CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES
In a number of states in the United States we have a governmental agency which is charged with the responsibility of acting on information regarding the abuse of children. This agency is known as the child protective services, or put simply, just as CPS. In this text, I look at the history of the child protective services including its creation as well as the presentation of the mission statement of the child protective services in California. I will also present the financial reports as well as summaries of the operation of the child protective services, California and offer a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the service. Lastly, I will give a commentary on ways top improve the child protective services in the state of California and wind up with a prediction as regards the future of the agency and its impact on the criminal justice system.
The need for the creation of the child protection agency was identified in the year 1655 where there emerged a number of legal cases in regard to child abuse in what is currently the United States. Soon, the role local government as well as the private institutions in the care of those children thought to be abused was left to states as well as municipalities. According to Dolgoff et al. (1997), England first came up with the parens patriae principle where the royal crown was empowered to protect, care for and ensure that the various needs of lunatics, idiots, charities etc were addressed conclusively. Over time, this principle has been linked in a big way to the initiatives by the U.S government’s involvement in child welfare as well as protection and the subsequent establishment of child protection services in a number of states.
Soon, developments were to be seen with regard to the child protection services when in 1825, agencies dealing with social welfare were empowered by the enactment of laws by a number of states to take away children suspected to be neglected from the care of their parents or the alleys and streets. Initially, all those children who were rescues were taken to orphanages, almshouses and in some instances; arrangements were made to absorb them in a number of familial setups. Further improvement in child protection would be seen in 1912 when there was an establishment of the children’s bureau whose main responsibility was the coordination of all the efforts touching on children welfare including but not limited to addressing all child mistreatment instances. Forty six years after the establishment of the children’s bureau, a social security act amendment which was seen as a big boost to the child protection services as well as initiatives laid out the ground for the funding of the efforts geared towards the protection of children by the states.
Since then, efforts towards child protection have been boosted by a number of occurrences amongst them Kemp Henry’s publication of a piece that looked deeply into the case of the battered child syndrome. According to DiNitto (2010), no other piece of publication connected to child protection services has attracted the public attention like this publication did. In fact, this publication by Kampe Henry is widely thought as well as believed to have single-handedly informed and/or influenced the passing of child-abuse reporting laws by a minimum of forty nine states. This over whelming response towards child protection services by the states lead to the adoption of the child abuse prevention and treatment Act. With the worthy support of the federal government through funding, agencies dealing with child protection services came up with well laid out purposes which included but were not limited to the formulation of appropriate ways to look into instances of the maltreatment of children.
The child protective service of California is one such agency dealing with issues related to child protection. The California child protection agency was established with the sole responsibility of looking into cases of child neglect as well as abuse. The agency also puts measures in place to guarantee the safety of all children and ensuring that the families in which this children are being raised are in one way or the other stable. In that line, the child protective agency has come up with innovative initiatives that involve the education and information dissemination to foster parents on the best ways to handle children under their care. The agency also has the power to license homes which act as daycare centers.
The mission statement of the agency
The agency has a concise, well defined and brief mission statement. The mission statement of the agency states from the onset that the agency strives to enhance the state’s
- Enhancing children’s protection
- Ensuring that families are strengthened
- The provision of homes that are permanent
- Enhancing partnerships at the community level
The agencies mission is executed through a number of programs as well as partnerships at the divisional level with a big number of agencies throughout the state.
Financial reports and summaries of the operations of the agency
The financial statements considered in this case are for the year ended 31st march 2010. The agency is non profit making and this is a critical consideration in the preparation of its financial statements. The agency financial statements have crucial financial disclosures which include but is not limited to information regarding the funding of the agency followed by other information of a financial nature. The budgeted funding actually falls short of the actual funding with the budgeted funding standing at $332,931,000 as the actual stands at $343,945,000. The actual total cost of services is presented as $329,654,000 while the total assets are reported as $87,747,000. It is important to note that aggregate funding is made up of the aggregate of recurrent funds as well as capital funding.
The agency in the year ended 31st march 2010 also undertook some capital projects which included but were not limited to a renovation of the office block to be used for purposes of reporting and a relocation of the development office. The space left out on relocation of the development office was renovated to house a responsible parenting unit.
The income statement gives a total expenses figure of $352,701,000 and a total revenue figure of 27,000,000 for the same financial period under consideration. The balance sheet as at 31st march 2010 gives a total asset figure of $87,747,000 and a total liability figure of $27,983,000. The equity section is made up of the contributed equity, surplus which is accumulated as well as reserves. The agency also has a statement of cash flows. The cash flows include cash flows from the state, cash flows from operating activities, cash flows from investing activities and lastly cash and cash equivalents at the period end. The cash flows from the state are listed as $372, 546,000 while the cash flows from operating activities are stated as a negative figure i.e. 301,900,000. Cash and cash equivalents as at the end of the period were 12, 321,000.
