Foster Care Exit Interview: Phillip, Peter and Pierre's Story
Children Neglected and Abused
You might say that it all began with a phone call placed by multiple concerned neighbors. But that really isn't the catalyst for the resulting chain of events. Long before that call came into the 911 operator at the police station changing three lives forever, there were years of parental neglect and desertion. .These are part of the factors that eventually led to the events that follow, but it's not the whole but a true story about the children.But then, I'm better at putting the pieces of the story together after the fact. My name is Virginia Doyle, I am a Child Protective Services Investigator, and this story is about Phillip, Peter and Pierre, three siblings: This information is provided to children who are in the foster case system as an exit interview. It is a true story but all names have been changed as well as places to protect the innocent.
Law Enforcement & Child Protective Services
Officials became involved with Phillip, Peter and Pierre due to multiple calls to the 911 operator from children's neighbors. The police were dispatched along with Child Protective Services and arrived to do a health and safety check on the children.. When questioned, neighbors reported that the boys were eating out of trashcans in the alley and begging for food. The children were at school when the officers arrived on scene. Upon questioning of the neighbors and landlord, police detectives determined that Phillip, Peter and Pierre were living with their biological mother, Sue. Her current whereabouts was unknown. Neighbors reported that Sue frequently took off leaving the children alone with little money to purchase food. She had been gone from the premises for over a month. The rent on the apartment was paid for the current month.
- National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2018
Failing to meet a child's basic needs is neglect
Child Protective Service Investigator, Eunice, was assigned the case locally. Eunice went to the home and chatted with the detectives about the children. She was informed her that their mother, Sue, left when things got tough. Police also informed that when she left the boys had to fend for themselves. Pierre also reported that his mother, Sue, had placed him in charge of the family because he was the oldest. With this information Eunice completed a legal document and left a copy on the dinning room table for the mother. Eunice took temporary custody of the children. Eunice then proceeded to the school and spoke with administration. She spoke to the children separately. The oldest, Pierre stated that his mother, Sue, gave him about $100.00 to buy food before she left a month ago. He was upset that the police was questioning him and his siblings. "Did I do something wrong?" he inquired. .Eunice assured Pierre, age seven, "No child you haven't done anything wrong, your mother shouldn't have left you for so long. We'll take care of you for now and you won't be hungry without money to buy food. Everything will be just fine." Eunice asked each child if they knew where their mother might be. Each had the same reply, "Don't know." Eunice them gathered the children up and placed them into a foster home. She assured the children that once a suitable relative could be located she would tell them. Each child was concerned, but they were all together,
Family Search Begins
After the children were safely placed, Eunice went back to the office contacted the officer and faxed a copy of the birth certificates to police records. Then she ran a National search in an effort to locate the biological father listed on all the children’s birth certificates. The police department also ran a search for the father in their data base to see if there were any concerns or records regarding police intervention. Pete was eventually located in another state where the reviewer currently resides..
Review and report was requested by Sue's state and an Child Protective Services Investigator, Matthew, was assigned to do a placement evaluation and contact Pete.. Local police also ran a data base search on Pete to see if there were any issues regarding children. He determined that Pete was a carpenter who lived in his family’s home. He was over 200 miles away living in a rural community. Once contact was made by Matthew, Pete agreed to a visit and Matthew were dispatched to do a Home Visit and Home Study on Pete to determine if he might be a suitable placement for the children. Pete had no criminal history, he paid all his bills, when his parents died, and they left him the house free and clear. Pete was overwhelmed with the news of his 3 boys. He had no experience parenting, but stated he would try. After all, they were all his boys. Matthew had no reason to suspect they would be anything but well cared for after receiving 3 letters of reference 2 from friends and 1 from a local Minster stating that Pete was, "A Good Old Boy." The police search plus interview indicated that Pete would be a good candidate for the boys. Pete was asked if he would agree on taking Parenting class, "Sure." Pete stated. Matthew contacted Eunice and provided all the evidence he had gathered about the biological father. The court in Sue's state determined that they would send the children to their father. So, all three children were flown to the local airport.
