Child Protective Services

About the Program
By law, the Department of Social Services is required to establish and maintain a local Child Protective Services (CPS) Unit which is responsible for receiving and investigating all reports of child abuse and neglect. The agency provides coverage 24 hours a day throughout the year.

Suspected Child Abuse

Reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment are initially called into the State Central Registry (SCR). If a report is accepted, it is transmitted to the local district through a statewide computer network known as CONNECTIONS.

Caseworkers are required to initiate an assessment of the safety of all children listed on the report within 24 hours of the receipt of a report. The report can be tracked 1 of 2 ways:
  1. Traditional investigations
  2. Family Assessment Response (FAR)
Traditional Approach
During the course of a case (60 days) the safety of children is assessed on an ongoing basis through contacts with the family, collateral contacts, and with any other service providers who may be involved. When need is determined, referrals are made to contract and/or community agencies to continue to work with the family to help reduce the risk to the children and to help preserve the family unit.

At the conclusion of an Investigative case, the caseworker must make a determination of “indicated” or “unfounded” based on the criteria set forth regarding the minimum degree of care standard as well as the standard that some credible evidence exists.

Family Assessment Approach

Washington County Department of Social Services (DSS) is proud to be able to offer the Family Assessment Response (FAR) approach where the focus is more on assessing and addressing a family’s needs through their own strengths and community services and less on traditional investigative fact finding and the assigning of blame. The FAR process seeks safety through family engagement and collaborative partnerships. This response allows and encourages agencies to provide services without a formal determination of abuse or neglect.

Family Court Action

In situations where abuse or neglect exist, and families are unwilling or unable to accept and benefit from supportive services, CPS has the ability to initiate Family Court proceedings to aide in the protection of children. CPS works closely with the Washington County Attorney’s office in filing initial petitions to establish court orders as well as violations of current court orders when needed. Additionally, CPS provides reports to the Family Court Judge through 422 Disclosure Orders and 1034 orders directing investigations.