Job as a Child Protective Investigator (CPI)
I will be talking about my current job as a Child Protective Investigator (CPI) also known as Child Protective Services (or CPS). This is the governmental agency that is tasked with investigating child abuse or neglect. The primary concern of a CPI is the safety of the child; they do this by assessing the risk involved. By weighing that risk the CPI has to make the decision rather to remove the children or child from the home or place services within the home that will allow them to function as a family in a more productive manner.
Once the CPI has made the decision to remove the child or children, the next step in the process is find and create a plan that will eventually return the child to a more proficient and safer family environment. The CPI will assign the family to a caseworker who is tasked with developing a plan to administer to the parents that will educate them on better ways to care for the children and meet all their needs, and create and environment free from abuse or neglect.
CPI’s deal with a variety of families, with different backgrounds, values, religions, cultures and beliefs, which have a bearing on the way they parent; this means that CPS has be flexible and understanding when it comes to dealing with the problems they face within these family structures.
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The fact is that the American population is continually changing for many reasons such as; ethnically, culturally, racially, and linguistically based on the diverse populations that are a part of the US fabric.
CPS organizations must create and implement a better and improving systemic change in order to understand and meet the needs of this diverse population of families. In this ever changing environment CPS must be even better prepared and become an even more effective communicator when it comes to helping and working with our families and providers. I have been working as a CPI for over 2 ½ years and will share with you what I think this organization operates like and what makes it tick.
I will evaluate the Organizational Behavior of Child Protective Services and explain the weakness or strengths I have faced since being a part of this organization. First what is Organizational Behavior? It is defined as the study and employment of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations. Organizational behavior is not the evaluation of how the organization will behave, but rather the evaluation of the people or individuals behavior within the organizational setting. They study the behavior of the individuals as well as group settings.
The study and purpose of organizational behavior is for the leaders to gain a better understanding of those things that may change, interrupt or influence individual and sectional dynamics within a company setting so that the organization can become a more effective and proficient business. A large part of organizational behavior is researching and evaluating as to provide leaders with the needed resources, information and tools they will have to have in order to successfully train, select and retain personal in a manner that would benefit both the personal and the organization.
Organizational culture is driven by “competition and a strong desire to deliver results and accomplish goals”. (Kinicki. and Kreitner 2009, pg. 43). I believe that based on the child Protective services (CPS) organizational culture the concept used is the ‘salad bowl’ because of the diversity within the organization. I say this because many of the CPI’s and workers are of different races, cultures, ages, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity and physical ability. I believe that this diverse culture is very good for this organization it provides a very positive environment which translates into positive productivity.
CPI’s use multiple types of strategies and steps to ensure good production and good service. Such as reading the families background if they had a prior case as many of them do and checking law enforcement reports to see what are the families issues, culture and background prior to going out on the case which will give the CPI a better insight on the type of family and the concerns they are facing. I believe the culture of CPS as an organization is evident by the values, norms, organizational beliefs, goals and many other primary factors. This also relates to all internal interactions and any informal and formal implementation.
In CPS there is a strong mutual respect for each other and the CPI’s are supported, encouraged allowed to do what they think is needed to meet the family and organizational goals and to continue to develop and hone their skills in the field. Because CPI’s work primarily alone in the field, they are entrusted with decision-making and execution in the absence of their leaders. Many times the CPI will have to attack a problem and make a decision on the spot and may not be able to get into contact with the supervisor therefore leaders must have the type of people they can trust and rely on to make the best decision without guidance.
In CPS you can see that the organizations culture is evident in their goals, mission statement, integrity, standards, values, and ethics. The mission statement of CPS is to provide proficient, caring and productive services to the protection of children and their families; to seek the improvement and protection of abused children and to seek reunification for the families and provide family the education tools required for the child to remain in the home; and to meet and exceed the needs of the families using innovative and unique products, resources and services.
To create and provide an equal, balanced and great place for the CPIs to work and excel. Because of the different cultures and people CPI’s face in this business there are multiple types of communication used and embraced by CPS. CPS uses a variety of both verbal and written communication as forms of disseminating information throughout CPS. The type of communication that is used is dependent upon the importance of information and how quickly it needs to be provided. Some of these communication devices are: emails, brochures, company websites, meetings, notice boards, letters, telephone, and texting.
What the CPS tries to do is to ensure that the communication is always open and that it represents and displays the culture of CPS. Communication devices play a major role in CPS, because many of the families we come into contact with have disabilities which may require a different type of communication, such as sign language interpreters, virtual websites may have to be used because the interpreter may be in another state, like interpreters for people that speak different languages and so on.
It is vital to be able to communicate the message you are trying to convey to these families in a manner they can relate to, because bad communication can be destructive to the fabric of this family and there well-being. CPS believes that the key to the success of this organization is to ensure effective leadership and that the leaders have strong leadership, communication, management, and people skills, as well as be compassionate and caring when it comes to child protection.
In CPS, the leadership hierarchical of authority flows from the upper management down to the CPI’s and their supervisors. But this process of leadership is of a democratic type leadership because CPI’s and workers have the chance to voice their concerns and participate in decisions making that will affect the organization. But if conflict arises the final decision is made by the supervisors and higher.
