Letter to the Editor

Your view: Editorial response

Friday, September 3, 2004

Re: Aug. 19 editorial - social services

I would like to thank you for your continued attention regarding the crisis of social services, specifically child protective services.

The topics you addressed are relevant and thought-provoking. The child protective system must be held accountable to providing the best possible services to children and families. Insuring the safety of children while preserving the sanctity of the family is a difficult task. Child protective workers, court staff, law enforcement officers, school personnel, mental health and medical professionals of the 33rd Circuit are working hard to make sure we do it right.

Speaking specifically for the 33rd Circuit Children's Division, we have returned to school (while still working full time) to earn master's degrees in social work. We, with the juvenile court, are focusing on reaching specific child welfare outcomes established by federal and state guidelines. We participated as a demonstration site for the agency wide restructure, splitting the Division of Family Services into two separate divisions: one to address self-sufficiency of families and the other to focus on child protective services.

In addition, we partner with our courts in participating in a family drug court that specifically works to address the safety and permanence needs of children with a substance abusing parent(s). We are also active partners in the juvenile drug court and delinquency court (in Sikeston Public Schools).

In 2001, we were one of the original sites chosen to be reviewed by the Council on Accreditation. I learned recently that we will be one of the sites chosen to be in the first round of reviews by the Council on Accreditation, demonstrating the importance and ability of Missouri accrediting its child welfare program. The process that we call child protective services is a subjective, clinical and high scrutinized profession.

Gary Helle, MSW

Circuit Manager, 33rd Circuit