Pilot CWS-R-SAP – v. 2 Redesigned System, 5.1. Child and Family Support Initial Involvement

 

Pilot Child Welfare System Redesign

Strategic Action Plan

 

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5.1 Child and Family Support Initial Involvement

 

5.1.1  All reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, whether perpetrated by a family member or not, whether it occurred in the home or not, are submitted to 911, along with the usual 911 calls.

This simplifies the reporting to one number, 911, in all cases; one centralized location for reporting every kind of help needed, and guaranteed response to every call or report.

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Increased number of 911 calls

 

  • Removes Family Services (redesigned CPS) from screening calls; all calls involving a child are first investigated by Law Enforcement and then the child and family are assessed by Family Services

 

  • Equal treatment of assault and battery or sexual violence and rape/incest of every child, regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to the child

 

  • Removes double standard of child abuse by family members or inside the home only handled by Family Services and child assault and battery by a non-family member handled by Law Enforcement with no Family Services involvement. Both types are now called child assault and battery or child sexual assault or rape/incest or criminal neglect. They are all now initially investigated by Law Enforcement, and all receive Family Services assessment and support

 

  • Law Enforcement may create a special Child and Family Response Team within its ranks to handle the 911 calls involving families with children. Family Services would also be on-site to deal with the traumatized child and non-offending family following Law Enforcement action. The child’s trauma is assessed, and support begins immediately. The trauma for the child doesn’t end when the offending parent is chastised or removed.

 

  • Family perpetrators of child assault and battery or sexual violence or criminal neglect are no longer treated as if they mishandled their property; they are found just as guilty as non-family perpetrators causing the same harm to a child

 

  • 911 operators and Law Enforcement responders need training in the new procedures

 

  • Family Services staff need training in the new procedures

 

  • Requires modification of the federal and state definitions of “child abuse,” “child neglect,” and similar terms to change to the definitions used for ALL forms of assault and battery, sexual violence, etc., regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to the child. This breaks the patriarchal false assumption that family violence against a child is somehow less severe than stranger violence against a child

 

5.1.2  Mandatory reporters use special “911 Report” apps on their cell phones to submit a report of violence against or neglect of a child

The newly-created cell phone app allows for photos of what the reporter sees, voice recordings, voice-to-text transcriptions, the ability to input data via a keyboard, automatic time and GPS location capture, all data is automatically placed in the appropriate fields on a form for 911 operators, and the app submits the report with all associated materials to 911, providing a “Case Submission Number” to the reporter for future tracking. Mandatory reporters no longer have to fear that their report will be one of the 90% that are bypassed and never assessed.

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Increased number of 911 calls

 

  • Creation of the cell phone app and provided free or at low costs to mandatory reporters and others who request it; app is downloaded on the phone, whether Android or iPhone, tablet, laptop, PC, or Apple device

 

  • Faster and more comprehensive capture of data and photos witnessed by the mandatory reporter

 

  • Mandatory reporters will be prompted for information they may have forgotten they need to include

 

  • Mandatory reporters need training in the use of the new 911 Report app and its varied functions

 

  • Law Enforcement databases need enhancement to add new fields related to child assaults and to accept the download from a cell phone app

 

  • Family Services databases need enhancement to add new fields related to Law Enforcement participation in the Child and Family Services case and to accept the download from a cell phone app

 

  • Eliminates the need for a mandatory reporter to call Family Services, wait for a response, tell the Screener the details, and hope the report passes initial screening and is assessed by Family Services

 

  • Automates a laborious manual process fraught with human decision points and overriding concerns for workload

 

  • Former Family Services Screeners are retrained as Caseworkers or Family Services Support Staff (new job description, see below for definition and use)

 

  • Federal support for new field definitions, etc., for the Family Services database and the Law Enforcement database will be required

 

5.1.3  The 911 Operator receives the report

 

The 911 Operator:

  • ensures the report and all associated materials are captured in the Law Enforcement database

 

  • links the home address or other GPS location from the report to other files or databases with additional information about the location, such as any outstanding warrants for any occupant of the location, any prior incidences involving that location, any known sex offenders, etc.

