Roshni Nilaya Holds International Series of Lecture on Child Welfare Investigation by Stany D’Souza
Mangaluru: The postgraduate Department of Counselling in collaboration with Postgraduate Department of Criminology and Forensic Science, School of Social work Roshni Nilaya organized an International series of lecture on “Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations in Chicago”, at the Seminar Hall here on January 29.
Addressing the students Stany D’Souza, who has 30 years of service in the Department of Children and Family Services of State of Illinois, US said, “The Child Abuse and Neglect investigations are driven by the Abuse and Neglect Child Reporting Act (ANCRA) of 1969. Under this Act, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) was created, which provides oversight for Investigations, Preventive Services, Foster Care Services and Congregate Services. In addition to it there are allied services like foster care licensing, agency and institution licensing, daycare licensing, agency performance teams, residential monitoring, quality assurance, legal services, clinical services, administrative case review, contracts and grants, central office of licensing, state central register, foster care recruitment, etc. The IDCFS is accredited by Council on Accreditation and is one of the few mega-agencies accredited by this body”.
Stan D’Souza further said, “In all these service provisions, the Division of Program Operations consists of three major direct care services, which are: Child Protection Investigations, Intact Services and Placement Services. The Child Protection Investigations is one of the front end services offered by IDCFS. All the abuse and neglect calls from mandated reporters, relatives and the general public (all reporters identity is strictly confidential) are made to a central hotline unit which screens all the calls and diverts them to preventive services, protective services and remaining calls may not meet the needs of the requirement of any services by the department. The hotline calls accepted for protective services are referred to Child Protection Investigations of respective field offices. There are about 100 child protective teams spread over the entire State of Illinois. There are currently, 4 regions – Cook, Northern, Central and Southern. Each team consists of a child protection supervisor and on an average 5 child protective service (CPS) workers”.
When an investigation is opened, the field office assigns to a respective field office mailbox, from which the investigation supervisor assigns them to CPS worker. All the cases assigned to CPS investigations are assigned with specific allegations based on the nature of the issues raised. All these allegations belong to either abuse or neglect.
Under ANCRA, when a case is opened for investigations, there is a 24-hour mandate to have in-person contact with the alleged child victims. If for any reason the mandate is not met, attempts to have in-person contact needs to be made on a daily basis unless and otherwise waived by the child protection supervisor. During the mandate time, the CPS interviews all the children and other subjects of the report. During the pending investigation, the CPS has authority to meet with any other person, professional persons involved with the family in securing even confidential information on subjects of the report involved in the pending case. They are authorized by law to receive mental health, criminal information, health information and educational information.
During the mandate, CPS worker completes the child endangerment risk assessment protocol (CERAP) tool, which asses the risk involved to the children in the case. This tool asses more than 25 risk factors affecting the child victims. If the risk involved to the children is a moderate to severe, a safety plan is developed by the CPS staff to avert the risk impacting the children involved. The safety plan fundamentally dictates the alleged perpetrator/s involved to have supervised contact with the children. They are directed to leave the home or its substitute is to place the children with relatives or fictive kins of the family. This arrangement is voluntary. If the alleged perpetrators or parents or custodians or guardians of the children do not agree with a safety plan, the alternative is to take protective custody (PC) of the children. If the risk involved is imminent and is long term, the CPS usually do not offer a safety plan but will take PC of children and will screen the case with Assistant States Attorney’s (ASA) office and lapses with 48 hours. Within 48 hours of taking PC, the case (if taken by the ASA) is referred to the Juvenile Court for shelter care hearing. During the shelter care hearing the judge may award the temporary custody (TC) of the children involved to IDCFS with the right to placement. Upon receipt of the custody department staff places the children in relative foster care, traditional foster care, specialized foster care, parenting teens program, group home facility, transitional living placement, independent living facility or residential facility; based on the needs of the children.
If the outcome of the investigation reflects the moderate risk to the children, usually a temporary safety plan is developed and the department will offer intact family services to the family. If the family accepts the services an intact family case is opened. This consists of regular intact services and high-risk intact services. Currently, all the high-risk intact services are administered by the department’s intact service staff. Generally, all these cases do have juvenile court intervention with protective orders issued by the Juvenile Court system. The regular intact services offered by the department are contracted out to the purchase of service (POS) private agencies.
The cases where the custody is granted to the department are assigned to either POS agencies (all traditional foster care) or are assigned to the department’s placement staff. All the cases assigned to CPS are dispositioned as either unfounded or indicated. To indicate a case, there shall be minimum of credible evidence. The departments unfounds about 75% of the cases reported to investigations due to lack of credible evidence. On average, about 60,000 cases are reported to investigations per year. Out of these investigations, about 3% of the investigations are referred to intact services and on 2% of the cases, the department takes protective custody.
Vice-principal Dr Janis Mary also spoke on the occasion. HOD of postgraduate Department of Counselling Rosa Mathew and HOD of Postgraduate Department of Criminology and Forensic Science Dr Savitha D’Souza were also present. Rachelle compered the programme and delivered the vote of thanks.