The Montgomery County Council’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, will hold a worksession on the Alternative Response system that has been implemented by the County’s Child Welfare Service for child abuse allegations. There has been a growing recognition nationally that the traditional investigative response to reports of child abuse and neglect is not the only or best means of ensuring the safety of children in all cases.
The HHS Committee, which is chaired by George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov
In recent decades, Child Protective Services agencies (CPS) nationally have been challenged with large volumes of child abuse and neglect reports, growing caseloads, families with increasingly complex problems and limited resources. Because of the concern about the traditional investigative response methods, Alternative Response processes have been increasingly offered as an option, in addition to traditional investigations.
The Alternative Response process provides for a collaborative partnership with families, which is intended to increase engagement and service usage in cases where there is no CPS history and the referral suggests low risk of harm to the child.
The Alternate Response program has several goals, including to use more flexibility in responding to child abuse and neglect reports. The Alternative program seeks to recognize that an adversarial approach is not needed, or may not be helpful, in all cases and that there is a need to better understand family issues that feed into abuse and neglect reports. The revised approach also works to engage parents more effectively to use services that meet their individual needs.
The HHS Committee also will hold a worksession on workforce issues for Child Welfare Services. The committee will receive information on staffing and salary trends; efforts being made by the Department of Health and Human Services to recruit and retain staff; and the work experience of front line CWS staff.
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