mention the physical and sexual abuse that occurs more frequently in foster care), or leave these children with parents who, arguably, should never have had kids in the first place– the “lesser of two evils” if you will. Enter the “Safety Model.”

The state of Oregon has become one of the last ten percent of our nation’s states to adopt a “Safety Model” guide to protecting our children, created by Wayne Holder, the man Oregon CPS has called the “foremost expert in child protection in the nation.” (I encourage anyone interested to visit his website at to understand Mr. Holder’s credentials and the Safety Model as a whole.)

“What do I have to do to get my kids back?!” Those of us in CPS have all heard it. It is inevitably the first question our clients have and it is echoed frequently until the kids are returned. The Safety Model forces Child Welfare to quantify their answer to this question.
In my experience, most families don’t care how long CPS monitors (or micromanages) their family as long as their kids can live with them in the process. Mr. Holder would probably site this as THE driving force behind the creation of the Safety Model.
In quantifying their answer to parents’ most pressing question, CPS must delineate for all parties and the court, the necessary “behaviors, conditions or circumstances” in the home required to “manage”- not eliminate- the safety threats that necessitated the removal of the children. The agency’s answers must be “specific” (i.e. quantifiable). They must be “well articulated.” They must be “least intrusive.” They must be “well defined.” They must provide a “benchmark” (i.e. they must be measurable). They represent the “official record and expectation” for parent-child reunification.

The parents themselves need not change at all prior to the children being returned to the home.

The Safety Model, in addition to its dictates that CPS be as “least intrusive” as possible in intervening to control threats to child safety, requires that these threats be “observable and specific,” “out of control,” “imminent” and expected to cause “severe” harm to a “vulnerable” child.

No doubt for many of you this is a hard pill to swallow. These are unreasonably low standards for our most precious resource. You, like me, think children deserve more. The fact remains, it is irresponsible at best and abusive at worst to remove and/or withhold a child from his or her home upon the speculation that a “threat” of danger exists, when we know from the research that removal and placement of children in foster care is always detrimental.

I’m not talking here about severe neglect or physical/sexual abuse. In five years with Oregon CPS (I worked for three in California previously) I have had only one case with such abuse (and the research puts this type of abuse at about 15 percent combined).
The Safety Model is merely a tool, an attempt to minimize the trauma to children inflicted by their own government. There is no tool or legislation that will ever completely expunge child maltreatment or child deaths so long as the only requirement for parenthood is a capacity for coitus. I believe that if the state institutes a model, a tool envisioned by the “foremost expert in child protection in the nation,” the state should actually use it. That is, if CPS is making the rules, they should follow them. Currently CPS (at least in Coos County, Oregon) is not, or not consistently.

The sad yet necessary truth is that it is not the job of Child Protective Services to pick the best available situation for kids and place them there permanently. That would literally be kidnapping. Rather, it is the job of CPS to work with marginal parents and make them “safe” or capable of providing a “minimum standard of adequate care.” It is CPS’s job to make parents “safe,” not “good.” Again, it is also our job to be “least intrusive” in our intervention.

In America we must accept freedom’s costs with its benefits. As Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “There is nothing new in the realization that the Fourth Amendment [illegal search and seizure] protections come with a price.” This is true of many other “protections,” such as the right to procreate and parent.
Unfortunately, Child Welfare is not held accountable for the unattributable damage to children caused by removal from their families and foster care. However, it is well-documented damage. Shouldn’t we, like doctors, use our professional judgment to “first, do no harm,” rather than using it to forecast the future? It is the children who pay the ultimate price for this unqualified prophesying.

The Safety Model provides a useful tool that, if used correctly, can save many children from the fate of CPS being their only perpetrator.
Rich Rigney
Child Protective Services
Coos Bay, Oregon

About Yvonne Mason Sewell

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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10 Responses to This Article Was Written by a Caseworker in Oregon- If He Knows It is Corrupt Why Doesn’t Anyone Else

  1. LK says:

    Ah yes, Rich Ringley. CPS worker all the way. I met him in a newsgroup once. Even offered to have him write for Legally Kidnapped. He was there having fun with the victims of CPS. When a couple of us called him on it, he quit the group.

    I actually think that he wrote that as part of a re-certification assignment so that he can maintain his social worker license.


  2. yvonnemason says:

    Interesting. Maybe I should contact him and see if really believes what he wrote. Hold him accountable


  3. Tito Tito says:

    I have personally worked with Rich. After reading this article, I see he is a huge hypocrite as well as an ineffectual worker. He does not answer his phone, and after numerous requests by both myself, a CASA and a therapist trying to establish home visits I finally had to call his supervisor for help.
    What he wrote here and how he actually does his job are polar opposites. It bothers me to see that people think he might be some kind of a hero for children and parents who are in the system. I have talked to other people who have him for worker, and nobody has anything positive to say about him.


  4. daren durham says:

    please i need help the state has had my two girls for 8 months thiers no abuse neglect or domestic voilence and they are taking my girls away because i cant get into treatment cuz of the long line bs.. help please 2 loving parents need help being railroaded


  5. aj says:

    daren durham or Anyone Else,
    If you have any information or any leads on someone or something to get your daughters back or on filing a formal complaint against the caseworkers who have done this please post it. My family is going through a situation where our daughters aren’t allowed to come home but there is no court case and the caseworker has been verbally abusive to us in front of our children and in public.


  6. Rich Rigney says:

    For the record, I meant every word of what I wrote and I sacrificed my job for it. Here’s the recently published update ( CPS is an impossible job and that has been proven by numerous workload studies. I am sincerely sorry to any clients I was unable to help due to an egregiously inefficient system. I take solace in the fact I was able to protect many a family from the agency.


  7. Thank you for speaking up, Rich. I’ve dealt with them, down here, in Florida. It was quite a battle, to keep them from falsly labeling and drugging my grandson. Real school of baracudas, they were. There was one worker, who was very nice, and you could tell she was trying to help. She ended up quiting over our case. She saw the railroad job they were doing to my family. I ran into her, about a year later, and she told me that it was just too heartbreaking, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it, so she quit. She didn’t belong with that school of baracudas. I caught them falsifying documents, too. It was quite the mess. I couldn’t even get a dentist for the kid, but they really pushed for him to go to the fly by night, storefront shrink of their choice, though. Took me a ton of phone calls (actual counseling is becoming extinct), but I finally found a place that did counseling and didn’t drug the kids, so I took him there. They tried to say I was being “uncooperative”, but, that didn’t fly, because I took him to “counseling”, just not where they wanted. When they started the bully tactics over it, I reminded them what a bang up job they did 25 years ago with his father (he ended up a psychiatric lab rat til the Medicaid ran out – come to find out decades later, that his behavior problems likely stem from undiagnosed/untreated congenital Neuroborreliosis and Rickettsial infections, which they never check for, before the psych drugging begins), and how dare they come after another generation of my family, and that if they didn’t back off, I was going public.


  8. Pingback: OREGON’S DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES « victoryNchrist

  9. Pingback: Dirty agency changes leaders, changes names but doesn’t change its evil ways | puremadangel's Blog

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