 

  • determines which Law Enforcement personnel to send to the location

 

  • determines whether a child is involved, and, as appropriate, forwards the complete report and materials to Family Services for their immediate action

 

  • determines whether Law Enforcement or Family Services takes the lead at the scene, based on information provided in the 911 report

 

  • updates the report in the Law Enforcement database with all actions taken

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Increased number of 911 calls

 

  • 911 Operators and Law Enforcement responders need training in the new procedures

 

  • Family Services staff need training in the new procedures

 

  • Links from the 911 report to other databases must be immediate, accurate, and automated as much as possible

 

  • Law Enforcement would already have procedures in place to respond to a 911 call/report

 

  • Family Services staff need to assign a rotating “Caseworker on Duty” to respond immediately to any reports from the 911 Operator; this would be 24/7 coverage, with a rotation of Caseworkers being “On Duty” while other Caseworkers continue with their current caseloads or are off duty

 

  • Family Services database must be capable of handling the data provided by the 911 Report app that is routed by the 911 Operator; the data must be automatically and immediately added to the Family Services database, an alert needs to be immediately sent to the Caseworker on Duty, and when the Caseworker responds the “message has been received and on the way” is automatically added to the record in the Family Services database as well as the Law Enforcement database, which are now synchronized

 

  • When the Caseworker responds that they are on the way, that Caseworker is marked as busy in the Family Services database, so the next 911 Call requiring a Caseworker will select the next in the hierarchy for that day or night

 

5.1.4  The report forwarded by the 911 Operator is automatically added to the Family Services database

A link is created between the report on the Law Enforcement database and the Family Services System database, and the report is synchronized between the two databases, with each database updated in real-time when an action is performed on the record in the other database.

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Family Services database must be capable of handling the data provided by the 911 Report app that is routed by the 911 Operator

 

  • the data must be automatically and immediately added to the Family Services database

 

  • an alert needs to be immediately sent to the Caseworker on Duty

 

  • the Caseworker’s response that “message has been received and they are on the way” is automatically added to the record in the Family Services database as well as the Law Enforcement database, which are now synchronized

 

  • When the Caseworker responds that they are on the way, that Caseworker is marked as busy in the Family Services database, so the next 911 Call requiring a Caseworker will select the next in the hierarchy for that day

 

5.1.5  Family Services responds to ALL 911 calls involving children

Rather than only receiving reports of child abuse or neglect perpetrated by family members, Family Services now responds to all calls involving child assault and battery or criminal neglect, including children assaulted by non-family members, and domestic violence where children are present. Family Services has the resources and connections to address the significant trauma any of those situations generate. There is no need for children who are assaulted/battered or criminally neglected at home to be treated differently from children who are assaulted/battered or criminally neglected by strangers.

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Family Services staff need training in the new procedures

 

5.1.6  Caseworkers have special Family Services apps

Family Services apps on their cell phones, laptops, or tablets are used by Caseworkers to capture all details of the case, including pictures of the children, the home, etc., voice messages, voice-to-text transcription, input, etc. Time and GPS location are automatically recorded by the app. The Family Services app sends the updated case record and all attached materials directly to the Family Services database, with notifications to the appropriate people or agencies that need to assist.

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Creation of the cell phone app and provided free or at low costs to Family Services staff; app is downloaded on the phone, whether Android or iPhone, tablet, laptop, PC, or Apple device

 

  • Faster and more comprehensive capture of data and photos witnessed by the Family Services staff

 

  • Family Services staff will be prompted for information they may have forgotten they need to include

 

  • Family Services staff need training in the use of the new Family Services app and its varied functions

 

  • Family Services databases need enhancement to add new fields related to Law Enforcement involvement and to accept the download from a cell phone app

 

  • Law Enforcement databases need enhancement to add new fields related to Family Services participation in the Child and Family Support System case and to accept the download from a cell phone app

 

  • Automates a laborious manual process fraught with human decision points and overriding concerns for workload

 

  • Federal support for new field definitions, etc., for the Family Services database and the Law Enforcement database will be required

 

5.1.7  Law Enforcement personnel respond to location

Law Enforcement personnel respond to the address on the report or the GPS location, depending on the information provided in the report on their car’s computer system and their cell phone apps

