DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES PLAN
can the Department best intervene to keep children safe and help families
care for their children at home when it is safe to do so?
key issue, which the Department is trying to resolve through Front
End Services, is the promotion of child safety. This includes determining
how to ensure that at-risk children are protected from abuse and neglect.
Front End Services, the Department protects children who are reported
to be abused and neglected and works to increase their familys
capacity to nurture them. Front End Services include interventions
provided at the onset of the Departments involvement with a
family. The specific goals consist of:
allegations of abuse and neglect;
the safety and well-being of children;
the family intact when the childs safety and best interest
can be assured;
protective custody when the childs safety and best interest
warrant such intervention;
safety decisions quickly and accurately; and
families so that further child protective involvement is not needed.
Department has a rich history of delivering a wide array of Front
End Services. These services encompass activities designed to assist
children and their families quickly and appropriately during and
shortly after an allegation to the Child Abuse Hotline is investigated
and it is determined that the childrens safety and best interests
can be assured through opening a case and providing services while
the case remains intact.
End Services also include prevention and intervention programs to
confront and correct broad community problems that frequently lead
to abuse and neglect. In order to keep family problems from escalating
to the point of abuse, neglect, or placement, the Department encourages
communities to develop and provide prevention services. Often prevention
programs help families connect to others, eliminate isolation, reduce
their stress, and obtain needed family supports.
current Department initiatives have prevention components that leverage
state and federal funds. They include:
Centered Services (FCS) Initiative. (Formerly The Family
Preservation and Support Act, it was reauthorized under the
Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997). FCS provides prevention
services throughout the state through the Local Area Networks
(LANs). Community identified problems relating to child abuse
and neglect are funded through the LANs. A Statewide Steering
Committee advises the Department and on the local level, a FCS
planning committee in conjunction with the LANs Steering Committee
plans and develops FCS programs.
Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) Initiative. This
Initiative makes use of federal grant funds under Title II of
the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to support
the Departments efforts to develop, operate, expand and
enhance a network of community-based, prevention focused, family
resource and support programs. Public and private partnerships
collaborate to provide family supports that help prevent child
to Citizen (CTC) Initiative. This Initiative makes use of
state tax check-off funds to support grass root level/community-based
services. These programs focus on helping to resolve community
identified problems related to child abuse and neglect.
Prevention Initiative. Through this initiative the Statewide
Citizens Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) advises
the Department regarding innovative child abuse prevention activities.
SCAN is a statewide statutorily mandated advisory body which
focuses most of its efforts on coordinating child abuse prevention
and developing program models.
2. Intake and Investigation
Child Abuse Hotline continues to be a 24 hour a day pathway into
the child protection system. Professional child welfare service
workers assess each call and determine what, if any, level of intervention
is needed. During FY98 approximately 340,000 calls to the hotline
generated around 66,000 family reports to be investigated. At least
one allegation of maltreatment was indicated in each of over 37,000
of these reports. Child protection investigators make immediate
safety assessments and long term risk assessments. They determine
whether abuse/neglect has occurred, what immediate interventions
are needed, whether children can be safely maintained at home or
whether protective custody is necessary.
the recent past, several qualitative improvements have been made
at the Department that impact on intake and investigations, including:
percent of overdue investigations is down from 3.23% in FY98
to 2.88% during FY99.
in training and supervision have enabled investigators to focus
more on engaging families, assessing risk and linking at-risk
families to community resources.
Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) continues
to serve as a valuable tool in helping child welfare workers
assess risk factors to determine whether a child is in immediate
danger of harm and requires the development of a safety plan.
Since the implementation of CERAP in 1995, a 28% decline in
the rate of reoccurrence of abuse and neglect has occurred.
coordination has facilitated improvements in face-to-face hand-offs
of investigations to permanency workers for immediate services.
Enhanced coordination also allows follow-up workers to receive
first hand knowledge from CPIs as to the needs of the
family as assessed by the CPI.
3. Shelter Network
children must be taken into protective custody and no appropriate
relative placement is available, the Department has a network of
shelters and emergency foster homes. The focus continues to be on
using these facilities for interim short-term placement.
Shelter Network has a total capacity of 200 children. It is composed
of Emergency Reception Center (ERC), St. John of God and St. Margaret
of Scotland to cover the Chicago area. The age range is from 0
21 years. The shelter provides temporary shelter until children
return home or go to a relative home or foster home. The shelter
serves as a bridge for the child to enter the Department or to return
home while the decisions regarding safety are made. Some of the
youth that disrupt in other placements are also housed at the shelter.
