If a social worker entered your home right now and began looking around, what would she see? What would she say?
Are you ready for the white-glove inspection? If a social worker arrived at your front door right now, toting a clipboard and an inspection sheet, what would she see? What would she write down as her observations?
Here are seven things to think about:
- CHILDREN’S TOYS: Are the age-appropriate? Are they in good repair? Does the number and variety of toys suggest over-indulgence by the parents?
- CLEANLINESS: Does the house appear to be clean? Sanitary?
- MAINTENANCE: Do the windows and doors open and shut properly? Is the water running properly? Are the bathrooms in good repair? Does the physical exterior of the home look roughly the same as other homes on the street.
- SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: Does the amount of space allocated to each child seem appropriate? Are the children paired appropriately in bedrooms? Are the beds in good repair, clean, and safe? Is there room for clothing and personal belongings?
- PICTURES AND DISPLAYS: What do the photographs in the house reveal? Who is portrayed in the pictures (and who is not)? Is there children’s artwork on the refrigerator? On the doors or walls?
- TRASH, CHORES AND OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES: Is there any evidence of the personal chores assigned to the children? Who’s in charge of taking out the trash? Is there a sense of personal responsibility within the home?
- EDUCATIONAL EVIDENCE: Are there any books in the house besides the phone book and perhaps the bible? Is there evidence that the occupants of the house treat reading, doing homework, and participating in intellectual activities seriously?
Home evaluations and social worker visits are often ordered as part of a child custody case. Don’t be caught off-guard. Think about your answers to the various questions posed above. Would an inspection of your home right now reflect your level of care and responsibility? Would it illustrate your good parenting skills, your sensitivity to the children’s needs? Your commitment to structure and discipline? Or would it, perhaps, paint a different picture?