Dentist Reports Mom to CPS for “Oral Neglect” (Yes, I Know How That Sounds)

A Ontario, Canada mom who took her daughter in for a dental check up was told by the dentist that her daughter had a mouthful of cavities — nine.
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Finding that assessment odd (and expensive), the mom, Melissa Lopez, switched dentists and ignored the first dentist’s notices to bring her child in for the fillings. Incidentally, the next dentist found less decay.
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Without ever inquiring directly as to why the mom didn’t come back, Dentist #1 then reported her to child protective services for possible “oral neglect.”
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When the authorities investigated, they discovered that Melissa wasn’t an abusive mom but rather a skeptical consumer, so they closed the case.
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But then they refused to remove it from the books. According to the CBC:
[T]he file, Lopez claims she was told, is permanent.
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“It will always be there, 10, 15, 20 years from now,” she said. “I’m red-flagged, I’ve been marked, and there’s no reason for this to have happened.”
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The child protective agency says it hangs onto files for “accountability.” But if the charges were found meritless, it makes no more sense to keep Melissa’s case on file than it would if she were investigated for bank robbery and found to have been six states away the night of the crime. Should the authorities keep a file on her just because they once, completely mistakenly, thought she robbed a bank?
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Canadian law actually says that a person can petition to have their criminal charge removed as soon as five months after the charges were withdrawn, dismissed or acquitted.
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But Andrea Maenza, communications co-ordinator for the Durham Children’s Aid Society, said that [their] protocol is mandated by the Child and Family Services Act…. [She] stressed that there aren’t necessarily negative implications from having a permanent case file, since all the information about the interaction is included, including why it was closed.
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“An individual can ask for a copy of their record to know exactly what it says,” she added.
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I wouldn’t feel better knowing I could ask for a file about myself and find it filled with accusations eventually disproven. I’d feel better if anyone who asked about me was told, “Sorry, this person doesn’t have a record.”
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As for the dentist, the child protection folks say he did the right thing, alerting them to the mom’s possible negligence.  But I’d say it’s the dentist who is guilty of negligence, first of all for drumming up what sound like dubious cavities, and secondly, for not checking to see what was up before siccing the authorities on the mom. It’s hardly unheard of to change dentists.
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The issue here is how easy it is to drag a family into an abuse investigation, and how hard it is for the family, like an impacted molar, to get itself extracted. – L.

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Melissa Lopez and two of her kids.s And yes, we can see they’re not showing their teeth. That’s not a crime.

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62 Responses to Dentist Reports Mom to CPS for “Oral Neglect” (Yes, I Know How That Sounds)

  1. John B. July 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    If the second dentist found less than 9 cavities, I’d be curious to know how many cavities he found. Was it 5 or 6 cavities instead? Still a lot of cavities but I don’t think this warrants contacting Child Protective Services over. Perhaps it’s just a matter of the girl eating less sweets or brushing her teeth more. Heck, when I was a kid I didn’t brush my teeth at the frequency I should have but 2 cavities was the most I ever had during one check-up.

  2. Sara July 20, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    It’s VERY common for young children to get a large number of cavities. Until very recently, dentists and doctors did not recommend fluoride toothpaste for young children. My daughter ended up with 6 cavities (mostly between her molars) at age 4–and we did brush every night. By the time my son was born, they had changed the toothpaste recommendation and he has had zero so far.

  3. Myriam July 20, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    I’ve read somewhere else that she actually never told the first dentist (despite his office attempting to contact her) that she was going elsewhere. Not that she did anything wrong, but the dentist also ”did the legal thing” here… Dentists are mandatory reporter, and a mom not coming back to get 9 cavities seems like something that should be reported.

    However, I do agree that unfounded accusations should not appear in a permanent file…

    and @John B., the dentist did not contact the authorities because the girl had cavities, but the mom did not come back to get them fixed/or tell them she was going elsewhere…

  4. Dienne July 20, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    “Until very recently, dentists and doctors did not recommend fluoride toothpaste for young children.”

    What do you consider “very recently”? Or where do you live? My dentists and doctors always recommended fluoride toothpaste and I grew up in the 70s and 80s. My kids’ dentist and doctor likewise recommend fluoride toothpaste. I’m unaware that it has ever not been recommended, at least since it became available. Furthermore, they now go further and recommend a fluoride mouthwash.

    I would be extremely suspicious of any dentist who claimed my kid had nine cavities – that would be remarkably rare. The kid would most likely be in some pain if that were true. But I would tell the dentist right up front that I would be seeking a second opinion and that I likely wouldn’t be coming back.

  5. Nicole July 20, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    She was not reported because she had so many cavities, but because the assumption she was not getting them treated as she did not come back. Why they didn’t just call her is the mystery… they had enough time and info to make a report, but not for a quick phone call to see why she didn’t come back. Awful

  6. Roger the Shrubber July 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    I think that a call to the dentist’s licensing board is in order. This dentist tried to perpetrate a fraud on his clients by inducing them to purchase services that they did not need.

