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e-Portfolio Term Project Paper

Business 1010 Introduction to Business


Sarah Aalders
Professor Alldredge
DCFS Case Worker
DCFS, also known as the Department of Children and Family Services, is a state-run agency

that provides counseling, rehabilitation or placement services for neglected or abused children.

(1) Sounds interesting, right? Thats what I thought when I started school years ago. Growing up,

I always loved and enjoyed crime shows, specifically those of child abuse cases. Law and Order:

Special Victims Unit, gave me my interest in wanting to do more. To be a victims advocate for

those young enough that they cant always speak for, or defend themselves.

The job is emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting. But at the end of the day, its worth

it. I got this quote from my good friend, Lindsay Despain (7), who is currently a case worker for

DCFS in the state of Utah. Lindsay got her Bachelors degree from Utah Valley University in

Behavioral Science. She has a large caseload, she is often going to court, on home visits,

frequently exchanging emails and phone calls with attorneys, parents, counselors; nevertheless, I

would say she is incredibly busy. Most days, she finds herself at the office until seven, eight or

even nine PM. The work never really seems to end. She said when I asked her why she finds

herself staying so late, There is always more to do.

In talking with Lindsay, I wanted to know more about how the DCFS process works. How does

it start? What qualifies a child to be at risk and to be removed from the home? And a million

other puzzling questions. So, for this assignment, I went ahead and looked up the Intake Process

for DCFS. This includes how they classify cases, case findings, and service provisions, of which

I will explain further.


First and foremost, the majority of intakes are made by referrals. With the chart, I was given to

review, there were three different priority categories.

Priority 1: Immediate need of protection face-to-face contact required within 60 minutes.

Priority 2: Risk of physical evidence being lost face-to-face contact required within 24 hours.

Priority 3: Low risk to child face-to-face contact required by midnight on the third working

day.

The Intake Process states that based on information gathered during the referral, the intake

worker assesses the immediate risk/danger to the child and determines a priority, which I

highlighted above. The priority determines the timeframe in which DCFS will respond to the

referral. (2)

Essentially, the process goes as follows: someone from the community reaches out to report the

abuse or neglect of a child. The caseworker who receives that complaint via a 24-hour hotline

must then determine if it means statutory definition of child abuse or neglect. If it is determined

that a CPS (Child Protective Services) case must be opened, the caseworker will conduct an

investigation of the allegations.

To me, being a DCFS Caseworker also means you are a detective. Investigating reports of abused

and neglected children. Bringing justice for that child, hand and hand with law enforcement

agents. Investigating after a complaint is filed includes face-to-face interviews with the child, the

childs parents and/or guardians, and the alleged perp (as they say in the business, but also

known as perpetrator(s)). As a caseworker, you must also contact and interview the referent, also

known as the one who called the hotline to report the abuse or neglect. You must go and visit the

familys home. Review important documents such as if they have past and prior DCFS case
history, police reports, any medical reports. You get to interview friends, family, neighbors. Like

I said, you are essentially a detective working to bring justice to a child in need.

Once a case has its findings, the casework will bring closure to the case. Either supported,

unsupported or without merit. This goes for each allegation on a case. (3)

DCFS has many programs that they offer, including Foster Care and Adoption, Treatment, Child

Support, Youth Services, Disability and Senior Services. I would like to highlight these a little bit

and shed some light on what DCFS does to ensure that those in need are taken care of.

Foster Care, whether you are an adult wanting to care for a child who has been taken out of their

home, or a child who is in need of a home to take care of them while the neglect and abuse is

resolved, Foster Care is a creative and meaningful system within our society. The media,

especially the Entertainment Industry, has painted a picture that being in the system creates

juvenile delinquents and entices other negative behaviors. That Foster homes are often just in it

for the little money they receive from the state, that Foster families dont truly care about the

children they are inviting into their home, etc. I am sure the media isnt entirely off base and that

there are Foster families that do abuse the system. Families that are not much better than the

homes the child was pulled from in the first place.

Although, this is not always the case. A few of the reasons a child may be placed in foster care in

the first place, include a juvenile court order if there is a finding of abuse, neglect or dependency.

Foster care is almost a last resort, as every effort is made to keep a child with their families. The

exception to the rule, is if a childs safety or legal mandates indicate otherwise. Foster care can

be looked at as a Segway into permanent placement for the child. Sometimes, the need is only

temporary as a family member tries to regain custody by therapies, detention at a correctional


facility, etc. While DCFS caseworks determine a permanent home for the child, they do look at

kin of the family of origin first and foremost. They follow with the foster family, an adoptive

family, permanent custody and then guardianship, or in some instances independent living.

