Reporting Child Abuse - Child Protective Services

family preservation welfare home

Partly funded by the federal government, child protective services (CPS) agencies were first established in response to the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA; Public Law 93-247), which mandated that all states establish procedures to investigate suspected incidents of child maltreatment. Upon receipt of a report of suspected child maltreatment, CPS screens the case to determine its proper jurisdiction. For example, if it is determined that the alleged perpetrator of sexual abuse is the victim's parent or caretaker, CPS screens in the report and conducts further investigation. If the alleged perpetrator is a stranger or someone who is not the parent or caregiver of the victim, the case is screened out, or referred elsewhere, in this case, to the police because it does not fall within CPS jurisdiction as outlined under federal law.

A state's child welfare system, under which CPS functions, consists of other components designed to ensure a child's well-being and safety. These include foster care, juvenile and family courts, and other child welfare services. Other child welfare services include family reunification, granting custody to a relative, termination of parental rights, and emancipation. Cases of reported child abuse or neglect typically undergo a series of steps through the child welfare system. (See Figure 3.2.)

Court Involvement

The juvenile or family court hears allegations of maltreatment and decides if a child has been abused and/or


neglected. The court then determines what should be done to protect the child. The child may be left in the parents' home under the supervision of the CPS agency, or the child may be placed in foster care. If the child is removed from the home and it is later determined that the child should never be returned to the parents, the court can begin proceedings to terminate parental rights so that the child can be put up for adoption. The state may also prosecute the abusive parent or caretaker when a crime has allegedly been committed.

Family Preservation

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-272) mandated: "In each case, reasonable efforts will be made (A) prior to the placement of a child in foster care, to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from his home, and (B) to make it possible for the child to return to his home." Because the law, however, did not define the term "reasonable efforts," states and courts interpreted the term in different ways. In many cases, child welfare personnel took the "reasonable efforts" of providing family counseling, respite care, and substance abuse treatment, thus preventing the child from being removed from abusive parents.

The law was a reaction to what was seen as zealousness in the 1960s and 1970s, when children, especially African-American children, were taken from their homes because their parents were poor. At the beginning of the twentieth-first century, however, some feel that problems of drug or substance abuse can mean that returning the child to the home is likely a guarantee of further abuse. Others note that some situations exist where a parent's live-in partner, who has no emotional attachment to the child, may also present risks to the child.

FAMILY PRESERVATION DOES NOT WORK. Dr. Richard J. Gelles, a prominent family violence expert, once a vocal advocate of family preservation, had a change of heart after studying the case of fifteen-month-old David Edwards, who was suffocated by his mother after the child welfare system failed to come to his rescue. Although David's parents had lost custody of their first child because of abuse, and despite reports of David's abuse, CPS made "reasonable efforts" to let the parents keep the child. In The Book of David: How Preserving Families Can Cost Children's Lives (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1996), Dr. Gelles points out that CPS needs to abandon its blanket solution to child abuse in its attempt to use reasonable efforts to reunite the victims and their perpetrators.

Dr. Gelles found that those parents who seriously abuse their children are incapable of changing their behaviors. On August 2, 2001, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives during the reauthorization hearing on CAPTA, Dr. Gelles reported:

A major failing in child abuse and neglect assessments is the crude way behavioral change is conceptualized and measured. Behavioral change is thought to be a two-step process—one simply changes from one form of behavior to another…. As yet, there is no empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of child welfare services in general or the newer, more innovative intensive family preservation services. The lack of empirical support for the effectiveness of intensive family preservation services was the finding of the National Academy of Sciences panel on Assessing Family Violence Prevention and Treatment Programs and the United States Department of Health and Human Services national evaluation of family preservation programs.

FAMILY PRESERVATION WORKS. The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR), a nonprofit organization of experts on child abuse and foster care who are committed to the reform of the child welfare system, believes that many allegedly maltreated children are unnecessarily removed from their homes. NCCPR recognizes that, while there are cases in which the only way to save a child is to remove him or her from an abusive home, in many cases providing support services to the family in crisis, while letting the child remain at home, helps ensure child safety.

The NCCPR believes that, with the proper assistance, a family in crisis can change its behavior (What is "Family Preservation?" Issue Paper 10, Alexandria, VA, undated). According to the NCCPR, family preservation encompasses intervention procedures based on the Homebuilders program first implemented in 1974 in Tacoma, Washington. Homebuilders services are designed for families with children at risk of an imminent placement in foster care. It starts with an intensive initial intervention lasting four to six weeks in the family's home with provision of counseling and concrete services (for example, buying food, paying rent, providing clothing). The Homebuilders worker is on call twenty-four hours a day during that period, and the amount of counseling he or she gives the family has been compared to a year's worth of conventional counseling. After the period of intensive intervention, aftercare is afforded the family as needed.

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over 10 years ago

I agree cps laws need to change on alleged child abuse. 2004 I reported child abuse on my daughter. here step father was charged and put in prison. and 3 years later i got remarried and had a baby with my husband and 21 hours later taken from cps. he is almost 1 years old and is only 19 pounds. also 2 weeks after he was removed from our care they said no allegations founded.