Placement with Dad
Phillip, Peter and Pierre were picked up by Matthew, Child Welfare worker, and delivered to Pete. Matthew noted that the children were happy with the space, separate rooms, and seemingly great dad. Pete had never met the boys and didn’t know who they were or what they liked. Matthew stated that they were chatting about the correct things when he left them there. All was quiet for a time. Pete accepted his responsibility of the children and registered them in the local school. The school bus picked them up and dropped them off everything seemed to be okay. Child Welfare monitors children for a year after placement and every month after placement to assure that all is well. Pete had agreed and stated that he understood when Matthew left them. He signed an agreement of understanding.
Learn about Neglect
Red Flags / Review of Custody
Troubling signs began cropping up. Pete refused to go to the parenting classes. Then, when Child Welfare workers went out to do the monthly visit, Pete told Child Welfare workers to vacate his property. Pete was making it hard. Child Welfare and the police were contacted by the school with 911 report of alleged abuse. Crimes Against Children Law Enforcement assigned seasoned Detective Bob Winston, Detective and C.P.S. assigned Matthew to do an investigation of suitability and safety a second time. Matthew went to the school and gathered reports, complaints and evidence. Matthew spoke with the teachers who stated that the boys were quiet at first and polite. That changed after a few months. Matthew was handed multiple complaints of fighting. Matthew went to the school nurse and was provided with reports of cuts, strange bruises appearing on the boys not from the school yard skirmishes. Matthew faxed copied of the evaluations to Detective Bob Winston, Detective. Especially disturbing were the nurse reports of rope burns visible on Peter’s neck and what appeared to be wire cuts on Pierre's back. Matthew contacted his supervisor and was given the go ahead to resume custody of the children. Matthew took temporary custody of the children from the school. He handed them a copy of the custody notice for their records. He informed Detective Bob Winston, of his actions and took the boys to the Emergency Room for evaluation.
Medical Professional Involvement - Medical professionals are familiar with agents from Child Protective Services and provide invaluable support and assistance in abuse cases. They took the children into out patient status immediately and ran specialized x-rays to determine if there were indicators of abuse. The Long Bone Scans, revealed multiple broken bones; exam showed multiple contusions, cuts and bruises on each boy and they all appear within the last few months.. The oldest boys, Pierre and Peter, appeared to have the majority of what appeared to be cigarette burns and some bleeding in the eyes [subconjunctival hemorrhages]. The boys told the Matthew they were burned, whipped and hung by Pete for asking for seconds.. Matthew consulted with his supervisor and the children were placed in an Emergency Receiving home. Matthew informed Detective Bob Winston, and provided supporting documents and the detective had Pete arrested for Child Abuse. Custody was them given to the Court of the State who then is the legal guardian for each child. Protective Service Workers assume acting guardianship in the courts stead. For everyday needs for each child's foster parent has some authority to care for the children within limits and under supervision..
Family Separated in Foster Care
Initially all three boys were placed with the same foster family and resumed schooling in a new area. This is not always the case due to lack of openings for sibling groups and lack of available space. It wasn't only a few months until the foster parents complained to Matthew on his monthly visit that Pierre was overly protective of his siblings. They were upset that he was “acting out” in the foster home, questioned their authority over his brothers. Putting them behind him as if protecting them when they were being corrected, etc.. The foster parents would not be appeased stating that they would keep the younger children but Pierre had to go. Matthew contacted his supervisor then Child Placement Service and was unable to locate anyone who would take all 3 brothers together. The Attorney General was consulted about the request. In the end the Judge ruled that the older sibling needs to be removed so that his siblings could have a placement together with these suitable foster parents. So, Matthew removed Pierre and placed him in a foster home alone. Pierre was devastated and voiced his concern about his siblings. Nothing could be done because there was no current home willing to take three abused boys. Matthew was sympathetic and attempted to console Pierre, but he was never the same again. He became sullen.
Counseling Began: Individual and group counseling was started for the children. In counseling sessions, the children provided information on their home life with Pete. Living with Pete had been six months of torture for the children. Pete “punished” them if they didn’t finish every bite of food, if they talked back, if they didn’t finish their chores. Pierre took the punishment for his little brothers on more than one occasion and that is why his injuries were more severe. Pierre continued to feel responsible for his siblings. A gathering of Child Welfare Experts discussed the case in detail. They decided that it was better for Pierre to be raised without his siblings “to give him a chance to be a child” over Matthew’s protests.
