My Public Hearing Testimony About OCS

 Representative Tammie Wilson from North Pole held OCS Public Testimony Hearings at multiple locations around the state, after a grand jury declined to investigate and turned over their findings to the Citizen’s Review Panel and the Ombudsman’s Office. The hearings were opportunities for those “not satisfied with the current state of the Office of Children’s Services”.  Rep. Wilson has accused OCS of “legal kidnapping”.

As CPS workers, we are either accused of stepping on parents’ rights and kidnapping children who are perfectly safe or we don’t do nearly enough and leave children in grave danger in their homes. I decided to attend the hearing and below is what I said. I hoped it would be an encouragement to my fellow workers and a motivator to get the services that will actually help Alaska to be a safer state for children. Below is what I said:

My name is Jessica Veldstra and I am speaking as a private citizen. The opinions below are mine alone and do not represent  the viewpoint of the Office of Children’s Services.

 

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6 thoughts on “My Public Hearing Testimony About OCS

  1. Thank you Jessica for everything you do to help keep these Children safe Your job is so overwhelming I cannot even imagine ..Thank you for standing up and saying what so many needed to hear from a worker who deals with the stress every single day ..Without you and others like you we wouldn’t even be able to save one child ..Thankyou

  2. Hi Jessica! Are you working with OCS in the Homer office? I’ve been volunteering in the Anchorage office as chaplain since Sept of 2014. I’ve done a lot of thinking about the work OCS does. I have a mental picture of a deck built 20′ off the ground stretching to the borders of the state. The planks in the deck are parents. When parents are damaged by addiction the plank is rotted and eventually will not hold the weight of a child. As children fall through the rotten planks of their parents’ broken lives OCS is running around under the deck with baskets trying to catch the falling kids. But the planks are rotting at a rate faster than OCS can keep up with. Therefore our current solutions aren’t. So I have been asking myself and anyone who will listen, “Why is the rate of broken parents increasing?” Here is my theory. Young parents are acting irresponsibly because that’s how they were trained. Kids are having sex recreationally and unwanted babies are one of the results. Or, even if the baby was wanted by a parent, the parents are not nurturing the children they are producing. They don’t know how. They were likely never nurtured. In many cases they are abandoning them, especially young, irresponsible fathers. So, how did we raise so many irresponsible people? I think mainly by giving them things for which they did not work. Somehow we have to find a way to feed at-risk babies without enabling the parents to remain irresponsible. This, I think, is at the root of our problem. But a solution isn’t clear to me.

  3. Hi Pastor Fourtner! I am working with OCS in the Kenai Office and finished my ninth year here. I get to hear about your advocacy up in the Anchorage office from time to time and I really appreciate your encouraging posts on Facebook. Other than occasional spikes (one which we are in right now), I don’t think the rate of abuse and neglect of children has changed that much over time. I do think our awareness and opinion of it has changed. For example, we know that substance abuse can effect the care of children and in 1830, the rate of alcohol consumption was triple what it is today. Also, abusing and neglecting children was perfectly legal. So was child labor and indenturing your child and slavery. How many children were abused or neglected as slaves? The first child abuse case in the US was prosecuted in 1874 under animal cruelty laws, since there wasn’t any child protection laws. My point is child abuse has always existed and thank goodness that we are addressing it better now. We do see spikes in abuse. In the 90’s, teen pregnancy was very high, and now rates of teen pregnancy is steadily dropping. In the 00’s meth addiction was very high, and now rates of meth are dropping. Now opiate addiction is high, and hopefully soon, it too will drop. We see spikes due to specific causes, and need to address those spikes though education, good treatment, and services which will cause the rate to go down (hopefully soon!). What I don’t want to see is child protection vilified and go backwards to a point where we are not recognizing and addressing child abuse or neglect and leaving children in dangerous situations, which is what I feel Rep. Wilson is advocating for when she calls child protection legal kidnapping. We need to instead to continue reporting and addressing child abuse and neglect and make sure parents have the resources and education they need to safely do that. Thank you for commenting and for your service to OCS workers!!!

    • Thank you for all your work and passion! OCS needs more staff – caseloads are smaller with Juvenile Justice – and they don’t serve families. If we choose to protect families we need to put the resources where they need to be. Children and families are more important than oil or gas.

  4. Thank you Jessica! I am in school for my BSW now and starting practicum at OCS in August,it is shocking & horrible how many people think we WANT to separate families. Nobody wants to uproot a child!

    I’m part of a national education program for future child welfare workers, hopefully this gives me the strength to make it far beyond the average 18 months for front-line workers

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