Children have the right to be protected against any forms of violence from their parents or guardians. They should also be protected against the lack of provision of any services, basic needs or social amenities that is critical for their growth and development. It is for this reason that the Child Protective Services (CPS) was formed in the United States to ensure that parents and guardians provide their children with what can be viewed as irreducible minimums for the children’s growth and development. However, in the course of performing its main role, which is to protect the children, several issues have been identified on the part of the CPS, including late responses and the lack of services in various communities among other issues. These issues have necessitated the shift in paradigm as to how C P S works. There is a need to change the model of Child Protective Services to solve some of the issues faced by the agency today, such as late responses, through the implementation of community-based partnerships.
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The Children Protective Services is the governmental agency in the United States that is tasked with protecting children from any forms of harassment, neglect or child abuse (Cairnduff, 2012). CPS seeks to ensure that children do not face long-term effects as a result of neglect or abuse (Meyers, 2008). Child abuse and neglect have been observed to affect the development of social cognition (Koizumi & Takagishi, 2014). The agency mainly acts on the reports that are received from different members of the community regarding any form of neglect of children. Members of the public can make such reports either by calling the agency, writing to the agency or physically reporting the matter to the agency’s office. Once such a matter is reported, the role of CPS is to take the child away from such conditions until all the issues are solved. The main task of CPS is to once again reunite the children with their families. This is done after investigations and determination by the agency as well as by the court through CPS staff. In some cases, the level of neglect or abuse is so high that the children are never able to see the involved individuals eye to eye or even talk to them. In other cases, the parents or guardians are not able to comply with the terms and conditions set for the children to be brought back to their lives. In such cases, the CPS is tasked with searching for the appropriate foster home for the children and keep on visiting to ensure that no form of neglect or abuse is experienced by the child again.
Various forms of neglect and abuse have been reported in the United States. According to data by the Preventchildabuseny (2007), in 2004, nearly 3.5 million children were involved in ongoing investigations regarding the unconfirmed cases of neglect or abuse. Moreover, approximately 872,000 children were also confirmed to have been involved in cases of abuse and neglect (Preventchildabuseny, 2007). In the same year, about 1,490 children died due to neglect or abuse. In 2007, 1,760 children also died in similar circumstances (Preventchildabuseny, 2007). Two terms are used by CPS to show recidivism. The first term is “reoccurrence” that outlines a confirmed report after another initial report on child abuse. The second term is “rereported”, which represents another report of child abuse or neglect after the first report. Various bodies have been tasked to deal with these two issues.
The state of Florida is among the states in the US that implement a traditional Child Protective Services model. According to this model, Child Protective Services act only after they receive any message of wrongdoing by the parents or guardians of the children. These wrongdoings range from physical abuse of the children, lack of provision of various needs such as not taking the children to school and children neglect among others. (Meyers, 2008) After receiving these messages, the agency acts to protect the children from any further misdoings. However, in some of the cases, the response is usually too late. Late responses can trigger permanent damage, especially in the case where the children are being physically abused or where there is no provision of certain amenities to the children. Moreover, there is a limited capacity by the CPS to address the loads of cases that they have to deal with each day. CPS also has a ‘one size fits all’ strategy when it comes to all the response. A community may feel the need to tailor-make their strategy to ensure that the kind of services that they get from CPS are suitable for their situation. Lastly, the inadequate and fragmented model of service delivery by CPS does not fully address the issues that the families of the children might be going through. Without such background knowledge, CPS can take actions that lead to breaking up of homes.. To avoid such scenarios, the Child Protective Services needs to develop partnerships with the community on how to move forward in cases of child neglect in the best way possible. Such a partnership ensures that the community is tasked with forging the strategies used to shape children protection by the agency in their area. Such partnerships can also be used to assess the various risks that lead to negligence (D’andrande, Austin & Benton, 2008) Moreover, the community has the ability to tell whether family stresses are in existence within a particular family and strategize on the best course of action that suits a particular family. A community-based partnership also ensures that there is accountability on the part of the CPS. In some cases, having a ‘one shoe fits all’ strategy means that CPS is not held accountable for the services rendered in some regions. Therefore, involving the community through partnerships allows the agency to be responsible to the community.
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Community partnerships help to shape the way that CPS works in various jurisdictions. Community partnerships can be defined as collaboration between CPS and other stakeholders seeking to solve all the issues that CPS comes across while implementing their mandate (Slettebø, 2013). Depending on the priorities of the community, the resources that they have and their needs, various partnerships between the community and CPS can take different forms. The partnerships involve different members of the community that, either formally or informally, provide support to the families involved. The partnerships may also seek to deal with the issues that are specific to certain communities (Childwelfare, 2010). A community, where most of its members have been part of domestic violence or children mistreatment, can serve as an example. Such a community requires a different approach by the agency. Through such partnerships, the communities have begun changing their practices through activities such as training and program development among others. Other partnerships with CPS have also resulted in the re-organization of the institution in some jurisdictions such as through the development of formal information sharing and the co-location of some of CPS staff. In other cases, state-level collaborations have also been developed as well as reforms within CPS to suit different communities and modernize the response systems of the institutions. As can be observed, community partnerships between CPS and the rest of the community are crucial in solving some of the problems and issues faced by CPS in the course of performing its duties.
