Child Protective Services is a unit within the Department of Social Services that assesses abuse, neglect, and dependency of children from birth to 18 years of age. The purpose of the assessment is to determine the extent of any abuse or neglect, the risk of harm to the child, whether the child and family need assistance or intervention services by the Department of Social Services to insure child safety in the home, what services would be most helpful, and whether a petition should be filed to take the matter to juvenile court.
The Two Tracks for Child Protective Services in the Multiple Response System (MRS)
North Carolina's child welfare system, known as the Multiple Response System, is based upon the application of family-centered principles of partnership through seven strategic components.
One of the primary strategies of MRS is the ability to assign CPS Assessments to one of two tracks based on the allegations found in the report - investigative assessment and family assessment. The choice of two approaches to reports of child abuse, neglect, and/or dependency protects the safety of children by not treating all reports in the same way and missing some clear need for immediate action; engaging families in services that could enable them to better parent their children; focusing on the family's strengths, supports, and motivation to change; and, better serving many of the families reported to CPS by helping them.
Reports of child neglect and dependency as determined by the Director using a family-centered approach that is protection and prevention oriented and that evaluates the strengths and needs of the juvenile's family, as well as the condition of the juvenile. An arrangement to meet with the family is made in advance when possible.
Reports of child abuse and selected reports of child neglect and dependency as determined by the Director using a formal information gathering process to determine whether a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent. The investigative assessment is typically completed jointly with law enforcement.