Hamilton County Job and Family Services opens more than 5,000 investigations of alleged abuse and neglect every year. The abuse hotline, 241-KIDS, took more than 65,000 calls last year.
The practice model aims to safely reduce three things: mistakes; the number of children in foster care; and the number of child deaths.
“This job is tough,” Weir tells the workers. “I totally get it. And it isn’t for everybody. But we always have to have in the back of our minds that we’re here to support families whenever we can. How can we find the right balance between statutory authority to ensure children are protected and safe while encouraging and honoring the partnership with the family?“
It’s key to understand families’ stories, she says.
“That’s what people want,” she says. “They they want to feel as if they’ve been heard. We need to listen.”
Here are a few of the practice model’s key points:
- Own your cases. No matter how long you’ve had the case, it’s yours. Take responsibility for it.
- Be realistic. If the parents aren’t showing up for parenting classes, don’t send them to more. Try something else that might reach them better.
- Ask questions. Lots of questions. Often, bad decisions are made because of a lack of information. Don’t hesitate to ask your supervisor for advice. “If something doesn’t seem right,” Weir says, “say so.”
- Work with a sense of urgency. No child should linger in any temporary placement.
- No more, no less. Provide timely interventions that generate results you can see and measure.