A Child Protective Service (CPS)

Alternative Responses







A Child Protective Service (CPS) is a specialized section of the child safety scheme that places emphasis on families in which children are recognized as victims of or in danger of child abuse or neglect (Lau & Morse, 2009). State laws require these CPS to help in preventing maltreatment, abuse or neglect of children. Such agencies play the following roles;

Taking reports from individuals who believe children have been neglected or maltreated.

Finding out if abuse or neglect of children occurred.

Ensuring that there is a plan set up to keep children safe

Providing services to families to enhance the safety of their children.

According to the Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act (CAPTA), child mistreatment and disregard is “any current act, or irresponsibility by the parent or custodian which ends up in demise or severe bodily or mental injury, or sexual exploitation, or presents an impending threat of stern injury.” Child protective services mainly focus on probable ill-treatment to establish whether children have been or are at danger of being debilitated. These issues are generally administered by legal requirements (Vieth, Bottoms & Perona, 2005). Differential responses enable child safety organizations to get involved with families in supportive ways, usually by dwelling on families’ analysis of strengths and needs and then offering services. Service delivery (alternative response) is based on the cruelty of the suspected abuse and the ability of the family unit to engage in services.

Child Welfare Practices in My State (Florida)

In this section, an analysis of the child protection services used in Florida is conducted, by basing on the role of law enforcement in a differential response system, the availability of resources for families, and the competency of staff working with those families (Hess & Orthmann, 2009).

Family Services Response System (FSRS)

The Florida legislature created the FSRS to give a less adversarial response to various reports of maltreatment by allowing a risk evaluation and delivery of services to remove the risks, while offering support to the family (Lau & Morse, 2009). This system is backed up by state requirements to have personnel in child safety to be qualified. Universities and colleges in Florida offer advanced training to the social workers in the child welfare agency. There is an improved role of law enforcement in the criminal investigation to discover the brutality of the abuse reports and take appropriate actions to suit the requirements of the families.

Alternative Response and Community-based care (CBC)

The differential response system is backed up with the community-based care (CBC) family assessment component. Children protective agencies have cooperative agreements with local law enforcement that assumes the lead in conducting potential criminal investigations arising from allegation of child abuse and neglect. Skilled workforce trained in strength-based and collaborative interventions with manageable workloads is also viewed as being central to successful implementation of a differential response system (Hess & Orthmann, 2009). The decentralization of the child protective services within Florida ensures that most of the communities within counties have access to them and that children are protected from harmful acts and neglect.

Alternative responses in California

California’s child welfare system works jointly with two other primary efforts so as to improve its service delivery in child protection. Safety and Risk Assessment and Permanency and Youth Transition are the agencies with which California’s child protective agency partners (Lau & Morse, 2009). These programs represent a model of California’s CPS that emphasizes on efficient protection. This model is advanced for ascertaining a child’s safety needs once a report has been filed and involves hard work to guarantee that children have lasting, affectionate residences and interactions.

There are three paths in California’s differential response approach; community response; child welfare services and agency partners’ response; and child welfare services response.

Community response

This is chosen when a family is referred to child welfare service for child maltreatment yet allegations are inadequate to meet statutory definitions of abuse or neglect. This could be because there are indicators that a family is experiencing problems that could be solved by community services. Families of this nature are linked to the CPSs through extended affiliation with societal groups and other regional associations (Hess & Orthmann, 2009). This enhances better services delivery such as feedback relating to family participation, so as to decide whether the family is involved in services offered.

Child welfare services and agency response

This entails families in which children have to restrain risk of mistreatment. This means that safety factors could be little though some menace is there, and this model is preferred if accusations comply with legal explanations of maltreatment. The evaluations point out that with besieged tasks, a family is liable to shoe required development so as to enhance child safety and mitigate risk (Lonne, 2009). This approach promotes voluntary involvement in services through engagement of families with an interest of protecting the child and authority of the juvenile court may be utilized. A multidisciplinary approach is used by social employees in working with families. Exploring protective capacity of families enables social workers to develop a wellbeing strategy that may avoid separation of the child from the immediate custody of the guardian or parent.

Child welfare services response

This path is chosen if the initial assessment shows that the child is not safe. If the children are unsafe and risks range from moderate to high for recurring child maltreatment, actions ought to be undertaken to protect the child, with the agreement by the family (Vieth, Bottoms & Perona, 2005). However, actions can be taken without the consent of the family to improve the safety of children and control risks. Court commands and legal rulings may be used. There is face-to-face meeting with the family so as to enable the family to get acquainted with the seriousness of the concerns and to engage the in a commitment to change.

Alternative responses in Virginia

The prescriptions concerning alternative response by the state of Virginia are related to those of Florida and California. Reporting is required to be done by anyone who suspects child abuse and neglect, though pursuant to the code of Virginia, specific professionals are required report (Lau & Morse, 2009). Personnel accredited to perform medicine or any of the therapeutic arts and human services professionals are the most trusted reporters. CPSs investigate all valid reports of suspected child maltreatment, persons responsible are identified a determination of future risk of child abuse is done. Family assessments are conducted when there are immediate child safety concerns. Issues investigate may include sexual abuse, fatalities, serious injuries, abandonment and institutional neglect among others.


There are joint investigations with law enforcement and regulatory authorities in most states based on the outlined protocols. Reports are considered a Family Assessment Response once no direct child wellbeing is there or when the report is not required by law to be investigated, for instance, minor injuries, lack of supervision and emotional neglect. All states have similar goals in their CPSs; to protect children, preserve families and prevent maltreatment (Lonne, 2009). Florida could better meet the needs of children as far as children protection services is concerned if law enforcement is involved, family assessment response and use of community-based response mechanisms so as to engage in face-to-face communication and family assessment.


Lonne, B (2009). Reforming child protection. Taylor & Francis.

Hess, K & Orthmann, C (2009). Criminal Investigation. Edition9. Cengage Learning.

Lau, K & Morse, R (2009). Mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect: a practical guide for social workers Springer Series. Springer Publishing Company.

Vieth, V, Bottoms, B & Perona, A (2005). Ending child abuse: new efforts in prevention, investigation, and training Volumes 3-4 of Published Simultaneously as the Journal of Aggression Maltre. Routledge.