I recently came across a case out of Boone County, Kentucky that I found appalling. A social worker, Karey Cooper, is being reprimanded for attempting to help a 7-year-old girl after reports of abuse and neglect. Cooper was a Special Investigator for the State Cabinet for Health and Family Services in Northern Kentucky. She has been removed from that position and assigned to desk duty while being investigated. She also faces disciplinary action and possible termination.
This is indicative of how asinine CPS agencies are across the country. This caseworker went to help a child after family members had called her many times to report abuse. The family’s new caseworker was not returning their phone calls, which is incidentally one of the primary complaints made against caseworkers. So they called Karey Cooper, who had been their caseworker before and had worked with the family for a year. They knew her and trusted her.
When Cooper went to visit the girl at her school, she found the child looking unkempt and uncared for. Her hair was a rat’s nest and the girl was hungry. The little girl told Cooper that she was not being fed, came home to an empty house after school and was not being taken to her court ordered therapy sessions.
Later, Ms. Cooper was informed by a supervisor that her visit was a violation of Cabinet policy. What Ms. Cooper did not know is that the child’s current social worker had closed the case, stating that no further action was necessary.
Cooper addressed her concerns about the little girl’s case in a letter to Teresa James, Commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services. Then, in a second letter to James, Cooper states that she is experiencing retaliation from her supervisors for being a whistleblower. Cooper is now under investigation by the Cabinet. Her time sheets and travel vouchers for the past six months have been pulled as part of the investigation. This is completely outrageous.
In her two years as a social worker, Cooper’s performance has been exemplary, receiving good performance reviews and being singled out for praise by supervisors.
Karey Cooper should not be punished for her actions. She was the only one in that agency who was looking out for the child. The only reason for the Cabinet’s retaliation against her is to save themselves embarrassment. She didn’t try to hide it, she turned in a report. She’s in trouble because another social worker already closed the case, so now the department is subject to both embarrassment and liability.
Karey Cooper was doing the right thing. This isn’t about the kids anymore and it hasn’t been for a very long time. If it was, this caseworker would be praised for going out of her way.