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256 pages, Hardcover
First published March 26, 2013
• Social workers do not bring non-offending parents with them to retrieve children from offending parents. This is a major liability issue. In all likelihood the social worker would have brought the police because the situation was potentially dangerous, and if not the police then at least another social worker.
• Social workers do not stay in motel rooms with the children they remove. This would be a huge liability for the department, not to mention expensive. The children either would have been immediately placed with Carey's father (assuming he and his family had had the proper background checks, and his home had been inspected thoroughly for child safety issues) or placed in foster care. Carey could be released to her father's custody fairly quickly, but since Jenessa is not related to him by blood he would have to be a licensed foster care provider for her to be placed with him, which doesn't happen in the span of 24 hours.
• A social worker also would not give the children her home phone number. This is a boundary issue, and while it may happen with long-term clients, it wouldn't happen with children who don't have a well-established relationship with the social worker.
• Upon taking Carey and Jenessa into custody, the social worker would have done a lengthy interview. The girls would have been asked details about how they had been living, about their mother's behavior, whether or not their mother had ever physically abused them, whether they had been sexually abused, etc. These interviews are very thorough because the information has to be reported to the court.
• The social worker would likely have looked for marks on the children and discovered the scars on Jenessa's back prior to them being place with Carey's father.
• The girls would have had a medical evaluation soon after being taken into care. If the scars hadn't been discovered by the social worker they would have been discovered by the doctor and there would have been interviews about them.
• The children would have had an attorney to represent them in court. in Tennessee they are known as a Guardian ad Litem. This attorney would have seen the children and spoken to them as required by law.
• Carey and Jenessa would have been court ordered to do individual therapy. Even if the social worker were completely incompetent and did not recommend this, their attorney most definitely would, and the judge would certainly order it.
• Social workers do not administer educational tests nor do they evaluate them or make recommendations based on them. Educational testing would be handled by the Department of Education.
• The children would not intentionally be kept out of school for a month. There are laws that require children to be in school, and most states have laws that require social workers to enroll the children in school within a certain timeframe, which is much shorter than a month (in California it's five days). This doesn't always happen because of incompetence but it's never the plan.
• The social worker would in no way be qualified to diagnose Jenessa as having selective mutism nor would she be qualified to recommend the frequency of visits with the speech therapist. Jenessa would be referred to speech therapy and the speech therapist would then make a recommendation as to how often she would need to be seen. This referral would have been made immediately not weeks after Jenessa was in care.
• In Tennessee there is a meeting within 30 days of the child's removal which includes the social workers, attorneys, parents, caregivers, children, and other interested parties specific to each case, to discuss the children's needs and services as well as the longterm plan. This meeting never occurred in the book.
• The social worker who initially removed Carey and Jenessa, Mrs. Haskell, would not be their social worker after the initial investigation was completed. They would have been assigned an on-going social worker who would do their monthly visits and review reports.
We find the beauty, even in the lack. That's human. We make the best of what we're given.
"I'm like Ness's broken-legged chipmunk, which had to be shaken and poked out of the birdcage once it healed, preferring the familiar, even if the familiar was a jail. Home is home."
"That girl in the woods is amazing. Don't you ever stop being that girl in the woods, you hear me? Braids and new clothes can't take away the best parts of you. You hold on tight to your heritage. That girl in the woods raised a baby, took care of her sister, kept her fed, warm, safe. That girl in the woods is special. You're braver than most girls your age will ever have to be. Don't let anyone tell you differently."
"We make attachments to what's familiar. We find the beauty, even in the lack. That's human. We make the best of what we're given."