  7. Donna July 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    “it makes no more sense to keep Melissa’s case on file than it would if she were investigated for bank robbery and found to have been six states away the night of the crime. Should the authorities keep a file on her just because they once, completely mistakenly, thought she robbed a bank?”

    If you are investigated by the police for a bank robbery, that information is part of the record of the investigation into the bank robbery. Unless the investigation into you was very minimal (eg, If they talked to everyone in the state who drove a silver car with a license plate having an M in it), you would likely be entered into the system as a person involved in the investigation and a search of your name would uncover this incident report from that day forward. Even if you were not entered into the system, your name would still always be part of the investigation report for the bank robbery.

  8. Helen Quine July 20, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping the information (and I think it’s pretty poor crime fighting to get rid of investigations in to crimes that don’t result in charges after 5 months). All sort of things are fine, even good, when they are one offs, but it’s a pattern and repetition that indicates a not good enough environment. you’ll only see that (and so look deeper) if you keep information when it becomes available. I’m not sure about whether the lack of follow up by the mom indicates a good reason for a child abuse investigation, it is the authorities that are best placed to follow up though. The dentist (I hope) wouldn’t have the authority to check that the mom was telling the truth when she said she was going to another dentist for a second opinion.

  9. James Pollock July 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    “When the authorities investigated, they discovered that Melissa wasn’t an abusive mom but rather a skeptical consumer, so they closed the case. But then they refused to remove it from the books.”

    If you were investigated and found innocent, why would you complain that they keep a record that you were found innocent? I mean, if that same dentist goes six months, sends out “time for a checkup” cards, and then no appointment is made… and then the dentist files another report with CPS… you’d kind of WANT the CPS to have a record that says that this dentist falsely reported you once before, wouldn’t you?

    If you had one of those neighborhood busybodies who reports all the parents to CPS because of disapproval of the parenting choices, and then several of the claims are investigated, and found to be meritless… wouldn’t you WANT the CPS to have records that say “this person makes a lot of meritless claims”?

    If you had one of those divorces where the child custody aspects dragged on and on, and one parent tried reporting the other parent to CPS as a tactic, wouldn’t you want a big “non-custodial parent made claims about custodial parent. These claims were investigated and found to be false” page on top of the folder?

    “Should the authorities keep a file on her just because they once, completely mistakenly, thought she robbed a bank?”
    If the police actually thought she robbed a bank at some point, that fact IS in the police records, along with the reason they no longer think so (assuming they don’t).

    “I wouldn’t feel better knowing I could ask for a file about myself and find it filled with accusations eventually disproven. I’d feel better if anyone who asked about me was told, ‘Sorry, this person doesn’t have a record.'”

    What anyone who asks about your CPS record should be told is “CPS records aren’t public, so we can neither confirm nor deny that any records exist”.

    Moving on. I have my doubts about “Without ever inquiring directly as to why the mom didn’t come back”, because every dentist I’ve ever gone to has had somebody whose entire job was to call people and ask them about when they’re coming back, and computer systems that remind people when they should think about coming back, they send out little postcards saying “six months went by already?”, and other etc. The idea that the dentist never tried to contact the mom for followup? I just don’t buy it. Maybe mom chose not to respond, having decided to switch to a different dentist. That I’d believe.

  10. Jessica July 20, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    This is an incredible act of vengeance-seeking by the dentist.

    I had the SAME situation. My five year old went to a fancy children’s dentist, who said he needed 8 fillings. This was strange, since he’s had healthy checkups every six months (by a different dentist) since he was 2. So I said “thank you very much,” walked out, and never looked back. We returned to our trusted family dentist. They never called or followed up with me– but it never occurred to me that they could contact child protection! That is wildly inappropriate, assuming that the mom is telling the truth that they didn’t try to track her down to explain why the child needed care.

    I’m on the fence about the permanency of the CPS files. I’m sure that some large percentage of the population have files with one entry that say “unfounded allegation.” But I also agree that it wouldn’t make me feel any better!

  11. BM July 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    The dentist tried contacting her many times. The mother ignored all the calls, as she wasn’t going back to him.
    Left with no contact/call back, that’s when he alerted CPS.

  12. Anna July 20, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    “The dentist tried contacting her many times. The mother ignored all the calls, as she wasn’t going back to him.
    Left with no contact/call back, that’s when he alerted CPS.”

    Maybe it’s just a function of my dental history, but when I think this story, my first thought is that the dentist sounds like one of those total shysters who convinces patients to get all kinds of unnecessary work, as if every tiny patch of decay should be filled immediately, which I learned – to my great cost – is NOT good dentistry. As my childhood dentist put it when I went back to him later: “If I filled every cavity I saw, people wouldn’t have a tooth left in their heads!”

