CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS
& WHAT DO THEY KNOW?
What is a CPSW?
CPSW stands for Child Protection Service Worker, not Child Protection Social Worker as many people think. In fact, many CPSWs, those responsible for working with families and assessing if abuse and neglect are occurring, are not social workers at all. In New Hampshire, CPSWs can have a Bachelor's degree in any subject, as long as they have taken 12 courses or 36 credit hours in one of the following areas: social work, psychology, social psychology,
sociology, cultural anthropology, criminal justice, human services, behavioral science, or counseling, pastoral counseling or divinity. No job experience is required. View the
Job Description to view exactly what NH requires of those with arguably the most important job.
Social work is a distinct and specific profession with its own Code of Ethics and educational tradition. Many social workers are also licensed and answer to state licensing boards as mental health professionals.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, "Social work practice consists of the professional application of social work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; and participating in legislative processes. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic, and cultural institutions; and of the interaction of all these factors."
Social workers are uniquely qualified and positioned to provide child protection services, which is why many Child Protection Service Workers opt to identify themselves as 'social workers' even when they are not. The lack of title protection for social workers in NH makes this legal. See the box on the right for more information about what title protections are and the consequences of not having them.
To learn more about social work and social workers in NH, visit the NH Chapter of NASW.
How can improving the working environment and conditions for CPSWs help NH families? Check out our one page explainer here.
A New Road Through Education
The New Road Project believes that a problem facing DCYF is not simply a lack of case workers as many have suggested, but a lack of qualified case workers. The New Road Project wants to work with legislators to strengthen the educational qualifications required of caseworkers, preferably requiring both them and their supervisors to be at the Masters degree level in Social Work, Mental Health Counseling, or Psychology. Decoding the puzzle that is abuse and neglect and interpreting the signs and symptoms of abuse requires a specialized skill set that most will not possess at the Bachelor's degree level. In a 2017 study, medical experts in abuse and neglect were tested to see if they could reliably identify children that had been sexually abused based on reading through children's case files, and they were not able to. This is because it is a difficult task that requires specialization. Will it require a financial investment? Yes, it will. However, NH families are worth that investment, and the amount of money it will take to hire and maintain a qualified workforce is certainly less than the litigation NH pays when case workers make mistakes.
A New Road Through Title Protection
The New Road Project believes that social workers deserve and need title protection in NH, not only to preserve the integrity of their unique profession, but to increase the integrity and transparency of the child protection system. We also believe that a higher level of qualifications will attract qualified candidates who wish to work in an environment with other equally qualified professionals.