Child Services is the state agency that provides services for children and families. The entity has different names in the various states, some of which include Child Protection Services, Department of Youth and Family Services, and Department of Children and Families. Some of the services these agencies provide are placing children in foster care, childcare, mental health services, and abuse prevention.
Most of these tasks are provided outside of the school setting; however, when a child is being abused, Child Services may be forced to come to the school to obtain the child. When abuse or neglect has been determined, Child Services will often coordinate with the school therapist or the school nurse to come to the school at a specific time to take the child. This can prevent a hostile reaction from the parent that might cause a scene if removal were to take place at the home.
The difficulty in removing a child from the custody of his or her parents in the school setting is privacy. School officials must find a way to coordinate with agency staff so that the awareness of students and staff is limited. This can be accomplished in several ways. Students can be called to the office and told they are being “checked out.” This is a fairly routine occurrence in any school and would not cause other students or staff to become suspicious. Also, it would give the child time to go to her locker and gather what personal effects she would normally take home at the end of the day. This is ideal, as the child may be too upset to go back for items once she finds out she is being removed from the custody of her parents. Typically, this option is the easiest simply because Child Services often is not able to provide much warning to the school.
Other options include having a favorite teacher or the school nurse find the child and bring him to the front office to be taken by Child Services. This works well for schools that have large gathering areas for students. Fellow students are less likely to notice someone leaving when there are other, more interesting, activities to hold their attention. Alternately, to disrupt as little of the school day as possible, the child can be called to the office during the last five minutes of class and then be held until the other children have left for the day. This only works well, however, if the child typically rides the bus. If a caregiver usually picks up the child, this could develop into a nasty and very public scene.
Ideally, a school therapist as well as the school nurse would be on hand to ease the transition into placement with Child Services. They should also be the ones to coordinate and schedule the removal, as they will be the ones most familiar with the child and his or her schedule.