    Anyway, if that guy who cheated me of several thousand dollars and destroyed half my teeth tried calling me back once I’d gotten smart about it, I sure as hell wouldn’t be calling him back to explain myself. I’m happy for this mom that she knew enough not to let him upsell her in the first place. (And it seems quite possible that he was vindictively punishing her for the fact that she saw through him.)

  13. Melanie July 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    Couldn’t this have been easily avoided by the mother responding to the dentist’s attempts to contact her by saying, we’ve found another dentist to take care of the issue?

  14. Dean July 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    So getting a second professional opinion, then changing doctors is suspicious?
    Maybe the law, or at least the agenc’s protocol, needs tweaking.

  15. Rebecca July 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    If a mother is neglecting her children, she’s not going to take them to the dentist in the first place. What if they got busy and she couldn’t get them back into the office at the time the dentist wanted them?

  16. SKL July 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

    Since when does a dentist have a right to be informed of what a parent is doing?

    I understand they are mandated reporters, but I think of that in terms of reporting that Mom busted kid in the face and that’s why his tooth is loose/broken etc. Or the molars are rotting away and gums infected, and the dentist has evidence it’s not being addressed (vs. NOT having evidence whether or not it’s being addressed).

    I never even took my kids to the dentist until they were 7 (except the time one of my kids injured herself). Guess I’m a lousy parent. I never went to the dentist until I was 11. It’s amazing I’m alive. :/

  17. MP July 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    This is a critical piece being overlooked by many (pointed out by reader “Roger the Shrubber” and bears repeating): “I think that a call to the dentist’s licensing board is in order. This dentist tried to perpetrate a fraud on his clients by inducing them to purchase services that they did not need.” Is dentistry a part of Canada’s socialized healthcare? If so, then the fraud here is not just against the client but against the government itself. Will they be investigating this dentist?

  18. Powers July 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    Geez, Lenore, overreact much?

    The permanent record is so that if a hypothetically abusive mother were to get reported again, they’d have a record that this wasn’t the first time she’d been reported. Even if she was exonerated on the first report, a second or third report might be enough to get them to dig deeper.

  19. Bethany S Mandel July 20, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    I hope she leaves a detailed review on Yelp, Google, etc.

  20. George July 20, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

    The only practical remedy is to post the dentist’s name online, where future google searches for him will turn up the story of how he turns patients into CPS.

  21. pentamom July 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    @John B. ” Still a lot of cavities but I don’t think this warrants contacting Child Protective Services over. ”

    It doesn’t warrant anything (even if this is the case, which is purely speculative on your part) because she DID take them to the dentist and get whatever treatment was required. There was no “neglect’ here at all.

    Okay, maybe it warrants the mother teaching her to brush her teeth better, but it warrants nothing that is any of anyone else’s business to meddle in.

  22. pentamom July 20, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    “The permanent record is so that if a hypothetically abusive mother were to get reported again, they’d have a record that this wasn’t the first time she’d been reported. Even if she was exonerated on the first report, a second or third report might be enough to get them to dig deeper.”

    Which is EXACTLY the problem. She didn’t do anything wrong, not even anything questionable, and yet by this logic she will be held to a higher standard to justify her actions, should someone else make yet another frivolous report about her in the future.

    Yes, she could have contacted the first dentist and avoided all this, but that’s “wrong” in the “didn’t do everything perfectly” sense, not wrong in the “is the slightest negative reflection on her care for her children” sense.

  23. sexhysteria July 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    Can’t she sue the dentist for the false and reckless accusation?

  24. James Pollock July 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    “Which is EXACTLY the problem. She didn’t do anything wrong, not even anything questionable, and yet by this logic she will be held to a higher standard to justify her actions”

    Or, you know, the exact opposite of that.
    If you have records that show someone keeps making false accusations, the caseworker has a paper trail that supports a decision not to investigate new ones, or to close them with minimal investigation.

    If they don’t keep records of false accusations, they have no way of dealing with false accusers.

  25. George July 20, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

    Here is one legal trap that few people realize.

    You might ask, “Why didn’t the dentist call the mom, saying ‘I’m a mandated reporter, so please assure me that you come back or get another dentist, or I will have to report you to CPS.'”

    The dentist cannot do, or else he can be found out to be in violation of the mandated reporter laws. He is supposed to report his suspicions, and not investigate them himself. Asking the question is proof that he had the suspicions, and hence proof that he violated the law by not having already called CPS.

    Yes, the law is terrible. Please help expose how bad it is.

  26. George July 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

    “Can’t she sue the dentist for the false and reckless accusation?”

    She can sue for anything, but she will not win.

    It is impractical to penalize dentists and other mandated reporters for both too many accusations and too few accusations. Our lawmakers have decided to only penalize the failure to make a report. The common advice is: When in doubt, make a report and let CPS figure it out.

