At some point, you will have to call Child Services on a family due to abuse or neglect. This is something that all of us dread. It is very likely that the family will be upset with the school for reporting. Make sure you are prepared to handle this interaction and have the support of your administration. Keep reading to see how two Confident Counselors handle calling Child Services.
This is a difficult position to be in. First of all, social services will not release the name of the person that calls in an abuse/neglect report. Therefore, you do not have to admit that you called. However, sometimes, the student will give information to the parents that makes them conclude that you reported the family.
I usually give a general answer when confronted and repeat myself as much as needed. It helps to practice what you would say, just in case. I will usually say that educators and all adults are mandated reporters and that we are required by law to report anything that we are told that could be abuse. I will explain to them that the department of human services has many resources to help families and that we often work together with them to help our students.
It’s definitely one of the most uncomfortable parts of being a school counselor, but we have to have those courageous conversations at times. Whenever possible, ask an administrator to sit in on all meetings with the family after a report has been made if you feel uncomfortable.
Handoff to CPS
I love this topic! It is such an important one! As a school counselor at a school where many students have experienced trauma, I make weekly (at least) reports to Child Protective Services (CPS). We also have a full time School Resource Police Officer (SRO), so I often work on these reports in tandem with the SRO.
Our former SRO gave me the best tip ever on dealing with parents who confront me for making a report- he told me that by law I CAN’T speak about any CPS reports (made by me or any other staff member) because they are considered open investigations by law enforcement! When I tell parents this, it ends the conversation immediately. Thanks, Deputy Robles!
How do you handle this difficult part of our job?