National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Site Visits Report . Overview of Child Protective Services (CPS)


The Western Region of the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) provides adult and child protective services for residents of the two most populous cities in Utah County--Provo and Orem. Services include screening and intake, assessment and investigation, in-home and out-of-home services, services for families affected by domestic violence, and foster care support. (See Exhibit 8.1, Utah Department of Children and Family Services Organizational Structure.)

Prior to the introduction of the current Utah Practice Model, families had little input in decisionmaking during their involvement with the DCFS system. DCFS workers were expected to focus on "policing" and "looking for evidence" when working with families. In addition, DCFS workers were given minimal training and were expected to become familiar with their positions through on-the-job training. The emphasis was on processing cases in order to conform to timelines rather than on quality interactions between worker and client, which could result in more permanent changes. There was also a wide variation in the quality of DCFS staff work, from outstanding to less than adequate. Families tended to view DCFS as something to be feared, due to the agency's ability to remove children from homes and its perceived low priority on supporting the family's ability to keep their children safe and healthy.

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