    The defenders of this system will never let anyone be penalized for making an unnecessary report.

  27. Peter July 20, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

    Dentists are mandatory reporter, and a mom not coming back to get 9 cavities seems like something that should be reported.

    Uh, why? Maybe she went somewhere else.

    As Lenore implies: “Oral Neglect”? Really? That’s Child Abuse?

    I mean, “Yes, Dr. Dentist, my child fell down and broke a tooth. Never mind the broken nose and the plethora of bruises. That’s from falling down.” Okay…maybe we want to file a report. But “Oral Neglect?” Your kid has “too many” cavities? That now enters a realm where a child must be “protected”?

  28. Theresa Hall July 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    I not sure if if she could sue and win. Here in America no chance of getting a trial but since she in Canada maybe. I don’t know much about the Canada’s Justice system so I can’t say if she could win.

  29. AmyP July 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t look after the oral hygiene of their kids, but don’t understand the need to report anything. There are a plethora of reasons the mother would have for not coming back. I myself never went to the dentist at all. Ever. The children aren’t in imminent danger. Yes, I’m aware poor oral hygiene can have long term affects, but so does feeding children constant junk food and I don’t see people getting reported (not regularly anyway) because of poor diet. It would be a dentists role to give information on treatment as well as teach parent and child about proper mouth care, but outside of that I don’t see what there is to report.

  30. Jp Merzetti July 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

    wow.
    I just want to see this dentist pull the same stunt on a Bay Street hedge fund manager – and he can kiss his practice goodbye.
    Millions of poor folks have rotten teeth – only because they’re poor (and dentistry is expensive.)
    That’s not negligence.
    That’s poverty.
    Or not even poverty……lots of people who aren’t exactly poor still can’t afford dental costs.

    So I don’t agree with or accept this “mandated” nonsense.
    The um, “relationship” between these two people was entirely over money.
    The mom apparently did not have the right (without state intervention) to save her money, shop elsewhere, and find a better deal……with or without that professional clown’s blessing.
    Why did she need to tell him anything?
    And isn’t that a great way to punish a prospective customer for refusing your prices? Wow.
    (as if he didn’t know exactly what he was doing.)

    And this doesn’t even begin to touch how and why that “record” needs to stay on the books.
    The damned thing is an insult.

    The woman is being punished for not being able to afford a cash-grabbing dentist (or refusing the exploitation.)
    And what about any of that is all right?

  31. Workshop July 20, 2017 at 6:13 pm #

    Rule by Experts is not a good thing.
    “We are the Experts, so you need to trust us and if that means we keep your file in perpetuity, so be it. How dare you think you know more than we do.”

  32. Amy July 20, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    When our case was closed, i asked for a copy of our file and was told “we don’t have one”.

  33. Amy July 20, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

    Also it doesn’t say how old her kid is. Are the cavities in her permanent teeth or baby teeth? I actually heard of one family who lost their kid PERMANENTLY cause their son had a cavity in a BABY tooth and they chose not to fill it, but wait till it fell out. The dentist reported them and cps took their kid. then got a judge to TPR them for that reason and adopted him out.

    I don’t believe one word of the social worker’s forked tongue. They NEVER gave me a copy of my file, even after court. They told me it didn’t exist, then used the false allegations to harass my family for 10 years.

  34. MR July 20, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

    @MP dentistry is not part of Canada’s socialized health care and can be very expensive. I can’t see how it can be mandatory to take a child to the dentist and have fillings done when it is possible a parent can not afford it. Yes dental health care is important but if it is important enough to be considered child abuse then it SHOULD be part of our socialized health care.

  35. bmj2k July 20, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

    Depending on how many fewer cavities the second dentist found, I wonder if she has a case against the first dentist for filling a false report?

  36. pentamom July 20, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

    “If they don’t keep records of false accusations, they have no way of dealing with false accusers.”

    If that were the actual concern, they could keep a record of all accusations made, separate from the file on the family. That would be one “way of dealing with false accusers” without keeping a permanent record of the accusation directly associated with the family. Then, when the family complains about false accusations, they can go to the accusation records and determine whether those accusations were made.

    That took me about five seconds to think up, BTW.

  37. Jill R July 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm #

    “I wouldn’t feel better knowing I could ask for a file about myself and find it filled with accusations eventually disproven. I’d feel better if anyone who asked about me was told, “Sorry, this person doesn’t have a record.””

    To be fair, in Ontario, Canada, (where I live) these files are CAS files only (Children’s Aid Society) and not in any way connected with a criminal record. The records wouldn’t show up on a background check, or if a cop pulled you over, or anything like that– you would have to be charged with a criminal offence or even be convicted of a criminal offence for that to happen.
    These records also cannot be accessed by anyone who asks, as the post implies. CAS can’t share their case files with anyone except for police and courts.
    So “anyone who asked about you” would be told, “Sorry, our records are confidential and we cannot release any information regarding any person or file.”

