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Become a Child Protective Specialist (CPS)

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Frequently Asked Questions

As a candidate for the vital Child Protective Specialist (CPS) job, you must have questions for us. We've assembled below some questions and concerns we hear most frequently from applicants.

What kind of training will I receive?

As a new Child Protective Specialist, you’ll attend the Satterwhite Training Academy for six weeks to learn social work and investigative skills such as how to engage families and conduct interviews.  You will also learn to use the ACS computer system and the forms used to track active cases.  After you’ve graduated from the Academy, you will be assigned to a training unit to work with a reduced number of cases under close supervision for an additional three months.

What will a typical day be like?

Given the nature of the work we do, our days are rarely “typical”, but we’ll give this question a shot. Once assigned to a regular unit, you will have three office days and two assigned field days each week.  On the field days, you will go directly to the homes of the families you need to visit.  You’ll be assigned cases on a rotation basis with other CPS staff in your field office.

You will manage an average caseload of about 12 to 15 families at any given time.  Most of your home visits will be to check up on families with whom you’re establishing relationships—assessing their needs, educating them about services and helping with the logistics of what they need to do.  There will be days when you attend a meeting with a family or when you go to court to request a removal. 

Office days will be filled with paperwork and phone calls, connecting families with the services they need and making sure those services are delivered and the families are following through on their commitments.  You will have desk work to keep detailed records of each and every interaction you have.

Can I do some of my paperwork at home or on a laptop?

At this time, you can only document your case notes on the computer system in your office. 

What about emergencies?

Given the nature of our work, situations will sometimes arise requiring field work on office days. You may be called for an emergency with a family already in your care or to assess a new report of abuse or neglect.  On days like these, the families we serve come first.  If you have to remove a child from a home, you will have to stay with that child until he/she has been placed in temporary care.  When this happens, you may need to work overtime into the evening or later.

Will I visit my families alone or with someone else?

Once you’ve established a relationship with a family, it will be more comfortable for you and for the family for you to visit by yourself alone. However, when responding to an abuse report, initiating a relationship, or when your own intuition says that a visit may be very difficult, you should take a co-worker with you—another CPS, a supervisor, or one of our investigative consultants (former police detectives). Rest assured that we never send a CPS – alone or with a partner – into a situation that we know to be dangerous.

What types of support are in place when I have questions or simply need to vent?

The CPS job can be stressful, so we build peer support, supervisory support, and camaraderie into the daily schedule of every CPS.  Supervisors hold regular team meetings where CPS workers talk about their cases.  Our work is by definition social in nature; the opportunity to process what has happened to you on any given day or to get help deciding how to handle a specific issue is always available. As a CPS, you will be a valued member of a team that works together to help children and families.

How long will I maintain a relationship with a family?  Can I stay in touch after the case has been closed?

You’ll stay involved with a family on your caseload until you either close the case or the situation stabilizes and the family members receive the support they need.  Once stable, cases move on to a Family Support Unit within ACS.  If a closed case is reopened, you may work with the family again, but otherwise your involvement ends when the case is closed.

What are the opportunities for further advancement?

Promotional opportunities and salary increases are common, beginning just six months after starting work as a CPS. Please click here for more information on the CPS salary and benefits 

Go Back to CPS Career Page

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