New Strategies Long Overdue on Measuring Child Welfare Risk

As The Chronicle of Social Change has been reporting over the past two years, various jurisdictions have been exploring new tools to focus the attention of child welfare systems on the children most at risk of

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Marie K. Cohen
About Marie K. Cohen 68 Articles
Marie K. Cohen (MPA, MSW) is a child advocate, researcher, and policy analyst. She worked as social worker in the District of Columbia's child welfare system for five years. She is a member of the Citizen's Review Committee for the DC Child and Family Services Agency and the DC Child Fatality Review Commission and a mentor to a foster youth. Follow her blog at, on Facebook at Fostering Reform or on Twitter@fosteringreform.

1 Comment

  1. What would also help tremendously to reduce neglect/ abuse:

    1.The system protecting children fails due to lack of accountability as a result of protecting families’ privacy. There must be some modification of this absolute silence.
    People who abuse animals OFTEN get in more trouble than parents abusing kids due to this silence….and guess why you never hear about it?

    2. The DA should have to answer to the general public for refusing to prosecute cases of abuse or neglect (like those well documented either by admission or multiple complaints)

    3. CPS should be required to report to the general public case facts and justify action (not) taken and justify reunification or terminationot of parental rights (for instance returning a child to a meth using parent 3, 4, 5 or even 6 times)

    4. There needs to be an internal affairs for investigation of all the above and more. (Fear of upsetting a foster care coordinator prevents even the investigation of abusive foster patents)

    5. More frequent drug testing of parents who use and legally mandating longer cases with extended supervision for repeat offending parents (one would falsely assume this to be a given). Also there should be mandatory hair follicle testing of all parents and kids at the beginning of a custody case even when drug use is not suspected. It is often missed in the first couple of cases CPS has with a family.

    6. There should be legally mandated procedures for giving drug urine tests that prevent false negatives. For example: squat and cough to expelled inserted items, stop midstream, one hand on the wall and hold cup with thumb and pointy finger only. Missed drug tests should always be considered a positive.

    7. Funding is wholly inadequate. If you look at your state budget for CPS versus education and divide it by their number of total employees you’ll get an idea of why we lose so many of the good CPS workers. Assume each caseworker is working with more clients than teachers do students.

    8. It would be helpful if there was oversight by the general public who are not as jaded as the CPS system and would be less accepting of neglect, abuse, and relapse. Or perhaps erhaps something along the lines of a grand jury… or have states review other states’ decisions and make recommendations regarding policy and procedure.

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