The Work of a Child Protective Services Worker

I am a Child Protective Services (Intake) worker and have been for almost four years. I got involved with Child Welfare because I love children and wanted to do whatever I could to help a child. This job is extremely stressful, frustrating, time consuming and emotionally taxing; however there are also many rewards. The rewards are seen when a family chooses to make the right decisions for the safety of their children and improve their lifestyle.

The daily tasks of a child protective services worker include going to court and being aware of the court process and working with other professionals and other community partners. As a CPS worker I am responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect that occur in our county. I carry a caseload of somewhere between 20-30 investigations and assessments at all times. This makes me responsible for approximately 50 children each day. Once an investigation or assessment has been assigned to me it is my responsibility to contact all individuals residing in the home and all other relevant individuals. After speaking to all individuals and assessing all the possible risks to the children it is time to make a decision in regards to their safety. This is one of the most difficult parts of the job due to the fact that the decision I make will impact their lives forever. These decisions are typically made after consulting my supervision and other community partners. Our options include putting beneficial services in the family home, safety planning with family members or friends, or removing the children from the home.

Often a dangerous situation can be quickly fixed by having the children stay with a relative until the parents can correct the harmful conditions. Removing children from their home is traumatic and is always the last resort. If the decision is made that the child is at imminent risk in their home, the Assistant District Attorney and a Judge are immediately contacted to request temporary custody. The Judge makes the decision to place or not to place the children in DHS custody. If custody is granted to OKDHS, law enforcement removes the children form their home. This includes telling the parents their children will be going with me, asking for the children’s belongings and finding out medical history of the children.

Please keep in mind, this process does not always occur during the middle of the day, Monday through Friday. More often than not, if a removal occurs, it is in the middle of the night or on the weekend or holiday. I then have to wait with the children until a resource home is found and transport the children, even if it is 3am and the home is three hours away. Once the child is placed in the resource home it is my job to make sure the resource parent is provided with all available information in regards to this child.