DCFS is always in need of great foster parents.

If interested in becoming a foster parent, one must go through an intensive screening process. As

the state is not going to place children who are in such a fragile state with just anybody. This

screening process includes extensive background and drug test. Prospective parents must not

have a mental or emotional illness or disorder that would interfere with the childs needs, if a

prospective parent is cohabitating in a relationship that is not legally valid or binding this can

prevent them from becoming a foster parent. If a prospective foster parent has more than three

children under the age of 2, or more than two non-ambulatory children, in the home can

disqualify a family from becoming foster care givers. But these rules and restrictions are in place

because these children are coming from a place that they need someone reliable, dependable and

responsible. Someone who can devote the time and energy into a child with their needs and with

their fragile state. (4)

Adoption: There are many children in the foster system waiting for their forever family. As

DCFS puts it, All children deserve a permanent home. I would have to agree with this

statement 100%. Adoption is open to anyone, assuming they meet a high expectancy of

qualifications, similar to the foster care requirements. Relatives, families who have fostered the

child, or families simply seeking a new family member, are always invited to give a permanent

and loving home to the child. Safety is key, safety is the goal. A child may be adopted up until

the age of 18. In order to adopt you and the state must ensure that all important issues are

covered.
Treatment: Not every kid under a DCFS caseworker was in a bad situation at home. Some, are

ordered by the courts because they put themselves in their own bad situations, such as being 14

with an extensive criminal background. Those children, are placed in group homes. I spoke to

my friend, Drew Oakey (8), who works at Extended Family in Spanish Fork, as a supervisor at a

youth girls home. I asked what kinds of things the residents are there for, most have problems

with promiscuity at a young age, substance abuse, theft, some have underlying issues of being

molested or raped at young ages, abusive parents both physically and emotionally, a lot of the

girls come from families that just didnt care. Parents or guardians who abused substances

themselves, who couldnt give these girls a strong and positive direction in life. Now these girls

are anywhere between 13-17, under the courts mandate they are in a group home. Receiving

treatment for endless amounts of issues. Depression, bipolar, most have attempted suicide (6), as

I mentioned already they have criminal backgrounds, they were ordered here for a reason. Now,

my friend, Lindsay, whom is a caseworker for DCFS, has a few clients in facilities such as this.

Kids whom she visits weekly to see their progress in treatment and counseling, to see when that

child could realistically be released from the system, and instead of a group home maybe being

placed into a foster family. A lot of this is up to her digression, alongside the evidence from the

given treatment facility. (5)

I know that I have the talents to do what it takes in order to be an amazing case worker. Although

the job may be emotionally draining, as Lindsay put it, the job is worth it. To know that you are

helping a child who needs someone they can rely on, thats gold. Right there, that makes it worth

it. To know that a child who has nobody to depend on, can depend on you. To bring hope to

someone who feels lost. I look forward to graduation day. For the opportunity to put my

education to good use, and although I may have poor state pay from the get-go, it will be worth it
to know that I am helping some child, some family, who is struggling within the system, who

needs that extra attention, help and love.

SOURCES
1. URLhttp://study.com/articles/Child_Protective_Services_Social_Worker_Job_Descr
iption_and_Requirements.html
Website Title: study.com
Date Accessed: March 03, 2017

2. http://dcfs.utah.gov//wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Intake-and-CPS-FY14.pdf
Website Title: Child and Family Services
Article Title: Programs and Services
Date Accessed: March 03, 2017

3. https://dcfs.utah.gov/services/foster-care/
Website Title: Foster Care - Child & Family Services
Article Title: Foster Care
Date Accessed: March 03, 2017

4. https://dcfs.utah.gov/services/adoption/
Website Title: Adoption - Child & Family Services
Article Title: Adoption Program
Date Accessed: March 03, 2017

5. https://hs.utah.gov/overview/treatment/
Website Title: Services for children, families and adults in Utah
Article Title: Utah Department of Human Services
Date Accessed: March 03, 2017

6. https://dsamh.utah.gov/substance-use-disorders/
Website Title: Substance Use Disorders Substance Abuse & Mental Health
Article Title: Substance Use Disorders
Date Accessed: March 03, 2017

7. Lindsay Despain
Title: DCFS Case Worker

8. Drew Oakey
Title: Supervisor at Extended Family