Services for Children
Child Protective Services is a governmental agency that
operates on state level and reacts to reports of child abuse and neglect. Child
protective services are there to ensure that children aren’t being neglected or
abused, and have safe homes. Congress made it’s first moves to protect children
when it passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act which required
states “to prevent, identify and treat child abuse and neglect” in 1974. The
federal definition of child abuse or neglect now reads as follows:
recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results
in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm. (1)
That’s the minimum
standards set by the federal government, but each state has its own Child
Protective Service practices.
Out of the industrialized nations, the United
States has one of the poorest records of child abuse. An average of nearly five
children are lost every day to child abuse and neglect. Having
enough Child Protection Services workers and retaining them are essential to
the wellbeing of the children in our country.
Overview of the Problem:
There are many names for Child Protective Services. Some
call it Department of Social Services or even just Social Service. Additional
names Child Protective Services are known as include Department of Children and
Families, Department of Children and Family Service, Department of Social
Service, and Department of Human Service. The Child Protective Services is a
department that exist under each state’s Health and Human Service organization.
state is responsible for providing child protection. This also includes acting
when a report of child abuse or neglect is made. Several states had
“differential response” approaches for child protective services according to
the National Conference of State Legislatures. (4) This allows Child Protective
Services to respond to accepted reports of child abuse and neglect allegations,
based on different factors. These reasons are things like the type and degree
of maltreatment, amount and sources of previous reports, and the inclination of
the family to take part in services.
“differential response” can vary from one state to the other of those who use
it. Iowa for example has several different statutes or Iowa Codes. Iowa places
a more importance on a strength-based assessment of the family and less
important on the actual incident that was reported. This limits the cases that
go onto to the central registry. Those cases tend to involve great risk or a
considerable injury. Child Protective Services has twenty-four hours after a report
to do an assessment. Often because of alleged criminal acts of harming a child
the Child Protective Services requires working alongside law enforcement to
perform assessments and investigations. The department is required to organize
and supervise services on voluntary or intermediate order from the juvenile court.
The department is required to start court action if it finds it is in the best
interest of the child based on the assessment. There are plans that list the
conditions in which the report and disposition information, name of the alleged
perpetrator, and the name of the child go on the registry.
though every state must provide these services our nation is facing a problem
with this field of human services. There is a shortage of Child Protective Services
Workers. Staff renewal rate in the field is a problem, that is some areas can
be considered a crisis. This causes multiple problems for the system,
caseworkers, and the clients. Clients who spend months working with one worker
just to be handed to another and possibly another, lose trust in the care being
provided and they are less likely to comply with the administration. Turnover
in the workforce also cost the government money. When a social worker leaves, thousands
of dollars spends training them is lost. Experienced caseworkers don’t have
time to mentor new caseworkers, especially with caseloads increasing due to the
shortage of workers. Backlogs acquire, and tensions rise. Pressure is increased,
and caseworkers can get burnt out easily. This is an issue for the public
because for Child Protective Service to provide the children with the social
services needed, they must be well-trained and dedicated to their jobs. This
problem is being addressed now, because despite an increase in referral reports
and the number of child abuse cases, social workers don’t make enough to take
on the caseload.
Human Service Policy:
The first argument ever made towards child protective
services came from Henry Bergh when he brought a case before the New York
Supreme Court and made a case that the child was in impending peril and need to
be removed from her home. The judge, Abraham Lawrence agreed. The argument he
cited came from Section 65 of the Habeas Corpus Act. This states,
whenever it shall appear by satisfactory proof that anyone is held in illegal
confinement or custody, and that there is good reason to believe that he
will…suffer some irreparable injury, before he can by relieved by the issuing
of a habeas corpus or ceriorari, any court or officer authorized to issue such
writs, may issue a warrant…and bring him before such court or officer to be
dealt with according to law”. (2) This still is
relevant today, in way that it relates to the current federal definition of
child abuse or neglect.
Looking at Child Protective Services now, and seeing what
was one of the first victories in Children’s right’s which led to the creation
of it. There are lots of places in crisis right now without social workers. For
example, one-third of the social service workforce in the largest county in
Kentucky has been lost due to Turnover since the beginning of this year. In Texas
last year, an auditor’s report found that twenty five percent of the employees
in social service were leaving the jump within one year. We know we need Child
Protective Services and, yet we can’t keep them. This is partially due to pay
and partially due to the emotional weight of the job that many aren’t prepared
or aware of.
The power to change this is held by a few different
parties. The power can be held by local offices. For example, using job preview
videos and checking in with new hires as key times like thirty, sixty, and
ninety days after they have started, like Buncombe County, North Carolina does.
The power is also in the power of the state, such as New Jersey who starts
their child welfare workers out at $48,000, driving turnover rates down from
eighteen to seven percent. Sara Munson, the director of the Institute for
Families at Rutgers University School of Social Works says, “If the workers are
well-supported and well-trained, stable and committed, they’re able to do that
same kind of work with children and families to get them stabilized. When we do
well by the workforce, that keeps cost down later.” (3) Some of the power
lies with the federal government, who sets the budget. Federal government can
also release emergency funding to help the crisis and get Child Protective
Services the workers it needs. While state can also release emergency funds,
more of their money comes from the federal budget and more can be provided by
federal government that by state. While there isn’t a fix-all solution to this
problem, there are a few things can be implemented to get where we need to be. Doing
an initial evaluation of candidates may also help provide reduction in
to ONET, the field for child, family, and school social workers is what they
call a “Bright Outlook”. (5) “Bright Outlook” occupations are those that will
have large amounts of job openings and/or expected to rapidly grow within the
next few years. Wages annually in the United states for a child, Family, and
School Social Worker range from a low of $27,800 to $75,140. The median annual
salary for this field is $43,250. In Iowa specifically, workers can generally
expect less than that. Wages range from $25,050 to $69,600 annually in Iowa.
