I visited the Child Protective Services agency for my interview. I chose this agency for two reasons. The first reason is because I plan to work for this company after obtaining my degree. Secondly because I am a foster parent and I would to know how the agency works from the opposite perspective. The case worker I spoke was Kathy Basham. The interview took place on August 3, 2012. I was really excited to talk to her because she had floated between many positions within the agency and I felt like she would be able to answer all of my questions. This interview helped me to gain a clearer understanding of what the responsibilities of a case worker are. I got to hear about the struggles as well as the triumphs. I also gained insight on the ethical and legal concerns that the agency experiences, and how they handle with these matters.
During this time, Mrs. Basham’s focal responsibility is with the investigating team. Her job was to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. In order to do her job efficiently, she must do a sequence of intake interviews with the children and families that have been reported. Gathering the findings of these interviews will aid in making the decision whether abuse or neglect has happened. If the finding are determined that there is a concern the state laws state that the children must be removed from their home and place with family or in foster care.
After making this determination, Mrs. Basham makes recommendations for the well-being of the child, she next sends in her reports to her supervisor and they make plans for the next steps to take action. Steps will be determined based on if whether or not the child is in immediate danger. If they deem that the children are in danger they will order an emergency custody hearing. Mrs. Basham has stated that there are often many false reports. She said false reports are aggravating because the process is time consuming and they cause workers to waste time they could be spending on true cases. Child Protective Services (CPS) has several intervention programs that are available to families. They are valuable to the prevention of child abuse, as well as programs that are available to families and children who have open child abuse cases.
They offer many other therapy programs, such as parenting classes, prevention and treatment anger management classes. Foster care programs are also offered. The Kentucky Department of Child Protective Services serves families of every income level however; many reports come from lower income areas. Child Protective Service case workers experience various different kinds of ethical dilemmas. Mrs. Basham stated that there is a great level of sentiment in this sort of work, for the families and case workers. It is normal for family and parents to scream or act violently toward her doing the intake interview process. She also said that her job can be frustrating at times but she reminds herself of her sole focus, which is ensuring that children’s safety within their family setting and their overall well-being. Ethical dilemmas differ from case to case. One ethical dilemma almost all CPS workers face is clients wanting to know who reported them.
Kentucky state law prohibits workers from disclosing that type of information. Mrs. Basham admits that would be simpler if she could tell them because many clients refuse to cooperate unless she tells them. Borderline neglect cases can also be ethical dilemmas. These sorts of cases include homes that are unfit to live in. Many homes are filthy, however if there is no immediate danger the case workers do not have the authority to remove the children. Even though it’s not allowed, when this occurs some case workers will find alternative reasons to remove the children from such an environment. It has been said that even if a child is in a dirty environment it does not necessarily mean the child is being neglected. In some cases if the environment is truly unfit to live in the children can be removed. Sometimes if the house is filthy the children may be also so the family may be referred to a program that assists them develop life skills to teach them about hygiene.
CPS worker must comply with certain legal requirements while performing intake assessments. They must follow all agency and state law guidelines and policies while investigating child abuse reports. When abuse reports come in, case workers must visit the home within 24 hours. In more serious reports the worker has 2 hours to report to the home. All cases must be either elevated or closed within 30 days. Elevated cases usually involve children being removed from their home. When this occurs Ms. Basham turns the case over to a case worker which will monitor the child through the foster care system or family placement. Case workers are required to try to find suitable family placement first. If not possible the child will be placed with licensed foster care providers. CPS is legally required to inform the parent and/or guardian that the child is being removed.
After the child is removed they must inform all involved parties of court dates, treatment plans and any other information concerning the child. The disadvantages of Mrs. Basham’s job include underfunded agencies include, high rates of turnover in the staff, large case loads and being understaffed. The State of Kentucky offers assistance programs for individuals entering the human service field including such as tuition assistance like financial aid, extensions on paying back student loans, and loan forgiveness.
To be an employee for Child Protective Services of Kentucky it requires that you receive a four year Bachelor’s degree in social work, sociology, human services or an equivalent degree. Regrettably, Mrs. Basham was not capable of giving me any additional information on the requirements for an internship. My interview with Mrs. Basham lasted approximately an hour. I was able to obtain a deeper insight of the labor involved in being an investigator in child abuse and neglect cases. The interview expanded my interest in the field of child protective services and I feel like it is an exciting and rewarding career choice.