Safe and stable families. Happy, healthy kids. Thriving communities. Sounds like an ideal world, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, and so, to help mitigate that condition, we have Child Welfare Services.
From beginning to end—whether investigating reports of child abuse or finding adoptive parents or helping older youth in the child welfare system develop self-sufficiency skills—CWS programs aim to do whatever it takes to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of Tulare County children and families.
And you can help! The Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is available 24/7 to receive reports of suspected abuse or neglect (your call is completely confidential), and when indicated, the Emergency Response Team will investigate the situation in person and determine the best course of action.
All children need safe and stable homes to thrive. Whenever possible, CWS provides assistance to families (such as referrals to parenting classes and mental health services, or connection to additional community resources) to help keep the children safely at home. But when a child needs to be removed from the home of his or her biological parents due to neglect, abuse, abandonment, or other safety factors, Resource Families can play a critical role. CWS makes a diligent effort to place children with relatives, family friends, or those closely tied to the family. Efforts are made to actively recruit and support families that are able to keep children connected to their community and culture. Resource families work together with CWS and the child’s family to successfully return the child to their parents. Training and ongoing financial assistance and support services are offered to resource families to help them provide a safe, supportive, and stable family environment. Some of them eventually adopt or become legal guardians of the children. Sadly, there are many more children in the child welfare system than there are resource families ready to care for them. The need is great; CWS invites you to step forward and offer your home and affection to a child in need. Click here and read about the Foster Care brochure for more information.
Life can be challenging for children or youth in foster care. CWS works to educate such youth about their rights, starting with the right to live in a safe environment and be treated with respect. They also have the right to services needed for their health and well-being. And, through the After 18 program, you have the right to remain in foster care (provided you continue to meet certain conditions) and continue to receive support after you turn 18 if needed. Services such as education and employment training help youth make a successful transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency.
For older foster youth, the Independent Living Program offers a variety of individualized services as well as group classes and activities to assist youth ages 16 to 21 in their journey toward independence. Youth in this age category, who have previously been in foster care but have become legally independent, can continue to access housing and other assistance programs, such as guidance with education and employment, life skills training, and mentoring/coaching through the challenges of early adulthood.
Navigating the CWS system can be complicated and trying. For families involved in the CWS system—including birth parents, children, relatives, and resource families—the CWS Family Advocate provides assistance by addressing any concerns or complaints, explaining the CWS and juvenile court processes, encouraging participation in case planning and decision making, and providing other resources as needed.
So, although our world is far from perfect, and many families struggle mightily with the challenges they face, Child Welfare Services provides benefits that help strengthen families, prevent child abuse and neglect, and support our foster youth in reaching for a better future.
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