    Agreed, the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Also, there are a plethora of legitimate reasons to criticize CAS and the family court system– they have many skeletons in their many closets, and a hell of a lot to answer for. Keeping permanent (and sealed) records of all past investigations isn’t really at the top of the list, if you ask me.

  38. SKL July 20, 2017 at 11:43 pm #

    I don’t agree with those who say it was wrong not to tell the old dentist they were going elsewhere.

    When I had a sucky meal at Bob Evans and decided not to return, I didn’t feel obligated to tell Bob Evans why I wasn’t returning. It’s up to me to decide whether or not to give negative feedback. Most people prefer to leave quietly rather than criticize.

    At my kids’ first US pediatrician visit, I told the doc I wanted to delay the 12mo vaxes, and he reluctantly allowed it “provided I get them done at the 18mo visit.” I didn’t like the way he interacted with me, so I decided there would be no next visit with him. My kids’ next doc visit was at age 2.5 with a new doctor. I never informed the previous doctor. I do not feel that was wrong at all. If some people think that is reportable to CPS, I think they are nuts.

  39. ezymel July 21, 2017 at 12:26 am #

    Now, I heard everything. To actually accuse mom for being neglectful in her childs number of cavities and the dentice calling authorities, should have never happen. I know when I was a child and even as an adult, I have eaten so much junk food and drank very sweet sodas, that my teeth were damaged. When you drink lots of soda’s the acid and high amount of sugar will erode your teeth. This I blame the soda companies for getting away with it and no standards by the FDA. Like everything, big bucks can sell anything. Mom was not neglectful and she was found not guilty. However, for keeping this on her records until at which time it is removed, does subject her a record of neglect but but not willfully. But, it is still on her file. Yes, I feel that the dentist should have used better judgment and easily rectify the situation with mom. I am sorry I am using mom but that is for your children. No offense. I understand that the dentist found 9 cavities. Another dentist found less. How much less, I don’t know but I would like to know. If it was just a few cavities, I had more when I was at your daughters age. No one taught me how to brush my teeth except the dentist which I believe they should for a young child. In the early days which I am showing my age, 🙂 dental treatment was cheap compared to todays prices. How about $10 per cavity and today I bet it can be 10x as much. Maybe I am exaggerating. So, mom on the other hand went to a different dentist which she has a right to. Maybe the 1st dentist was very expensive and the 2nd one was less or she didn’t like the 1st one.

  40. Megan July 21, 2017 at 1:35 am #

    When I was 11 and my allergy to the family cat began to turn into asthma, my mother took me to allergist Dr. Phillip Torsney (in New Jersey), who told her that she and my father needed to get rid of the cat. For reasons I won’t go into, they chose not to do that (not then and not ever; the cat lived another 10 years). But because the doctor had pushed my mother’s guilt button, she never took me back to him. (She found another doctor, Dr. Anthony DeNoia, in Holmdel, who was quite happy to make money off my asthma:). That asthma destroyed my life, so of course I see this story differently than most, but I want you all to understand that Dr. Torsney should have reported my parents to the state. I had no advocates, and this one person, who could have been one, chose not to be, and my life was permanently damaged. No potential advocate ever came along again. I am against medical bill inflation and paranoia about kids, but it’s impossible that my story is completely unique. There are bad parents out there, and all children need advocates. These things happen. Something like this deserves serious case-by-case consideration, for kids’ sake, because neglect happens.

  41. James Pollock July 21, 2017 at 3:36 am #

    “That took me about five seconds to think up, BTW”

    Might want to put a little more effort into it, next time.

    ” they could keep a record of all accusations made”
    Right. Now read the text that you actually quoted again, and explain how they “could keep a record of all accusations made, without keeping records of false accusations.

    You basically want to set up a whole extra set of record-keeping, in addition to the one they already have. Gee, I wonder why that hasn’t caught on? And you want to do this to achieve… what, exactly?

    I went through a divorce with a messy custody fight that dragged on and on. My ex-wife tried the tactic of making a whole bunch of baseless claims against me. CPS investigated, found them to be baseless, and, I assume, those records still exist. Which means that if anyone else had ever happened to raise concerns about me, the very first thing a caseworker would find would be a case file that said “we already looked at this guy, and everything was good. We issued findings of fact to the court that all the claims were false, and James should keep custody of his daughter.”
    Can you explain to me why I should consider this to be a bad thing?

  42. Beth July 21, 2017 at 6:20 am #

    Until I read these comments, I wasn’t aware that one of my parenting duties, especially if I want to avoid CPS, is to answer calls from and report back to someone I’m no longer doing business with. I learned something today!

  43. Jessica July 21, 2017 at 7:29 am #

    Megan
    That is an amazing story, and a good perspective. I’m sure your situation is rare, but as you said, it can’t be totally unique.

