If the Department Of Child And Family Services (DCFS) could have one wish granted, it would be that they would never again have to investigate a case of child abuse or neglect.
This is unfortunately an unrealistic desire; and making it even more unfortunate is the fact that this department of the government is so inundated with investigation requests to help stop child abuse that it often takes a longer time than not to get to the bottom of the issue. And with over 100,000 child abuse cases brought to the department on a yearly basis, it is no wonder that time is of the essence when it comes to providing families with the relief they seek.
Signs of child abuse are fairly overt when an adolescent is sporting bruises, black eyes, broken bones, or other types of scars related to being physically assaulted by an individual over the age of eighteen.
But, recognizing the signs of child neglect are often not as easy to spot, much of the time because any outsiders to the situation don’t know exactly what types of adult behaviors fall into the “neglect” category.
Child neglect transpires when the adult who is responsible for a minor child denies him or her adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, and appropriate supervision during everyday activities. A prime example that often causes neighbors or others close in proximity to participate in reporting child neglect is when a child is found outside playing in or around the street without a parent or other guardian to watch over his games while ensuring his safety at the same time.
Is there a guideline to understanding child abuse and neglect that determines whether to initiate a claim with the Department Of Child And Family Services?
The answer is “yes.”
Said guideline states that if the person reporting child abuse and neglect has actually seen an injurious act committed towards a child (such as the child being hit with a foreign object by an adult), or heard about it from the child that he has been harmed by a grown up in some way, then a call to the DCFS offices is warranted by the witness.
Then there are those events that most would believe qualify for a report to DCFS when in reality another government agency would be better suited to handle the problem on behalf of the minor children.
An example of such an issue is as follows: a child may live in a household where he has to listen to his parents argue nonstop, an event which causes him undue stress. Another adult may also hear the intense fighting, especially in an apartment situation where two homes often share common walls. And although the secondary adult may feel that the stress of the child justifies a call to DCFS to file a report, the instance of two parents yelling at one another does not define an act of emotional child abuse towards the youngster. Hence, the details of this event would be better shared with a community service organization such as one that provides counseling to the affected parties.
When a call does come in to its offices, what are the details of the process carried out by DCFS to investigate a reported allegation?
An intake specialist who answers the call has his pen in hand, ready to log all the information on the concerns the reporting party has about the minor children who are at the center of the matter.
The particulars discussed during such a conversation include what the person has witnessed that created the need to make the call in the first place – and it is from this information that the case worker then makes the educated decision about whether or not it is necessary to continue to the next step in the procedure.
If the given information is about something serious such as a food-starved child or the observance of the child being hit (and on more than one occasion), an investigator will be put on the case in twenty-four hours, and sometimes in even less time if the situation is serious enough to require it.
And if the intake specialist decides that there is not enough information to open an investigation, the person making the call can still get any of his or her questions answered regarding what was observed or what to do if a similar event is witnessed in the future.
Those individuals who do opt to speak with a case worker at DCFS can rest assured that their names will be kept confidential, and that the family in question will never know at any time thereon who it was that initiated the impending investigation. However there is one exception to this rule – if the reported case ever winds up at court in front of a judge, that judge may ask to speak with the person who got the ball rolling in order to gather additional information or confirm already established facts.
The Department of Child And Family Services takes on cases involving child assault or other types of abuse, but what else does this organization do on a daily basis to help families and their youngsters get along in the world?
Placing foster children in good homes with loving families is one of the highest priority items on the task list of services. In addition, adoptions are arranged for children who are in need of a nurturing place to lay down roots.
Whether it is a parent, teacher, baby-sitter, or other adult who is creating an abusive situation for a child, DCFS is on the case and out to provide relief once an issue has been documented.