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Becoming a Child Protective Specialist

Working as a Child Protective Specialist (CPS) is a great opportunity if you are a recent college graduate or a seasoned professional. Extensive training, coaching and professional development is available. We offer a robust benefit package and support continuing education through a number of scholarship opportunities.

Working for the City of New York offers job stability and longevity. In fact, 78% of our current CPS have worked here 3 years or longer and 50% of our current CPS have worked here 5 years or longer (as of fall 2022).

What It Means to Be a Child Protective Specialist

Child Protective Specialists (CPS) respond directly to reports of child abuse and/or neglect. Using investigatory and social work skills, they engage and partner with families and community resources to ensure the safety and well-being of children throughout New York City.

As a CPS you will:

  • Complete community visits to investigate allegations of abuse and/or neglect.
  • Engage in a strength based approach with families in order to assess their individual and collective strengths and needs.
  • Interview family members and others who interact with the family to assess child safety and well-being.
  • Assess the risk of future abuse or neglect of children in the family.
  • Coordinate a team of family members, staff and service providers to evaluate safety and identify interventions that can reduce risks to children.
  • Remove child(ren) into protective custody or foster care, when children are found to be in imminent danger.
  • Enter and maintain accurate and timely computerized records of all case information.
  • Help families navigate government agencies and access entitlement benefits.
  • File petitions and testify in family court and other legal proceedings as necessary.


The starting salary for a Child Protective Specialist Level I is $55,463. After successful completion of 6 months of service, you are automatically promoted to Child Protective Specialist Level II, with a base salary increase of $60,236. Upon successful completion of 18 months in this position, the base salary increases to $64,232 with a salary range up to $91,071. In addition to the base salary increases, there are longevity differentials, and the potential for overtime earnings and a night differential for certain assignments.


Student Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program forgives the remaining balance on a borrower's direct loans after they have made 120 qualifying monthly payments (10 years) under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer in a public service job.

Grad School Support

The Mayor's Graduate Scholarship Program is an opportunity for full-time New York City government employees with undergraduate degrees to pursue advanced degrees at local colleges/universities.

Health Insurance

Choice of 11 health plans to choose from, some with no co-pays or deductibles.

Vacation, Sick & Holiday Leave

Annual leave may be used after 4 months of city service. Non-managerial titles accrue 8:45 hours monthly and managerial titles accrue 10:30 hours monthly. Up to 12 holidays per year. Sick leave accrues at 5.50 hours monthly.

Union Benefits

Child Protective Specialists are part of DC 37, New York City's largest public employee union, with about 150,000 members and 50,000 retirees. The union is also part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), with more than 1.6 million members nationwide.

Transit Benefits

Use your pre-tax earnings to cover public transportation costs through the Commuter Benefits Program.

Flex Spending Accounts

Use your pre-tax earnings to cover to help pay for eligible out-of-pocket medical or dependent care expenses, for services such as acupuncture, chiropractor, dental treatments, eye exams and surgery, fertility treatments, lab fees, nursing home and services, organ transplants, psychiatrist and psychologist, weight loss programs, x-rays and more. Also included are products such as reading glasses, braces, contact lens supplies, crutches, first aid supplies, hearing aid expenses, insulin and diabetic supplies, walkers, wheelchairs, and more.

Pension System

All ACS employees may join the NYC Employees' Retirement System (NYCERS), which provides guaranteed income for life upon retirement and the opportunity to provide a continued retirement benefit to a beneficiary upon your death after retirement. Because your payroll contributions are tax-deferred, it may lower your current federal taxable income. Other types of benefits such as loans, disability and death benefits are also offered.

401K, 457 Plan, ROTH IRA

The NYC Deferred Compensation Plan can be used as a bridge to cover necessary expenses in that period before you decide to collect SS. Even if retiring at a normal retirement age and are eligible to collect social security, pre-tax money is tax deferred - lowering your taxable income.

Child Protective Specialist Benefits
Benefit Academy After 6 Months After 18 Months After 2 Years After 3 Years After 5 Years
Base Salary $55,463 $60,236 $64,232 $65,921 $65,921 $65,921
With Mentorship N/A
$70,116 $70,963
Longevity Differential N/A
$848 $1,695 $2,542
Paid Sick Days 10 12
Paid Vacation Days 15 16 17
Paid Holidays 12
Choice of Medical Yes
Prescription, Dental &
Eyeglass Coverage
Deferred Compensation:
401K, IRA

Frequently Asked Questions About Being a CPS

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What kind of training will I receive?

As a new Child Protective Specialist (CPS), you'll attend the James 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 of a training unit supervisor for an additional three months. At the completion of the three months in a training unit, you will be assigned to a transition unit for an additional five months where you will receive a modified caseload assignment. After five months in the transitional unit, you will be assigned to a CPS unit and receive cases on a regular pending rotation and continue to work closely with a supervisor to support and guide your work.

What is a typical day like?

Given the nature of the work we do, our days are rarely "typical." Once assigned to a regular unit, your unit supervisor will work with you to determine which days you will work making community visits and which days you will work in the office. On the community visit days, you will work primarily in the community making visits to the homes of the families you need to visit. You may also be required to visit schools and other community agencies that the children and families are involved with. You'll be assigned cases on a rotation basis with other CPS staff in your borough office.

You will manage an average caseload of about 8 to 12 families at any given time. During your home visits, you will meet with families in order to assess the families' strengths, the safety, risk and well-being needs of children and the assistance that families may require. On some days, you may need to attend hearings at the local family court. There may be days when you need to work into the late evening in order to assure the safety of children on your caseload.