  44. BL July 21, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    @James Pollock
    “Can you explain to me why I should consider this to be a bad thing?”

    ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire. James just hired a smart lawyer who got him off on a technicality.’

    A lot of people think that way. A lot.

  45. Kirsten July 21, 2017 at 8:54 am #

    I second the suggestion to report Dentist#1 to the licensing board for attempted fraud over the nine cavities.

  46. SKL July 21, 2017 at 9:23 am #

    James, the reason it’s a problem to have a record that you were investigated and they didn’t make a finding: because that’s true in every horrific child abuse case I’ve ever read about. There are always past complaints against the person and records that some CPS person came and looked at the bruises or whatever and believed the family’s story that the kid walked into a door etc. Next thing you know the kid is dead and there is a big public fuss about why this wasn’t prevented when the person had been reported before. Followed by a push for more suspicion of parents even after they have been “cleared.”

    If one more person complains because you let your kid walk to the school bus alone or whatever, I believe they will look at past complaints not as evidence that you’re a great dad, but as evidence that you walk the line at best and need your judgment questioned more closely each time.

  47. Julie Lewis July 21, 2017 at 10:47 am #

    So, can I report my city to CPS for oral neglect? They chose not to update the fluoridation systems in the city water. My 3 year old had a completely healthy set of teeth and 8 months later with no major changes in diet or brushing habits wound up with 6 cavities. I’ve had two dentists who have looked at his records agree the change in fluoridated waiter is the most likely culprit and there have been numerous reports about the number of cavities in children skyrocketing throughout the city. Let’s get this on their record.

  48. Jessica July 21, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    Certainly they look at past unfounded allegations. When I was growing up my mom was a child abuse investigator for the state. Unfounded reports were called “not indicated.” If they received a report on a family that had five “not indicated” reports, did it make them suspicious that abuse was happening? Of course it did. That is WHY they keep a record of those things.

    The CPS system works totally differently from the criminal justice system where (supposedly) a “not guilty” verdict in a previous trial doesn’t come into play in a new trial. Prosecutors can’t tell a jury, “Well, he probably did kill this person because he was accused and acquitted in the past of killing someone else.” But that is NOT the standard for CPS. And I say this as someone who really believes in CPS, because, as I mentioned, my mom was a social worker, and a good one, and I believe they generally do a really good job. But if my record with them has several unfounded reports, I’d be getting pretty anxious about it.

  49. Sara July 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    Regarding the fluoride toothpaste, yes, they recommended it for older kids and adults but until a few years ago they did not recommend it for kids too little to spit it out (which many kids can’t do until 4 or 5). They were concerned about it being swallowed. Instead they recommended using baby training toothpaste without fluoride. But when my son was a baby (4 years ago) I was told by the pediatrician that the recommendation had changed to brush baby’s teeth with a small amount of regular fluoride toothpate and not to worry if it gets swallowed. I think this was a good move.

    https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/dental-group-advises-fluoride-toothpaste-before-age-2/

  50. pentamom July 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Simple, James.

    The record of accusations made, is separate from the file record of people against whom accusations were made.

    If someone is cleared, and another accusation comes in, and you go look for their file, it doesn’t exist, because it’s been expunged. If the person previously accused was not cleared, their file remains active so you know they have a history.

    But in another location, there is list of all accusations that have been made, so that if someone wants to find out what accusations have been made for the purpose of finding out whether someone’s been harassed, they go check the separate list. The people responsible for investigating whether someone is being excessively accused, should be different people from the ones investigating accusations. After all, the former would be a police matter, and latter a CPS matter.

    You should consider accusations remaining on a person’s actual record to be a bad thing, because outside the jury system, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” is considered by many to be an acceptable way of reasoning, rightly or wrongly, and it is likely to bias an investigation against you.

  51. pentamom July 21, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    SKL, I had a similar thing to happen with a child who was suspected of failure to thrive. (Turns out I wasn’t nursing very well and supplementing did the trick.) I walked out on one doctor and never returned because when he noted my child’s declining growth rate, he said, “And if we don’t get her weight up on the next visit, we should consider testing for cystic fibrosis.” Other than poor weight gain, my child had NO symptoms of CF and I considered that either an unprofessional threat, or an incompetent approach. I did return for the followup visit because I was concerned about her weight gain and finding another doctor would have taken too long for a reasonably prompt followup, but after the next appointment at which she was deemed to be gaining ground, I cancelled the next followup with no explanation and found another doctor.

    Apparently some people think I was responsible to tell that doctor that I was seeking care elsewhere. I wasn’t. She was cared for, that’s all that’s relevant. “She’s not coming to me for care and I don’t know if she’s seeking care elsewhere or not” is not a reportable suspicion, at least not in a sane world.

  52. pentamom July 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    BTW, that doctor would up doing time for trading sex for Schedule II prescriptions, so incompetent and unprofessional were likely both right.

