What alternative responses to investigation are available to child protective agencies in your state. Write a five (5) page paper detailing the alternatives that do exist. Then compare and contrast the alternative responses available in your state to the alternative responses available in two other states. Additionally review the available literature on alternative responses and make recommendation on how your state might, through additional alternate responses to investigation better meet the needs of its children.
Rubric for Assignment
1: Assignment is well-organized and adheres to APA style
Detailed explanation of existing alternatives
Comparison of alternatives in your state to other two states
Utility of recommendations for improving investigations
Alternatives Responses to CPS Investigations
Nova Southeastern University
Alternative Responses to CPS Investigations
Throughout history, children have been subject to different forms of abuse and/or neglect; in many cases at the hands of their own parents. This abuse, more often than not, results in children being removed from the care of their parents, and placed into foster care. Many times, children are caused more harm by being placed into foster care then if they were to remain in their â€œabusiveâ€ home. As noted in the article, A Better Day for Children, Alabama Federal Court Monitor, Dr. Ivor Groves, stated â€œchild safety does not correlate strongly with the number of children taken into custodyâ€¦and, in fact, exposes children to other potential sources of harmâ€ (Dolce, 2000, p. ).
In Pennsylvania, there are alternatives to a child being removed from their parentâ€™s home and placed into the foster care system. Pennsylvaniaâ€™s child protection system utilizes the least restrictive alternatives for children, and is continually working towards minimizing the number of children in out of home placement. When an abuse or neglect case is brought to the attention of Child Protective Services and opened as an active case, the family is first offered General Protective Services or In-Home Services (Preserving, 2010). These services vary case to case, and can range anywhere from monthly/weekly/daily casework counseling by a provider agency, to educational classes for parents and children, to family and individual counseling, and may include assistance with daily activities (such as finding transportation or more appropriate housing).
Throughout Pennsylvania there are many different provider agencies which can be implemented in the â€œat riskâ€ home and utilized to help strengthen and support the families. These provider agencies will specifically focus on monitoring each familyâ€™s progress on their most at risk indicators as outlined in the familyâ€™s case planning (Preserving, 2010). For example, if a parent is at risk of drinking alcohol and becoming aggressive towards their paramour or children, a provider can be implemented to work with the parent numerous times throughout the week to help guide and teach them coping mechanisms besides drinking alcohol, or using aggression. In addition, such providers can further ensure childrenâ€™s safety by doing spot checks in the familyâ€™s home throughout the week. These providers can act as much needed support for the families, assisting with daily transportation to medical, educational and therapeutic appointments. In addition, they can assist the parents by providing in home parenting instruction and guidance.
In addition to utilizing provider agencies, Pennsylvania offers parents the opportunity to educate and rehabilitate themselves without losing their children (Preserving, 2010). This differs from other states or counties, whereas they may prefer for the children be away while the parents are receiving treatment. Parents in Pennsylvania may be enlisted in outpatient counseling or treatment services without the fear of not being able to retain custody of their children. This is to help preserve and strengthen the family. During these times, parents and families will continue to be monitored by either their CPS caseworker, or a provider agency caseworker, to further ensure progress and the childâ€™s overall safety and stability in the home. If the parents are not completing their services, or there is strong evidence that the childâ€™s well being is continuing to be placed in jeopardy, then the child will be removed from the home, as a last choice option.
Many other states are working towards implementing alternatives to out of home placement and utilizing less restrictive methods of services for child protective services. With this, the government has begun providing some states and agencies with funding incentives for providing in home services and reducing the number of foster care bound children (Therolf, 2009). Some states are seeing success in these alternative methods, while others are not.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is utilizing a program which returns abused children to their homes, and emphasizes parental training and education over foster care (Therolf, 2009). This is similar to Pennsylvania in regards to the attempt of preserving biological families, while helping to provide education, support, guidance and safety to all family members. However, this is different from Pennsylvania, as the children have already been removed from their home and the parents are, in essence, being given a â€œsecond, third, or fourth chanceâ€ at parenting appropriately. This alternative method can continue to place children at high levels of risk for abuse, and needs to be monitored very closely. The success rates of this method are currently being monitored, as it is a relatively new approach.
Lorain County, Ohio has also been utilizing in home parenting services similar to Pennsylvania. These services are specifically designed as in-home intensive and are used to assist with reducing stressors and pressure, while helping to stabilize the crisis at hand (Evolution, 2010). This method of services is comparable to Pennsylvania, where the child protective agency is responsible for showing they made all reasonable efforts to keep the children safe in the home environment to avoid any unnecessary foster care placements. Lorain County may offer a much more intensive variety of in home programming then Pennsylvania currently; however, I feel Pennsylvania is continually working towards strengthening itâ€™s in home services.
Nationwide, the military has implemented its own Family Advocacy Program, to help children and families of abuse. This program, much like Pennsylvania, California and Ohio, includes educational programs for parents. In addition, the program provides parents with counseling services, as well as assistance with daily stressors such as finances, transportation, etc. (Family, 2010). The Family Advocacy Program can also help families by providing referrals to other programs, such as parenting classes for new parents.
I believe that more nationwide programs, such as the Family Advocacy Program utilized by the military, should be implemented for the public throughout all states. With a nationwide basis, advocacy programs could help the states become more consistent together in their alternate means of investigating families. In addition, with statewide consistency, programs such as parenting classes, dealing with addictions, coping mechanisms, etc., could be implemented and become geared more specifically towards children of abuse. This inevitably, could have an effect on the overall number of children being placed into the foster care system at the national level. Currently, there are far too many discrepancies of services offered among each individual state.
In addition, I feel that Pennsylvania, and other states, should implement more programs to assist young inexperienced mothers and fathers with parenting skills; throughout all ages of children. A lot of the programs currently offered focus primarily on newborns or children under two years, and only the mother parental figure. This would be helpful because many times abuse or neglect occurs unintentionally, at the hands of parents who were not fully knowledgeable of parenting techniques, or fully prepared for the responsibilities of being a parent.
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