Members of the Team

Child Protective Services

Child Protective Services workers are responsible for assessing the safety of children who are reported to be alleged victims of child abuse and neglect. CPS workers are involved with children and their families through the CPS Investigation track or the CPS Assessment track. The purpose of the CPS Investigation track is to determine whether abuse and neglect is occurring that places the child’s safety in jeopardy. The purpose of the CPS Assessment track is to determine, through family engagement, what services could assist the family in preventing future child abuse and neglect. Regardless of the track, the CPS worker is always alert to assessing the safety of all children in the home. In those instances when a child cannot safely remain in their own home, the CPS worker is involved in securing an alternate safe placement. The CPS worker is often the first point of contact in the Bridge process by acquiring names of relatives and friends who could be resources for the child. The CPS worker is also responsible for explaining Bridge to the child, if he/she is old enough, and to the child’s family. The CPS worker facilitates the child’s transition from the home to the Bridge family and is often involved in the initial contact and visitation arrangements. The CPS worker is also involved in preparing and introducing the child, the child’s family, and the resource family to the Permanency Planning process, which may also include a new worker.

Permanency Planning

The child welfare specialist engages a child and family in the process of assessment and service planning. The Specialist assists the family with accessing services and supports which will assist them in correcting the conditions which led to removal of the child from their home. If the child cannot be safely returned to his or her own home, the Specialist is responsible for helping the child achieve permanency through adoption, guardianship, or for older youth who plan to emancipate from care, an effective transition plan. The specialist also supports the child in out-of-home care through referral for needed services and working together with placement providers as part of the professional team to effectively meet the child’s needs while in care.

The child welfare specialist, as a member of the Bridge team, provides a link for interaction and teamwork among DHS, birth parents, resource parents, the child and all involved parties. The specialist facilitates information sharing, direct contact and meaningful dialogue among all the team members with the goal of meeting the child’s needs for safety, permanency and well being.

Resource Specialist

The resource specialist recruits resource families, assists in obtaining or completes the resource family assessment, coordinates training and engages in activities that value and support the resource parent’s role and assists the resource family in navigating the CW system. They work as a professional team member with Permanency Planning, Child Protective Services, Adoption Services, and the resource family to ensure the child’s safety, well- being, and permanency. They treat the resource family with respect and assist the family with any issues arising with the children placed in the home and any concerns the resource family may have.

SWIFT Adoptions

Swift adoption services include processes completed by contracted agencies or DHS staff to gather history regarding a child in DHS custody, including the child’s biological family background, medical, educational, and social history for purposes of full disclosure to a prospective adoptive family. The mission of the Swift Adoption Services is to secure an adoptive family for every waiting child for whom adoption is the permanency plan. Children can be assured a permanent adoptive family through early identification, assessment and child preparation; aggressive recruitment and preparation of prospective adoptive parents; elimination of legal and other barriers to adoption; and adequate provision of supportive services.

Child Welfare Tribal Liaison

A Child Welfare tribal liaison is assigned for each tribe with a Tribal/State Agreement for Foster Care. The liaison facilitates contacts with the tribes and has specific duties and responsibilities for children in tribal custody and for children in DHS custody placed in tribal resources.

Resource Parent

A resource parent is an individual approved by DHS to provide out-of-home care to a child in a nurturing, stable, safe environment. This term includes relatives or other kinship caregivers.

Juvenile Court

The focus of the Juvenile Court in cases of child abuse and neglect is on the welfare of the child in the context of the family. This requires social service professionals and the Court to work closely with one another to assess the family situation and protect the child. The child is made a ward of the Juvenile Court if adjudicated deprived because of abuse or neglect. The family’s progress toward reunification is reviewed by the Court until reunification occurs or is determined not to be in the child’s best interests.

Judge

A judge is an official who presides over a court of law. The judge is like an umpire in a game and conducts the trial impartially and in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense. In deprived matters, the judge may, upon application by the district attorney, issue a court order to place the child in emergency custody when the child is in need of immediate protection. The judge hears the evidence presented during the hearing and decides whether the child is adjudicated. The judge decides whether the child is placed in the custody of the people responsible for the child (PRFCs, a relative, DHS, or another agency), and may order the PRFCs and child to participate in a court-ordered treatment plan.

District Attorney

The district attorney has the responsibility to determine whether filing a petition is warranted based on information obtained during the Child Protective Services investigation. DHS has the responsibility to make a written recommendation, regardless of whether the district attorney verbally indicates he or she may not file a deprived petition. Consultation, coordination, and a good working relationship between the child welfare specialist and the district attorney is essential to ensure court protection of the child.

Assistant District Attorney

An assistant district attorney works for and with the district attorney and has the same responsibilities as the district attorney as it relates to DHS and Child Welfare.

Attorneys

In deprived actions, a separate attorney is appointed for the child. The child’s attorney represents the child and any expressed interests of the child. The roles and responsibilities of the child’s attorney are:

  1. Represent the child and any of the child’s expressed interests
  2. Arrange to meet with the child as soon as possible after receiving notification of the appointment
  3. Except for good cause, meet with the child prior to any court proceedings
  4. Speak with the child by telephone if a personal visit is not possible due to exigent circumstances
  5. Contact the custodian or caretaker of the child prior to the hearing when a meaningful attorney-client relationship between the child and attorney is not possible due to the child’s age or disability

DHS provides the child’s attorney access to all reports, records, information relevant to the case, and any reports of examination of the child’s parents, legal guardian or custodian. The attorney is advised of the child’s location and how best to contact the child. The child welfare specialist, as an advocate for the child, coordinates and consults with the child’s attorney to ensure the protection and well-being of the child.

Private Agencies

The child welfare specialist engages the services of private agencies to help implement the Individualized Service Plans for children and families. Examples are counseling agencies, faith-based service agencies, mental health facilities, county health departments, youth services agencies and other providers that DHS might contract with for medical care or therapy.

Post Adjudication Review Boards

Post Adjudication Review Boards have been established for each judicial district to review the case of every child alleged and adjudicated deprived that are in out-of-home placements. The court appoints the individuals who serve on the boards. Resource parents have the right to provide information to the boards and to attend those meetings relating to a child placed in their home. Resource parents should contact their child welfare specialist to learn when their child’s case is scheduled for review. Individual cases are reviewed at least every six months.

Court Appointed Special Advocate

A Court Appointed Special Advocate is a volunteer appointed by the court to serve as an officer of the court and as a guardian ad litem to advocate for the best interests of a deprived child in the court’s jurisdiction. While the child is placed in a resource home, the CASA will make regular visits with the child and may plan activities with the child away from the home. CASA and resource parents work together in planning activities and visits with the children. The CASA program is not available in all 77 counties, nor are CASA volunteers available for every child in those counties which have a CASA program.

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