  53. James Pollock July 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    “Where there’s smoke there’s fire. James just hired a smart lawyer who got him off on a technicality.’
    A lot of people think that way. A lot.”

    Fortunately, CPS files aren’t open to “a lot” of people… just people who know how the family court functions, including people who know how to read an investigative report and know what it means, and (most of whom) are not prone to inserting facts that aren’t there.

    “the reason it’s a problem to have a record that you were investigated and they didn’t make a finding:”

    I was investigated and they DID make a finding. It’s the cover page, and it’s labeled “Findings of Fact”, and it says “the allegations of noncustodial parent were false”

    “If one more person complains because you let your kid walk to the school bus alone or whatever, I believe they will look at past complaints not as evidence that you’re a great dad, but as evidence that you walk the line at best and need your judgment questioned more closely each time.”

    This, then, is why you want the complete case file to be retained. You talk about how bad it is to have multiple allegations about you (which may reach the caseworker through several channels, including the accusers saying “I’ve complained about this before…” or “like I said the last time…”. So you want the caseworker to have the results of the prior investigations, in black and white in front of them, instead of just vague recollection, rehashed complaints, or personal, unofficial records. If you were investigated, and the investigation showed that the claims made about you were not true, then you WANT the caseworker looking at new allegations to have the full investigative report available to them, because it COUNTERS the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. The caseworker looks at the report, and now knows that there was no fire. CPS investigations are usually fairly thorough (I don’t know how they are run in every jurisdiction).

    So, let’s imagine that, rather than a parent in a custodial case, I’m an actual defendant in a criminal matter. Let’s assume hypothetical facts like this… I taught my two kids how to walk safely to the park. When I was sure they could do it safely by themselves, I let them walk, without my being in direct supervision, to the park, play there, and return. Now some well-meaning person, who doesn’t know how well-prepared and capable my kids are, sees them alone at the park or walking to or from, and calls the cops to report unsupervised children. A cop shows up, verifies unsueprvised children, takes them into (protective) custody, calls in a CPS caseworker to interview them, and suggests charges of child neglect for leaving these kids unsupervised.

    OK. So investigation reveals that, although the children were unsupervised, they were actually prepared for it. They knew how to stay safe while travelling to and from the park. They have a contingency plan, likely involving a cellphone in today’s world, but whatever it is, it reveals parenting that provides for the needs of the children and efforts to keep them safe. The investigation reveals that the kids are NOT just wandering around the neighborhood because the parents are too busy or loo lazy to keep track of the kids… the kids are where the parent expects to find them, and not engaged in any actions riskier than climbing on top of playground equipment. To summarize in a sentence, the report says that these kids are enabled, not neglected.

    Because I continue to enable my kids, they soon expand their world to include travelling unsupervised to other destinations, as well. It is very likely that someone will observe them in the world, without a parent in ready hailing distance. If someone calls in and reports roaming children, then I WANT them to have access to the complete investigative record, because it includes the fact that the agency discovered that my kids are enabled, not neglected.

    Now, if the agency kept no records, the fact that my kids had been roaming free before might lead the investigator to believe that my kids are ROUTINELY left to their own devices. Maybe the person who reported my kids the first time does it again, and mentions “I’ve reported this before” Now, the important thing is that this is the first information the investigator learns about me and my kids, and it colors their perceptions of what they get told later. If they DO have the complete records, the first thing the investigator learns is that somebody reported these kids before… and the investigation that followed showed they were not neglected. So, as the investigator goes on to collect evidence related to the new allegations, they do so knowing that the prior investigation found the kids to be properly parented. Now, it’s possible that the parenting was proper before, but has declined in the interval since, but that’s easier to rule out. By the third time the disgruntled neighbor reports the kids being unsupervised, the finding of “Oh, it’s this crank again” comes even faster.
    That’s a good thing.

    Back to my case, now. I said it was a nasty, messy custodial case. It also dragged on, year after year, as my ex-wife kept trying to gain custody after the initial ruling. Local court rules allow new petitions for changes in custody one year after the last proceeding, and every year, my ex would file a new motion to alter the custody. These proceedings got shorter and shorter.

    Back to the hypothetical: CPS investigations are hard on the family. Both parents and children suffer disruption in their daily lives, and may suffer anxiety, deserved or not, while the investigation is being conducted. “What if X is enough to make them take the kids away?”, regardless of what X is, whether it’s “both parents heavy methamphetamine use” or “that time we got on the airplane and left Kevin at home, alone” or “those three dirty dishes soaking in the kitchen sink” or whatever, is going to occur and cause at least some worry for most people. Making them shorter and less intrusive, but still as accurate as possible, is good.

