Who has your kids?

There was a disturbing article in today’s newspaper about two young children who were taken from an Anchorage public school by OCS (office of children’s services) workers. It was supposed to be for a parental visit. Just one problem: they picked up the wrong kids!

That’s right. The state agency removed the wrong kids from the school. The agency’s excuse was that the regular worker was out sick and this was someone else who apparently got the name wrong because these kids and the correct ones had similar names.

In the meantime, the mother calls the school and was told OCS had the kids. She called OCS and was told they didn’t have any kids with those names. The mix-up was eventually discovered and the kids returned in about 45 minutes.

So a big problem here. First, why did the school not require verification of who was to be picked up? When I worked at an elementary school, they required documentation stating the CORRECT names of the child to be picked up by anyone other than the parent or legal guardian. So why was this basic policy not followed by the school? If it had been they would have known these were the wrong kids right away and not have allowed them to go with OCS.

So what if the names were similar! If they aren’t the same, they aren’t the right kids. Just because it is a state agency taking them shouldn’t mean they don’t verify who they are taking is correct. The social worker and school should have both verified they were the correct kids before removing them from the school.  The kids are age 6 and 8. As it was, neither the school or social worker checked to be sure they had to right kids.

It’s all fine and good to say the kids should not have gone with them. Stranger danger and all that, but this is a public school, where kids are taught to go unquestioningly with adults they don’t know. The kids just assume it will be all right since the school said it was ok to go. At least they didn’t try to stop the social worker in front of the kids, so that implied consent to a child’s mind.

I’m glad nothing really bad happened to the kids. The school probably verified the social worker’s identity, so why not also the names kids to be taken? Can any social worker show up and take kids like this without verification of the child’s identity? How naive! How scary!

The school and OCS need to seriously review how they handle these kinds of transactions so incidents like this never happen again. The social worker should be fired, and probably the school worker who allowed the kids’ release too.

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