The agency executes its mission through the provision of a number of operational services which in one way or the other target children as well as their families. First, the agency carries out a detailed investigation of all the reports at its disposal regarding the abuse of children. The results of the investigation are the main determinants of the cause of action the child protective agency takes. Next, the agency is charged with the role of providing emergency shelter to either the child, family or both under special circumstances. At the familial level, the agency is felt through the provision of a number of emergency services including but not limited to counseling as well as emergency placements that are largely designed to be protective.
Next, the agency offers classes to do with parenting either on a voluntary or mandatory basis to parents throughout the state. There are also classes which deal with corrective initiatives to address concerns related to or involving substance as well as substance abuse. In this line, the agency does tests for drugs which underline its relevance in combating substance as well as alcohol abuse. For cases where counseling may be required as a corrective measure, the agency has in place mechanisms to enhance its capability to handle mental health services which may or may not be accompanied by counseling sessions. To all those within its jurisdiction, the agency has other peripheral services such as the provision of medical services coupled with the care of dental issues and concerns.
An analysis of the effectiveness of the child protection services
When it comes to effectiveness in the delivery of its services, the child protection service’s performance can be said to be satisfactory. The services provided within the umbrella of the child protection services are wide and far reaching and their impact on the ground is widely felt. The children services are listed widely or generally as emergency services, parental information, dental and health initiatives, counseling and lastly adoption as well as foster care. The emergency services are made up of the crisis nursery and an arm that is charged with taking reports on child abuse.
It is through this arm that the agency can be said to have links with the criminal justice. This arm has three general strategic departments which include the recording department, the filing department and the follow-up department. The recording department is charged with the role of taking complains as well as information on any aspect of child abuse and other emergencies. Emergencies are always addressed in consultation with the relevant law enforcement agencies. This department operates 24 hours a day. The filing department is charged with the duty of taking appropriate action where necessary and this includes liaising with the criminal justice system is the circumstances at play call for the same.
The follow-up department is charged with the duty of making follow-ups of what has been reported and the addressing of deviations from the planed action where necessary. This is an integral department within the agency as it ensures all the recommended action is adhered to and hence guarantees success of the various initiatives instituted by the child protection services. All the departments within the child protection services are professionally hired to ensure they are fit for the advancement of the agencies mission. To keep them up to date on pertinent information that might in one way or the other enhance their service delivery, the agency organizes in-house seminars and workshops twice per year for those charged with overseeing the smooth running of the agency. This workshops are tailored into offer the necessary skills to those who attend as well as to give them motivation when it comes to the performance of the same.
Strategies for purposes of improving efficiency
Though the child protection services can be said to be fairly effective, more needs to be done to ensure it succeeds in delivering its social goals. First, the seminars and workshops it offers twice a year should be extended to those employees and volunteers at the low cadres as well. As things stand now, the seminars are organized with individuals at the supervisory level in mind. A departure from this can in one way or the other lead to the improvement of the skills of the workers at lower cadres as well as motivation. Given that those seminars and workshops have borne fruit according to Dobelstein (2003), an extension of the same to lower cadre workers of the agency will only enhance its effectiveness and ensure that its goals are met in full.
Next, another way to enhance the effectiveness of the agency could be through embracing technology. Currently, the agency still relies in the outdated recording methods especially at the recording level. This not only slows the whole system but it also has been proven to be costly (Stanley 2003). Embracing technology not only makes things easier and cheaper but it also oils efficiency. The child protection agency will therefore make massive cost savings which can be diverted to other worthy uses by embracing technology. Lastly, the agency could also ensure that it collects feedback on its performance from a number of quarters. According to Dobelstein (2003), the collection of feedback on performance is one of the best ways to evaluate the performance of a given organization as well as for decision making purposes. With that in mind the child protection services could collect feedback and use the same for purposes of decision making. For instance, negative feedback could stimulate corrective action to address deviation from the expected whereas positive feedback could be used for purposes of modeling decisions on a similar framework. Either way, feedback is a critical ingredient for purposes of decision making.
It is important to note that based on what it is currently doing, the child protection services has a big role to play going forward. The increasing cases of children rights violation in California put the agency and its officers in the spotlight. The agency should hence ensure that it addresses all the concerns raised through referring to them appropriately. It is also important to note that without working hand in hand with the criminal justice system; most of the social goals of the agency may not be met. The protection of children rights should therefore be a concerted effort requiring the participation of all the stakeholders.
Dolgoff, R., Feldstein, D., & Skolnick, L. (1997). Understanding social welfare. Longman. University of Michigan
Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from: www.childwelfare.gov
DiNitto, D.M. (2010). Social Welfare: Politics and Public Policy. Pearson Education
Dobelstein, A.W. (2003). Social welfare: policy and analysis. Brooks/Cole--Thomson Learning
Stanley, N. (2003). Child protection and mental health services: inter-professional responses to the needs of mothers. The Policy Press