News stories regarding child protection:

I encourage you to read these stories from today’s Herald Leader:

Toiling for hope, family

Often, there’s no easy answer

They echo many of the things I have said social workers for the Cabinet struggle with in prior posts and give many of those workers some oft deserved positive press.

However, problems do exist and persist in the child protection system. This article touches on one problem:

Accuracy of Fayette drug tests disputed

When we have family court judges highly dependent upon drug test results to make their decisions, accurate testing is imperative. If there is a positive drug test, some family court judges will make the logical jump from there being drug use to a finding of neglect without needing evidence about the extent of drug use or the impact upon the child. This is despite KRS 600.020(1)(c) specifically requiring a showing that the parent:

    Engages in a pattern of conduct that renders the parent incapable of caring for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child including, but not limited to, parental incapacity due to alcohol and other drug abuse as defined in KRS 222.005;

KRS 222.005 gives some more objective criteria such as loss of control over use or recurrent and persistent use despite legal, work, or social impairments.

Thus, one single false positive test result can mean a child is removed from a parent. Also, since a great emphasis is placed on the parent coming clean (confessing), they may end up having to conform their testimony to fit the drug test in order to get their child back, even if it is not the truth. Now, the likelihood of this scenario coming about, I hope, is extremely low.

What is much more likely is that the judge imputes a positive test result when they come back saying the sample was “dilute”. Dilute samples occur when someone tries to flush their system to avoid a positive drug test. However, since the CAPS program uses a VERY low cutoff for dilutes in Cabinet cases, dilute tests also occur when someone drank too much coffee, tea, Mt. Dew (my favorite) or other caffeinated drink. They also occur when people drink a lot of water to remain hydrated because of working outdoors. For many, it becauses a very precise diet of hydration and caffeination to avoid dilutes for innocent reasons.

Again, it is crucial that the CAPS testing be as accurate as possible.

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