What is Child Protective Services?

Child protective services, also known by the abbreviation CPS, refers to the social services department of a local government and what those working for the department do. Most of those working as licensed social workers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, those some agencies require that workers have a master’s degree. These departments can go by a number of different names like the Department of Social Services or the Department of Family Services. The functions that CPS does include taking reports from concerned parties and doing an investigation after receiving a report.

Work with Mandatory Reporters

Mandatory reporters are people who the law holds responsible for filing a claim after seeing signs of abuse firsthand. Those reporters include teachers, doctors and anyone else who works closely with children. Signs of abuse can range from physical signs like unexplained bruises and broken bones to signs of emotional abuse such as a child who shies away when an adult raises his or her voice. CPS workers file reports when mandatory reporters report abuse. They can also accept reports filed by family members, coworkers, family friends, neighbors and anyone else concerned with a child’s welfare.

Assess Situations

Child social workers are responsible for assessing a situation and identifying whether there is any abuse or neglect happening within the home. They take the report filed by another person, meet with the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child and talk about the claim. Social workers may let parents/guardians see a copy of the report or simply let them know that someone filed a claim and that they need to investigate. Many social services departments will do one basic meeting that serves as an assessment. Based on what the workers see, they can decide whether to continue with the investigation.

Investigate Reports

During a full investigation, CPS workers will meet with both the parents/guardians as well as the child and anyone else involved in the case. They may need to interview any older or younger children living in the house to hear what they experienced and talk with neighbors who might witness signs of abuse firsthand. While taking with the child, workers can use dolls and other toys to help children feel more comfortable and let them know that anything the child says will not lead to any further abuse. Some workers investigate dozes of cases or even more in a single week.

Keep Children Safe

The Department of Family Services and similar organizations sometimes have a bad reputation because people assume that those agencies will always remove children from their homes. According to Ashley Miller of Chron, keeping children safe is the main duty of a child welfare social worker. These workers will make a determination based on the facts of the case. While this may result in CPS taking temporary custody of a child, it can also result in the parents going through parenting classes or anger management courses or with other family members taking custody. If the department finds no evidence of abuse or neglect, it will close the case.

Child, family and youth services departments are government agencies responsible for ensuring the welfare of children of all ages. CPS, which stands for Child Protective Services, is an agency that works with those who file abuse and neglect cases, investigates those cases and determines what to do next.

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