The CAST social workers have a number of critical responsibilities regarding protecting children from identified abuse, exploitative and neglectful situations in accordance with state and federal laws. In fulfilling these responsibilities, all reasonable efforts are made to maintain children safely in their own homes, and to remove only those children who cannot be protected. The multidisciplinary team approach allows the CAST team to make difficult case decisions by offering a venue for collaboration between social workers, law enforcement, medical and mental health components. In most cases law enforcement officers make the final decision of whether or not to place children in protective custody.
The social workers assigned to CAST also provide trainings to other CAST components and the general community to improve the understanding of agency mandates, procedures, and the dynamics of child abuse. They serve either as interview specialists or emergency response workers.
The Interview Specialist
These social workers attend intensive and rigorous training and participate in regular peer review to develop their forensic interview skills. The focus of a CAST interview is to obtain objective information while being sensitive to the child’s emotional needs and developmental level. In addition, an Interview Specialist facilitates coordination between law enforcement, social workers, and other team members.
The Emergency Response Workers
These social workers investigate allegations of child abuse. He/she may elect to conduct the investigation and assessment of the child in the field or bring the child to the CAST site for the interview. A coordinated approach with law enforcement reduces the trauma of multiple interviews for the child. The Emergency Response social worker is responsible for ensuring the safety of the child, while also providing referrals for services to the child and family.