Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Intervention: Best Practices in Theory and Application
Child abuse, like any other social problem, has no easy answers. It is both a cause and a consequence, a self-perpetuating cycle whose resolution must take into account innumerable contributing factors. My goal in this project was to learn more about what those factors were, and then to compile a list of best practices in addressing them based on what research has shown. I wanted, additionally, to get some firsthand experience in the field. In the course of my initial search for an appropriate internship placement, I discussed a number of possibilities with the former director of the Child and Family Resource Council, who happens to be a close family friend. She suggested that I contact Grand Rapids' Catholic Social Services, a large local agency which has established a strong reputation over the many years since it first began offering services to children and families. On her recommendation, I made a call and was granted an interview; within a week, I had begun my observation there. Over the past several months, I have taken a closer look at how one social service agency approaches child protection and family preservation. I followed child welfare specialists and advocates on home visits and court cases, attended staff meetings, and interviewed supervisors. Bit by bit, I was able to piece together the agency's philosophy with the means by which it was put into practice, and finally to examine its effectiveness. My findings are as follows.