LIFE OF A CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES CASE

           

   

The Noble County Department of Job and Family Services investigates reports of physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, sexual abuse and neglect.  During normal operating hours, reports will be immediately addressed by a staff of trained investigators.  The agency also offers 24 hour emergency service with a worker on-call 7 days a week to respond to emergency needs that occur outside normal business hours.

 

When a report/referral is received, the information is screened by a worker and supervisor in order to make a decision about the necessity of the agency to intervene and the speed and nature of the agency’s response.  The screening process:

 

  • Determines if an incoming allegation meets the criteria for assessment/investigation and is appropriate for Child Protective Services;

 

  • Gathers the information needed about the referred family to locate the family and identify the children identified as being in danger;

 

  • To determine if the information presented requires an emergency response because a child appears to be unsafe.

 

Intake/Investigation

 

When a report is determined by the agency to meet the criteria for assessment/investigation, the case is assigned to a worker who will complete a safety and family assessment.  During the completion of the safety assessment, the worker gathers information to help make an informed decision regarding children who are in need of immediate protection from serious harm. The caseworker and parent shall jointly identify and agree to specific activities to control threats of serious harm.  An intervention such as a safety plan may supplement the family’s capacities to protect their children.  Some examples of interventions that may be offered as part of a safety plan are:

 

  • Voluntary kinship placements;

 

  • Restrict access of the alleged perpetrator to the children;

 

  • Protective daycare;

 

  • Respite care;

 

  • A competent adult caretaker moves into the family’s home;

 

  • Emergency supply of food, supplies, etc.

 

A family assessment is completed within 30 days to assist workers in assessing risk, and identifying strengths and needs present in the family system to generate case opening decisions and the service needs that may be present.

 

Intervention

 

When the safety and family assessments identify that children have been or are at risk of harm, the case is opened for ongoing intervention services.  The primary goal of intervention services is to work toward keeping families together or reuniting families that have been separated.  The agency strives to assist the family in being able to provide a more stable, safe, and nurturing environment for their children. This is accomplished by developing a case plan to address the initial concerns of the abuse or neglect, to provide for needed services, and to outline the desired behaviors as a guide for families to follow.  The expectation is that if the family members follow the guidelines for the desired behaviors, the risk of harm to the children will be reduced or eliminated.  Supportive services will be provided by the intervention worker who will also assist in removing barriers that may prevent the family from accomplishing their tasks on their case plan goals. The family’s progress is monitored by the intervention worker conducting home visits and other regular contacts with the family as well as by contacts with the other service providers. Progress is reviewed regularly, every 90 days at a minimum, with the entire service team to ensure the right supports are in place for the family, the goals are being accomplished, and to make any necessary adjustments to the case plan in order to help the family achieve success.

 

When Children Cannot Remain in Their Own Home

 

There are many reasons why children are identified as unsafe or being at risk of harm.  Children are only removed from his or her home when a court decides the child is unsafe.

 

When a situation is serious enough, the agency will petition the court to decide if the child would be unsafe remaining in the home.  A juvenile court judge is the person who makes a decision regarding the child’s housing and care. This is called “temporary custody”.

 

If a child is removed from their own home, he or she will be placed in “substitute care”.  The child may be placed with a relative or close family member which is called “kinship care”, in a certified foster care setting with individuals who have undergone special training to be foster parents, in a group home or a residential center.  Many factors are considered in deciding which of these settings will best meet the child’s needs.

 

Parents still retain parental rights when children are placed in substitute care.  This means you are still your child’s legal parent and will be able to make decisions for your child.  The agency will work with you and your family to achieve your case plan goals and return your child home.