Social Work Programs

February 14, 2012

Josh Powell And The Role Of Social Work

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:20 pm

tragedy1Elizabeth Grifin-Hall is the Child Services Worker who witnessed the tragic event that unfolded at the Washington home of Josh Powell, who apparently torched his home, killing himself and his two sons. When a tragedy occurs, we want to know the underlying reason for it.

On the day in question, the Child Services worker had brought the two young children to their father’s home in what was supposed to be a supervised visit. According to her account, the two boys entered the house, and then she heard one of them cry out. She tried to gain access, calling out to the father and the children, and then became aware of the smell of gas, frantically pointing this out to the 911 operator who answered her call.


Josh Powell was of interest to the Police following the disappearance of his wife in suspicious circumstances, on or around the night od December 9 last year, a night on which Josh Powell claimed that he and his two young sons were on a camping trip in the freezing Tooele County.He claimed that they slept in a minivan and, on returning the next day, discovered that his wife, Susan Powell, was missing. This itself has been an unsolved mystery.

Child services entered the picture shortly after Josh Powell moved with the two boys from Utah to Washington. Here they moved in with Steve Powell, Josh’s father. Steve had been arrested on charges involving child pornography and voyeurism. This meant that Child Protection Services were no longer happy for the young boys to be in the same home as someone who may be in a position to abuse tem in some way. They were taken from their father Josh.

Josh moved out and into a rented home of his own and he was denied the chance to have his boys live with him. At this stage, the authorities stepped up their involvement with the case. They required that prior to his request being considered by a court of law, that he would have to undergo a series of intensive psychosexual evaluations as well as a lie detector test.

Child care authorities had determined that the children reside with Susan’s parents while this was happening, and it was from there that Elizabeth Griffin-Hall collected them on the fateful morning that they were delivered to the house where they would tragically die, with their father. People question why they didn’t have the meeting occur in a public place rather than at his home.

Cases like these come to national attention when things go wrong, often resulting in unfair criticism being levelled at the authorities or the Child Care Worker in question. Rarely do we hear about the Child Services Worker who succeeded in saving a life, sadly it’s just not as newsworthy.

In this instance, Elizabeth Griffin-Hall found herself trapped in the unenviable position of being locked out of control of her charges, and not getting the response she needed from the 911 service. It is doubtful that she could have done anything to stop this, and is in fact lucky to be alive.

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