The following three carefully selected cases present an authentic and sincere glimpse into the world of the Administration for Children’s Services. These cases were analyzed and critiqued at the ChildStat – the agency’s forum intended to improve the existing child welfare system and promote the best case practice.

As any real Child Protective cases, these cases contain examples of solid and thoughtful casework, as well as errors that in the classroom setting will present valuable learning opportunities. As is the convention, case names are derived from the mother or guardian’s name and last initial. Faculty and students using these cases for learning may decide to include “family names” for each case.

Tatyana Gimein, M.Ed, LCSW
Director of Curriculum Department (Retired)
James Satterwhite Academy,
Administration for Children’s Services

Andrea R. Case Study

In the Andrea R. case, prompt referral to Early Intervention is an important part of best practices when a child demonstrates unusual behaviors. The Early Intervention Program can be discussed in various Social Work courses. The Child Protective worker in this case displays good investigatory skills by noticing various marks on the child and making considerable effort to find the source of these injuries. The worker had shown great concern for safety of this child by not blindly accepting the report from her psychiatrist and excellent investigatory skills by asking detailed questions to determine if this psychiatrist was aware of the multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and medication non-compliance.

At the same time, this mother’s strengths, such as her ability to get her child to school with good attendance in spite of her psychiatric difficulties, are disregarded. The child who is diagnosed with autism, but at the same time attends a regular educational program and can be effectively interviewed by the caseworker may trigger a discussion about clinical diagnosis and extent of mental illness. This mother’s mental illness and its impact on her ability to parent, which is not received sufficient attention in the case record, can become an interesting topic in the classroom learning process.

The language of the case record that uses professional jargon (“inadequate guardianship”, “corporal punishment”, “drug and alcohol misuse”), as opposed to plain descriptive language, can be an excellent teaching point.

Anne M. Case Study

In the Anne M. case, the worker, upon finding no prior ACS involvement, continued to investigate previous reports of domestic violence in this home by requesting (and finding) two previous Domestic Incident Reports at the Police department, therefore indicating good investigative skills. This worker draws up a detailed safety plan with this mother and demonstrates persistence in following up with emphasis on the children’s safety.

Domestic violence is a significant part of the Anne M. case and an intricate part of Child Protective practice in general. Although an Elevated Risk Conference was held, documentation did not include whether a Domestic Violence Clinical Consultant was present, nor any other participants. Difficult steps this mother had successfully enacted in order to protect herself and her children are not emphasized in the case record.

Questions such as: who recommended the supervised visits with the father, had he hit the children before, was the father referred to a Batterer’s Intervention program, and could the children have therapy before visiting their father, and then visits upon the recommendation of a therapist, are not asked or answered. This area of casework practice is a rich and multifaceted subject for graduate level analysis.

Mary S. Case Study

The Mary S. Case demonstrates a caseworker’s creative investigatory techniques and good skills of initial engagement, as well as good use of collateral resources. The worker skillfully performs an interview with grandmother, asking questions in many ways about prior and current incidents of child abuse. Students of social work who are interested in child protective work must be familiar with this, as well as other investigatory techniques.

However, the investigation is not complete without examining the prior criminal record of all adults involved with the child. In this case it is a criminal past of Stanley, the mother’s live-in boyfriend, who was violent with another child, used excessive force as a means of discipline, and kept a gun in the family home that should be investigated. Interrelation between a person’s criminal past and potential child abuse should be incorporated into classroom discussion as a teaching point.

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