Hotlined: The More You Know About the Department of Children and FamiliesSubmitted by Libera_me on Thu, 08/08/2013 - 18:28
Hubby and I have cleared the following account of our model visit with DCF for educational posting. Please feel free to form your own strategies. Remember nothing herein constitutes legal advice. Your results may vary. Thanks to William Norman Grigg, whose similar article provided the title [link]. This article itself is an attempt to make good on our intent to post eventually some educational information the last time this happened [link].
1. Providence. There is no substitute for aligning yourself with God's revealed plan for the universe. (Messiah plug.) Everything is foreknown but free will is given. Therefore the best preparation is to learn how to operate and make good choices within what is foreknown. ...
2. Good Networking. Although it took years of learning each others' idiosyncrasies, one of our neighbors has warmed to us enough to work with us for mutual benefit. When the DCF worker and the cop arrived last night without warning, and we had providentially just stepped out for church, the neighbor deflected them and deigned to be interviewed. The neighbor gave them a glowing report, but resolved to tell us first thing this morning. So we had sufficient time for a full discussion and then a full family planning meeting, even among other simultaneous logistics. We determined the likely suspected hotliner, and likely reasons for investigation, based on both what the neighbor heard from the worker and what the suspect observed of our house. While it is true that any statement made in any investigation whatsoever can be colored against an innocent party, the risk of this happening in an acquaintance interview is balanced by the benefit of having multiple sources telling essentially the same story. Digression: an "abuse hotline" that allows anyone anywhere to accuse anyone of anything involving any minor and force "the state" to conduct an immediate followup is not a wise use of taxes; but certain statists have determined that it's a useful addition to statutes that relieve businesses of liability for privately detaining individuals which they wish to have arrested (which allows any business to accuse and arrest anyone on allegations of shoplifting even if the business plants the evidence itself), and the well-known ability to construct any excuse to arrest people on the road. If the public arena, your own private arenas, and other people's private arenas are all covered, there is nowhere to hide-- except interdimensionally (see #1 above).
3. Invocation of Prior Plans. We immediately reinvoked locking the front door for every departure from the condo, even trash drops; this required the party outside to use the secret knock to regain access. We discussed creating another knock from Dad which would indicate that Mom and the kids should go on the patio (where they can be viewed by public servants). We reviewed the fifth-amendment right to not answer any questions from public servants, and the silence game. We made up a new rule about standing on a dictionary to use the peephole. One of the "Freedom Cards" that we assigned to the kids years ago, the last time this happened, was just relocated earlier this week by the middle child, very providentially (see #1 above). It turned out all of this was needed not too much later on. We also worked on house cleanup, but not as much so, because even cleaning up to our ordinary standards would take all day. Grigg believes, and we concur when possible, in a soldierly plan that, upon notice of risk, immediately removes the kids to a location far from any risk of an error that could possibly separate them from their parents; such an elaborate step will be useful at rare times but was not ready nor needed today. The Freedom Card text, which we wrote ourselves based on various suggestions, is useful enough that I quote it in full in the next step below. Fill in the email blank with any throwaway email address you create, which you can check as rarely as you like; print the card in a small font and large quantities, with the throwaway email. It's designed to be usable by any adult or child. It doesn't mention possibility of concealed carry but I'm not sure if that change would be a good thing.
4. Freedom Card. I, the presenter of this card, am being held against my will and I demand my immediate freedom and release to my parent(s) and/or attorney(s). Failure to comply with this demand immediately exposes you to charges of conspiracy in my detention, which constitutes emotional abuse; and potential further charges of abuse or neglect if you fail to provide me, without my prompting you, adequate food, drink, bathroom breaks, and other necessities. I exercise my right to record my interactions with you and conspirators and I demand your name and identification in writing immediately. Failure to comply with this demand immediately exposes you to charges of misconduct under color of law if the recording is released. I exercise my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, both orally and in writing, in accord with instructions from my parent(s) and/or attorney(s). This exercise should not be misinterpreted as obstruction, guilt, rudeness, retardation, or anything else other than compliance with my instructions; nor does this exercise mitigate your responsibility to provide me necessities in accord with the abuse and neglect laws. If you believe I have information relevant to an investigation or have committed a crime, I request that all questions be sent in writing to the email address below for reasonable timely review by my parent(s) and/or attorney(s) prior to my providing any answer or statement. Failure to comply with this request will be construed as deliberate delay of the case. Email: ___
5. Positive Mental Attitude. It happened that Dad was in a reasonably good mood having made the above preparations when he stepped outside later in the morning. When he arrived back inside the condo, the DCF worker and officer were already providentially standing inside but outside the unit door (see #1 above). The door was locked and they didn't know the secret knock (see #3 above). Since Dad had the upper hand he was able to keep his cool the whole conversation, which was essential to carrying out the strategy intended. Mom and the kids recognized the danger outside the unit and awaited instructions, as Dad could tell by the slightest muttering inside.
6. Chain of Command. It is not only essential that Dad follows all orders he is given on the spot in his own spirit (see #1 above), but that everyone else obey Dad's and Mom's orders as well. Orders were performed with sufficient compliance as to be called perfect. When the pair knocked, oldest child recognized it wasn't Dad's knock and used the peephole as instructed. Based on prior instructions they all remained inside while Dad had the intake interview with the pair. Obedience continued to be well-performed by all.
