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CPS Alternative Response Worker Trainee

Company: Texas Health & Human Services Commission
Location: La Grange
Posted on: June 6, 2021

Job Description:

CPS Alt Response Spec I

A Child Protective Services Caseworker - SAO CPS Spec I.

The position, under the direction of a child placement supervisor, performs advanced social work related to protective services, intake, child abuse or neglect, assessment, Alternative Response, foster care and adoptions. Work involves making determinations of appropriate actions necessary to resolve family emotional and/or physical stress situations which cause child abuse or neglect. The position interacts routinely with Texas Department of Family and Protective Services staff, clients, representatives from various organizations, community resources, and the general public.

To explore more of what Investigation Specialists do, click here.

To view a realistic online video about Child Protective Services workers and clients, please click here.

You will also have access to a self-assessment that will help you determine if this type of work is something that is a good fit for you.


The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is responsible for protecting the unprotected - children, elderly, and people with disabilities - from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. DFPS accomplishes this responsibility by employing over 12,000 workers who live up to the agency's Mission, Vision, & Values in service to the 27 million citizens of Texas.

DFPS is not only a qualifying organization for the Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives the remaining balance on college student Direct Loans after making 120 qualifying monthly payments, but also offers excellent health benefits, special discounts on many products and services through the Discount Purchase Program, a lifetime monthly retirement annuity as well as Texa$aver 401(k) and 457 Programs under the Employees Retirement System of Texas. An additional benefit you will receive is 12 days of paid annual leave, 12 sick days, and the potential to earn up to four days of administrative leave each year. Your annual paid leave accrual increases as your tenure increases.

Newly hired employees holding a Master's Degree in Social Work may qualify for an increase at the point of hire.

Essential Job Functions:

  • Determines the causes/factors of abuse/neglect to children to assess current or future risk to children by gathering information from parents, family members, and others; interviewing and examining children; assessing home environment; and gathering pertinent information from other sources.
  • Collaborates and works with the family to determine strengths, needs and action to be taken to remove or to reduce an immediate threat to the safety of a child to include referring family for crisis intervention therapy or other community resources, testifying in court to seek emergency protective services, and placing children in substitute care.
  • Enters contact, documentation information and narratives into the Information Management Protecting Adults and Children System within required agency time frames.
  • Develops and maintains effective working relationships between families, Child Protective Services staff and law enforcement officials, judicial officials, legal resources, medical professionals, and other community resources, to achieve a positive outcome.
  • Attends and participates in training/meetings/staffings.
  • Performs other duties as assigned and required to maintain unit operations.
  • Promotes and demonstrates appropriate respect for cultural diversity among families, coworkers and all work-related contacts.
  • Attends work regularly in accordance with agency leave policy

Knowledge Skills Abilities:

  • Knowledge of child development.
  • Knowledge of family dynamics.
  • Knowledge of community resources.
  • Knowledge of extensive engagement strategies.
  • Knowledge of Child Protective Services policy and procedures.
  • Skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships.
  • Skill in effective verbal and written communication.
  • Ability to operate a personal computer.
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work with other professionals in the community.

Registration or Licensure Requirements:

This position requires use of the applicant's personal motor vehicle to complete job functions.

Applicants for positions must have a reliable motor vehicle and acceptable driving record for the past five years, and a current, valid Texas driver's license appropriate for the vehicle and passenger or cargo load. Applicants must provide proof of driving record, insurance and license.

Initial Selection Criteria:

Child Protective Services Specialist I: An accredited Bachelor's degree OR accredited Associate's degree plus two (2) years of relevant work experience OR 60 accredited college credit hours plus two (2) years relevant work experience OR 90 accredited college credit hours plus one (1) year of relevant work experience.

Examples of relevant work experience in social, human, or protective services include paid or volunteer work within social service agencies or communities providing services to families or other at-risk populations.

Child Protective Services Specialist II: Employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist I for 9 months AND have received Child Protective Services Specialist Certification OR currently employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist II in Texas Department of Family and Protective Services OR previously employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist II in Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Child Protective Services Specialist III: Employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist II for 9 months AND have received Advanced Child Protective Services Specialist Certification OR currently employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist III in Texas Department of Family and Protective Services OR previously employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist III in Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Child Protective Services Specialist IV: Employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist III for 24 months AND have received Senior Advanced Child Protective Services Specialist Certification OR currently employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist IV in Texas Department of Family and Protective Services OR previously employed as a Child Protective Services Specialist IV in Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Additional Information:

This position may be filled at any level from a CPS Specialist I to CPS Specialist IV. Factors such as education and experience may be considered when establishing the starting salary.

Applicants selected for this position are also eligible to receive a $416.66 monthly increase in addition to the base salary. Applicants hired into an investigative position will receive this increase the first of the month following 120 days of tenure. Once employed, the incumbent must remain in an investigative position to continue to receive the additional pay.

This position will be in a mobile unit which means the majority of the work will be conducted using mobile technology, such as a tablet, while away from the office. Being mobile requires working independently yet still being responsive to supervision and your assigned unit.

Newly hired DFPS employees in eligible positions will be assigned a DFPS cellular phone.