    It comes down to wanting a person who will make important decisions about me or my kids to have the most, best information possible before making a decision. You get better decisions when people have more information available to them, and you’re more likely to get bad decisions when the decision is made with little, inaccurate, or no information at all.
    Yes, you can argue that a CPS caseworker might look at the information, and still reach a wrong conclusion. That’s an argument for better CPS caseworkers, or better training for CPS caseworkers, or better information for CPS caseworkers. It’s not an argument for having CPS caseworkers work with no information.

  54. A Reader July 21, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Speak of the devil: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/nyregion/foster-care-nyc-jane-crow.html?mwrsm=Facebook&referer=http://m.facebook.com/
    Today’s New York Times covers the issue of CPS overreach, especially in communities of colorm

  55. chris July 21, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    That dentist would be on the receiving end of a massive lawsuit.

  56. Donna July 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

    “I actually heard of one family who lost their kid PERMANENTLY cause their son had a cavity in a BABY tooth and they chose not to fill it, but wait till it fell out. The dentist reported them and cps took their kid. then got a judge to TPR them for that reason and adopted him out.”

    I am absolutely certain that this did not happen. No parent in the history of parents has ever had their parental rights terminated due to nothing more than a single unfilled cavity or even many unfilled cavities. An unfilled cavity may have been the catalyst to the discovery of a far worse situation that then was not remedied over the many months and often years that the CPS case in ongoing before the TPR was obtained, but it was definitely not the only issue or even a factor beyond the first 5 minutes.

  57. Donna July 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm #

    “I wouldn’t feel better knowing I could ask for a file about myself and find it filled with accusations eventually disproven. I’d feel better if anyone who asked about me was told, “Sorry, this person doesn’t have a record.””

    If anyone asks about you, they are told “we cannot release any information” (actually they most likely never even get in contact with a human being to whom they can ask this question, but if they managed to somehow connect with someone, they would told that). CPS files are not public record. They are confidential and can only be accessed by those outside CPS by court order in very limited circumstances. The only people who will ever see this report are CPS.

    The only reason CPS would ever look is if there is another report concerning the same family. Even if they did look, this particular report would not play a part in any decision made in that second case. This was not a situation where the abuse/neglect could not be substantiated. In this case, the abuse/neglect alleged was proven to have never occurred because the necessary dental work was actually performed. Even the most evil CPS worker could not paint getting proper dental work for your children in a timely fashion negatively.

  58. SKL July 22, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    If CPS files are never ever accessed by people outside of CPS, how come it is always reported on the news that an abused child had prior complaints to CPS?

    I agree that IF you’ve had a complaint to CPS and it’s been proven false, you’d want the fact of it being proven false to be in your file. However, I don’t believe it’s better to have a pile of unfounded complaints in your file than to not have a file at all.

  59. James Pollock July 22, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    “how come it is always reported on the news that an abused child had prior complaints to CPS?”
    Well, because it isn’t. This is not a factual statement.

    You may be shocked to know, however, that news reporters sometimes use news sources other than confidential CPS files when they report the news. Like, for example, they might find out that multiple complaints were made to CPS because the complainant tells them. (You might see this if the complainant is an extended family member like an aunt, cousin, or grandparent, or a mandatory reporter wanting to cover their posterior. If CPS has interviewed neighbors as part of their investigation (a common practice), then the neighbors might tell the reporter.

  60. James Pollock July 22, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    cont’d
    “However, I don’t believe it’s better to have a pile of unfounded complaints in your file than to not have a file at all.”

    Sure. And I believe that It’s better to not have cancer than it is to have cancer.

  61. Donna July 23, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    “If CPS files are never ever accessed by people outside of CPS, how come it is always reported on the news that an abused child had prior complaints to CPS?”

    I didn’t say that they are NEVER accessed by people outside of CPS. I said that they are not public record and can only be accessed by people outside CPS via court order and under limited circumstances.

    One of those limited circumstances is a police investigation into current allegations of child abuse. If an abuse case is being reported in the media, it is almost always as a result of a police investigation (either ongoing or resolved by arrest). CPS is allowed to speak to the police concerning previous abuse allegations if relevant to a current abuse investigation. That information would be reflected in the police report. The police report is public record.

    Further, as James said, the CPS files themselves are confidential, but people do not take blood oaths of secrecy the violation of which is a criminal offense. The police, family members, friends, neighbors, etc. can speak to anyone they want about anything they want, including CPS reports known to them or made to them. If you are arrested for murdering your child, there is nothing stopping your neighbor from telling the press that she called CPS about the screaming from your home 3 times or that CPS questioned her about your family on more than one occasion.

  62. anne July 31, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    I live in the same town as this Mom (no I don’t know her) but in Ontario OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) doesn’t include dental care so for many people it’s an out-of pocket expense unless you happen to be on Manulife plan or something. The Mom in this case didn’t have insurance so was skeptic her child had nine caviaties. Also she had changed dentists in the past without needing to inform the previous one. She’s not the only one other people have too.