Kentucky social worker Karey Cooper checked on the 7 year old after receiving numerous reports from her relatives that the girl was being abused and neglected at home. Why her case was already closed when the abuse was still ongoing is anybody's guess.
Cooper was close to the case. She had worked with this child and her family for a year before the case was taken away from her, and given to another case worker.
She checked on the child at school, found her hungry and unkempt. In a report to Teresa James, state commissioner of social services, Cooper wrote that the girl's hair was “like a rat's nest.”
The child had not been seeing the therapist that had been required through a court agreement. She's been coming home time an again to an empty house, with no one to care for her or feed her regular meals. She went hungry much of the time.
But the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services seems more concerned with Cooper's actions than this girl's wellbeing. Cooper had unknowingly violated cabinet policy by visiting the child, whose family's case has been closed by another social worker.
The fact that said social worker was able to get away with deeming this heinous case of child neglect as one that required “no further action” is dire enough, but to punish Cooper for doing her job? For going above and beyond the call of duty?
Cooper has been relieved of her regular duties as a “special investigations” state social worker in Boone County. For the past six weeks, she's been relegated to desk duty typing up case notes. Her supervisors are still trying to determine what course of action to take with her.
"This was my job — at least I thought it was.”
Cooper points out the Boone County office's hypocrisy, referring to the recent admission that it had lost track of near a hundred cases of child neglect and abuse.
"Here they've lost track of 92 cases and I'm in trouble because I went to see one kid."
Cooper's lawyer, Kelly Wiley, stands firm behind her client:
"She was acting to protect a child. If we had more Karey Coopers, we wouldn't have all these missing cases and children at risk."
Cooper's time sheets and travel vouchers are currently being investigated, which has left the social worker cold.
"I have never, nor will I ever, lie on my time sheet or travel voucher and to think that someone is digging to try to come up with dirt on me is extremely overwhelming and stressful. I feel like I am being retaliated against for contacting [the cabinet] and a hostile work environment has been created to the point that it is affecting my health."
The cabinet is yet to respond to her missive. It appears that everything Cooper does exposes the officials' relative incompetence. The 12 county offices under the Cabinet's jurisdiction are all bucking under the weight of caseloads, and they cannot cope because of their high turnover rate.