Bilingual applicants (SPANISH/ENGLISH) are encouraged to apply. Bilingual applicants selected for this position may qualify for an increase at the point of hire after successfully passing a bilingual skills test. (The applicant will need to be fluent in writing/speaking in Spanish in order to receive the salary increase)



A process competency refers to a general approach to practice that can be observed in a newly hired CPS Specialists' interactions with children, families, and safety networks.


  • Understands and is able to articulate how family engagement is critical to achieving safety, permanency, and well-being.
  • Can identify basic strategies for engaging children and families.
  • Understands and appreciates the different views, expertise and experience of others; takes into account the perspectives of other individuals


  • Understands the need to expand the child's safety network beyond caregivers and to other adults who care about the child and can participate in day to day safety of the child.
  • Interviews caregivers to identify individuals who may be supportive of the caregiver and/or child.
  • Interviews children to identify individuals who may be supportive of the child and/or caregiver.


  • Understands and is able to articulate the concept of child safety.
  • Is able to identify one's own biases and is willing to challenge one's own thinking.
  • Regularly seeks information from a variety of sources to make and revise assessments.
  • Understands the importance of and is able to make judgments based on factual information vs. assumptions.


  • Considers ways to ensure personal safety in addition to safety of children and families during interviews and other meetings


  • Understands and is able to articulate what an intervention is and the variety of interventions CPS might use under which circumstances.


  • Understands and is able to articulate personal responsibility for outcomes in a case.


A content competency refers to a specialized domain of knowledge that should be integrated into process competencies.

Domestic Violence

  • Understands and is able to identify power and control.
  • Distinguishes domestic violence from other types of violence
  • Is able to identify and refer both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence to appropriate services.

Mental Health

  • Can articulate symptoms of broad mental health diagnostic categories.
  • Is able to make appropriate referrals for crisis intervention, psychological and psychiatric evaluations.
  • Can articulate mental health resilience factors and recovery process.

Substance Abuse

  • Distinguishes between substance use, abuse, and chemical dependency.
  • Can articulate physical and behavioral warning signs of substance use and abuse.
  • Administers and/or makes referrals for drug testing as appropriate.
  • Makes referrals to community and contracted services available to treat substance abuse.
  • Can articulate substance abuse resiliency factors and recovery process.


Demonstrates a basic understanding of the following

  • Federal and state law, regulations and rules for the operation of child protection programs.
  • The statutory responsibility for reporting suspected abuse and neglect
  • Roles and responsibilities of participants in the global child welfare system, including children, families, child protection, various courts, and other child/family serving agencies
  • Legal definitions and concepts, including ethics, and is able to apply them within the law to casework and judicial process

Establishes Effective Relationships with Colleagues

  • Is willing to accept and provide support and assistance from/to co-workers, supervisors and other child protective services employees
  • Is able to build and maintain effective working relationships with external stakeholders

Follows policy and procedures

  • Is able to learn and understand the specific policies and procedures for child protective services
  • Understands the policy requirements of ethical practice and the ramifications to staff and clients when this does not occur.
  • Demonstrates adherence to policy and best practice


  • Records observations accurately as part of case documentation, using specific quotes and precise behavioral descriptions of the danger and its impact on the child
  • Prepares clear, accurate, and appropriate written communications or documents
  • Prepares court documents such as petitions, affidavits and court reports

Managing Time

  • Acts quickly to solve problems and to get things done
  • Uses technology, "to-do" lists or other tools to manage time, keep track of what needs to be done, and manage multiple, pressing job demands
  • Regularly re-assesses and re-prioritizes in order to focus attention on the most important tasks


These requirements are not exhaustive, and additional job related physical requirements may be added to these by individual agencies on an as needed basis. Corrective devices may be used to meet physical requirements. These are typical requirements; however, reasonable accommodations are possible.

Physical Activities: He/she is frequently asked to stand, hear and talk; he/she is occasionally asked to climb.

Physical Demands: The incumbent typically performs work that requires him/her to exert up to 20 pounds occasionally, and/or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly to move objects.

Visual Requirements: The incumbent must be able to see objects clearly at 20 inches or less, and at 20 or more feet. In addition, he/she must be able to adjust his/her eyes to bring objects into focus, distinguish colors, see objects in his/her peripheral vision, and see objects in three dimensions.

Working Conditions: He/she typically works in a mobile environment (the majority of work is performed outside of the office environment) and is exposed occasionally to adverse environmental conditions including, but not necessarily limited to, extreme heat, wetness and humidity, chemicals, close quarters, gases and heights.

Interview Requirements:

Any candidate who is called to an agency for an interview must notify the interviewing agency in writing of any reasonable accommodation needed prior to the date of the interview.

Requisition ID: 474806 MOS Code:

Note: There are no direct military occupation(s) that relate to the initial selection criteria and registration or licensure requirements for this position. All active duty, reservists, guardsmen, and veterans are encouraged to apply. For more information, see the Texas State Auditor's Military Crosswalk here.

HHS agencies use E-Verify. You must bring your I-9 documentation with you on your first day of work.

I-9 Form - Click here to download the I-9 form.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), HHS agencies will provide reasonable accommodation during the hiring and selection process for qualified individuals with a disability. If you need assistance completing the on-line application, contact the HHS Employee Service Center at 1-888-894-4747. If you are contacted for an interview and need accommodation to participate in the interview process, please notify the person scheduling the interview.

Keywords: Texas Health & Human Services Commission, Bryan , CPS Alternative Response Worker Trainee, Other , La Grange, Texas

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