Tompkins County
New York

Report or Discussion Item

Brief overview of Child Protective Services


Department:Social Services DepartmentSponsors:
Category:Routine Departmental Activities or StatisticsFunctions:Child Welfare, Social Services

Meeting History

Aug 21, 2017 4:30 PM  Health and Human Services Committee Regular Meeting

Ms. Kephart provided a PowerPoint presentation entitled Child Protective Services (CPS) that was a brief overview of the CPS Program in Tompkins County. She stated the focus of CPS is to protect children from further abuse and neglect and that removing a child from their home is a last resort. There is a dual track system in Tompkins County; Child Protective Services Investigations (INV) primarily conducts investigations and Family Assessment Response (FAR) is an alternative approach that does not require an investigation. She distributed a Family Assessment Response (FAR) - Tompkins County flowchart to assist with the understanding of how cases are handled in Tompkins County.

Ms. Kelles asked what the number was of children in Foster Care in Tompkins County. Ms. Kephart did not have the exact figure but will provide it to Committee members. She stated there are approximately 1,200 reports made annually through the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment for Tompkins County and they used to be split 70/30; 70% of those reports were referred to FAR and 30% to INV. She explained that with the increase in opiate use those 1,200 calls are now being split 50/50.

Ms. Kelles and Mr. Mareane spoke of statements made at Legislature meetings regarding the Department of Social Services being motivated by a financial gain to remove children from their home and put in Foster Care. Ms. Kephart stated Tompkins County does not receive additional funding for a child being put in Foster Care; there is no financial gain for the County, instead it is very costly to put a child in Foster Care. She explained the Foster Care family receives a stipend for that child based on the child's needs but is not a large amount and added that with the opiate epidemic there has been a larger number of cases involving children with higher needs. The Department provides training to the Foster Care parents and those children with more needs are typically placed with a Foster Care parent or family that has had more training and the stipend they receive is higher based on those additional needs. She stated an assigned Caseworker remains involved with the child while he or she is in Foster Care to ensure their needs are maintained. In addition, she explained how the increased cost for the County can include access to needed services for the parents. The Department makes every attempt to ensure the safety of all involved in a case.

Ms. Chock asked if the poverty level has an impact on cases reported and do lower income families have an increased number of CPS cases. Ms. Kephart stated traditionally there are an increased number of cases for families who are struggling financially at that level and spoke of programs made available that may assist in those situations; however, the Child Welfare Program is not income restrictive. Ms. Chock asked if there was a level of income that families needed to achieve that could remove them from these situations. Ms. Kephart stated there would always be family stress and there are other resources available.

Ms. Kephart explained how when the child is put into Foster Care the Department can make the parents pay child support but due to the strain already placed on the parents that option is rarely used by the County as it would be an added stressor.

Ms. Chock inquired about a comparison of numbers and percentages of CPS cases and how they have changed, if they have, as they relate to the population changes. Ms. Kephart will provide that information to Committee members.