Children’s Protective Services receives and investigates reports of alleged child abuse and neglect in Hancock County. Child Welfare Workers investigate the report by conducting interviews and gathering information about the report in order to determine the safety of the child and the degree of intervention necessary. Investigators also respond to reports of dependent children and families needing services. Upon completion of the investigation, the case worker will recommend services for the child and family which will help keep the child safe, reduce the risk of further abuse or neglect, and keep the family together whenever possible. The Investigators work closely with Law Enforcement and The Center for Safe in Healthy Children in conducting investigations.
When high risk factors of child abuse, neglect, or dependency are identified, a Case Worker can be assigned to work with the family in the home on an ongoing basis. Protective services can be voluntary or court ordered.
The primary focus of protective services is safety for the child. To meet this objective, the emphasis is on improving parenting skills, mental health and substance abuse counseling, domestic violence services, child development, and basic living skills such as housing, finances, and transportation.
When abuse, neglect, or dependency is severe, legal intervention may be required to keep children safe. Hancock County Juvenile Court decides matters of child abuse, neglect, and dependency.
When it has been determined by the court that a child is not safe remaining in the home, the Court temporarily places the child into the custody of the agency.
If there is a suitable relative to care for the child, a home study is conducted on the home of a relative and a recommendation is made to the Court. Services are offered to the relative to help the child adjust and to maintain the placement.
Agency Substitute care services protect children who are at risk of imminent harm. Substitute Care occurs when the child cannot remain safely in the home and a suitable relative to care for the child cannot be located. Most children in the care of the agency are placed in licensed foster homes. If a child has severe emotional or behavioral needs, a group home or residential treatment center may be needed.
Foster Homes are needed to provide temporary care for children who are unable to live in their own home.
Adoptive Homes are needed to provide a permanent home for children who cannot return to their birth home and are placed into the permanent custody of a child protective agency.
Hancock County Children Protective Services licenses foster homes and approves adoptive homes for families wishing to foster and adopt through Hancock County Job and Family Services.
The agency strives to keep children who are temporarily removed from their home in the county so the children are able to maintain relationships in the community and school when applicable. The agency also wants to keep siblings together.
Currently, Children’s Protective Services is in need of foster homes for infants and young children who have been prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol.
Adult Protective Services receives reports of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation. Abuse and Neglect can be self-abuse or neglect. Due to funding cuts in 2009, the Adult Protective Services position was reduced to part time. The Adult Protective Case Worker spends 20 hours per week investigating reports and providing services. When an investigation is complete, On-going services may be offered if concerns have been identified.
If necessary, the Agency may file in Probate Court for a Protective Services Order or to request the Elderly Adult be provided with a guardian.
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