Program Evaluation of Child Care
The South Carolina Department of Social Services is led by Chief Joan Meacham. This agency’s mission is to promote stability, safety, and the well – being of children and parents. This department provides resources such as child support services, nutritional assistance, employment assistance, homeless shelters, summer camps for children, and many other economic resources. Although there are many advantages to this program, there are a few deficits that remain to need further improvement. These areas include the improvement the quality of safety and risk management of children in foster care or child protective services, protecting the health and welfare of the elderly and disabled, and improving the timeliness of investigations. The proposal after evaluating this program will involve changes in budgeting and funding, contact people, resources, time constraints, and what specific program these changes will occur in.
The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) is a statewide agency for adoption processes, intensive foster care, clinical services, and child support enforcement (“Agency Overview”). This agency’s mission is to enhance the safety, permanency, well-being of children and adults that are vulnerable, helping individuals achieve a stable lifestyle and strengthen families (“Agency Overview”).
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Additionally, DSS offers a wide variety of economic assistance, such as employment and training services, group homes, food assistance for families with low income, homeless shelters, and child support services (“Agency Overview”). All of their programs are aimed to establish standard care and living for children, adults, and families (Agency Overview”).
Initially, DSS has been funded by the federal government since the 1950s by providing 50 percent of their program’s funding, with the hopes of unemployed individuals to be economically independent and reduce the need for financial assistance for that population (“SSBG FFY 2019 Plan”). Since the 1956 Social Security Act authorized the following budget for social services, it has fluctuated from $194 million to a maximum of $39.3 million in 1991 and most recently at $24 million in 2019 (“SSBG FFY 2019 Plan”). These funds are set to achieve or maintain economic independence and self-sufficiency, prevent neglect, abuse, or exploitation of children and adults who are unable to protect their own interests, prevent inappropriate institutional care and to secure the admission of services to individuals in institutions (“SSBG FFY 2019 Plan”).
The South Carolina DSS agency consists of seven major division services including abuse and neglect, prevention, adoption, foster care, assistance programs, child care, and child support. Being an agency that serves as a part of the state’s public safety system, the abuse, and neglect division, each with a set of sub-divisions to balance responsibility. These areas aim to protect and prevent children and vulnerable adults from being neglected or abused by parents, legal guardians, caretakers, and other relatives (“Abuse/Neglect”). This responsibility falls within four sub-divisions. Specifically, child protective services, adult protective services, domestic violence, and child fatalities; each serving a more specific population purpose.
The next division of services is prevention, which focuses on informing and educating communities about issues and empowering them to solve their own problems (“Prevention”). This goal is achieved through sub-divisions such as community-based prevention services, family engagement services, domestic violence, kinship care and safe haven for babies (“Prevention”). The adoption services division is responsible for children being in safe, loving and permanent families (“Adoption”). While the foster care division offers temporary care for children whose families cannot provide a safe and stable living situation (“Adoption”). Both services offer assistance through similar sub-divisions, such as kinship care, services for prospective foster parents, fatherhood registry and other resources (“Adoption”).
The fifth division of DSS is assistance programs. This department offers programs for eligible state residents to achieve financial stability and strengthen families (“Assistance Programs”). The assistance programs include supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), food and nutrition programs and SC Voucher programs (“Assistance Programs”). These programs provide food stamps, cash assistance, emergency assistance for seniors, healthy eating, child care, and employment and training services (“Assistance Programs”)
The childcare department of social services is responsible for increasing the quality of care for all children statewide and making child care available and affordable for parents (“Child Care”). Lastly, the child support division encourages family self-sufficiency, responsible parenting and child well-being (“Child Support”). These services are provided through assisting in locating parents, adjusting and enforcing support obligations, obtaining child support and establishing paternity (“Child Support”).
Flow of Authority
The DSS faculty consists of a legal team of attorneys and paralegals to handle all judicial forums, family court cases, and court appeals (“Legal Team”). Caseworkers are placed in both child and adult protection services. Alongside caseworkers and a legal team, social workers are a big portion of the DSS faculty working on-site at each agency in every county. Lastly, DSS is led by Chief of Staff Joan Meacham as the state director, followed by 11 other directors, deputies and inspector generals leading their individual departments in the DSS agency (“Leadership”).
