These partners have a statutorily defined public safety role that specifies how they relate to abused and neglected children and to the public child welfare agency. The public child welfare agency should meet regularly with these partners to clearly outline their relative roles in serving children, youth and families and to collaborate on the development of policies, protocols and practices to achieve common goals with a shared set of measurements (e.g., time to permanency, etc).
- With local law enforcement agencies, public child welfare agencies should have detailed, updated Memoranda of Understanding to define the responsibilities of each agency when they are involved with common cases or investigations, including protocols for what happens to children if the primary caregiver is arrested, and to describe which cases will be handled unilaterally.
- Effectively working with CASA, Respondent Counsel and Guardians-ad-Litem require the public child welfare agencies to have common training on assessment tools, cultural competency and the format and function of legal planning protocols and documents. The more commonly developed and accepted the protocols are, the less likely that proceedings will be adversarial, and the greater likelihood that families will be helped by the legal process.
- For cases involving foreign nationals or cases involving relative searches and placement for families not residing in the United States, there should be the development of “best practice” guidelines and policy to assist judges and other court staff on these often rare but complicated cases.
The efforts by these partners are critical to the process of ensuring children’s safety and timely permanence. Sometimes members of these groups are responding to an alert of some kind and are often called on to make instant decisions, which are later revisited and in some cases revised, which can strain the partnership. This area of decision-making is a good place to ensure that a partnership’s stated goals are maintained. t all times consider implications of actions, protocols and practices on disproportionality and disparate outcomes.