National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Findings on Local CPS Practices. 9.2 CPS Agency Staff


Nationally, most CPS agencies were relatively small. Staff size averaged about 26 persons, with 17 of them functioning as caseworkers or social workers, 3 as supervisors, and the remainder as support staff.

Very few agencies had vacancies at the time of the survey. Agencies in State-administered systems had larger staffs compared to agencies in county-administered.

On average more than one-half of all workers employed by CPS agencies were specialized in either screening/intake or investigations. Most agencies that offer an alternative response provide this response with the same workers who provide investigations. Based on the size of the agencies with the size of the population of children residing in locales that are served by the agencies, larger agencies had more specialized staffs. These findings undoubtedly reflect the relatively small size of agencies nationwide with smaller agencies being less specialized, compared to larger agencies with a greater number of specialized staff.

In terms of workload, CPS agencies handled an average of 64 referrals per month as part of the screening/intake response and completed an average of 43 investigations per month. For those agencies providing an alternative CPS response, an average of 16 were completed each month. The majority of CPS agencies were experiencing what they considered to be excessive workloads at the time of the study. Further, approximately three-quarters of children were in jurisdictions in which the agencies had excessive workloads. While recognizing that no objective measure of workload has been made, the existence of widespread concerns regarding excessive workload is important.

CPS agencies also provided followup services to children and families as part of their responses. Almost all agencies were allowed to provide services regardless of the result of investigations, but nearly one-quarter provided services only if a report was substantiated or did not provide followup services at all. The range of potential service offerings available to most agencies was quite extensive, with educational or therapeutic services most commonly available, and financial services less commonly available.