Kris’ Corner-Dealing w/false allegations

by Andra Martinez

So, many of you have probably heard that false allegations are sometimes made against foster parents. It may be a reason you’ve not yet thrown your hat into the ring. The fear of having “a 310 called on you” is terrifying and can be a thought in the back of your mind when you foster. If you haven’t heard much about that yet, I’m here to let you know that yes, it does sometimes happen.

Thankfully I do not have a whole lot (ok none to speak of really) of personal experience dealing with false allegations, but I know of others who have.

I do have this to say, however. We had a *slight* allegation early on (which came to nothing) but I was absolutely sick to my stomach as a result so I can only imagine how I would feel with a legit, on paper, with an investigator, 310 allegation.

Early on in our son’s case, he had a visitation with the biological parents. And the mother flipped her lid about “all these scratches” she saw on his body when she changed his diaper. When DCS picked him up to bring him home (DCS was doing transport at that time…although not common, it was how our case was initially), his mom insisted that DCS examine him and take pictures of the scratches. But they had all disappeared!

Well, that’s because the “scratches” she complained about (complete with the notes about them in the visit supervisor’s report) were tiny skin creases caused by his clothing and his diaper…so clearly DCS could not corroborate mom’s report of abuse on our part and the case worker was able to put those allegations to rest rather quickly.

But, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the calls are acts of anger or retaliation, even though it is clearly not the foster parents who removed the child from the home. The biological parents sometimes feel anger or resentment towards the foster parent because they have the child. As a result, the biological parents will sometimes make a call to the child abuse hotline with a false claim against the foster parents.

Other times, 310s can be called in from the schools, physicians or neighbors. Anyone, in case you did not know this, can call in. In Indiana, every person is considered a mandatory reporter if he/she suspects abuse or neglect of a child.

Now, sometimes the allegations can be over and done with quickly. But, it might still be months before it has been completely put to rest. Other times, there is a lengthy investigation, testimonies given, court proceedings…the whole nine yards.

Since I don’t have first-hand experience with that, I sought out some input from foster parents who have. “Fostering is a series of hills and valleys; when a 310 comes in, it’s a valley and low one…and even though you feel alone, and angry and scared, it ends and you move on. A 310 is not a matter of if but when, so just be honest and let your agency fight for you and support you; honesty is the best policy for sure,” said Beth (name changed for privacy).

As Beth said, the best advice for those kinds of situations is to be honest and forthright; answer the questions, provide what is asked and then sit back and wait. Bottom line: Let the investigation play out and be patient. And try not to worry. More often than not, the allegations will be proven unsubstantiated and things will return to “normal”.

The bottom line is this: have someone in your corner to help you through the process. “CB was very reassuring and informative in giving me information about the investigation; I never had to hound my DCS family case manager to find out what was going on. She kept me up to date and was forthcoming about everything she learned,” shared Deborah (name also changed).

All that to say: yes, false allegations do happen; but, I would highly encourage you not to let that scare you away from jumping into the foster care ring. When you have an agency that is worth their mettle (and of course I’m talking about Children’s Bureau), the support you receive during a false allegation experience helps you know that you are not alone and that you can weather this storm. “CB has been amazing,” said Deborah. “I have nothing but the highest regards for them. They are so attentive, keep you up to date, and not only advocate for your children but they advocate for you as well.”

While each false allegation situation will be different, I hope this helps allay your fears about the “what if” of it all.

Sincerely,

Kris