More than one change was necessary to meet key objectives of the reform effort. Significant components of the reform are described below.
Separate Screening Function
A separate screening function was created to focus solely on intake. It is organizationally located in a separate Special Services Unit.
Dedicated Sexual Abuse Investigator
Due to the unique aspects of sexual abuse, a sexual abuse investigator position was created. All sexual abuse cases are assigned and handled by the specialized CPS worker. The worker has received specialized training, such as forensic interviewing techniques, to better handle these cases.
Community Service Review Team
A Community Service Review Team was created under the existing Multi-Disciplinary and Child Death Review Teams with the purpose to work with ongoing cases. The Community Service Review Team reviews and makes changes to procedures and protocols, which are used by the joint police and CPS multidisciplinary team.
Joint Police and CPS Investigations
The procedures and protocols establishing and governing joint police and CPS investigations were developed in response to Section 6365 (c) of the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). The county agency and the District Attorney are required to develop a protocol for convening investigative teams in cases of alleged child abuse as described in section 6340 (a)(9) and (10) of the legislation (relating to release of information in confidential reports.) The county protocol must include standards and procedures to be used in receiving and referring reports, coordinating investigations of reported cases of child abuse, and sharing the information obtained as a result of any interview. The protocol must also incorporate other standards and procedures to avoid duplication of fact-finding efforts and interviews to minimize the trauma to the child.
The District Attorney is responsible for convening an investigative team. The investigative team must include those individuals and agencies responsible for investigating the abuse or providing services to the child and must at least include a health care provider, county caseworker and law enforcement officer. The protocol developed for the multidisciplinary teams is designed to:
- Meet the child's need for safety and protection by reducing trauma;
- Ensure that all needs of the child abuse victim are met through comprehensive coordinated services by reducing duplication of services;
- Ensure that all disciplines are focused on the client's well being, while meeting and maintaining respect for the needs of each individual agency's philosophies and mandates;
- Expedite the investigation and prosecution process and increase successful prosecution of offenders by conducting joint interviews and improving the evidence collection process;
- Provide a system of case tracking, which assures the provision of needed services to the child victim and nonoffending family members and accountability of convicted and alleged perpetrators;
- Establish a process providing for the continuity of core team members over time;
- Share team member expertise with fellow team members, community leaders, mandated reporters, and the community;
- Ensure regular continuing education opportunities for core team members;
- Provide for ongoing assessment of community needs with a commitment to expansion of services as needed; and
- Regularly evaluate the team's performance and implement ways to improve performance.
Hiring Guardians Ad Litem
The county hired two attorneys part time, as Guardians Ad Litem, to work as advocates for the best interest of the child.