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Forging Partnerships: Understanding Child Protective Services. Developed and Delivered by Karen Agrait. Training Objectives. Identify behavioral indicators of a traumatized child. Learn the process of a child abuse investigation and insight in to the decision making process.

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Forging Partnerships: Understanding Child Protective Services

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Forging Partnerships: Understanding Child Protective Services

Developed and Delivered by Karen Agrait

Training Objectives

  • Identify behavioral indicators of a traumatized child.

  • Learn the process of a child abuse investigation and insight in to the decision making process.

  • Understand the judicial process in dependency court.

  • Recognize the resources in your community

  • Appreciate the impact that your observations have on the welfare of a child.

  • Become empowered in your role to take action for the safety and well being of a child.

The Eleventh CommandmentCollin Raye

  • Emotional Video to represent the feelings our children experience


Family Services of Metro Orlando is one of the largest Community Based Care Organizations in the system

  • Manages formal Child Welfare Services for over 3,200 children

    FSMO is:

    Community Based Care

    Lead Agency in Orange/Osceola

    Contracts with Providers

    Oversees Protective Services

    Implements Prevention Programs

    COA Accredited

The Alarming Reality

  • Every 4 minutes, a child is abused or neglected in Florida.

  • Maltreated youth are 59% more likely to commit delinquent acts than non-maltreated youth

  • In 2005-2006 Fiscal Year, 204,429 hotline reports were made in Florida (Information extracted from child welfare database Home SafeNet)

  • Approximately 60 children enter into the system each month, while only 5-7 percent are placed in out of home care each month.

  • 9 percent of all state abuse and neglect reports come out of Orange and Osceola county.

    Building Bridges, CWLA, 2006

Abuse versus Neglect

  • What do you think is more reported and has a higher number of fatalities?



First things First

  • 1-800-96-ABUSE

  • Contact the Abuse Hotline for any suspicion of Abuse and Neglect

  • Once the call is made, a Protective Investigator commences the case within 24 hours, immediately if exigent circumstances.

  • Investigation begins with allegations and ends with one of these decisions: It happened, didn’t happen, could have happened!

Service Identification

  • Based upon gathering information from multiple sources (that could be you!), Household members, schools, background checks, neighbors, relatives, etc.

  • Identifying in collaboration with the family their strengths and needs to improve the family’s situation. A Family Case Manager or Services Counselor is assigned for case planning and implementation.

  • Assessment is Critical

Following up

  • Service Counselors ensure children have a safe, permanent living environment while attending to their overall well being.

  • Community assistance is essential in the success of empowering and improving families.

  • Once a family has demonstrated competency in that the child’s safety and well being can be assured, a case will be closed.

Non Verbal Cues

  • You cannot always count on people telling you what is wrong, especially children

  • We must be observant of body language, facial reactions and gestures.

  • Act on your instincts

  • Typical non verbal cues include: little to no facial expression (flat affect); little to no eye contact (though be knowledgeable of cultural differences); crossed/folded arms; head down; cower when being spoken to

What do these Faces tell you?

  • Can you guess whether this smiling face shows genuine warmth or merely concealed irritation?

Concealed Irritation!

  • It shows an experienced airline flight attendant demonstrating how she handles an unpleasant passenger.

  • What can we learn from this?

Faces of Depression

  • Be aware of what children and adults don’t “tell you”

Pure Indulgence 

“Life, love, and laughter -- what priceless gifts to give our children.”

Phyllis Dryden

Common Risk and Safety Factors

  • Domestic violence

  • Mental health

  • Young age of parents

  • Substance abuse

  • Non-protective parent

  • Special needs of child

Safety Vs Risk

  • Current dangerous conditions

  • Now or in the near future

  • Purpose is to control the situation to prevent harm from happening in the short term

  • Specific threats to child safety

  • Assessed quickly

  • Evaluates family situations and behaviors that MUST be controlled today

Situations (stressors) that may place the child in dangerous conditions.

