Social Policy Analysis: Child Abuse – Texas Administrative Code

Child abuse, as defined by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, quoted from the article “Child Abuse, Society, and Individual Psychology: What’s Power Got to Do with It?” by Suprina and Chang, “any action or failure to perform on the part of a parent or custodian, which leads to serious physical, death or emotional damage, manipulation, sexual abuse or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” With having child abuse defined, the purpose of this paper is to address and analyze both child abuse and Texas Administrative Code Title 40, Part 19, Chapter 700, Subchapter G, Rule &700.701 or rather the policy which defines and lays out the basic responsibilities of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Child Protective Services (CPS).

Description of the Problem that Necessitated the Policy

How widespread is it? As addressed in the article, Suprina and Chang noted that over 903,000 children were confirmed as victims of child mistreatment, 57% suffered neglect, 19% were physically abused, and 7% were psychological maltreated. Also, it was noted that one in every four girls and one in every eight boys are sexually abused, and that all children have a 1 in 20 chance of being physically mistreated (Suprina & Chang, 2005).

What are the causes of the problem? Child abuse has resulted in teen pregnancies due to the factors such as rape that happens in the society. Teen mothers are not mature and are not ready to handle the responsibility for being a parent. This leads to physical, verbal, and mental abuse, and later to a whole new set of problems. Children of teenage mothers frequently have problems in school, and such children are at risk of abuse. According to Suprina and Chang (2005), women’s lack of authority in the family as well as their potential anger lead to an inadequate share of child-care responsibility, which constitutes to their manifestation of abuse and negligence of their children.

Who are affected and how? Single mothers are at a greater risk of abusing their children, who are likely to fall within a disadvantaged social group. Poverty has an effect on families who have a less income that also triggers an abuse of children. According to Suprina and Chang (2005), child abuse leads to death – 1,300 children died in 2001 as a consequence of abuse. 85% were children younger than six years old. In an infancy, the risk of maltreatment injury death has increased for children living in the families with one or more male adults who have no blood relationship to the child.

Historical Background of the Policy

What is the historical background of the policy? Back in history, the society did not recognize child abuse as a criminal act. Parents had the right to abuse their children due to their religion, such as Christianity, or cultural peculiarities. However, in 1962 a movement started, which was called the House of Refuge Movement; today it is called Child Protective Services. The House of Refuge Movement removed the children endangered by the corrupt urban environments to the institutional settings (Pfohl, 1977). Radiology medical personnel conducted surveys where there were numerous staggering cases of child abuse reported. Pfohl noted that in a four-year period beginning in 1962, the legislatures passed statutes against the caretakers’ abuse of children (Pfohl, 1977).

Legislative History of the Policy

Texas Administrative Code was first introduced in 1975 by the state agency and formed in 1977 by the Texas legislature. The bill was amended several times before becoming a law. After passing the bill, the secretary of the states started the process of documenting the new law together with the public entities. Technological advancement induced the need to publish the law in electronic form. In 1995, HB 2304 allowed the law to become available in the internet, and thus making it available to mass population (Texas Secretary of State, n.d.).

Policy Description

Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) defines the rights of children and determines what can be termed as neglect or abuse. Child abuse includes any sexual, emotional, or physical abuse of a child. Under Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 19, Chapter 700, Subchapter G, Rule & 700.701, an authorized DFPS staff can investigate a case of suspected child abuse or prosecute a suspect in cases of child neglect. The state and federal law officials have the right to investigate any suspected allegations of child abuse. Eventually, according to the policy, any parent or any legal guardian will have access to the case files of the alleged child. A parent here means either a biological parent, a legitimate custodian, an adoptive parent, or any other person authorized as a representative of a child.

The policy gives a right to the court to take a child away from its parents or a guardian if it is being neglected or abused. It also enables a child to be accepted back home safely after its removal by DFPS. Care Placement Services (CPS) provides safety services for families in cases where a family needs reunification, when a child is in danger of neglect or abuse. Care placement services also ensure that families will remain united even without CPS assistance. Texas law requires an immediate reporting to the authorities in case of suspected child abuse.

Abuse constitutes a failure to protect a child from emotional or mental injury that might affect a child’s psychological functioning. It is mandatory for the professionals associated with the child such as day care employees, teachers, doctors, and nurses, or any other person with the direct relations with the child, to report any case of neglect. Specialized organizations who have a direct contact with the children can also report neglect. Such people include clergies, the attorney, the clinic worker, or a mental health specialist.

Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 19, Chapter 700, Subchapter G, Rule &700.701 provides the minimum requirements for child care in a day care. Members of the DFPS have the right to inspect a day care and assess whether it meets the standards required by the law. Officials of the DFPS have the right to give technical assistance to day care if it is needed, and they also have the right to investigate a case of neglect to a child in a day care. A child care, therefore, should provide all the necessary information regarding their location and address. If there is any change in the location of the child, the information should be provided at least 30 days before relocating. Primary care-givers in a childcare should be of 18 years old and above and must have a diploma with an appropriate educational qualification or its equivalent.

Children should be provided with a clean environment where they can play and sleep. All necessities including food should be provided to a child in a day care. Parents who are suspected of neglecting their child will be investigated and prosecuted. If he or she is found guilty, the policy has the right to take the child away from its parent. In the case when the child remains with the parent, maximum protection is provided to ensure that the child is safe. The policy has provided an online service where people can report about the neglect of a child.

Administrative Agencies that Oversee the Policy

One of the organizations that control the implementation of the policy is the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The workers of the DFPS work together with the communities specialized in children’s safeguard, caring about people with disabilities, the aged, as well as manipulation and neglect in families. It is also their concern to make sure that children in day care live in a healthy and safe environment. They ensure maximum children protection through the formulation of regulations, investigation of suspected neglect cares, referral and prevention programs. They receive reports and information regarding child abuse through their hotline websites. They also take care of the community-based programs that work to enhance children’s welfare.

The policy works closely with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). This is an organization that facilitates funding of the organizations dealing with the childcare and abuse prevention. It provides funds used in investigations, assessment, and prosecution activities. It mobilizes federal state in funding community-based organizations dealing with child welfare, and also non-governmental organizations. CAPTA agency works together with the local public and state organizations that assist the elderly, the people with disabilities, and the neglected children. The organization plans, develops, and undertakes programs that help to improve the society (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2011).

The policy works together with the Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) agency that visits the affected homes and families to provide advisory services to them. They also scrutinize the reported neglect and abuse (Child Care Licensing Division, 2010). They take care of the abused children by putting them under mentorship and abuse recovery programs. They also assist with the adoption processes to ensure that the adopted children get their rights in their new family. They also offer guidance and advisory services to youth in the adoptive care to assist them transit to adulthood.

Child Care Licensing Division is another agency that works together with the other bodies on the implementation of the policy. It is responsible for certifying the agencies that take care of children. The agency provides licensing for registration of a child day care by assessing whether the day care meets all the regulatory requirements. The agency monitors operations of day care and investigates any violations of the set minimum standards. It also makes sure that the public is aware of childcare requirements, including the updates on whether day cares are complying with the required rules and regulations.

Funding Mechanism for the Policy

Financial regulatory agencies are the main source of funding for the Child Abuse Texas Administrative Code. With a request from the policy-making body, a financial regulatory agency provides the required funds to the agency. The budget is developed by the policy-making agency and submitted to the financial regulatory agency. The agency scrutinizes the budget and releases the fund upon approval. However, the financial regulatory agency may limit the amount of funds given to the policy-making body. It is done by setting the maximum amount of funds that can be offered. Funds are put in an interest-bearing financial account. The policy body should be accountable for the money provided by submitting reports on expenditures to the financial regulatory agency. Financial regulatory agency pays salaries to the personnel working with the child abuse policy (De Vooght, Allen, & Geen, 2009).

Texas Child Abuse agencies also receive funds from the Federal State, as provided in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2011). Funds provided by the organization are used to investigate the cases of childcare and abuse prevention. It also funds the adoption, foster programs, assessment, and prosecution activities. It provides funds to community-based organizations dealing with child welfare, and also to non-governmental organizations. Other stakeholders of the policy contribute their funding through public donations and grants provided by the non-governmental organizations.

The federal government also assist in funding of children’s safety services, adoption assistance, medical care aid, maintenance of foster care facilities, and time to time assistance for needy families. Another source is the children’s bureau, which funds the information system, child safety systems, ill-treatment prevention, and adoption. The policy also obtains funds from the private sector, which is mainly children’s trust foundations. Children’s trust foundations are the community-based sources of funds used in public awareness, formation of policies, education, and financing innovative programs. Foundations such as Annie E. Casey donate finances to the programs aimed at strengthening the welfare of the family.

Assessment of Effectiveness of the Policy

Any policy should be examined to test whether its implementation is effective. Evaluation process reveals how well the program is being implemented. Evaluation of the effectiveness is done by visiting the victim frequently and discussing common challenges faced by the child during the recovery process. A child’s response should be able to tell whether the program is effective or not. Child abuse agency should conduct further investigations if a child is experiencing the same problems as at the beginning of the program.