The higher hierarchical do make the decision on policies and procedures but will usually have meeting and conferences asking the opinions and concerns about upcoming changes, if it is something that is coming down the pipeline that is more of a directive they will try to give the organization the time and information needed to prepare for this change in policy or procedures. Leadership tries to work with CPI’s and try and understand what their concerns are as they are the ones dealing with the everyday changes within the community and families on a day to day basis.
It is not just important for the leaders to be in touch with their CPI’s, but to be able to relate to the issues and concerns they have about what they are seeing in the field. If a leader shows the compassion, understanding and empathy to what their CPI’s is going through, they will without a doubt gain their loyalty and trust. If CPI’s feel they cannot trust their supervisors they have an open door policy for CPI’s to come in and voice their concerns without reprisal. CPS has a code of conduct which applies to all members of the organization and is enforced if abused.
These Codes of Conduct embodies all the ethical policies and procedures to be followed. This code of conduct makes CPIs and other workers of CPS feel they have a voice and make them feel empowered and not afraid to attack a situation or problem. CPS also has a Whistle blowers protection policies implemented within this organization. I think this policy creates trust within the organization and its leadership, and CPI’s feel that they are an asset to the company and are valued.
When it comes to motivation how to motivate people varies from person to person; but it is vital to the success of a company that the leaders have the ability to motivate their CPIs and workers in order to be successful and more productive. The best way for leaders to do this is to know their people and what makes them tick. Because I may be motivated by time off and another person may be motivated by money. In CPS motivation is needed and imperative for CPI’s to go out day in and day out and be productive when facing such grim situations.
For instance I remember a week where I was being overwhelmed with cases, working late hours every day, and I ran into a case where a 6 year old girl was being molested by the step-father and the uncle and the mother was aware of it. This case really drained me and it took everything I had as a man and a person to get up the next day and go back out to do this job. I remember my supervisor called me into the office and said “I can see this week has been hard on you; take the day off and go home and be with your family, I got your cases for the day”.
This meant a lot to me and it was the motivation I needed to get through another day when I returned, it was the time off I needed and my supervisor showed me he understood and cared for what I was going through. From that day on there was nothing he could ask me I would not do, he earned my respect and loyalty. This is part of the culture that is CPS, CPI’s are given their assignments and goals and what are expected of them and if needed, to work as groups. CPI’s are given continuous training to improve their knowledge and skills.
CPS tries and implements incentives and rewards, promotions are available if you are productive and efficient in your job performance. CPI’s are given Pay raises, time off and other incentives as a form to motivate them. CPI privacy is safeguarded through the CPS compliance officer; this is an important factor to CPI’s as they deal with sensitive situations. CPI’s has the responsibility of making critical decisions when it comes to child protection. What this means is CPI’s has to have strong decision making skills, this is accomplished by them knowing and understanding their emotional quotient.
CPS encourages the CPI’s to seek this both personally and professionally by using classes provided on the website, through seminars, sessions and provided guest speakers. When CPI’s and workers are aware and in control of their feelings and emotions it resonates throughout the organization and they are much more productive and confident. It is important that CPI’s have the ability to excess their interpersonal and intrapersonal emotions to help them to become a more well-rounded CPI within their jobs.
They can do this by being more self-aware, self-regulated, self- motivated, having stronger social skills and being empathetic towards the cases and families that encounter. CPS provides CPI’s with emotional training workshops and training coaches to help them become more proficient and productive. For instance I remember when I first got this job, when I received the report on the family and looked at what some of the prior reports were I found myself forming opinions about the family before I ever met them or conducted the investigation into the allegations.
My supervisor taught me that it is important to keep your personal feeling out of the process and find the truth and only deal with the truth. Because people change over time and allegations are just that allegations until they are proven otherwise. This is the best advice I got when it came to this job and the knowledge I needed to be a more productive investigator. CPS is not a virtual organization but does use virtual organizational elements to enhance the technical experience needed to keep up in this fast pace and growing organization.
We are a very large organization and are spreaded out through several regions, not only are we as child protective investigators spread thin; we are in contact and have to use many other resources and organizations that help us provide services to our clients and families. These other entities and organizations include , medical personal, Psychologist and other mental personal and agencies, law enforcement, counselors, schools, lawyers and non-profit agencies to name a few. So when we have what we call a staffing which involves many of these different people and organizations, they are spread out all over the city and state.
So this can be very difficult to get them all in one place based on each individual busy schedule. This is where the virtual elements came in as a manner in which to provide a tool that allows us to all be in different places and still be able to come together and address an issue. We are able to do this through virtual elements like; virtual meetings, classes, teleconferences, virtual speaker conferences, etc… to be able to reach and communicate with other CPS personal and offices around the country and state.
By using virtual elements it saves time, resources and money and we can effectively reach our goals and get out our message to a large audience with little complication. In conclusion, I think it is imperative that an organization should continuously evaluate their organizational behavior as a manner of determining how effective their process and business policies and procedures are doing. You must try and understand what are the strengths and weaknesses of your organizations performance and what is needed to fix it so your organization can move forward in a positive and successful manner.
CPS is an organization that cannot afford to fall behind or lack in any form of technical, environmental or any other change as it relates to the services they provide to families. CPS has a very important job and it requires us to be proficient, up to date and fully trained so we can ensure that nothing but the best service is being provided to children who are being abused and families that require assistance. I believe this is the kind of job that requires people that care, are empathetic, and have a burning need to help others because we cannot afford to drop the ball when it comes to children safety.