When a report alleging concerns about children’s safety and well-being is received county child protection staff conduct an assessment to determine the child or children’s safety and whether or not the family is in need of services. If the safety of the children in the home cannot be determined, the county agency sees the child immediately. Otherwise, the agency prioritizes the response time based on the risk to the children.
The caseworker visits the home and determines safety and permanency needs (does the child have a permanent family?) and child and family well-being. The amount of concern for each outcome depends on the nature of the family’s situation. For instance, in most assessments the child is not in danger of immediate serious harm. Therefore in most cases the assessment focuses primarily on assessing family needs, helping the family problem solve around immediate concerns, and arranging for services.
In some cases safety concerns are paramount and the caseworker develops with the family a plan to protect the child. The caseworker attempts to assure the safety of the child during the assessment, either through keeping the child at home with certain safeguards or through a temporary placement with relatives or foster care. The county department may request court oversight if indicated.
Based on the assessment, the family is accepted for on-going services, referred to a community agency or the case is closed.
If you have questions about child protection intake, please contact Ashleigh Rankin, at 303-866-5956.