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Child Protective Services

When I was a young man, I worked two years for Child Protective Services (CPS). It’s a strange job, going to people’s homes to talk to them about complaints that other people have made about how they treat their children.

On Children (September 2018)

Child Refugees from Central America

Dear Editor: I met Lynnette Arnold last year at Pacific Yearly Meeting when she called for interested Friends to meet to discuss the problems of the overwhelming numbers of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central America. For Lynette, this concern has evolved into serving as the convener of a sub-committee of the PYM Latin American Concerns Committee (with monthly conference calls), two trips to a detention center for families in Karnes, Texas, and fasting recently in solidarity with a hunger strike by detained mothers. Lynnette is a member of the Santa Barbara Meeting and is currently completing a PhD in Linguistics at UC Santa Barbara. We met at the Santa Barbara Meetinghouse where she was fasting, and I am sending you my record of my interview. Please share this with “Friends Everywhere.”

On Difference (July 2015)

Are Committees Still the Answer?

Dear Friends: Liberal unprogrammed Quaker meetings are organized or disorganized by committees. Without an identified pastor or priest, we count on the wisdom of committees.

On Needs (May 2015)

Be a CASA

Be a CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate

On Puzzles (May 2019)

That of God in Research

In the September/October 2018 issue of Western Friend, “On Children,” I wrote about my experiences as a Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker. Much of what I described about investigating child abuse concerned “control.” For example, my Quaker practices of listening in silence and discernment helped me “learn the rules so you can break them properly,“ as the Dalai Lama recommends. “The rules” in this case were Washington State’s Child Protection Laws and the policies of CPS, which attempt to control the behavior of parents by enforcing norms to restrict physical discipline of children and to achieve minimum levels of care. Those enforcement structures are the stick. The carrots used to control families are the programs that CPS offers to help them, as well as the refuge in foster homes that CPS offers to children when parents fail. Unfortunately, social workers can cause harm when they fail to use judgment and discernment in applying the laws appropriately in each unique situation. As Parker Palmer so beautifully describes, one of the paradoxes of life is that both control and spontaneous creativity are necessary for human flourishing.

On Control (July 2019)