Office days will be used to complete case documentation, make phone calls, and attend trainings and meetings with your supervisor and other members in your unit. You will also use your time in the office to connect families with the services they need and following up with other office based consultants who are there to support your work. You are required to keep detailed electronic records of all case activities that you have completed for case on your caseload.

What safety precautions are in place to protect CPS from COVID-19?

  • Effective August 2, 2021, all new City hires must provide proof of having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to beginning their employment.
  • Employees must complete and pass a screening assessment each day prior to arrival to their work site (including non-ACS sites such as a courthouse or HRA site) or in-community visits.
  • All staff, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face covering when interacting with the public, such as during a home visit, and whenever in a communal space in the office.
  • At every home visit, CPS ask the family screening questions to assess if it is safe to enter the home. Also, on community visit days, CPS may start and end their day from home to minimize exposure.
  • When an ACS employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19, human resources will work with that employee and/or supervisor to determine if there are any employees who may have been in close contact with that individual during their infectious period while in the workplace.

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

Yes! In a 5-day work week, typically, CPS are scheduled to work at the office two days; to visit the community two days in order to engage with families on your assigned cases; and to work “hybrid” at an alternative location one day, which also includes your home. All CPS receive ACS issued tablets so they can access critical documents and casework activities while working at an alternative location, in the community or away from assigned workstations. The tablets have software that helps CPS manage caseloads and meet investigative requirements.

What about emergencies?

You may be called for an emergency with a family already in your care, or to assess a new report of abuse or neglect. In those situations, the priority is always to assure the safety and well-being of the children and help to stabilize the families we serve. If you have to remove a child from a home, you will need to remain 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?

CPS are encouraged to go out in pairs. Once you've established a relationship with a family, both you and the family may feel more comfortable for you to visit the family by yourself. However, your personal safety is our highest priority. When responding to an abuse report, or when your own intuition tells you that a visit may be 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 colleague - into a situation that we believe could be dangerous. CPS also have access to the ACS Safety App located on ACS issued Smartphones that provide an emergency response from NYPD and EMS to the location where CPS believe their personal safety is compromised.

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 in 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. DCP staff has continuous access to licensed and trained Employee Assistance Counselors who support staff well-being, through tools from stress-relief aides to group counseling sessions to referrals to mental health professionals. There is also a Peer Mentorship Program in which veteran CPS voluntarily provide peer support and mentoring to newer CPS. The veteran CPS are compensated for their time and commitment.

In addition, the DCP Chatline is a hotline that serves as an ombudsman and allows DCP staff to confidentially voice concerns, share ideas and get general assistance as needed. The Chatline helps staff by:

  • listening to complaints, concerns, problems and issues;
  • helping staff to explore and evaluate options;
  • clarifying certain decisions, policies and practices;
  • creating access to information, if appropriate, and helping to open channels of communication;
  • helping to ensure that established policies and practices are functioning properly and equitably;
  • referring staff to helpful resources;
  • assisting in surfacing issues so they can be addressed in formal processes;
  • taking objective action to resolve matters that fall outside the established forums and procedures;
  • identifying new issues and opportunities for systemic change for DCP and bringing systemic issues to DCP leadership attention for resolution;
  • listening to staff's ideas for improvements and channeling those ideas to Executive Leadership.

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

Your involvement with a family on your caseload should end when you either close the case or the situation stabilizes and the family members receive the support they need. Each case on your caseload can be closed or transferred to Foster Care, Preventive Services or Court Supervision Services. Your involvement should definitely end if the case is closed. If the case is transferred and there is no further case specific need for you to remain involved with the family, then your involvement should end. Your unit supervisor will be available to guide you on when you should end you involvement with a family. 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.

What technology and transportation options are provided?

ACS provides all CPS with smart phones and tablets including high-speed internet and the ability to type, electronically handwrite, or use speech-to-text options to enter case notes and access the state's child welfare database while out in the community.

The Safe Measures Dashboard gives CPS and supervisors a streamlined overview of case data and details, including tasks and deadlines for cases, tracks completion of casework contacts with all family members on a case, and helps to prioritize workloads.

To help frontline staff make initial home visits and respond to reports of child abuse and neglect more quickly, ACS has a multi-faceted transportation approach, including access to Zip Cars when needed.

What kind of employee support and wellness programs are there?

A Peer Mentorship program pairs more experienced CPS with newer child protective staff for mentoring.

ACS holds an annual CPS Appreciation Week to recognize the work of our child protective specialists that includes special events and various forms of recognition.

Mental and emotional health support is provided through the Employee Assistance Program and the ACS Employee Wellness Program aims to promote a holistic approach to physical and emotional health, fitness, and healthy living to support our employees as they endeavor to help children and families of NYC.

Required Qualifications

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college, in specified discipline.
  • Twenty-four semester credits in any combination of the following fields: social work, psychology, sociology, human services, criminal justice, education (including early childhood), nursing or cultural anthropology.
  • At least 12 credits must be in one of these disciplines.
  • Candidates must demonstrate English language proficiency and basic typing skill.
  • All candidates must successfully complete a comprehensive drug screening.

Candidates who speak and/or write in the following languages are encouraged to apply: Spanish, Russian, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Urdu, and African languages. New York City residency is NOT required.


Apply for the Child Protective Specialist exam using the Online Application System (OASys). Follow the onscreen application instructions for electronically submitting your application and payment and completing any required information. A unique and valid email address is required to apply online. If you do not have an account, you need to register as a new user.

click here to register for the CPS job listing

Becoming a CPS

Being a CPS:

I am a Child Protective Specialist (Part 1)

I am a Child Protective Specialist (Part 2)