In every case brought by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), the Division seeks an Order compelling the parent(s) to engage in services to address the issues that necessitated the Division’s involvement. These “services” range from psychological evaluations to substance abuse treatment to marital counseling. But, the one common denominator in all “services” is the Division’s insistence that the services be secured by the Division with its contracted providers and not privately retained by the parent.
Does one ever stop to question why? If a parent has a need for domestic violence counseling, is there some legitimate reason why New Jersey tax dollars are required to fund a 26-week course, in lieu of the parent’s resources paying for the counseling through her private insurance? Is it that the state wants the parent to jump through the hoops of attending a course once a week, at a pre-set time, with others, to atone for the sins of victim-hood in interpersonal relationship? Or perhaps it is because the division can rely upon a course it has approved but has some trepidation about relying upon a professional with whom the Division is not familiar?
Perhaps. But, I would suggest there is another reason. However much the judiciary resists this truism, the Division is NOT a disinterested third party solely interested in the best interests of children. The Division is a government agency. A bureaucracy. It functions on red tape. Thrives on inefficiency. And succeeds on ensuring that everyone follows the rules, obeys the commands, sticks with the agenda, and makes sure the agency does not get sued for screwing up.
Not screwing up is good, right? Wrong. When one is motivated by not screwing up, the highest success ever to be achieved is blind adherence to rote instructions. That means, if 1 + 2 = 3, always, universally, because that’s the rule when 1.1 comes along, and there’s no formula to determine how to reach 3, the universality of the 1+2=3 rule becomes the default. So, 1.1 becomes 1 because it is easier to get to 3 by adding 2, rather than do the math Dan subtract 1.1 from 3.
The net result becomes a gross oversimplification of complex problems or, alternatively, an exaggerated over-response to the simplicity of human interactions. That is the reason why it becomes easier to require a psychological evaluation in EVERY case, rather than say that in cases where a parent has already been evaluated by a credentialed psychologist other than one paid by the Division, there is no need to replicate the evaluation; we can simply implement the recommended treatment.
That is the reason why it is easier to say EVERY parent is limited to supervised visitation in the Division office, rather than question the need for a parent to have supervision where the alleged harm to the child was medical neglect, and the medical condition allegedly neglected no longer exists!
It is easier to follow simple rules (e.g., a child in foster care = no phone access to parents) than it is to THINK and tailor decisions to the needs of the child, the parent, and the circumstances. Consequently, the agency functions best when its employees obey. That ensures they keep their jobs. And THAT is what governs when alleged child abuse or neglect is investigated and treated. Once these motivations are questioned, one realizes that the agency is NOT merely a disinterested third party out to save the children. Underneath every decision is a motivation. Beyond every service is a checklist that ensures that the requested service is offered to promote many objectives, which may include child protection, but which may – and likely does – include job security by e obedient box-checker.
The sooner this reality is acknowledged by those in positions of power, the sooner “services” can be put into their proper context.