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Currently, CPS operates in an abstract way with limited community partnerships in Florida. This means that some of the aforementioned issues are still experienced in the state. To solve some of the issues faced by CPS, it is crucial that it initiates community partnerships with the various communities within the state. This ensures an improvement of the way how CPS handles different responses. Several features exist showing a successful community partnership. One of these features is a community-based strategy. Any strategy implemented between CPS and the community needs to ensure that the community is involved in the decision-making process as well as some of the services (Johnson et al., 2008). This makes the entire strategy deeply rooted in the community beliefs. Another feature of a successful community partnership is a family-centered strategy. Communities are built by many families. As a result, any strategy implemented needs to respond to most of the family issues and situations as well as focuse on building of the strengths of these families. The next feature to ensure success in such a partnership is ensuring participation among all the stakeholders within the community. These stakeholders need to participate in the partnership to ensure that the future of the children is safeguarded. The next feature is the responsiveness of the partnerships. Partnerships include access to the families, have the ability to pool resources and change depending on the needs of the community. The last feature is that the partnership is aimed at reaching a certain goal or objective. Such features ensure that different partnerships lead to the right outcomes.
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There are several advantages in partnerships between CPS and the community. The first advantage is the creation of a group of services that are integrated into the community and that meet the needs of the families in the community. Moreover, through these partnerships with the community, CPS can ensure that there is a better utilization of resources. It also ensures that there is an increased awareness within the community concrening the issues that they face in regards to children neglect and abuse (Daro & Dodge, 2009). The increased awareness can lead to a decrease in the issues of abuse or neglect. Through these partnerships, CPS has the ability to track various families of interest by the agency. Lastly, it also increases accountability within the communities and the agency. It is for these advantages that the Children Protective Services should seek community partnerships as a strategy to affect changes within the community.
Several tasks need to be conducted by CPS to ensure a successful partnership in Florida communities. The first one is a more flexible approach to the different cases that are reported in Florida. Florida has different families having different backgrounds. As a result, CPS needs to implement a strategy that enables flexibility depending on each case and the family that they are dealing with (Childwelfare, 2010). Moreover, CPS also needs to use the already existing networks such as the religious networks, family and kin networks and neighborhoods among others to ensure that the children are protected. Moreover, the agency needs to engage the families on a different level to ensure that they make the changes required to provide a conducive environment for the children (Childwelfare, 2010). They also need to assess all situations together with the families involved to ensure that everything that needs to be changed is done properly in order to eliminate or reduce any risk of neglect or mistreatment of the children. The last direction that needs to be taken by CPS in Florida is focusing on the objectives and goals set within the community.
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To ensure a successful partnership in Florida, CPS has to consider several factors. The first factor is the level of influence of the potential members. The agency needs to involve members of the public who have an influence in the community, and this can increase the level of awareness of its objectives within the rest of the community. Moreover, the agency also needs to seek diversity while looking for partners. CPS needs to include members from different fields such as psychology and justice among others (Childwelfare, 2010). Another factor that CPS needs to refer while looking for community partnerships is the readiness for collaboration. Different members of the community need to understand the work and goals that CPS seeks to accomplish within the community and believe that it can lead to change in it. The last factor that the agency needs to seek is leadership and resources. CPS needs to identify the ability of the members it seeks to contribute to the cause in various ways such as offer their time, bring to board various skills and resources.
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One of the strategic partnerships that CPS needs to seek is that of the youths and adults. Involving the youth in Florida can be advantageous to the community in ensuring that instances of neglect and abuse reduce within the community and nurture the youth to protect future generations. During such a partnership, the youths will gain the skills that they will use in future to prevent abuse or neglect (Childwelfare, 2010). Moreover, they will be able to create a deeper network within the community. The adults also gain in various ways by being a part of the partnerships. The first benefit is that they feel as being part of the community. For those with children, they develop the skills and have the ability to detect any form of negligence or abuse of the children, thus ensuring that the community experiences less acts of negligence.
The community benefits in various ways due to the collaboration with CPS. Some of the skilled workers within the community might get employed by the agency. Another way that the community benefits is that better ways to deal with their issues are sought instead of going to courts or taking children away from their families. Previously, CPS handled neglect and abuse cases in a way that led to the separation of the families (Welbourne & Dixon, 2016). Through collaboration between communities, the best approach is used, and the child is taken away only if the means, sought to end the negligence or abuse, do not work. Therefore, the community remains intact since children are not taken away. The community also has access to resources from the agency tailored for the kind of partnership that they have with the agency. Moreover, the community is involved in the decision-making process, which means that the agency does not just impose decisions that affect it. This improves the level of trust between the agency and the community. Lastly, there is increased awareness within the community. An increase in the awareness of some of negligence and abuse risks ensures that the members of the community take a corrective action.
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In conclusion, child abuse and negligence is an issue that affects the American society. As such, the Children Protection Services was established to protect the children from such instances. However, the level of mistrust between the agency and the communities is high. To bridge this gap, it is crucial for the agency to form partnerships with the community. Through such partnerships, the agency can ensure an increased awareness within the community, thus leading to the reduction of negligence and abuse of children. Moreover, the community can also benefit in various ways such as getting employment of their skilled members and learning about the risks that can lead to abuse and negligence as well as the ways to avoid them.