The revised protocol and case review processes provide an opportunity to examine agency interactions, review CPS, and identify and prioritize areas where additional change is needed.
The need for additional contact between caseworkers and victims has been identified. Currently, the State requires that the workers see parents twice a month and the child once a month. CPS staff felt this was insufficient. Increasing contacts with the child will give the caseworkers greater understanding of the child's needs and increase workers' ability to determine the progress the child is making. The State has only recently begun focusing on family-centered practice for CPS workers, though this has been a focus for placement workers in Brooks County for more than one year. No evaluation of the changes to the protocol has been made or is planned at this point. Some review or examination of the changes is needed to ensure that they are having the intended effect.
Another area of change is improved information sharing between CPS and mental health agencies. The State requires information sharing to protect the child, but in practice CPS staff have found it difficult to share information with mental health agencies. CPS is working at the regional level to address this issue.
DFCS is also hoping to work more closely with the Department of Juvenile Justice. DFCS staff believe that the two agencies need to work together on cases in both agencies. Joint training is currently under negotiation for the two agencies.
A State initiative is under consideration in which the United Way will set up a statewide telephone hotline. While United Way does not have an office in Brooks County, the United Way in another county could handle multiple counties.