I'm a single mother and a student of children and community services. I recently endured the trauma of DOCS/FACS involving themselves in my family's lives. As a result of 3 months of illness i had fallen behind in housework. When they arrived they could only point out two risks of harm to my children - those being a biscuit in my daughters room and a toddler chair blocking an entry way (Nonetheless they did state that if these were not removed they would be happy to put my children into foster care). Aside from being degraded with ridiculous questions and having complete strangers come into my home and make personal judgements about the way we live, leaving all of us very shaken up, I was shocked to see that they had not been factual in their reports.
Vital details were left out and other details were over exagerated - almost as if they had to bend the truth to prove they had a right to be there. These are only the reports that they showed me... I'm currently in the process of gaining access to all other reports. Obviously i removed the problems, but did it end there? No. I was referred to "Brighter Futures" for help. Sounded great, however, Brighter futures don't help with housework or childcare - which were the only two things that i needed help with. What "Brighter Futures" will do, though, is come into your home and start putting down your methods of parenting - contradicting the advice of professional child psychologists, best selling authors of parenting books and well practiced methods of discipline (such as time out when a child hits their sibling - In fact, the DOCS officer who attended felt the need to call me 2 days later just to say that she was shocked that i would put my son in time out in front of a DOCS worker and that it is NOT OK...). What really rang alarm bells for me is when nurturing practices of parenting such as allowing my 5 year old daughter to sleep in my bed once a week were raised as concerning issues that needed to be dealt with. Why are we trying to stop children from feeling safe and loved with their parents?
I've since spoken to a friend who had dealt with "Brighter Futures" herself. On the first visit she was told off for allowing her 7 year old daughter to sleep in her bed. On the second visit when asked how she was, she replied that she had had a big week and was tired and had enough. On the third visit she was handed papers to sign to say that she was suicidal...That was the final straw for her so (as it is supposed to be a voluntary service) she thanked them for their time and stated that she no longer required their services. She then recieved a closing letter to say that she had refused to cooperate with them at all. This I found to be a little strange given that she had originally called them and invited them into her home with the false hope that they were there to help.
I am pretty disgusted with this as I was abandoned by DOCS as a child who was suffering real and physical and emotional abuse. Many people called DOCS to help - they turned up once and closed the case. I do wonder how on Earth they can miss hundreds of serious cases per year, and yet turn up immediatly and spend so much time trying to tear perfectly good families apart. How can i help?