National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Findings on Local CPS Practices. 3.1 Receipt of Referrals

05/01/2003

Individuals, State or local hotlines, and schools were the primary sources of referrals alleging maltreatment. Table 3-1 depicts the percentage of CPS agencies that ranked a list of possible referral sources as either the most common or the second most common. For 32 percent of agencies, individuals were the most common source of referrals. In almost as many agencies (28%), State or local hotlines and schools were the most common source of referrals. In one-third of agencies, schools were the second most common, and in one-fourth of agencies law enforcement was the second most common source of referrals.

Source Most common referral source Second most common referral source
Table 3-1:
Common Referral Sources
Individuals 32% 11%
State or local hotline 28% 4%
Schools 28% 33%
Law enforcement 6% 25%
Hospitals/healthcare professionals 1% 6%
State, regional, or district office <1% 1%
Other local agencies <1% 3%
Others 1% 3%
Missing 3% 14%
Total 100% 100%
Note: Numbers in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.
Note: Percentages are based on weighted total of 2,610 agencies.

Less than one-half of the agencies (38%) automatically accepted all referrals (Table 3-2). Among those that would accept all referrals, more than one-half accepted from specific agencies such as law enforcement, hospitals, or the courts and another one-third accepted referrals from mandated reporters.

Acceptance Estimate
(C.I.)*
Percent
Table 3-2:
Automatic Acceptance of Referrals
Referrals from some reporters are automatically accepted 990
(790-1,200)
38%
Specific agencies 540
(390-690)
54%
Mandated reporters 330
(200-450)
33%
All accepted 80
(20-150)
8%
Central registry 40
(20-70)
5%
No referrals are automatically accepted 1,520
(1,350-1,680)
58%
Missing 100
(50-150)
4%
Total 2,610
(2,410-2,810)
100%
*The 95 percent confidence interval (C.I.) indicates that, if the study were to be repeated with the same methodology 100 times, 95 of the replications would produce an estimate within the interval.

Most CPS agencies assigned referrals received during nonbusiness hours — weekday evenings or weekends — to on-call staff. As Table 3-3 illustrates, for some agencies, State hotlines were used to accept these after-hours referrals.

Weekday evenings Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Table 3-3:
Acceptance of Referrals During Nonbusiness Hours
Handled by intake unit 120
(50-190)
5%
Assigned to on-call staff 1,360
(1,200-1,530)
52%
Routed to another agency 120
(50-190)
5%
Handled by State hotline 450
(330-580)
17%
Other method 160
(80-230)
6%
Missing 390
(240-540)
15%
Total 2,610
(2,410-2,810)
100%
Weekends Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Handled by intake unit 50
(0-90)
2%
Assigned to on-call staff 1,430
(1,270-1,590)
55%
Routed to another agency 130
(60-200)
5%
Handled by State hotline 430
(300-550)
16%
Other method 200
(120-280)
8%
Missing 370
(230-530)
14%
Total 2,610
(2,410-2,810)
100%

Few agencies had staff that could respond to calls received from non-English speakers (Table 3-4). Few agencies had non-English speakers on staff (13%) or on call (9%). Most agencies, if they had means of accepting such referrals, used other methods, such as contracting with interpreters from the community or another agency or accessing a "language line" by which a third party joins the conversation as the interpreter. Surprisingly, 15 percent of all CPS agencies were not able to accept calls from non-English speakers because of a lack of appropriate staff to handle such calls.

Referrals from non- English speakers Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Table 3-4:
Acceptance of Referrals from Non-English Speakers
Use non-English speakers on staff 330
(230-430)
13%
Use non-English speakers on call 240
(150-340)
9%
Other method 1,200
(1,000-1,410)
46%
Multiple methods 440
(320-550)
17%
Not able to accept 390
(260-520)
15%
Total 2,610
(2,410-2,810)
100%

The majority of CPS agencies (81%) handled written referrals in the same manner as other types of referrals (Table 3-5). A few agencies handled these with priority status (8%) while the rest were handled by the person or unit receiving the written referral (2%) or in some other way (5%).

Written referral procedure Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Table 3-5:
Screening and Intake of Written Referrals
Handled the same as other referrals 2,110
(1,910-2,310)
81%
Handled with priority status 210
(110-320)
8%
Handled by person or unit that received referral 40
(0-90)
2%
Handled in some other way 130
(70-200)
5%
Missing 110
(30-180)
4%
Total 2,610
(2,410-2,810)
100%
Note: Numbers in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.