Pilot Child Welfare System Redesign
Strategic Action Plan
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11.9. Victims Resolution 2009-2019
The following chart has been created from data in the annual Oregon Child Welfare Data Books for the years 2009 through 2019.
The chart above illustrates another “exclusion” point in the CPS process that is not illustrated on a previous chart. Of the 10% of the total reports that have been declared “founded for abuse” – which then defines the child as a “victim” being abused or neglected – there are three potential outcomes for the child:
- The child remains in the home with an in-home safety plan: this demonstrates some action being taken on the child’s behalf and is represented by the blue columns on this chart. The application of this option varies significantly over the years, indicating the randomness of a “founded for abuse” report for a child being abused or neglected where the CPS Caseworker felt the child would be safe at home with the family being given an in-home safety plan.
Note, however, that the trend from 2016 through 2019 is toward fewer children remaining at home with an in-home safety plan. Why aren’t all the families of child abuse or neglect victims who remain at home given an in-home safety plan? Are there regular visits to the family while the in-home safety plan is in place?
- The child remains in the home and the case is closed: this demonstrates that NO action was taken on the child’s behalf and the case is closed (not to be investigated further). This outcome is represented by the orange column, which – with the exception of 2015 when an exceptionally large number of children were removed from their home and placed in foster care – is the largest outcome, often significantly larger than the other two outcomes.
For example, in 2019, 9,216 children were identified as victims of abuse or neglect, with no action taken, no in-home safety plan, and their case closed. From the 2019 Child Welfare Data Book: “Once there is a founded disposition, the children for whom there is reasonable cause to believe they were abused are considered victims of child abuse.” As with the previous outcome, the trend from 2016 through 2019 is to leave significantly more child victims of child abuse or neglect at home, without an in-home safety plan, and their case closed. Thus, for 2019, 9,216 children were considered “victims of child abuse” yet were left at home with no in-home safety plan, no family plan, and the case was closed. The outcome of those children needs to be researched and reported.
- The child is removed from the home: this demonstrates that action was taken to remove the child from the home and is represented by the gray column. Note the trend from 2016 through 2019 to reduce the number of children removed from the home. This is mandated at the federal level. However, it is believed that the intent was not to leave the abused or neglected child at home without an in-home safety plan.
Definition of In-Home Safety Plan
An explanation of an in-home safety plan was provided in the 2009 Data Book:
“Services to monitor in-home child safety may include parent training or other services that help support the parents’ ability to provide safety for their child.”
Why are children, already identified as “victims” of child abuse or neglect, left at home without an in-home safety plan? Are there a limited number of in-home safety plans? Are the in-home safety plans too expensive?
When told to reduce the number of children sent to foster care, do CPS Caseworkers only consider the “leave them and close the case” option? Why not have a process where EVERY victim of child abuse or neglect who remains at home is provided an in-home safety plan?
A clue about the sudden increase in 2011 of cases where a victim of child abuse or neglect is left at home with an in-home safety plan – which has steadily been decreasing every year following 2011 – is found in the 2011 Data Book:
“In late 2010 a substantial redesign in the contracts for in-home service provision affects the recorded data. In-home Safety and Reunification Services represent several services, as each service provider works to meet an individual family’s needs. In SFY 2011, 37.3 percent of children who were served in-home received in-home safety services.” [bolding in original text]
What happened in 2015-2016 that caused the massive increase in child abuse or neglect victims left at home with no in-house safety plan from 3,175 in 2015 to more than double that, 7,058, in 2016? What procedures changed? What processes changed? Numbers don’t more than double overnight. There must have been some action or situation between 2015 and 2016 that caused such an immense shift – particularly to the least helpful option for the child.
Once again, a clue comes from the Data Books; this one from 2016:
“Many counts for this Data Book have increased more than the average between FFY 2015 and FFY 2016. This is due to a statewide effort to complete documentation for assessments that were more than 60 days old during the summer of 2016.” [bolding added for emphasis]
So, in the effort to complete documentation for assessments over 60 days old, CPS Caseworkers simply left the victim of child abuse or neglect at home without an in-home safety plan and closed the case. When does expedience override safety of the child? The outcome of those children needs to be researched and reported.
Another chart, illustrating the 2019 Victims Resolution data, is provided below:
The large orange slice in the above chart represents the 67.4% of children with “founded for abuse” reports of child abuse or neglect, who were left home without an in-home safety plan.
The gray slice demonstrates that more children were removed from their home than remained at home with an in-home safety plan. Is that what was intended by the reduction of children removed from their home and sent to foster care?
The small blue slice, which arguably should be the largest slice, represents children who were “founded” as victims of child abuse or neglect, who were left at home with an in-home safety plan. It is the smallest slice. What differentiated the “fortunate” few victims who were left at home with an in-home safety plan?
Action Step 11.9.1: Once a decision is made that a report is “founded,” there are only two outcomes:
- The child remains in the home with a custom-designed in-home safety plan, and a family In-Home Service plan, the family is visited frequently (at least weekly) by CWS staff, assurances are made that the child remains safe at home for at least a year, and the case remains OPEN for that year at a minimum; or
- The child is removed from the home if the child’s safety cannot be assured – either initially or after the child has been at home with an in-home safety plan that does not protect the child – and placed in a Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care Home (see Volume 2 for details) to recover from the child’s abuse or neglect, while the family is given training, products, and services that make the home safe for the child to return
NEVER leave a victim of child abuse or neglect at home without an in-home safety plan AND a family in-home plan AND minimum weekly family visitations AND an OPEN case.
To submit questions or comments, please email Jo@Jo-Calk.com. I welcome all input, ideas, and suggestions. Thank you for caring for children.