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

05/01/2003

There were an estimated 2,600 local CPS agencies throughout the country during 2001. These may be county-level agencies or State regional offices covering multiple counties. For 61 percent of agencies, workers could perform more than one CPS function. In larger agencies, specialized workers often conducted single functions. While there were differences between small and large agencies, on average a CPS agency screened 64 referrals and completed 43 investigations per month. The average number of caseworkers per agency was 17. Additional analyses indicate that one-quarter of agencies had approximately 4 or fewer workers, and another one-quarter had 15 or more.

It is estimated that only a small number of staff positions were vacant among CPS local agencies at the time of the survey. On average, each agency had 0.6 vacancies, of which 0.4 were social workers or caseworkers. More than 75 percent of agencies indicated that they had no vacancies at the time of the survey.

A majority of agencies operated with specialized staff in their screening and intake, and investigation functions, even though approximately 20 percent of these agencies had staff perform other functions when needed. The majority of children resided in counties that were served by agencies with staff who specialized in providing one CPS function.

This pattern of specialization is similar for agencies that offer other responses to abuse and neglect allegations in that almost one-half of such agencies had specialist staff in the role of screening and intake versus alternative response.2 However, in most agencies (60%) the same workers who provided investigation also provided alternative response.

Most agencies believed that their workloads were excessive. Almost 70 percent of agencies thought this was the case for at least one CPS function. Three-quarters of the Nation's children resided in jurisdictions where CPS agencies reported excessive workloads. There is some indication that concerns about workload were especially prevalent among agencies serving larger child populations.