South Carolina DSS determines the effectiveness of their agency by the reports found in their accountability report. This report includes a strategic planning and performance measurement section that suggests areas of improvement and how to improve those areas. For instance, a current priority goal is to improve the quality of risk assessment and safety management of children in child protective services, family preservation, and foster care cases (“Accountability Report”). To improve the effectiveness of ensuring safety and improving the quality of risk assessments, the accountability report suggests four main strategies to improve. Following each goal are objectives given to achieve that strategy.
Firstly, the quality of risk assessment and safety management of children and families can be improved by initiating investigations in a timely manner and decreasing the reoccurrence of maltreatment (“Accountability Report”). The purpose of achieving this plan is to increase the percentage of cases that report a timely initiation of child protective services (CPS) investigation and assessment from 80.2% to 84.2% by the end of the year (“Accountability Report”). This strategy should also decrease the percentage of children experiencing maltreatment within 12 months after a previous intake from 94.5% to 97% by the end of the year (“Accountability Report”). The next strategic plan to accomplish this goal is to improve initial and ongoing assessments of safety and risk to children, protecting them in their homes, preventing removal from families and providing services to children and families (“Accountability Report”). The objective for achieving this plan is to improve the assessment of the need for services and provide services to enhance safety and lower risk of children, from an average of 56% to 61% by the end of 2019 (“Accountability Report”).
The third strategy that strives to improve quality and risk assessment of children, is to implement safety throughout the state in all child protective services, family preservations, and foster care cases by the end of 2019 (“Accountability Report”). This can be achieved by increasing the overall percentage of DSS staff using the signs of safety in each DSS county office (“Accountability Report”).
Lastly, to achieve the main goal, there must be an improvement in the quality of decisions for abuse and neglect intakes by the administration of regional abuse and neglect report intake Hubs (“Accountability Report”). This will result in the reduction of the percentage of referring backs to DSS within 30 days of being referred to a community-based prevention services provider, by assessing such cases as high risk (“Accountability Report”).
In order to successfully achieve the main goal in the Child Welfare Department, the previously mentioned goals, objectives, and strategies include time constraints to implement and achieve each objective in the plan. Many of the objectives listed in the accountability report are re-evaluated from the 2015 – 2019 five year service plan for the Child Welfare Department. The recent report of 2019 leaves child welfare services the remaining 8 months in 2019 to achieve their main goal this year, which his to improve the quality of risk assessment and safety management for children in their department of services. The disadvantage of this time constraint is the caseload that follows. Every day there are more children being placed into foster care, child protective services, and family preservation services. Therefore, leaving social workers and caseworkers with a caseload that possibly exceeds the maximum required to achieve high-quality performance.
In addition to time constraints, there are a few needed resources to implement the changes in the service plan. The first source is an increase in staff, the analysis report for child welfare services has suggested changes to provide second and third shift pilot staffs to distribute the workload of social workers and caseworkers (“Accountability Report”). This will also be helpful for clients that may need service aside from day time office hours. Other resources needed to achieve improvement in the quality of services in DSS are local churches, shelters, non-profit organizations, schools, and community centers. These are all resources that can benefit children in foster care, protective services, and family preservation services. Resources such as local churches and shelters are beneficial for basic needs such as providing clothing, food, emotional support, and even employment that may be needed to parents involved in family preservation services. Non-profit organizations, schools, and community centers are in high demand for children to child welfare services, to keep them socially involved with the world, continuing their education, summer activities, and after-school activities. The following resources are helpful to help maintain a stable and traditional lifestyle for children and the families involved in these cases, as well a financial benefit to clients and the social services agency.
The South Carolina Department of DSS has continued to achieve its mission in the statewide community, and the Child Welfare services department has upheld its responsibility to provide safety, well-being, and permanency of children and families. Although, there is always room for improvement. The Child Welfare Services department will focus on improving the quality of safety and risk assessment for children in child protective services, foster care, and family preservation by implementing the following objectives mentioned that aim to achieve the main goal in their department.
- Abuse/Neglect. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/abuseneglect/
- Accountability Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/about/data-and-resources/accountability-reports/
- Adoption. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/adoption/
- Agency Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/about/agency-overview/
- Assistance Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/assistance-programs/
- Child Care. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/child-care/
- Child Support. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/child-support/
- Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/about/agency-overview/leadership/
- Legal Team. (2019, April 17). Retrieved from https://dss.sc.gov/about/legal-team/
- Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/prevention/
- SSBG FFY 2019 Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://dss.sc.gov/about/data-and-resources/annual-progress-and-services-reports/
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Program Evaluation of Child Care. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/program-evaluation-of-child-care/
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