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over 7 years ago

Herman Newton of Crossett AR is teaching his adopted son how to be a bully and harass people and he is also a harrasser. His wife runs a child services buiness called Phoenix. I feel she is doing good work but her husband is not fit to mentor children. He gave his son when he was 3 years old beer to drink. They used to have big parties where weed smoking was going on and ofcourse lots of drinking I don't knnow if they still are but members of his family have had problems with drugs one arrested recently. Most of his sisters and brothers have seen the inside of a jail for shooting someone or accidentally shooting themself trying to shoot a boy friend.One sister's husband was supposed to have commited suicide.His father was found dead behind Brookshires with his pants down while he was having an affair with another woman.There are rumors that he was having an affair.

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over 7 years ago

my case was opened in october of this year and son was removed on the 21 of that month then on the 27th of tht same month i got an unounded letter.. and still fighting to get him back..

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almost 9 years ago


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almost 9 years ago

I had suspicions of sexual abuse happening to my sons. All I knew for sure was the abuse was happening while in the care of their father. Due to court ordered visitation I the children were in my care on weekends, which interferred in having CPS interview my child. I violated the court order so the interview could be done. I was sent to YPD to let them know that I had good cause for violating the orders. My son was very uncomfortable being at the police station. He whined "NO MOM, I DONT WANT TO TALK TO THE COPS. IM TOO TIRED TO REMEMBER. IM TOO TIRED TO TALK." While speaking with the detective my son was pulling my arm pleading to leave, even yelling "I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO TALK TO THE LADY. I DONT WANT TO TALK TO COPS!" ... Yet the officer insisted that the interview be held there at the station. I asked him. "Cant we go to the CPS office where he would be more comfortable?" The officer instantly denied this requests, seeing that my childs uncomfort. ...Then preceeded to go into the same room where the CPS social worker interviewed my child. WEARING HIS FULL UNIFORM. Considering the seriousness of my suspisions, the interview was contaminated and improper. This was very imperfessional on both agencies. The results of the interview were UNFOUNDED. I deserve access to the RECORDING OF THE INTERVIEW; without an attorney. The worker (Judy Carter) informed me that she will NOT conduct another interview. My children are now forced to continuouslly return to the residence where the abuse occured. And the mediatior sternly told me I "..HAVE NO RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHO HE(father) DECIDES TO BE HIS CHILDCARE PROVIDER. OR WHO IS AROUND THE CHILDREN WHILE IN HIS CARE!" This is very disturbing to me, considering that my children are around an individual that has previously been accused of continuous child molestation. As well as been reported MULTIPLE(3 that i confirmed) times, for the same accusation, in a period of 7 years. SAME AMMO. SIMILAR ACCUSATIONS. SAME GUY. ...And yet all of these cases were "Unfounded" or swept under the rug. I demand to know why? Our children are being abused and scarred. THESE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE. The CPS agency needs to investigate this accused individual and check into past allegations, interviews involving this child molestor. This person need to be caught, before more children are hurt. COLLECT THE EVIDENCE! PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!!! thats your job.

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over 9 years ago

Dear Sir/Madam

I am not South African but I happened to be in SA over the weekend of the 4-5th of September. I came across a very disturbing case of child abuse or should I say children abuse.

A 15 year girl Sinenhlanhla Ntenga was raped by an uncle (mother’s relative). The father reported the case but, the mother went on to withdraw the case and she succeeded in doing so. I thought rape is a crime against the state and as such no one has the power to withdraw the case except the state agencies. To make matters worse Sine is still leaving with the monster.She does not look to be in good health and I feel something has to be done fast.

A younger sister to Sine on Thursday burnt to death . The same mother left candle wax boiling on a paraffin stove it caught fire and this four year minor tried to use the towel to douse the flames unfortunately the towel hooked to the tin with the flaming liquid and the whole liquid was ppoured all over the body of the child and child was burnt to death. This appears to me to be gross negligency from the side of the mother.

This mother was once admitted into a psachriatic hospital and spent some time there. She is not fit to be a mother the state has to do something.

The family stays in Dobsonville just close to Police Station where the case was once reported.The mother’s name is Neli Ntenga she also stays in Dobsonville. She is a South African citizen she has anID and passport I don’t think she will Be difficult to locate. Police must have enough records to help you. If nothing happens I will post this Letter and a report to the media. This case has to be solved.

Please help the children the parents are not doing much.

PS : Dobsonville is a small area I will enclose a rough sketch of the area . People know each other very well around that area. The place is directly opposite the Shoprite shopping Mall eastern side of the Police station. You take a turn on the third dust road after the Police Station or the last dust road before the first narrow tarred road to the east of the police station and south of the Mall.

Mother : Neli Ntenga from KZN New Castle

Elder Brother: Siphephelo Ntenga

Younger Brpther: bafana

Yours very concerned

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over 10 years ago

I am a mother of 4 children which was taken by CPS for no good reason and I fight for them til it was a drug promblem and yet that wasnt not they reason to make thing different I went to treatment and done truly all that was asked of me But anyways the reason for this comment is NOW that my kids are older and since the time that they had be taken except for my younget I had tact with and when my youngest turn 18 he is in Prison and has been there since he was 16now that is have no contact The 3 that did are fine excpt the stuff that happen to them from the foster care and CPS supposely doing it for ther own good TAREING FAMILY APART IS NOT FOR THERE OWN GOOD ONLY GOD HAS THAT many truely kids being hurt hit bitten and molstered did get over looked for wasting time on those that was LOVED AND WANTED

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