Welcome to our direct services page. A Direct Service is a service that we provide directly to children, youth, and families in the community.
We offer the following direct services:
- Every referral call to the agency is processed by an intake screener. The determination is made whether the information being provided is indicative of a child being neglected or abused by a caretaker. Calls received outside of regular office hours are received by an on-call caseworker who performs the same function.
- Many calls are received regarding child care issues not involving alleged neglect or abuse. In that case the referral source is provided information for contacting other appropriate community resources for further assistance.
- Information indicating a child is being neglected or abused results in the intake screener attempting to obtain very specific information from the caller to determine the immediate safety and location of the referred child and if immediate action must be taken to ensure the child’s safety.
- Intake screener passes the recorded information to the intake supervisor who determines the level of immediacy necessary to assure the safety of the referred child. If so indicated immediate emergency measures are taken to provide for the safety of the child.
- The Intake Supervisor assigns the referral to an Intake Caseworker who initiates the investigation of the allegations made by the referral source.
The intake caseworker is required to:
- Meet with the child and family and assess the nature of the complaint and its validity
- Complete a formal Safety and Risk Assessment in determining the safety of all the children in the household
- If indicated as needed from the Safety and Risk Assessments, create a child safety plan for each child in the household
- Make a determination whether the child and family is in need of ongoing casework services.
Child Abuse Investigation
In 1975, the Pennsylvania Legislature recognized child abuse as a serious, but treatable, social problem within the Commonwealth. In order to help rectify the problem the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was enacted on November 26, 1975. Since that time numerous amendments to the law have been enacted by the legislature in an effort to further refine definitions of child abuse and impact courses of action which can be pursued by the agency to ensure the future safety of any child who has been identified as a victim of child abuse.
Briefly, the law establishes five general categories of child abuse:
- Serious physical injury,
- Serious mental injury,
- Sexual abuse,
- Serious physical neglect and
- Imminent risk.
The CPSL specifies that a victim of child abuse must be under 18 years of age at the time of the abuse occurring. A perpetrator of child abuse must be the caretaker who was responsible for the child when the abuse incident occurred. Both actions by a caretaker, and omissions by a caretaker, defined as the failure of a caretaker to act in preventing the abuse of a child, are taken into consideration when determining the validity of the report of suspected abuse.
How is a Report of Suspected Child Abuse Made
A report of suspected child abuse can be made by:
- Any individual who suspects a child has been abused. The individual can call the statewide toll free ChildLine, at 1-800-932-0313, or the local Children and Youth Services agency (in Beaver County - 724-891-5800).
- Mandated reporters. These are persons who, in the course of their employment come into contact with children, must report all cases of suspected abuse to the hotline. Such persons include, but are not limited to: Law enforcement officials, Physicians, Educators, Clergy, Social Service Practitioners, and Psychologists.
Upon receiving a report of suspected child abuse, the Childline worker calls the local Children and Youth Agency in the county where the abuse is alleged to have occurred so an investigation may commence immediately.
Upon receipt of a report of suspected abuse, the agency will assess the child's immediate safety and may provide emergency intervention to a degree necessary to ensure the child is safe. When safety of the child cannot be provided through voluntary efforts of the caseworker with the parent or caretakers, it may become necessary to initiate emergency protective custody of the child pursuant to processes defined in the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act.
Certain types of suspected child abuse are reported by the agency to the Beaver County District Attorney for possible criminal investigation. These include, for example, reports of suspected sexual abuse and serious bodily injury.
While services to a family may continue for an extended period of time, the agency has up to 60 days to complete its investigation and make a final determination of the validity of the report. The agency will make one of the following status findings for the report:
- Indicated - report is substantiated through an admission by the perpetrator to the acts of abuse, or the agency investigation results in substantial evidence or medical evidence that the
- Founded - any finding by a Court that a child who is the subject of the report has been
- Unfounded - insufficient evidence or admission exists in which case all records relating to the investigation are destroyed within 12 months at both the State and Local levels of the
General Protective Services
General Protective Services utilize a variety of social services activities aimed at protecting the rights, health and welfare of children when parents fail or are unable to provide their children with adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, education, and medical/dental care. These services are provided to children and families when children have been neglected, exploited, or injured by their parents to an extent not sufficient to be covered by the Child Protective Services Act.
Most of the children serviced by the agency fall into this category of service and terms such as "general neglect" and "dependency" are quite often used to describe the nature of the problem that is being serviced. At any given time the agency provides services to several hundred children throughout the County. The children are at home with their parents and a caseworker is assigned to each family in order to provide direct social services and manage those provided by purchase of service contracts.
Intensive Protective Services
The intent of the Intensive Protective Care Services unit is to prevent placement of children. Families with children at immediate risk of placement are offered a unique blend of intensive family preservation and various therapeutic services. Services are family-centered rather than child-centered. Intensive Family Services acknowledges that all families have strengths. However, at times, the family strengths are masked by the crises that are occurring within the family. The Intensive Family worker helps the family identify strengths and to build on those strengths to "handle" current problems and make the necessary changes.
Key elements to the success of the family include cooperation, actively implementing changes, and willingness to try new ideas. Ideally intensive services can help the family prevent the placement of their child(ren) with a 90 day or less intervention. Should the situation not be completely resolved in this time period, the family may be transferred for continued services to be provided by the ongoing protective care services unit.
Intensive protective care caseworkers often are engaged with families experiencing homelessness. Their role is to assist the family in engaging various community resources geared to providing safe shelter and home finding for the family.
Teen Protective Services
Teen Protective Services (TPS) normally works with teenagers in the home where there is parent/child conflict. Behaviors typically exhibited by the teen can be labeled as "status offenses”. Such behaviors include truancy, running away, and disobeying the reasonable rules of the home set by his/her parents or guardian. The goal of the unit is to prevent placement of the adolescent. Unlike other services of the agency, Teen Protective Services are primarily voluntary. Exceptions to this would be if the child is adjudicated Dependent by the Juvenile Court and services are court ordered, or the child is at high risk of being harmed.
The unit works intensively with the teen’s family by providing assessment, intervention and referrals to supportive services. Areas that are focused on would include problem solving as well as parenting skills and coping skills. In addition, there are currently several community based social service providers to whom the teens and parents are referred for additional support. These include Pressley Ridge Crisis Stabilization, Teen Talk (Life Skills Group) and Teaming Together for Teens (Parent Support Group). The goal of the unit is to provide in-home services so that teen can remain in the home and the conflict can be resolved.
Although service to children in their own homes is the primary goal of the agency, substitute care is also an option. Such care includes placement into Shelter Care, Foster Care, Group Homes, Community Based Care, Facility Based Care, and Secure Residential Care. Each of these categories meets a specific identified need of the child. To learn more about Foster Care see our Foster Parenting section of our web site.