When Derek invited his Facebook supporters to proffer him counsel about what to say to this superior, many of us responded but we had misunderstood. We thought he already had an scheduled appointment, so we spoke accordingly. We have learned since offering the advice that he was simply sending an email request for an appointment and wanted some wise guidance about that request content. What you will read below from contributors speak to that understanding. Then I offer some ideas from that same misinterpretation but I believe there is value in what I and the others have said.
With the personnel change, Derek has understandable concerns that his case may experience setback; that previous ground will have to be retraced; that further delay will occur; that Ayn will be forced to remain in foster care indefinitely.
Derek said, “Obviously the biggest concern of mine is that MCFD does not let all the dialog and work which I and the previous SW have achieved be in vain. I would like them to honour it and to carry on that dialog as best they can under the circumstances. So the question becomes how can I express myself to ensure that the dialog does continue unabated and yet occurs rapidly and that we do not allow this social worker’s absence to slow the process down. Ayn needs to come home now.”
Derek invited the several thousand Facebook friends of ‘Help Bring little Autistic girl back to her daddy’ to offer him counsel. People responded. Some of them have gone through similar trials with child protection personnel. Others empathize and speak from common sense. A few remain angry at the hurt inflicted upon this family by an unnecessary removal of a child and the unduly long separation already (6 months). Here are some of their thoughts.
- I would suggest you talk from the heart.
- I personally say be yourself!!!
- Ayn deserves to be with you but I don't think being rude or cranky with them will get you what you want.
- They just need to see for themselves how amazing you are, and what your kids mean to you!
- Ask them if there is a way that the process can be sped up so that Ayn can come home specially before Christmas.
- You can try and understand their tough position on being in the job that they are, trying to settle matters and taking children from the homes and separating families; that it must be difficult for them as well (GAG), that you are not blaming them; your main concern is for Ayn and what it is doing to her; that you want to get her home with her family back into her familiar surroundings, into her familiar routines before too much time has lapse.
- There is no such a thing as over-explaining an issue and I believe that repeating things over and over is very necessary.
- Don’t cut the workers any slack.
- Maintain your innocence and document everything.
- Stay on top of everything and do not trust their word but place everything in writing, and you will win.
- Don't get conned.
- The only thing which will stop them is the fear of litigation and / or public exposure.
- Make sure your attorney is present and that you tell your attorney everything and let the attorney talk to them on your behalf - never go to any meeting without your attorney. Make your attorney work for you.
- Do not let them try to bail on it (prior commitments); hold their feet to the fire; tell them how it will go and at same time have your attorney submit the proposal you wrote as well.
- As you communicate with the superior, you have no idea what the MCFD agenda is. They will speak first. They called the meeting. It will be wise to let them speak. It will also be wise to listen thoughtfully, and without a display of emotion or disapproving reaction. Any opposition you have to what is said should be expressed with calm and intelligent communication. You want to convey that you are a man with appropriate deep feelings for his family yet a man in control of his disposition. You are strong and stable. You are a survivor. You will carry this through to its satisfactory conclusion. They must witness this demonstrably in you.
- Print copies of your entire Proposal and again give a copy to each person in the room with you. At an appropriate time in the conversation, present it emphatically as an evidence of the due diligence you have exercised to fulfill MCFD expectations. Underscore that you have taken this task seriously because it has been your understanding with the previous social worker that this is groundwork to Ayn’s return. Emphasize that you have been given the unmistakable understanding that this is preliminary to Ayn’s sure return to you. Stress that you expect the full cooperation of MCFD to this end.
- Since you may be talking to people who are not as familiar with your case as was the previous social worker, do not hesitate to reiterate the essentials of this case, such as Ayn’s autism, your son’s autism, your commitment to caring for them, Ayn’s compatibility in the home environment, the progress and development she has gained through the initial years, the restraint of her outbreaks affected by your compassion and patience.
- If it comes up, you may have to accede to some further MCFD expectations or requirements to get her back, so think seriously about them without rejecting them out of hand.
- Go with confidence that you have a case, that is, the MCFD action although defensible from a legal standpoint, has been a breach of common sense, decency, good social work, and full compliance with the Child, Family and Community Service Act. They are in the right but they are wrong. You are in the right and you are right.