A child abuse worker has many job duties, many of which involve difficult decisions. For instance, they will typically determine if a child is actually being abused, and make a decision regarding whether a child should stay in his home. A child abuse worker may also aid in family counseling or refer a family to special counseling services. These workers may also accompany a victim to court, and help place an abused child in a temporary or permanent home.
After receiving a report of suspected child abuse, a child abuse worker must investigate to determine if the report can be validated. This investigation will usually require numerous visits to a child's home. In doing so, she will often be able to determine whether a child's living conditions are safe and suitable.
She will also interview the occupants of a household, particularly any children who may be abused. Interviews with children are typically conducted with no parents around, which may cause them to open up more. Other family members, such as parents and siblings, will also typically be interviewed. Depending on the situation, a child abuse worker may also interview teachers and other school officials.
In a case of possible physical or sexual abuse, children may also need to undergo a thorough medical examination. Any unexplained marks may be a sign of physical child abuse. Infections or injury of the genitalia may also indicate possible sexual abuse, especially in younger children.
After taking all of the evidence into consideration, a child abuse worker will make a decision regarding whether abuse is present in the home. In some instances, there will be no evidence to support this claim. If this is the case, the case will be closed.
If there is evidence that a child may be being mistreated, a child abuse worker will try to rectify the situation. Children who are in no immediate danger will typically remain in the home. Most of the time, the worker will periodically visit the home to check on the situation. She may also refer the family to a child abuse therapist or child abuse education service. The ultimate goal in these cases is to help improve the quality of the home life for both the child and the parents, or guardians.
Sometimes, a child abuse worker may have reason to suspect that a child is in danger if he remains in his current situation. In these cases, he will typically be placed with other carefully screened family members, or in a temporary protective facility or foster home. Visitations between the abused child and parents is also usually encouraged. A child abuse worker will often act as a victim's advocate, supervising visitations and accompanying an abused child to family court, if necessary.
Although it is not the goal of child abuse workers to separate children from their families, this is sometimes the case. In the unfortunate event that an abused child can not or should not be returned to his home or parents, a child abuse worker may need to find a more permanent living arrangement for him. Ideally, abused children are placed with caring relatives. Since this is not possible in every case, some abused children are adopted by willing and carefully screened families.