Updated- Child (or agency) Protection?
By Rich Rigney,
(former) CPS Social Worker
February 28, 2013
In 2007 the State of Oregon
implemented the Oregon Safety Model, which required Child Welfare
workers to follow much more specific criteria when removing children
and reuniting families.
Since beginning my CPS career in
California in 2003, having grown increasingly concerned with the
inconsistent and capricious manner in which families in the Child
Protection system were treated, I had great hopes that this new model
would finally provide caseworkers the guidelines necessary to treat
each family fairly and consistently.
It became clear to me in the
following months that my branch of Child Welfare was philosophically
opposed to the Oregon Safety Model and had no intention of following it
or even allowing it.
I published an article on the American Family Rights Association
website four years ago for the
sole purpose of promulgating the model, not simply because we are
required to use it, but because I agree with the experts that it truly
does help children and families.
Since this original endorsement of
the plan DHS Child Welfare employees are required to use, and my
subsequent attempts to implement this plan in practice, DHS was on a
mission to fire me.
Finally, following a four-year
barrage of petty and disparately applied disciplinary actions, I was
fired on my birthday, September 11, 2012. I guess, given four years,
even a government agency can fire anyone under any guise or pretense.
The most ironic factor in my
dismissal is that it began because I was the only one attempting to
It has become abundantly clear to me
after spending a dozen years in CPS in two states; much independent
study of the agency nationally, and myriad and sundry concerted
individual efforts to improve the agency from the trenches to no avail,
that “Child Protective Services” is a government agency that cannot be
improved from within.
In short, this is because those CPS
workers and supervisors who have lengthy careers care more about their
own jobs than they do about the best interests of children and families.
This is exactly what the agency
requires because it protects the agency itself. Self-preservation is a
natural human defense mechanism and I understand it, just as I
understand DHS not wanting to be on the front page of the Oregonian due
to a child death. But only to a point.
Not to the extent, however, that I am
willing to acquiesce to the corruption of an agency that does more harm
than good for children and families.
So, solely in the interests of the
children and families of Coos County, Oregon I published my article on the internet. Once the agency successfully punished me
for exercising my free speech rights, I did not publish anything again.
My crime since that time was in simply attempting to daily, apply in
practice the very model DHS is required to use.
Because this model makes the agency
vulnerable, despite its being in the best interests of children and
families, I was daily prevented from implementing the model and was
ultimately fired for not acquiescing to the agency’s prohibition.
I was never insubordinate or
inappropriate with clients or community partners.
Indeed, I never disregarded the
agency’s interests except where those interests were wantonly unethical
or were, in fact, crimes against our clientele: children and their
families. Given that Oregon DHS-Child Welfare obviously has no
intention to follow their own rules, the agency has no use for
fair-minded and outspoken child advocates like myself.
The State of Oregon has robbed me of
a 15-year career due to their corruption. Ironically, placing paramount
importance on the welfare of children and families was exactly what
cost me my career in child welfare.
From a “big-picture” perspective, the
impetus for my termination was two-fold :
1. I was
following DHS policy (i.e. The Oregon Safety Model, which I was
forbidden to implement on many occasions).
2. I have always helped people in spite of inherent deficits in
bureaucracy that make this a nearly impossible endeavor.
My story is only one vignette in a malaise of corruption that is this
government agency that our tax dollars support. The child welfare
system is a kind of "reverse-Robin-Hood" of human trafficking: robbing
(children) from the poor and giving (children) to the "rich" (or, at
least, middle class).
(former) CPS Social Worker