National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Findings on Local CPS Practices. 5.2 Responsibility for Different Types of Maltreatment

05/01/2003

The degree to which CPS agencies share responsibility with other agencies varies by maltreatment type, with more agencies sharing responsibility for the more serious types of maltreatment. Notable percentages of CPS agencies shared responsibility for screening and intake of sexual abuse (39%) and of physical abuse (29%), while somewhat fewer CPS agencies shared lead responsibility with other agencies for neglect (19%) and other types of maltreatment (19%), (Table 5-2).

For the investigation response, more CPS agencies shared lead responsibility with other agencies for the more serious maltreatment allegations (Table 5-3). More than one-half of the agencies shared lead responsibility for investigation of cases that involved severe physical abuse (65%), severe sexual abuse (66%), moderate sexual abuse (68%), or a child fatality (51%). At the same time, CPS agencies typically had sole lead responsibility for investigating forms of maltreatment that are regarded as more of the province of social work than law enforcement. More than

Maltreatment type Lead Share Support None Missing Total
Table 5-2:
Responsibility for Screening and Intake by Maltreatment Type
Physical abuse 63% 29% 2% 2% 4% 100%
Sexual abuse 50% 39% 6% 2% 3% 100%
Neglect 75% 19% 2% 2% 3% 100%
Other 73% 19% 2% 1% 4% 100%
Note: Percentages are not additive because agencies were included in each applicable row (category).
Note: Numbers in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.
Note: Percentages are based on weighted total of 2,610 agencies.

one-half of agencies had lead responsibility when the case involved moderate physical abuse (50%), moderate neglect (78%), severe emotional maltreatment (70%), moderate emotional maltreatment (73%), lack of supervision (76%), abandonment (65%), or a drug exposed infant (64%). Also, CPS agencies typically had lead responsibility when the allegation involved risk of maltreatment.

Maltreatment type Lead Share Support None Missing Total
Table 5-3:
Responsibility for Investigation by Maltreatment Type
Severe physical abuse 23% 65% 11% --- 2% 100%
Moderate physical abuse 50% 47% 2% --- 1% 100%
At risk of physical abuse 76% 12% 2% 9% 1% 100%
Severe sexual abuse 19% 66% 13% --- 2% 100%
Moderate sexual abuse 21% 68% 10% --- 1% 100%
At risk of sexual abuse 60% 25% 4% 10% 1% 100%
Severe neglect 50% 46% 3% --- 1% 100%
Moderate neglect 78% 19% 1% 1% 1% 100%
At risk of neglect 73% 9% 3% 12% 2% 100%
Severe emotional maltreatment 70% 24% 2% 3% 1% 100%
Moderate maltreatment 73% 19% 2% 5% 1% 100%
At risk of emotional maltreatment 67% 11% 4% 16% 2% 100%
Truancy 6% 18% 27% 48% 2% 100%
Lack of supervision 76% 21% 1% 1% 1% 100%
Abandonment 65% 31% 1% 1% 1% 100%
Drug exposed infant 64% 31% 1% 3% 1% 100%
Status offense 9% 9% 17% 60% 5% 100%
Child fatality 12% 51% 31% 4% 2% 100%
Note: Percentages are not additive because agencies were included in each applicable row (category).
Note: Numbers in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.
Note: Percentages are based on weighted total of 2,610 agencies.

The differences in CPS agency responsibility for the different types of maltreatment under the investigation and alternative responses were striking. Most agencies did not provide any alternative response for the more serious types of maltreatment (Table 5-4). More than one-half of CPS agencies did not provide alternative response for cases that involved severe physical abuse (57%), moderate physical abuse (52%), severe sexual abuse (55%), moderate sexual abuse (55%), severe neglect (55%), severe emotional maltreatment (52%), or status offenses (52%). Approximately one-quarter of agencies shared lead responsibility for the alternative response for severe physical abuse (22%), severe sexual abuse (26%), moderate sexual abuse (25%), or child fatality (23%).

Maltreatment type Lead Share Support None Missing Total
Table 5-4:
Responsibility for Alternative Response by Maltreatment Type
Severe physical abuse 13% 22% 5% 57% 3% 100%
Moderate physical abuse 25% 20% 1% 52% 2% 100%
At risk of physical abuse 56% 11% 6% 24% 3% 100%
Severe sexual abuse 9% 26% 8% 55% 2% 100%
Moderate sexual abuse 12% 25% 6% 55% 2% 100%
At risk of sexual abuse 40% 19% 6% 32% 3% 100%
Severe neglect 24% 15% 2% 55% 3% 100%
Moderate neglect 37% 13% 2% 45% 3% 100%
At risk of neglect 62% 10% 7% 20% 2% 100%
Severe emotional maltreatment 33% 12% 2% 52% 2% 100%
Moderate maltreatment 40% 12% 2% 45% 2% 100%
At risk of emotional maltreatment 57% 9% 7% 26% 1% 100%
Truancy 9% 13% 37% 40% 1% 100%
Lack of supervision 48% 12% 2% 36% 1% 100%
Abandonment 34% 14% 2% 49% 1% 100%
Drug exposed infant 36% 17% 2% 43% 2% 100%
Status offense 11% 5% 29% 52% 3% 100%
Child fatality 8% 23% 17% 50% 2% 100%
Note: Percentages are not additive because agencies were included in each applicable row (category).
Note: Numbers in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.
Note: Percentages are based on weighted total of 1,660 agencies.

The preceding tables revealed that, across the different types of maltreatment, CPS agencies often shared lead responsibility with other agencies, particularly for the screening and investigation functions. Further analyses examined the specific agencies that were involved in CPS functions for different types of maltreatment. CPS agencies shared lead responsibility with law enforcement more often than any other type of agency (Table 5-5). Nearly three-quarters of CPS agencies shared lead responsibility with law enforcement agencies for physical abuse (72%) and sexual abuse (70%).1 Fewer CPS agencies shared lead responsibility with law enforcement for neglect (58%) and emotional maltreatment (24%).

Since so few CPS agencies reported involvement by any single other type of agency, all nonlaw enforcement agencies were grouped together for these analyses. Nonlaw enforcement agencies include: juvenile justice agencies, mental health agencies, child advocacy centers or child protection teams, schools, centralized intake units, and licensing agencies. Just 17 percent of CPS agencies shared lead responsibility with other, nonlaw enforcement agencies for physical abuse while 18 percent shared lead responsibility for sexual abuse. The percentages for the other types of maltreatment were similarly low, with 17 percent of CPS agencies sharing lead responsibility for neglect and 20 percent sharing for other types of maltreatment.

  Law Enforcement Agencies Other, Nonlaw Enforcement Agencies
Table 5-5:
CPS Agency Involvement with Law Enforcement and Other Agencies for Different Types of Maltreatment
Agency Involvement Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Share lead responsibility for physical abuse 1,870
(1,650-2,090)
72% 430
(310-560)
17%
Share lead responsibility for sexual abuse 1,810
(1,580-2,040)
70% 470
(350-590)
18%
Share lead responsibility for neglect 1,510
(1,310-1,710)
58% 440
(310-570)
17%
Share lead responsibility for emotional maltreatment 630
(450-810)
24% 530
(390-670)
20%
Note: Cells in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.
Note: Percentages are not additive because agencies were included in each applicable row (category).
Note: Percentages are based on weighted total of 2,610 agencies.