 

5.1.8  Caseworker also responds to location

Caseworker responds to the address on the report or the GPS location, depending on the information provided in the report on their cell phone or special device. Caseworker and Law Enforcement are also in contact with each other through cell phone calls via the Law Enforcement and Family Services apps, discussing whether Law Enforcement or Family Services takes the lead, based on information both have received from the 911 report. When in doubt, Law Enforcement takes the lead

 

Components of Redesigned Step:

 

  • Family Services staff must be trained in the new procedures and the division of responsibility with Law Enforcement

 

  • Law Enforcement must be trained in the new procedures and the division of responsibility with Family Services

 

5.1.9  Law Enforcement or Family Services Caseworker takes the lead

Law Enforcement or the Caseworker leads the investigation to assess the situation, take any appropriate action (e.g., arrest and remove the abusing parent if Law Enforcement leads, locate every child reported at that address if Family Services leads, etc.), and secure the scene.

 

5.1.10 Other records the Lead’s action

While Law Enforcement or the Caseworker leads and takes action, the other person, using the app on their cell phone, records and sends video to the Law Enforcement or Family Services database, as appropriate, which automatically updates the other database.

 

5.1.11 Other waits until given the OK by the Lead

Law Enforcement or the Caseworker waits, recording the action taken by the Lead, until the Lead lets the other know that it is safe to enter the home or building. Caseworker and Law Enforcement discuss strategies and the Caseworker assumes or continues the Lead for the assessment phase.

 

Note: Only Law Enforcement has the authority to remove a child from the family and only if the child’s injuries are severe enough to need medical and/or mental health attention immediately. Family Services is NOT involved with any aspect of the child’s removal from the home, nor the steps that follow that removal, including Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care and its following options. See Chapters 9 and 10 for the description of the Hospital and Temporary Therapeutic Respite Care parts of the overall Child and Family Support System process flow.

 

5.1.12 Caseworker assesses the child and family situation and starts building a case file

As soon as the Caseworker enters the home, they assess the family situation, and start building a case file and safety plan for the child and family. One of two major outcomes will result, based on the assessment, the family, and the state and whether the child is present at the home or not. For example, the child may remain at home with a Child Safety Plan and Family In-Home Services Plan or the child may have been removed from the home and taken to the Hospital by Law Enforcement and the family has a Family In-Home Services Plan they must follow to be reunited with their child following the child’s recovery. No longer will an abused or neglected child remain at home without both a Child Safety Plan AND a Family In-Home Services Plan AND weekly visits from Family Services staff.

 

5.1.13 When agreed safe, Law Enforcement leaves the location

When Law Enforcement and the Caseworker agree that the situation is safe for the Caseworker to remain alone at the scene, Law Enforcement leaves the location and updates their status on the Law Enforcement app on their cell phone.

 

5.1.14 Caseworker retains ownership of the Family Services case record

The Caseworker remains the “owner” of the Family Services case record during the entire time the child and/or family is under Family Services authority and assistance. There is no longer a mandate to close a case as quickly as possible.

 

5.1.15 The Law Enforcement record and the Family Services record are linked

Updates to a record on one database automatically sends an update to the corresponding record on the other database – even after the Family Services case is “Closed” (e.g., disposition of a parent’s arrest may not occur until after Family Services believes the child and the family are safe and no longer need Family Services assistance).

 

NOTE: There will be some fields on the Law Enforcement database that are not on the Family Services database and some fields on the Family Services database that are not on the Law Enforcement database. Law Enforcement and Family Services have different phone apps that will update their database and send only shared data across to the other database.

 

5.1.16 Caseworker creates Child Safety Plan and Family In-Home Plan

Using the Family Services app, the Caseworker updates the case record on the Family Services database, which automatically updates the case record on the Law Enforcement database, with the Child Safety Plan and Family In-Home Services Plan, and notifies appropriate Family Services staff to come to the location with the appropriate materials.

 

5.1.17 Caseworker transmits plans and requests Family Services staff assistance

 

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To submit questions or comments, please email Jo@Jo-Calk.com. I welcome all input, ideas, and suggestions. Thank you for caring for children.

Blessings,

Jo Calk