4. In Home Protective Services
children have been abused or neglected, but can be maintained safely
at home, the Department continues to provide in home protective
services that focus on the safety and risk issues identified in
Cook County, since FY97 intact family cases have been served through
child protective services. Substantial improvements continue to
be made in handling these cases, including:
the staff caseload ratio from 30:1 to 12:1.
the linkage of families with community resources. Families are
a part of the transition and know the expectations allowing
them to give input in the service planning.
system improvements to require manager level approval before
a child is screened into care.
is being done at the state and national levels on forging strategies
to redesign front end services. An example of this is embodied in
DCFS Policy Guide 99.01 Coordination of Service Planning with the
Illinois Department Human Services. The purpose of the Policy Guide
is to provide instruction to DCFS staff regarding the coordination
of service planning efforts with DHS for intact families who are
clients receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
authorities, advocates and providers suggest that we enhance our
efforts to enlist the community at large as a partner in safeguarding
children and strengthening families. In fact, key tenants of the
federal "Promoting Safe and Stable Families" component
of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 and the Community-Based
Family Resource Program, as authorized under Title II of CAPTA,
strongly asserts that the best strategy for improving front end
services is to develop networks of community-based resources.
they emphasize that parents are responsible for ensuring the safety
of their children. When parents are unable to do so, the community
through its designated institutions has an obligation
to help. Schools, training and employment programs, mental health
agencies, law enforcement, courts, income maintenance agencies and
faith-based entities share this obligation with the public child
welfare system. Too often, families who have been failed by other
systems end up at child welfare agencies as a last resort.
as we review the work of others for clues of potential help, we
found substantial focus on problem identification rather than solutions.
Their work is replete with discussion on:
large number of families who are coming to the attention of
the child welfare system due to poverty;
number of families entering child welfare systems who are increasingly
more troubled due to drugs/alcohol, AIDS/HIV, physical and mental
health difficulties, etc;
wide variety of complex family problems that require multiple
responses and long term interventions;
historical absence of adequate service continuum due to fiscal
concerns and a lack of will;
artificial competition generated between prevention and intervention
providers for scarce resources; and
lack of interagency coordination due to stagnation commitment
to historical fragmented institutional boundaries and unwillingness
to abandon categorical thinking for a comprehensive approach
to helping solve family problems.
the contrary, we can learn from the following recent work related
to Front End Service:
End Redesign Pilots
the past 18 months, the Department tested two approaches to re-designing
the relationship between investigations and intact family services.
An evaluation is in process to determine which model of service
most efficiently ensures the safety and well-being of children,
meets their best interest and results in earlier permanency. Under
each model, children remain at home only when it is judged safe
the Integrated Model a single worker performs the functions
of the Child Protective Investigator and the Intact Child Welfare
Specialist II. Cases remain with the workers from the beginning
of the protective investigation until the case is closed unless
the children are placed in DCFS custody by a court. If placement
occurs, the case is transferred from a protective worker to a
permanency (placement) worker on another team.
the Paired Team Model, some Child Protective Investigators
(CPIs) and some Intact Child Welfare Specialists (CWSs)
are included on a team under the same supervisor. When service
issues sufficient to warrant child welfare case opening become
apparent, the case is assigned immediately to one of the CWSs
on the same team. If a subsequent oral report of abuse or neglect
involving a family active with the CWS is received, the CWS investigates
it unless the allegation has a higher priority than the previous
one. In this case, an investigator specializing in the particular
priority allegation is assigned.
both models, child abuse/neglect reports involving serious physical
injury or sexual abuse are investigated by specialized investigators,
with law enforcement participation whenever the law enforcement
agency accepts involvement, and with Child Advocacy Center participation
in locations where Centers exist. In coordination with the specialized
investigators, workers from Child Protective Services are involved
from the beginning of the case, both to engage the family and
to arrange for or provide the needed services.
under both models, workers are better able to 1) engage families
in the service process, 2) assess family strengths, weaknesses,
and risk to their children, and 3) detect any deterioration of
family situations which result threaten the childrens safety.
This enables workers to take precisely chosen and timely protective
actions. Through the avoidance of case handoffs from one unit
to another, either model also ensures quicker decisions regarding
permanency (remaining intact vs. placement). At present the Paired
Team model appears to be the more successful of the two, but final
conclusions remain to be drawn.
paired team approach in Rock Island has been extremely successful.
Staff involved have expressed positive comments regarding better
services to clients, strong teamwork, and improved ties to the
community. Outcomes have also been excellent and the decision
has been made to convert the entire office to a paired team. Rather
than have two investigative teams and two service teams, the office
will consist of four teams with each team consisting of two Child
Protective Investigators (CPI) and four Child Welfare Services
a report is investigated and needs service, it stays on the same
team throughout the life of the case, even if placement is needed.
The four CWS staff will only receive cases from the two CPIs
on the same team.
addition to these four teams, a fifth team consists of a lead
CWS, two CPIs, and two monitors. The CPIs are paired
with the Quest workers for intact cases. The lead CWS worker carries
placement cases from these CPIs and from the Quest intact
2. Front End Lead Agency Pilot
Quest Initiative is being piloted in Local Area Network (LAN)
29. In this project, the lead agency organizes a comprehensive
array of consumer driven, strength-focused clinical services using
a mix of formal and informal resources. The clear ongoing focus
of this project remains on child safety. Services are being sought
out as required to meet families needs.
core services required for open intact families are made available
and accessible as needed, including case management, individual,
family and group counseling, homemaker or parent aide service,
day care and short term respite (less than 24 hours), flexible
funding for basic needs and transportation.
the lead agency is responsible for helping families access supportive
services such as substance abuse treatment, domestic violence
services, housing, public assistance, food stamps, public health
and all levels of mental health services.