In the future

Purpose is to reduce or resolve the problems that lead to risk

Assess over a period of time

Conditions that threaten child’s general well-being

Evaluates family situations that may need to be treated

What to look for… Behavioral Factors to Consider in a traumatized child

  • Extremes; A child overly attention seeking to a very withdrawn child; Provocative to Inhibited

  • Non verbal behavior

  • Developmental Delays

  • Emotionally Withdrawn and detached

  • Excessively Clingy

  • Easily frightened

  • Eager to please

  • Role Reversal and Parentification

  • Decline in grades, withdraw from hobbies, truancy, using substances, getting into fights and poor interpersonal skills

What to look for… Behavioral Factors to Consider in an alleged perpetrator

  • Alcohol and Drug abuse

  • Physical violence and history of criminal behaviors

  • Depression and Mental Health

  • Young age of parents

  • Overly charming, extremely cooperative, externalizing role “not my fault”

  • Emotionally abusive; calling children names and ridiculing

  • Unrealistic expectations

  • Poor impulse control

Helen Harris Perlman from Looking Back to See Ahead

The discipline of those of us who seek to enhance the lives of others is one of the most exacting forms of self-mastery. It starts with self-awareness so that our needs and wants do not blind us to the nature of the materials with which we work. From self-awareness must follow self-control and self-criticism, a continual stepping back from the canvas, so to speak, to re-achieve objectivity and perspective. It requires further a continually rewilled effort to understand—which means to get into or “under”– the often obdurate and difficult materials with which we work….

Open discussion

  • What have you seen?

  • How do you know when there is a concern?

  • Have you had times when you had to report abuse/neglect?

  • What was the outcome?

Dependency Process

  • Once a child is removed from their parent(s)

  • Clock begins ticking: Adoption and Safe Family Act of 1997

  • Designed to reduce/eliminate Foster Care Drift

  • Retain a permanent and safe home for a child within 12 months

Judicial Actions

  • The Department has to show “probable cause” that the child is at risk of harm if returned to the environment for which he was removed. (within 24 hours)

  • At Adjudicatory Hearing the Department must provide more evidence for than against that the abuse, neglect, abandonment occurred than not by “preponderance of the evidence”

  • To terminate Parental Rights the Department must provide “clear and convincing” evidence that the abuse/neglect occurred. Indicating almost all the answers have been answered in the judge’s mind that termination is to occur.

Case Planning

  • Essential for analyzing the family’s strengths and needs.

  • Provides a document to measure the family’s progress

  • Allows for a method to determine if positive change has occurred in regard to safety, permanence and well being.

FSMO found the following the most significant in determining the success of services and safety of children

  • Family engagement in services

  • Increased communication with service providers

  • Being observant during visitations and reporting/documenting verbal and non verbal behaviors and statements

    “Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

    Francis of Assisi

What can you do?

  • Keep your perspective in check by being aware of what you bring to the table.

  • On challenging cases it may be helpful to talk to a peer or supervisor to get their insight into the case.

  • Don’t wait to be contacted. Get involved and stay involved

  • Write down information as you receive it and provide the case manager or investigator any documents you may have (i.e. behavior referral at school, report card, statements made)

    “Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!”Will Rogers

Foster youth quote from the Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois, Children and Family Research Center at the School of Social Work , University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

“If children’s advocates and policymakers don’t know what to do for children, I do: provide them with connectedness, continuity, dignity and opportunity. These four powerful factors can nurture children and youth by giving them meaningful and caring relationships with adults, a positive legacy, respect and the possibility for a life filled with potential.”


Write down one thing you could do in your

work life and in your personal life that would

make a tremendous difference if you did it on a

regular basis.

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a

series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

  • To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe. Anatole France

Helpful Resources and Links

The Department of Children and Families

Online Sunshine (Florida Statutes)

Child Welfare League of America

Florida’s Center for the Advancement of Child

Welfare Practice

Thank You!

Karen Agrait

Family Services of Metro Orlando

2600 Technology Dr.

Orlando, Fl 32804


407-367-1228 (direct line)

“What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”Napolean Hill

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