Visits with Dad in Jail
No further attempts to locate housing for the children as a family unit was made. Pierre became more distant and sullen. Being separated from his siblings was the worst thing anyone could have done in his mind. In counseling the youngsters related to the counselor of mock hanging sessions where the boys would black out then be taken down and regain their breath, having rope tied around their hands and being connected to the tractor and dragged about the yard, telephone and electric cords being used to whip the children who were tied to the fence, all the while Pete laughed. It was “sadistic” behavior.
Pete was the biological father, and insisted on visitation with the boys. Matthew, by law had to comply and against protests and counselors notations on sadistic behaviors, he was required to provided supervised visits with Pete and the children. They didn't want to go but they were being forced to go. Matthew provided document to the Court as evidence that Pete was not suitable. .So the judge ordered child care classes and counseling to be provided for Pete while in jail...
Visitation Rights even for Abuser
Placement back with Pete then foster care again
Pete served his sentence of three years had gone by, the boys were placed back with the father. Within one year, the school for child abuse and the children were placed back at the farm with Pete upon his release. They were registered in the same school district where the boys attended school before. It wasn't long before 911 calls brought Child Welfare and the police to the school again, but it wasn't because of broken bones on the children. Pierre had been breaking the legs on frogs and tossing rocks at birds and laughing. The teachers stated that, “It appeared he was enjoying watching them suffer.” The police went to the home to investigate. They found a large tub had been filled with water and a chair placed in. There were ropes to tie someone up, and electric outlet nearby. The younger children related that Pete had been shocking Pierre whenever anyone did something wrong. Pierre had electrical burns all over his body. Child Welfare Worker, Matthew, armed with the evidence of abuse took temporary custody of the children for a second time. The younger children, Phillip and Peter were placed in the same foster home as before. They liked the foster parents and felt safe. Pierre was not able to return to a foster home setting because of his bizarre behavior. Pierre was placed in a Therapeutic Group Home” with other troubled young boys.
Pete was placed in custody and back in jail. He requested visitation by his children while he was in jail again. Although it is common practice and legally required for children who are abused to have visitation with their abusers, if they are the biological parents, the court denied visitation by Pete because Matthew provided Psychological evidence that it would further damage the children’s psychological state if the visitations continued. The children were terrified of Pete.
Placed with Dad Again....
Do you think the children should have neen placed with their dad a second time?
Aftermath & Exit Interview
When it becomes time for children to "age out" of the foster care system, a case worker reviews the case history and what had happened to them. Virginia Child Protective Services Investigator was assigned to handle the exit interview and read through the case files. This is where the information above came about. Virginia interviewed Phillip and Peter, who continued living with the same foster family at their own request. They had bonded with the foster parents and enjoy a rich life with camping, hunting, fishing and other activities. The foster extended family viewed them as family. Neither, Phillip or Peter saw Pierre for over ten years. With therapy they seemed to pull out of aggressive tendency and seemed to get along well with others Both have a room available at this family home forever per foster family. Peter will be aging out at age 18 next year. He agreed to sign statement to wait until he was 21. Likewise when it came time, Phillip who would be 18 in two years would also like to remain in the foster home until age 21. Neither brother has desire to meet with Pierre.
Exit Interview - Virginia meeting with Pierre was held in the offices of Child Protective Services. At this time children have the case reviewed for them to understand anything they wanted to know. Pierre grew up in a "Therapeutic Group Home." This day, he turned eighteen, he is considered an adult. Pierre signed voluntary papers to remain in State care until he was 21 years old. He lives in a one-on-one group home with 24-hour supervision because he is considered to be "a danger to himself and others.". Pierre continues to exhibit violent behavior. Over the years he has killed dogs with makeshift knives, put stray cats in the microwave, burning them, and committed other sadistic behavior. Pierre told Virginia Doyle when he “aged out,” that if he ever gets free, he will hunt down Pete and kill him in the most cruel manner he can think of at the time. Pierre o also told Virginia he still worries about his brothers. Virginia assured Pierre that Peter and Phillip are okay. For Virginia, looking over this case file is a good reminder of things gone wrong. A sad state of affairs that one can ponder could have been averted if so many things had not been done to Pierre, If the family had been able to stay together. If the foster parents showed Pierre a bit of understanding, if another home had been available, if the children hadn't been placed again with the sadistic father and the mother found and work with her might have changed. their lives. We'll never know. Pierre may not be released at age 21 as he is considered a "danger to society." It is possible he will remain in a mental health care facility for the rest of his life.