The median wage is $36,970. Also,
according to ONET, the projected growth from 2016 to 2026 is faster than the
average at ten to fourteen percent. The projected job openings during those
same years is 37,900.
are already having a problem with filling job positions and retaining staff. We
need to look at social worker and how we can recruit good quality workers. For
example, “the Teach Grant is a federally-funded program created to help
students pay college cost in return for teaching high-need subjects in
low-income schools”, according to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
These grants are only given to students who agree to serve as full-time
teachers for at least four years, at a low-income school, in a high need field.
Doing something like this would give incentives for students to pursue this
career and would be more likely to retain them for the four years so that their
grant didn’t turn into a loan instead.
Political View Point
Liberals tend to be for social welfare. Often, they say
that social workers are liberals. They are often champions for children’s
rights and protecting children. They are less concerned with whose taxes are
paying for what and more concerned with those who need services getting them.
The issue for liberals is that they must understand the grant money or
emergency money or money in general to recruit, hire, and retain workers must
come from somewhere. We must find a way to make the most sense financially,
especially to get the support of those who are more conservative.
Conservatives are often worried about the financial
aspects of things. It doesn’t help that they are for less governmental control
in things such as raising children. They
aren’t going to want a solution to involve grants, raises, or emergency funds.
They are going to want a more efficient way of doing things. Pushing things
along like that often means more children fall through the cracks and as a
result some may even die do to being overlooked by the system. We need a way to
show them where the money is coming from and how it is in the best interests of
all to have more social workers, and retain the ones we currently have.
There are a lot of strengths in the Child Protective
Service’s for Children. It is a needed service to protect the wellbeing of
children in the United States. Most child abuse cases center on neglect.
Physical abuse or sexual abuse is a minority of the cases. The U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families reports:
The national estimates of children who received an investigation…increased 7.4%
from 2010 (3,023,000) to 2014 (3,248,000) …Three quarters (75%) of victims were
neglected, 17% were physically abused, and 8.3% were sexually abused…For
2014…1,590 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.13 per 100,000
children.” The primary cause of removals tends to be drugs, with meth being the
most popular. There is a need to protect children from this abuse and neglect.
The major goal is to reunite families, but it is important it is safe to do so.
Child protective services has this job of finding the right balance between
when to step in and remove a child and when to work with a family that is
trying but struggling. Child Protective Services work to help parents address
the problems they are dealing with, so they can be better parents. They work to
do return children to their parents, but supervised by Child Protective
Services, in a timely matter.
Child Protective Services isn’t perfect. They often let
parents or guardians know they are coming which allows them to clean things up
and coach the children. They also need to make the drug tests random. Letting
someone know they must take one and when allows them to get cleaners to clean
their system. They are also an issue in the pay as I have addressed before.
These social workers often carry heavy caseloads, especially now that they are
understaffed. They don’t receive proper return on the amount of work they put
in. It leaves employees unhappy and it’s harder to retain them. Child
Protective Services has its hands tied some. It’s hard to come in and tell
people how they can or should be raising their children. They are protocol and
laws to follow. They need to respect the child’s feelings and bond with their
parents and guardians and nurture that while not knowing if they will
eventually have to terminate the rights of said guardian or parent. I have
always thought there needed to be a three-strike law when it comes to Child
Protective Services. If you can’t get it together after three founded reports,
your loss your rights. Believe in second chances, but sometimes you must put
the child’s wellbeing above what’s comfortable.
What is the future of Child Protective Services? Child
Protective Services isn’t perfect. There are things that need to be changed,
and laws that could benefit all involved. All in all, I believe that Child
Protective Service is moving in the right direction and is needed in our
society, and for our children. I believe there will always be a need for Child
Protective Services. Since society changes and what we view acceptable I
believe this policy will see many changes as it heads into the future. One of
the many changes I hope to see made is that less focus is put on reuniting the
family at all cost and more is put on the child’s best interest. Sometimes
parents really don’t know better and they just need a little help and to be
educated. Other times parents are allowed to neglect their child time and time
again because of a flaw in the system. This is another one of the reasons why
it is important to not be short staffed on Child Protection Services orders. There
needs to be enough workers to do the initial visits faster and unannounced.
They need to be able to thoroughly interview and not cut corners. They need to
have a manageable caseload so that they can give proper legwork and thought
process to each case. To have a successful future for Child Protective Services
there needs to be more worker and less turnover of staff.
I have learned how hard it is to be a social worker. I
think it’s important to know the work you’re going into. This may mean researching
videos and articles about the hardships of working in Child Protective services
or about the situations that you find yourself in. Child Protective Services
isn’t an easy job. The hours can be long, and the caseloads are overwhelming. You
must believe in what you do and want to help people. It can be hard to be both
empathetic and objective. I think knowing what you are getting into helps you
to steel yourself for the future. Focusing on a goal and letting your cause be
your motivation to push forward. Knowing when you are getting burnt out and
taking care of yourself is an important factor to help not lose steam. It will
also help the field not to lose more social workers if social workers all learned
how to regulate themselves when they felt they were getting burnt out. It is essential
that retain our trained and skilled workers. Having enough Child Protection
Services workers and retaining them are essential to the wellbeing of the
children in our country.