Effectiveness of the program can also be evaluated by assessment of the society and the family. Family should show more unity than they had at the beginning of the policy implementation, more love and cohesion should be observed among the family members. The evaluation process should assess the knowledge of children’s rights by both the parent and the child. Effectiveness is reflected by the capability of the child to name his or her rights, and also by the child’s understanding of where he or she can report the cases of mistreatment. Effectiveness is also examined by evaluating child’s performance at school. If a child undergoing abuse protection has improved in his education, then it is a clear sign that the policy is working correctly. However, if the kid continues to perform poorly at school, it indicates that something is not right. Effectiveness of the child abuse policy is also determined by physical examination by a physician. The physician should test the signs of sexual harassment and physical injuries caused by beatings.

Evaluations should be done by an outside entity that develops an evaluation framework with the objectives of evaluation. The evaluation plan should also have a time frame and questions to ask. The evaluation should be done regarding both long-term and short-term outcomes. An evaluator measures the differences between the objectives and the actual outcome, and the advice is given accordingly. The involved staff and the evaluator discuss the deviation from the objectives, and they should come up with a way to arrive at the agreed objective.

How the Goals of the Policy Contribute to a Better Quality of Life for the Target Populations

One of the goals of the policy is to prevent children from suffering from psychological damage, such as emotional stress. Child abuse policy in Texas has helped in preventing depression, low self-esteem, and relationship problems. The policy has also helped in reducing the cases of young adults engaging in risky sexual activities. It is a common consequence for the abused children to be involved in promiscuous sexual activities. This increases the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, the policy has contributed in improving the quality of life by reducing the cases of sexually transmitted diseases.

The studies show that the neglect of children leads to school dropout, unwanted pregnancies, and drug abuse. Children who are abused tend to become alcoholics or smokers later in life. By reducing such cases, a society can live in harmony. Also, it has contributed to economic growth, as more people are involved in income generating activities instead of being involved in drug abuse. There is also reduced costs related to treatment of the abused children in the society (Ibanez et al., 2006).

Support services offered parents and their children to increase their awareness of the problem. The society also becomes aware of how to report or deal with a neglected child in the community. Child abuse policy also helps to improve children’s performance at school and non-curricular activities. The policy has helped in the betterment of the society by providing a forum where children and parents can come together and learn from one another. The policy provides social support in order to reduce the number of stressors to parents. For instance, providing financial assistance in case of poor financial situation, helping them recover from substance abuse or domestic violence (Flaherty et al., 2008)

The policy contributes to the positive social relations between the target populations and the overall society. This is achieved through the change of behavior of the parent and the child. The society has its norms and ethics that every member of the society is expected to follow. Every parent is supposed to follow the expected code of conduct of a particular community that he or she belongs to, and if they do not follow, they are considered as immoral by the society. The policy aims at making sure that the guardian of the affected child follows the required ethics of the society. Positive social relationship is promoted by changing the behavior of the person abusing a child into a behavior that is desirable in the society (Abel, 2009).

The goals of the policy are consistent with the values of a professional social worker. Just like in the goals of the policy, a social worker is to ensure that the society lives in harmony, without discrimination of certain individuals. This involves serving the society and spending most of time investigating and trying to find out whether there are neglected individuals in the society, including the elderly, sick young children, and the handicapped. A social worker must follow the rules and regulations provided by the policy to investigate the issues and ensure that social justice is observed. The values of a social worker are consistent with the goals of the policy, because a social worker also deals with the rights of the most vulnerable people in the society. The social worker must have legal knowledge regarding the policy to help the abused children in the society (Finkelhor, Jones, & Shattuck, 2011). A social worker aims at improving the status of the family by providing family education, guiding, and counseling. They help parents to recover from substance abuse, that is a major cause of child abuse and neglect.

Conclusion

Child abuse is an intense and horrific problem, which began as a social issue in the early 1960’s. For a long time, children have been neglected and abused, especially in undeveloped countries, where parents view children as their property. Children are abused and neglected, and not all cases of neglect are handled, since they are never reported to the appropriate authorities. Over 903,000 children were confirmed as victims of child mistreatment, 57% suffered neglect, 19% were physically abused, and 7% were psychological maltreated. Single mothers are at greater risk of abusing their children, they are likely to fall within a disadvantaged social group.Under Texas Administrative Code, Title 40, Part 19, Chapter 700, Subchapter G, Rule & 700.701, an authorized DFPS staff can investigate a case of suspected child abuse or prosecute a suspect in cases of child neglect. Care Placement Services (CPS), Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and Child Care Licensing Division agencies work together to ensure the implementation of the policy. The policy has helped in creating a better society by minimizing the cases of drug abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and domestic violence.

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