What it all comes down to is family. Family comes first.

     There are those that say that raising a child is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can experience.

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are many that might say that child rearing can be one of the hardest, most difficult, frustrating things anyone can ever  do in their lives.

    Whether it be through abuse (drugs, alcohol, sexual, neglect, manipulation,, neglect, physical abuse, etc.), people have a way of trying to escape, run away from their responsibilities because they’re too afraid to face them on their own.

    It’s somewhere in between these two polar opposites that  Kathy Carlson, the Children’s Social Services Supervisor, located at the Human Services office, tries to intervene.

    “Families are more complicated,” said Carlson. “The issues that they face are more complicated. Nothing is easy about it.”

    In 2011, her office took in 64 Child Protection Intakes. Of those 64, 36 were screened in, matching enough of the criteria to do an assesment.

    “The majority of our intakes in child protection  are called in by someone other than the family itself,” explained Carlson. “They can come in from school teachers, police officers, concerned neighbors, friends, relatives – anyone that has seen or heard [abuse] can make reports.”

    While Carlson doesn’t necessarily work hands-on, with the families, she supervises the workers who go out and do the investigations and providing services to the family. “If we have a situation in which we feel Child Protection Services are needed, we provide case management,” said Carlson. “Our case manager puts together a case plan developed by the family and the worker that addresses the problems and whatever the concerns are; and then that case manager monitors progress and also makes referrals to other providers that could possibly provide services to the family.”

    Some of the services address mental health for both children and adults.

Another service or activity includes the Watonwan County’s Weekend/Day Consequential Camp, which is a sort of workshop camp for parents, kids, schools, probation agents and social workers that teaches how to address various issues like rule-breaking, misbehavior and probation violations or  breaking contracts/plans.

    St. James’ DeeAnn Gieseke also works closely with the Human Services as a sort of liaison of sorts, being the Chairperson of The Child Abuse Prevention Council, which also provides services that work with families in a positive, more proactive way, to prevent child abuse.

In some Watonwan areas, such as Butterfield, there’s a free, confidential school district-based program called the Family Facilitator Program.

    Separating families, as tumultuous and tenuous the relationships may be, is seen a worst-case scenario as it can be even more traumatic for children to be ripped away from their homes, their loved ones.

    “In those 36 screened, there are some we didn’t involve law enforcement and we handle ourselves,” said Carlson. “Others, we had to involve law enforcement and court.”

    A good day at the office, however, is when growth in the parent or  within the relationship between parent and child  can be witnessed.

    “In Child Protection, we, as workers, don’t always see the end result,” said Carlson. “Sometimes, the end result might take years. So, we don’t always see the end result. We celebrate the baby steps, [like] ‘Hey! Mom went to class tonight!’ We celebrate that; because maybe prior to that, she wasn’t going at all. That’s what we celebrate.”


     What it all comes down to is family. Family comes first.
     There are those that say that raising a child is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can experience.
    On the other side of the spectrum, there are many that might say that child rearing can be one of the hardest, most difficult, frustrating things anyone can ever  do in their lives.
    Whether it be through abuse (drugs, alcohol, sexual, neglect, manipulation,, neglect, physical abuse, etc.) or other such negative behaviors, people have a way of trying to escape, run away from their responsibilities because they’re too afraid to face them on their own.
    It’s somewhere in between these two polar opposites that  Kathy Carlson, the Children’s Social Services Supervisor, located at the Human Services office, tries to intervene...

For the full story, check out the latest issue of, or subscribe to, The St. James Plaindealer at (507) 375-3161.