Q. What will my position be when I start at DCS?
A. Most stipend/scholarship students start as DCS Specialist IIs doing either investigations or on-going case management. Investigators respond to reports of child abuse and/or neglect, make assessments about the safety of the children in the home, determine (with supervisor input) whether the children need to be removed, propose whether or not allegations should be substantiated, and coordinate with law enforcement on dual investigations. They refer families to services, write the initial case plan, complete dependency petitions, and occasionally testify in contested dependency cases. Generally, investigations work is fast-paced, requires rapid assessment skills, and involves meeting new families every week. On-going workers provide the case management services to families whose children have been removed or to families whose children are in the home, but at risk of being removed. On-going workers write case plans, refer children and parents to appropriate services, coordinate with other service providers, monitor the children’s safety and well-being either in the home or in their placements, ensure that the children’s educational, social, emotional, and physical health needs are being met, engage parents in participating in services, make determinations (with supervisor input) about permanency recommendations to the court, write court reports, and testify in court proceedings. On-going work is generally more process oriented, requires in-depth assessment skills, and involves long term relationships with the families on the case load. The rate of pay for both positions is the same. While your preference for the position type for which you think you are most fit will be taken into consideration, you’re not guaranteed the position you want. If there are numerous vacancies in investigations, you’ll likely be assigned to an investigator position and vice versa. In some of the rural areas, you may do both investigations and on-going work, as well as adoptions.
Q. I’m going to be in the PAC Concentration in the MSW Program. When I begin my work at DCS, can I get a position within the Department of Child Safety administration doing policy analysis or program evaluation?
A. Probably not. The purpose of the Stipend/Scholarship program is to recruit and train students to be DCS Specialists. Specialists are the front-line workers at DCS who work day to day with the families served by DCS. Once you gained work experience at DCS you could apply for administrative positions.
Q. I would really like to work as a DCS Specialist in an Adoptions Unit, Young Adult Program Unit, ICWA Unit, at the After Hours Unit, etc., could I start in one of these units?
A. Generally not. Most specialty units require some AZ DCS experience and generally only allow for lateral transfers into those units. You may apply to transfer into a specialized unit, should a vacancy be available, once you have passed your first year probationary period.
Q. What are the opportunities for advancement at DCS?
A. Most Scholarship/Stipend students are hired as DCS Specialist IIs. After being a Specialist II for one year, you are eligible to promote to a Specialist III. This promotion is a non-competitive promotion, meaning that as long as you meet the requirements and have positive employee evaluations, you would be able to promote without competing against others for a limited number of positions. Generally, after you are a DCS Specialist III for one or two years, you are eligible to apply for other competitively based promotional opportunities, such as applying for a Program Specialist Position, Team Decision Maker Facilitator position, or Supervisor Position. Beyond the supervisor position, there are positions for advancement within the DCS administration. These administrator positions include the Assistant Program Manager (responsible for a section within the District), Program Manager (responsible for the District), and the Director of DCS (responsible for all of DCS). In addition, there are many other promotional and lateral position types and ways to vary your job duties within DCS. You could work at the hotline, work in a specialty unit (i.e. Young Adult Program, Indian Child Welfare Act Program, After Hours Investigation, or Adoptions), be co-located at a family advocacy office to work directly with law enforcement on dual cases, be a community specialist responsible for engaging and working with the community; work in a District Office doing foster home investigations, matching children with available placements, being a Young Adult Program Specialist or Behavioral Health specialist; or work at Central Office on contracts, special programs, or policy analysis and application. You could also work as a trainer either at the District Level or with the Training Unit.