U.S. Child Welfare System Redesign – Intervention: Redesigned CWS – CPS

 

United States Child Welfare System Redesign

Strategic Action Plan

 

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Chapter 1. Intervention: Redesigned Child Welfare System – CPS

Given the significant issues with Child Abuse Screening, where fewer than 10% of calls to the Child Abuse Hotline ever receive assessment, and over two-thirds of those reports that are “founded for abuse” result in the child remaining at home, without a Safety Plan, and the case closed, a totally different design of the Child Abuse Reporting System and Child Protective Services is proposed.

 

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 CWS from screening calls; all calls involving a child are first investigated by Law Enforcement and then the child and family are assessed by CWS
  • Equal treatment of assault and battery or sexual violence 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 CWS and child assault and battery by a non-family member handled by Law Enforcement with no CWS involvement; both types are now called child assault and battery, are now initially investigated by Law Enforcement, and both types receive CWS assessment and support
  • Law Enforcement may create a special Child and Family Assessment Team within its ranks to handle the 911 calls involving children, with CWS 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 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
  • CWS 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; break the patriarchal false assumption that family violence against a child is somehow less severe than stranger violence against a child

 

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

The 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 by CPS.

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 over phone lines
  • CWS databases need enhancement to add new fields related to Law Enforcement participation in the child welfare case and to accept the download from a cell phone app over phone lines
  • Eliminates the need for a mandatory reporter to call CWS, wait for a response, tell the CWS Screener the details, and hope the report passes initial screening and is assessed by CWS
  • Automates a laborious manual process fraught with human decision points and overriding concerns for workload
  • CWS Screeners are retrained as CWS Caseworkers or Family Services Workers (new job description, see below for definition and use)
  • Federal support for new field definitions, etc., for the CWS databases and the Law Enforcement databases will be required

 

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, 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 CPS for their immediate action
  • determines whether Law Enforcement or CPS takes the lead at the scene, based on information provided in the 911 report
  • updates the report in the 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
  • CWS staff need training in the new procedures
  • Links from the 911 report to other databases must be quick, accurate, and automated as much as possible
  • Law Enforcement would already have procedures in place to respond to a 911 call/report
  • CWS staff need to assign a Caseworker on Duty to respond immediately to any reports from the 911 Operator; this would be 24/7 coverage, with a rotation of CPS Caseworkers being “On Duty” while other Caseworkers continue with their current caseloads
  • CWS 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 CWS database, an alert needs to be immediately sent to the CPS Caseworker on Duty, and the Caseworker’s response that “message has been received and on the way” is automatically added to the record in the CWS database as well as the Law Enforcement database, which are now synchronized
  • When the CPS Caseworker responds that they are on the way, that Caseworker is marked as busy in the CWS database, so the next 911 Call requiring a Caseworker will select the next in the hierarchy for that day

 

1.4 The report forwarded by the 911 Operator is automatically added to the Child Welfare System database

A link is created between the report on the Law Enforcement database and the Child Welfare 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:

  • CWS 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 CWS database
  • an alert needs to be immediately sent to the CPS 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 CWS database as well as the Law Enforcement database, which are now synchronized
  • When the CPS Caseworker responds that they are on the way, that Caseworker is marked as busy in the CWS database, so the next 911 Call requiring a Caseworker will select the next in the hierarchy for that day

 

1.5 CPS responds to ALL 911 calls involving children

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

  • CWS staff need training in the new procedures

 

1.6 CPS Caseworkers have special CPS apps

CPS apps on their cell phones, laptops, or tablets are used by CPS 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 CPS app sends the updated case record and all attached materials directly to the CWS database, with notifications to the appropriate people or agencies that need to assist.

 

1.7 Law Enforcement personnel respond to location

Law Enforcement (LE) 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

 

1.8 CPS caseworker also responds to location

CPS 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; CPS Caseworker and Law Enforcement are also in contact with each other through cell phone calls via the LE and CWS apps, discussing whether LE or CPS takes the lead, based on information both have received from the 911 report.

 

1.9 Law Enforcement or CPS takes the lead

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

 

1.10 Other records the Lead’s action

While LE or CPS leads and takes action, the other person, using the app on their cell phone, records and sends video to the LE or CWS database, which automatically updates the other database.

 

1.11 Other waits until given the OK by the Lead

LE or CPS 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. CPS Caseworker and LE discuss strategies and the CPS Caseworker assumes or continues the lead for the assessment phase.

 

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

As soon as the CPS 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 condition of the child. For example, the child may remain at home with a Child Safety Plan and Family In-Home Services Plan or the child may be removed from the home and the family has a Family In-Home Services Plan they must follow. No longer will an abused or neglected child remain at home without both a Child Safety Plan AND a Family In-Home Services Plan.

 

1.13 The CPS Caseworker retains ownership of the CWS case record

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

 

1.14 The Law Enforcement record and the CWS 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 CPS case is “Closed” (e.g., disposition of a parent’s arrest may not occur until after the CPS Caseworker believes the child and the family are safe and no longer need CWS assistance). NOTE: There will be some fields on the LE database that are not on the CWS database and some fields on the CWS database that are not on the LE database. LE and CWS have different phone apps that will update their database and send shared data across to the other database.

 

1.15 When agreed safe, Law Enforcement leaves the location

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

 

1.16 CPS Caseworker creates Child Safety Plan and Family Plan

The CPS Caseworker updates the case record on the CWS database, which automatically updates the case record on the LE database, with the Child Safety Plan and Family In-Home Services Plan, and notifies appropriate CWS staff to come to the location with the appropriate materials.

 

1.17 CPS Caseworker transmits plans and requests CWS 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