Social Work 625

SOWK 625: Child Sexual Abuse and CPS (Child Protective Services) Investigation

Prerequisites: Graduate standing or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

This course explores the issues involved in child abuse and neglect cases, with an emphasis on child sexual abuse. If offers an integrative framework of principles, theories, process and skills specifically designed for performing culturally sensitive investigations and assessments with alleged abusive and neglectful families. This academic course is offered to graduate students interested in public social services and to those awarded Title IV-E stipends (supplanting the VISSTA [Virginia Institute for Social Services Training Activities] training sequence) and to qualified community people. Child Welfare emphasis area elective.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Thematic outline of content of the course:

a. Introduction: Historical analysis of policies and practices concerning cases of Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N)
b. Overview of the prevalence of CA/N nationally and statewide

  • Definitions, family dynamics, and behavioral indicators of various types of CA/N
  • Populations at risk of being referred for child abuse and neglect, and stressors that are highly correlated with child abuse and neglect cases

c. Processes and skill development

  • Intake/Referral and Initial Assessment, identifying and analyzing the theoretical concepts involved in these phases of work with alleged abusive and neglectful families
  • Interviewing Victim, Offender and other family members
  • Legal/Policy and procedure involved in the case assessment and disposition phase

d. Context and intervention

  • Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services (CPS) collaboration
  • Planned Interventions, including an assessment of social and economic justice issues, which may limit access to help for some populations.

e. Values

  • A. Self-assessment of beliefs, biases, and values as they relate to working with abusive and neglectful families.


Detailed description of content of the course

Child Welfare is one of three emphases in the MSW curriculum, this course being one of the three in this emphasis. It is designed to help students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to work with abused and neglected children and their families. Students are encouraged to critically analyze the political and cultural factors attributed to the etiology of child abuse and neglect, including: the populations-at-risk of being referred for and those abusing and neglecting their children, social and economic justice concerns, and values and ethics of the referrer, referred, and others involved in the decision-making process.

A variety of instructional methods will be used in this course such as interactive lecture, group discussion, role-play, teaching videos, student presentations, small group exercises and guest speakers. Students are expected to actively participate in class sessions.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Goal: to provide a graduate level introduction to the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for professional practice with abused or neglected children and their families.

Objectives: Having successfully completed this course, students will be able to demonstrate the ability:

  • to assess the various types of child abuse and neglect, the possible legal consequences, and the effects the various forms of child abuse and neglect have on human development
  • to perform an intake and investigation in cases of alleged child abuse and neglect, working together as a team with the various professionals involved in these cases, i.e. law enforcement, medical personnel, and attorneys.
  • to analyze the initial information gathered to assure the child is adequately protected during the investigation process
  • to recognize and assess the family and cultural dynamics present in alleged child abuse and neglect cases
  • to analyze and document the data gathered to make a case disposition of current and on-going risk of child abuse and neglect
  • to use a strength-based ecological approach to support families in protecting their children when abuse and neglect has occurred.
  • to continuously assess their own biases, values, assumptions, and expectations regarding child abuse and neglect, especially child sexual abuse cases.


Assessment Measures

Faculty will assess attainment of course objectives by evaluating students’ ability to:

  • critically analyze topics presented in the seminar
  • evaluate the attitudes, biases, values, beliefs, and expectations of those involved in the child abuse and neglect referral, assessment and intervention process
  • develop a case scenario, which will serve as the base for the written assignments and final class presentation:
    • This case will provide an opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills and abilities obtained in the course to successfully and sensitively perform an intake, initial and on-going assessment, case disposition, interview, and service plan with an alleged abusive and neglectful family.


Other Course Information

This course utilizes many of teaching materials developed by Virginia Institute for Social Services Activities (VISSTA). Additional reading, exercises, and assignments are required to provide a graduate level learning experience.


Review and Approval

February 2000 New course proposal