I am a licensed psychotherapist at a renowned psychotherapy center, where I treat children and families going through ACS investigation. I currently manage a caseload of 26 patients. I earned my master’s degree in social work and a Juris Doctorate degree. In addition, I have done extensive postgraduate training at Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry. My initial exposure to child protective cases was as a primary clinician and graduate social work intern a board of families and children’s services where I managed a full-time caseload and offered preventative services, including individual and family counseling to ACS involved youth and families. Most of the families I worked with were mandated for services during abuse and neglect allegations. I have extensive knowledge and training in sex offender risk assessments and the application of them during psycho-sexual evaluations. I acquired this specialized forensic training at The Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeal Bureau, where I was an in-house social worker for 10 years.
The previous sexual assault should have raised a red flag with the county’s social worker. It prolonged the process for its final determination, and this afforded the perpetrator more time. Given the in-home circumstances, a simple and thorough background check would have brought the information to light about the guardian. In a standard adoption process, a thorough background check must be conducted in tandem with a detailed home study. The county did not act on a series of red flags swiftly enough in making its determination. Due to the fact that the county finally rejected the adoption, it had a responsibility to 1) inform the judge determining legal guardianship of its previous findings and 2) inform the county that a sexual assault had later been reported. A similar and uniform standard to meet the best interest of the child should be applied in both processes– adoption and legal guardianship. Even if an ICPC investigation is not ultimately required in a legal guardianship process, the relevant information should have been presented during the hearing. Ultimately, when considering the best interest of the child, the judge would likely not have granted guardianship and exposed the child to the perpetrator.