In Home Services
The purpose of the In Home Services Unit, formerly called the Case Management/Case Planning Unit and Treatment Unit, is to ensure the safety of the child, and to sustain positive changes that occur in the family and maintain the safety of children over time. Once a case decision of substantiation or Services Needed has occurred (an investigation has determined that abuse and/or neglect has occurred or a determination is made that a family is in need of services to prevent foster care) and the family has been unable to correct the problems leading to the maltreatment, then a family will continue to receive child protective services.
A Child and Family Team meeting is held within 30 days of the case decision of substantiation or Services Needed. At this meeting, the family and the social worker participate in identifying the problems and creating a plan with specific activities to correct the problems. This is called an In Home Family Services Agreement. This plan is reviewed and updated at least every three months. The social worker will have direct contact with all family members regularly, at a minimum of twice a month and at least weekly for high risk cases. The frequency may vary depending on the family’s needs and the level of risk of the child.
While In Home Services are being provided to the family, DSS assists with the provision of services to the family. This involves referring children and families to a variety of resources and assuring that families can access services. DSS also monitors and assesses on an ongoing basis to determine the effectiveness of these services. Most of the services through DSS are provided either in the home or community. Home visits can be made in the early evening so that work and school schedules are not interrupted. A family usually receives services for six months to a year. Length of service depends on how quickly the problems leading to the maltreatment of the child can be corrected and the risk to the child reduced.
If a family is unable to correct the problems that lead to the maltreatment and the children remains at risk or DSS is unable to assure the safety of the child in the home, then the agency may file a petition with the courts. When a petition is filed, the agency must demonstrate to the court the reasonable efforts that were made to ensure the children’s safety at home. The court may decide to place the child in DSS custody and in foster care or may decide to leave the child at home and order the parent to follow the In Home Family Services Agreement.