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Becoming a Child Protective Specialist

What It Means to Be a Child Protective Specialist

Child Protective Specialists (CPS) respond directly to reports of child abuse and/or neglect. Using investigatory and social work skills, they engage and partner with families and community resources to ensure the safety and well-being of children throughout New York City.

As a CPS you will:

  • Complete field visits to investigate allegations of abuse and/or neglect.
  • Engage in a strength based approach with families in order to assess their individual and collective strengths and needs.
  • Interview family members and others who interact with the family to assess child safety and well-being.
  • Assess the risk of future abuse or neglect of children in the family.
  • Coordinate a team of family members, staff and service providers to evaluate safety and identify interventions that can reduce risks to children.
  • Remove child(ren) into protective custody or foster care, when children are found to be in imminent danger.
  • Enter and maintain accurate and timely computerized records of all case information.
  • Help families navigate government agencies and access entitlement benefits.
  • File petitions and testify in family court and other legal proceedings as necessary.

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Required Qualifications

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college, in specified discipline.
  • Twenty-four semester credits in any combination of the following fields: social work, psychology, sociology, human services, criminal justice, education (including early childhood), nursing or cultural anthropology.
  • At least 12 credits must be in one of these disciplines.
  • Candidates must demonstrate English language proficiency and basic typing skill.
  • All candidates must successfully complete a comprehensive drug screening.

Candidates who speak and/or write in the following languages are encouraged to apply: Spanish, Russian, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Urdu, and African languages. New York City residency is NOT required.

Watch a video about being a CPS

I am a Child Protective Specialist (Part 1)



I am a Child Protective Specialist (Part 2)

 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Being a CPS

What kind of training will I receive?

As a new Child Protective Specialist, you’ll attend the James Satterwhite Training Academy for six weeks to learn social work and investigative skills such as how to engage families and conduct interviews. You will also learn to use the ACS computer system and the forms used to track active cases. After you’ve graduated from the Academy, you will be assigned to a training unit to work with a reduced number of cases under close supervision of a training unit supervisor for an additional three months.

What is a typical day like?

Given the nature of the work we do, our days are rarely “typical.” Once assigned to a regular unit, your unit supervisor will work with you to determine which days you will work making field visits and which days you will work in the office. On the field visit days, you will work primarily in the field making visits to the homes of the families you need to visit. You may also be required to visit schools and other community agencies that the children and families are involved with. You’ll be assigned cases on a rotation basis with other CPS staff in your borough office.

You will manage an average caseload of about 12 to 15 families at any given time. During your home visits, you will meet with families in order to assess the families’ strengths, the safety, risk and well-being needs of children and the assistance that families may require. On some days, you may need to attend hearings at the local family court. There may be days when you need to work into the late evening in order to assure the safety of children on your caseload.

Office days will be used to complete case documentation, make phone calls, and attend trainings and meetings with your supervisor and other members in your unit. You will also use your time in the office to connect families with the services they need and following up with other office based consultants who are there to support your work. You are required to keep detailed electronic records of all case activities that you have completed for case on your caseload.

Can I do some of my paperwork at home or on a laptop?

At this time, you can only document your case notes on the computer system in your office.

What about emergencies?

You may be called for an emergency with a family already in your care, or to assess a new report of abuse or neglect. In those situations, the priority is always to assure the safety and well-being of the children and help to stabilize the families we serve. If you have to remove a child from a home, you will need to remain with that child until he/she has been placed in temporary care. When this happens, you may need to work overtime into the evening or later.

Will I visit my families alone or with someone else?

Once you’ve established a relationship with a family, both you and the family may feel more comfortable for you to visit the family by yourself. However, your personal safety is our highest priority. When responding to an abuse report, or when your own intuition tells you that a visit may be difficult, you should take a co-worker with you—another CPS, a supervisor, or one of our investigative consultants (former police detectives). Rest assured that we never send a CPS – alone or with a colleague – into a situation that we believe could be dangerous.

What types of support are in place when I have questions or simply need to vent?

The CPS job can be stressful, so we build in peer support, supervisory support, and camaraderie into the daily schedule of every CPS. Supervisors hold regular team meetings where CPS workers talk about their cases. Our work is by definition social in nature; the opportunity to process what has happened to you on any given day or to get help deciding how to handle a specific issue is always available. As a CPS, you will be a valued member of a team that works together to help children and families.

How long will I maintain a relationship with a family? Can I stay in touch after the case has been closed?

Your involvement with a family on your caseload should end when you either close the case or the situation stabilizes and the family members receive the support they need. Each case on your caseload can be closed or transferred to Foster Care, Preventive Services or Court Supervision Services. Your involvement should definitely end if the case is closed. If the case is transferred and there is no further case specific need for you to remain involved with the family, then your involvement should end. Your unit supervisor will be available to guide you on when you should end you involvement with a family. If a closed case is reopened, you may work with the family again, but otherwise your involvement ends when the case is closed.

What are the opportunities for further advancement?

Promotional opportunities and salary increases are common, beginning just six months after starting work as a CPS.

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Salary

The staring salary for a Child Protective Specialist Level I is $47,250. After 6 months, you are automatically promoted to Child Protective Specialist Level II, with a base salary increase of $51,315. Upon successful completion of 18 months in this position, the base salary increases to $54,720 - $77,583. In addition to the salary increases, there are overtime earnings and a night differential for certain assignments.

Benefits

Child Protective Specialists receive the same benefits as other ACS employees. Learn more

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Apply

Child Protection Specialist Exams have been scheduled on the following months: August 2017, December 2017, February 2018 and June 2018. Learn more