Over the past several years Sacramento County Child Protective Services (CPS) has been hard at work making improvements to better serve the community. This includes improvements to the Intake Hotline, improved training for new social workers, intensive recruitment efforts and investments in prevention and permanency strategies. These efforts have led to a lower social worker vacancy rate, improved permanency outcomes for foster youth, and enhanced staff morale.
The CPS Workforce Development Unit (WDU) has been actively implementing creative strategies to address recruitment and retention of social workers. The vacancy rate for CPS social workers has decreased from a high of 17.6 percent in July 2015 to just 7.2 percent in July 2017.
Three Human Services Program Specialists, who have both social work and supervisory experience, proposed an innovative plan to CPS management to increase social worker recruitment efforts. The Specialists set out to change the image of Sacramento County CPS, which included emphasis on Sacramento CPS as an elite organization and the highly competitive process it uses to select, train and support the most qualified applicants. The Recruitment Plan developed by the Specialists included use of job recruitment sites, Handshake, Indeed, GovernmentJobs and SimplyHired. The Specialists also reached out to Title IV-E liaisons and career counselors at many colleges throughout California to build rapport and create interest in Sacramento County’s CPS Division. CPS is currently in the process of developing an agreement with Chico State to have their IV-E students work as interns in Sacramento County.
The last social worker hiring cohort included hires from CSU Sacramento, USC, UC Berkeley, and CSU campuses in San Jose, San Francisco, Northridge, Long Beach and Monterey Bay.
The WDU Program Specialists are great ambassadors for Sacramento County! Due to their hard work, all masters level social worker positions – which CPS has struggled to fill over the past few years – are filled.
The Waiver Works
Since entering the IV-E Waiver and investing in prevention and permanency strategies, CPS has decreased the number of children in foster care by more than 400 children. During the time period from October 2013 to September 2014, the permanency (family reunification, adoption, or legal guardianship) rate for children in foster care was only 19.8 percent. After three years of increased prevention and permanency strategies, the permanency rate for children in foster care rose to 30.7 percent. CPS is grateful for Waiver Partners- the Child Abuse Prevention Center and all nine Family Resource Centers/Birth and Beyond Programs; Lilliput Children’s Services; Sierra Forever Families; STARS/Bridges and to the amazing CPS staff that do extraordinary work every day to promote safety, permanency and well-being.
As part of the IV-E Waiver, CPS increased its Informal Supervision (IS) services by one unit (six workers and one supervisor) and placed social workers in Community Incubator Lead agencies throughout the county to support the efforts of the Black Child Legacy Campaign. IS allows children to remain with their families – and out of foster care – while CPS provides intensive supervision and services to address the safety issues that led to CPS involvement. The Informal Supervision unit projects that it will be able to serve 130-150 additional families in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Sacramento County partnered with Lilliput Families and Sierra Forever Families for enhanced “family finding” efforts to place children with relatives and reduce the time they spend in foster care. Both agencies play a critical role in developing and supporting the relationships of foster children with their extended family and other important individuals in their lives. Foster children who experience positive connections and supportive relationships have a greater chance at achieving positive outcomes with legal permanence and with life in general.
CPS increased its Intake Hotline staff by one unit (six workers and one supervisor) and was able to expand intake supervisor duties to cover the weekend. Additionally, CPS hotline managers used new data reporting tools to analyze call routing options and peak demand times. This has led to an improvement of call response time and focused attention given to more complex calls.
The increase in staff and use of hotline data has allowed CPS to assign staff and route calls so that during peak hotline times more staff is available to respond to calls. This has led to a decrease in hold times, down from 17 minutes, 21 seconds in December 2016 to four minutes, 50 seconds in July 2017.
Bringing Families Home
CPS has developed partnerships with Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Sacramento Steps Forward and the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance in order to connect CPS families with the housing resources available to them. In addition, CPS was awarded a California Department of Social Services grant to develop the Bringing Families Home program, which provides housing intervention for CPS-involved families facing homelessness and housing instability. Since it began in July, the Bringing Families Home program has identified 64 CPS families that need housing services. The goal of the program is to secure housing for a minimum of 154 families over the next two years to help families tackle housing challenges as they move toward reunification.
CPS remains committed to continuous quality improvement to provide the best service to the community and improve outcomes for our most vulnerable youth. In the most recent Child Protective Services Oversight Committee report, these independent community advocates for children acknowledged that significant improvements in follow-through and transparency by CPS have enabled the Oversight Committee to move its focus onto other parts of the community (such as law enforcement, treatment providers, and other child and family serving agencies) and look at their role in addressing child safety and well-being.