Vol. 7, No. 1 November 2002
False Allegations: One Foster Parent's
ways, foster parent Carol Nixons experience of being investigated
for child abuse is classic. It began with misinformation: when a brother
and sister were placed in her home by another county DSS, she asked
that agency if the children had a history of sexual abuse, and she was
told they did not. She later learned that they had both been severely
boy moved from her home to a pre-adoptive placement he claimed, possibly
as an attempt to sabotage the adoption, that he had raped Nixons
3-year-old foster son while staying at her home. When the boys
therapist called to tell her about this allegation, Nixon knew it was
impossible based on the details in the boys story. Despite this,
she had the 3-year-old examined by a doctor, who found no evidence of
abuse. To keep them fully informed, Nixon told her county DSS of the
older boys allegations.
she received a letter informing her that because she and her husband
may have allowed this sexual assault to happen they would be investigated
for child neglect. When she called her DSS to find out what was going
on, her licensing worker, the person she was closest to at the agency,
told her she could not speak with her about the case. The worker explained
later that, based on its interpretation of State policy, her county
DSS prohibited licensing workers from having contact with foster parents
undergoing CPS investigation.
her husband felt powerless, confused, and uninformed about the investigative
process. Worst of all, she says, the people at my
county DSS didnt tell me they were going to abandon me. I was
left with no support.
with State policy, the CPS unit from another county DSS conducted the
investigation. It was pure hell, what we went through, Nixon
says. I was crying all the time for months. We knew we had done
nothing wrong, but we felt like bad parents.
It was some
comfort, Nixon says, that the CPS worker was gracious and kind. When
the investigator left she told Nixon, You have nothing to worry
about. It also seemed a positive sign that, during the investigation,
her agency did not remove the foster children from her home.
investigation, which took months to complete, cleared Nixon and her
husband of child neglect, she was still very angry with her county DSS.
I was so angry I couldnt even look at themit was eating
me alive. I seriously considered not fostering anymore. She was
upset that she was denied access to the final report that cleared her
name. The thing she was most angry about, though, was the fact
that I was completely abandoned by the agency when I needed support
the most, and that I had not been told this would happen if an investigation
In the end
Nixon decided to continue fostering on the condition that all future
MAPP training in her county strongly emphasized the risks of false allegations
foster parents face and the procedure agencies must follow when a report
against a foster home has been accepted. Her agency eagerly accepted
this condition, going so far as to invite Nixon to speak during this
part of one MAPP training event. Her agency also continues to place
children in her home.
ordeal Carol Nixon had virtually no one to whom she could turn for support.
If you or another North Carolina foster or adoptive parent you know
is going through a CPS investigation and needs support, Ms. Nixon invites
you to contact her via e-mail at <[email protected]>.
2002 Jordan Institute for Families