Los Angeles County Family Preservation Model
model was developed in close collaboration between the Los Angeles
County Department of Children and Family Services, private agencies,
children advocates and community partners.
model views family preservation as an approach to strengthening
families, rather than a particular service. It looks at families
holistically, taking into account their overall needs, in the
context of their communities, with an emphasis on providing culturally
appropriate comprehensive, and coordinated services. Funding is
provided directly to the community, or to networks to provide
an array of services to strengthen and empower families, which
in turn, strengthens and empowers communities to address their
Front End Redesign and lead agency pilots described above have
already embraced some of the key components of the LA County Model.
All three programs emphasize the importance of avoiding the unnecessary
placement of children in foster care, developing true community
partnership, and deflecting families to community-based services
away from the formal child welfare system.
CURRENT AND FUTURE STEPS
safety is the paramount goal of the Department from the initial
call to the hotline to the day that a case is closed. Partnerships
with community networks are vital so that timely and accurate investigations
and immediate connections to services can be made.
Front End innovations in practice are underway in the Department
with local area networks to offer non-categorical family supports
service delivery strategies that place greater emphasis on problem
solving rather than primarily on problem identification.
connections between investigations and follow-up services.
that public and private agency child protection and child welfare
staffs are appropriately trained to assess child safety and
service delivery and funding strategies to change costly intensive
family preservation programs to focus on levels of care.
Contributions Toward Long Term Goals
crucial part of this work is continuing the development of community
partnerships. These partnerships help to establish a comprehensive
network of neighborhood based supports for at-risk families. Each
autonomous network builds upon existing support structures, such
as Head Start Programs, faith based entities, and local schools.
Also, they are being expanded by explicitly encouraging the growth
of informal neighborhood supports. By developing this comprehensive
network of individuals, groups, and local institutions prepared
to actively participate in protecting children and supporting families,
each network will have an "early intervention" capacity
to help avert child abuse and neglect, and enable many families
avoid formal contact with the child welfare system. For children
whose families do come to the attention of the Department, the community
system will be activated to better secure their safety and minimize
the risk of subsequent maltreatment. In other words, the Department
will provide a thoughtfully differentiated response to maltreatment
reports tailored to each familys particular circumstance.
above modifications make substantial contributions toward the Departments
long term front end goals by strengthening local area networks.
They will become more involved in aggressively promoting child safety
and in implementing "alert" preventive approaches to stemming
child abuse and neglect.
LONG RANGE GOALS/OBJECTIVES
end product that the Department hopes to achieve by modifying the
front end of the child welfare system is reduced child abuse and
neglect. The timely availability of comprehensive, family-centered,
child-focused, community-based services that protect endangered
children, work to prevent abuse and neglect, and strengthen families
before a crisis ensues.
Five Year Plan Implementation Considerations
the end product is an evolving process. As envisioned, the new system
will cross categorical boundaries of traditional service systems
and help tie them together in a coherent vision. The well-being
of families will be improved by:
that parents have the resources and opportunities to increase
their capacities needed to care for their children and promote
healthy development in their own homes and communities;
that communities have the resources necessary to support families
and promote their skills and abilities to raise their children
and support themselves;
the safety and healthy development of all children and youth;
families in coping with stresses that interfere with their capacity
to raise their children;
that children and families have access to culturally relevant
that if children are unable to remain in their own homes, they
are cared for in their own communities and in the most appropriate,
least restrictive out-of-home setting possible.
the end of year five, substantial progress should be made in the
assumption of shared responsibility and accountability by the
broader community for troubled families who do not require state-sanctioned
crafted novel approaches and stronger community-based infrastructures
to ensure child safety;
knowledge about outcomes and intervening variables related to
child safety and family well-being;
collaboration between community partners and the Department
on innovative programming strategies to better serve children
who have been abused/neglected. This programming should follow
recent research that shows that these children demonstrate higher
levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems,
social skills deficits, affect dysregulation and academic delays.
Barriers/Obstacles To Overcome
of the breadth and complexity of the front end reform work discussed
here, numerous uncertainties about the population size and scope
of the work remain. Some of the obstacles and barriers to overcome
development of greatly enhanced community involvement.
activities in the changing environment created by welfare reform.
development of additional strategies for the targeting of high
intensity community interventions.
further development and coordination of a wide spectrum of informal
community resources, particularly those not traditionally involved
in child protection, but many who are well-positioned to identify
and reach vulnerable families.
public awareness of the Departments need to balance the
protection of children and the familys right to privacy.
continuing evolution of understanding about the role and responsibilities
of the Department and who it serves.
we must frequently take stock to make cogent directionality decisions.
In order to proceed with this work, we need to nurture local networks.
They can take on a greater role in child safety and well-being,
help the Department engage in community outreach, asset mapping,
and community planning to strengthen existing and fledging supports.