7. Insistence Upon Rights. After Dad discovered the visitors, and after an initial caginess, he introduced himself and explained that the door was locked and that he was working on his car (which was true, and, even though it may look odd at first, it was because in fact he had returned to the front door in error before he had finished the job he intended). He explained that he would be happy to have the children seen on the patio but that the house was not ready for visitors. Though there was much boilerplate stated by the public servants (such as by suggesting that Dad's behavior may have escalated originally low suspicions), they remained reasonable (see #5 above). Dad requested to see the allegation and was shown it briefly. He was able to dispute one sentence of it reasonably, in which the hotliner had referred to a pest control problem resolved three years ago as if it were a present observation, though without any basis in fact; and he gave a credible and calm explanation of the hotliner's error. We found out later that our neighbor had said exactly the same thing ("resolved three years ago") in reference to nosy questions from the same DCF worker last night, which bolstered our case with him (see #2 above). The officer continued to claim that they had a legal requirement to see the house, which was not immediately addressable as Dad continued to request that the public servants could step outside; but his reliance upon his rights was clear and cogent.
8. Keeping Options Open. Dad providentially fell upon the line of questioning whether he was being detained from working on his car. When the officer stated he was not being detained, Dad abruptly said okay and stepped outside immediately. This allowed sufficient cooldown period to come up with a contingency plan while quickly finishing the car job (putting lug nuts back on). The public servants stood helplessly in front of a locked door. Dad resolved to reenter the building with an immediate reference to the next plan, which he had just enough time to construct.
9. Negotiation. Dad opened the building door and immediately offered to let the public servants enter the condo if they would write in the report that they were stating he did not have the right to refuse entry. There was hesitance about the wording, indicating the successful finding of the weak point. The officer tried twice to assure Dad it would all be in the written report that he would have later access to via case number. But they ended up demurring to each other, recognizing that Dad had in fact suggested they could have access at a later scheduled opportunity, and also that this was still the America in which it was not expected that strangers would always be admitted to others' houses without prior scheduling. The DCF worker then accepted Dad's terms that the kids could be interviewed at once and the "home study" could be conducted by appointment. Dad used the second secret knock (signaling the condo occupants to the patio), and miraculously ushered the public servants outside where they could conduct any interviews (see #1 above). The family started filing onto the patio. When the DCF worker questioned whether seeing them on the patio was sufficient, Dad was enabled to control the conversation by directly telling the rest of the family it was safe to step outside.
10. Proper Interview. The DCF worker must fish fast when the interviewee expresses outside requirements (such as an appointment about the car); DCF can get much more fishing done with acquaintances than with the kids themselves. Just ensuring they know their names and ages and school name ("homeschool") and teacher's name ("Mom") takes time to warm them up. Mom kept one child inside momentarily with the claim that the child had been assigned to finish a chore and was almost done. Youngest child had a bruise from falling off a tricycle and, though Dad didn't have that explanation ready, middle child resourcefully did (see #1 above). Shortly after arriving outside, Mom detected that another child was ready to go in and took that child out of the conversation painlessly. It's rather easy to redirect questions asked in the children's presence if the kids know not to volunteer unneeded information (see #6 above). One child whispered in Dad's ear three times, each time correctly judging that the info was not needed by the public servants, and correctly not sharing it further. One child successfully named a random president on demand (#23, Benjamin Harrison), and another child almost mentioned having written a yearlong comic-strip franchise. These are great distracters from more nosy questions. During the interview, middle child handed Dad the Freedom Card recently found, which Dad didn't think he'd needed; but Dad had occasion to quote the sentence about not misinterpreting silence as retardation when a child decided to use fifth-amendment rights, and a couple other occasions to refer to the card as well. We did not hand over the card, as we were not asked; and it is best if each family member has brushed up on their training in the silence game and each has a stack available (such as in the respective car seat) so as to hand each new public servant a separate card. (One designated family member can also play "good citizen silent citizen" with the public servants while the others remain silent, if your family is not the type for total silence explained by nothing but the card.)
11. Followup. The DCF worker admitted, possibly against protocol, that he had a much harder case elsewhere in the afternoon and might have time to take Dad up on the offer to return in the late afternoon or tomorrow morning. The officer recognized he had no further work to do (other than for the department to take the DCF's recommendation and to assign a case number), and then even admitted he had had the same knock on his own door before and had gone through the same "runaround", so he empathized and recognized the rights claimed. The DCF worker didn't even try to hand out additional flyers soliciting the citizen's consensual involvement in statist collusive plots like food stamps, he only gave the original one with the updated phone list and his contact info. He didn't state he would immediately close the case but he indicated that he might get permission to, or might be back. In our experience these are indicators that he won't be back, but one should still be prepared.
12. Debriefing. The family reviewed the situation and any open issues and concluded we had all performed up to standard. We completed the car appointment and went out to lunch, returning in time to handle any followup DCF calls, of which there haven't been any. We updated the helpful neighbor and laughed about the various ironies. There will, of course, be some housecleaning, some movement of storage food from the pantry stock to the kitchen counters for display purposes, some ensuring that the sleeping arrangements are in proper order. (One should be able to show a clean, spacious bed for each child even if the children prefer to stack up stuffed animals on the bed instead.) But all this will be done on our discretionary schedule, to be reviewed at our sovereign will, and this is the first time we can say that without feeling we've surrendered our wills under duress.
Thank God. Mom and Dad thank each other. Thanks to all the DPers who have offered and provided suggestions and tangible help over the years. You know who you are. You are all greatly appreciated. I, Libera_me, am exceedingly thankful to have this forum, (thank you again, Michael Nystrom!) and hope our experiences will help others in this situation.