National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Findings on Local CPS Practices. Alternative Response

05/01/2003

The supplemental analyses also examined the alternative response function to uncover any notable differences in how this response was carried out by agency administrative structure. Overall, when conducting an alternative response, agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure were more consistent in several practices than agencies in State-administered systems or county-administered systems.

A few differences by administrative structure emerged in the standard practices for the alternative response. More agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (73%) were required to assess the family needs before completing the response, when compared to agencies in State-administered systems (60%) or county-administered systems (51%), (Table 7-21). It was also more common for agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure to have requirements related to assessing the underlying causes of maltreatment and referring the family for further services before completing the response than it was for the other types of agencies.

Table 7-21.
CPS Agencies that were Required to Conduct Practice Before Completing Alternative Response
Practice State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Assess family needsa 400
(300-490)
60% 250
(180-330)
51% 230
(120-350)
73%
Assess underlying causes of maltreatmentb 200
(120-280)
31% 150
(90-210)
30% 180
(90-270)
52%
Refer family for further servicesc 220
(140-300)
34% 120
(80-160)
26% 130
(60-200)
42%
a X2=17.54, p<.05
b X2=15.81, p<.05
c X2=15.81, p<.05
Note: Percentages are not additive because agencies were included in each applicable row (category).

CPS agencies with different administrative structures had different procedures for concluding the alternative response. Agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (72%) always notified the perpetrator about the determination much more often than did the other types of agencies (37% for State-administered and 38% for county-administered), (Table 7-22). Likewise, State-administered agencies with strong county structure always entered perpetrator information into the Central Registry more frequently than did the other agencies (67% v. 34% and 35%).

Table 7-22:
CPS Agencies that Always Conducted Procedure When Concluding Alternative Response
Procedure State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Notify perpetrator of determinationa 280
(20-360)
37% 220
(160-280)
38% 240
(130-360)
72%
Enter perpetrator information in Central Registryb 260
(170-340)
34% 200
(130-270)
35% 220
(100-350)
67%
a X2=27.86, p<.01
b X2=32.58, p<.001
Note: Percentages are not additive because agencies were included in each applicable row (category).

The specific activities conducted during the alternative response also varied by the agency's administrative structure. Again, agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure stood out from the other types of agencies. State-administered agencies with strong county structure were more likely to always work with multidisciplinary teams (11%) than State-administered agencies (4%) or county-administered agencies (7%), (Table 7-23). These agencies were also more likely than the others to conduct family group conference meetings, interview additional family members, interview the persons who made the report alleging maltreatment, and remove the child. A different pattern emerged for one alternative response activity. Almost all agencies in State-administered (87%) and agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (86%) always reviewed prior CPS records when conducting an alternative response, compared to just 67 percent of county-administered agencies (Table 7-23).

Table 7-23:
CPS Agencies that Always Conducted Alternative Response Activity
Activity State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Discuss with multidisciplinary teama 30
(0-70)
4% 40
(10-70)
7% 40
(0-90)
11%
Conduct family group conference meetingb 10
(0-20)
1% 20
(10-50)
4% 70
(10-120)
20%
Interview family members other than the caregiverc 140
(70-210)
19% 140
(80-190)
24% 130
(50-220)
39%
Interview reporter who alleged maltreatmentd 120
(70-180)
16% 120
(60-180)
21% 260
(150-370)
76%
Remove child if evidence of harm or danger of harme 370
(260-480)
49% 210
(140-280)
37% 180
(90-260)
52%
Review prior CPS recordsf 650
(550-760)
87% 380
(300-470)
67% 290
(180-200)
86%
a X2=20.75, p<.01
b X2=21.28, p<.01
c X2=20.1, p<.01
d X2=62.4, p<.001
e X2=25.66, p<.001
f X2=18.65, p<.05
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.

In terms of standard use of various instruments or tools during the alternative response, other patterns emerged. State-administered agencies were less likely to always use formal safety assessment instruments (16%) and formal risk assessment instruments (22%) than agencies in county-administered systems (35% and 43% respectively) or agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (31% and 27% respectively), (Table 7-24). At the same time, State-administered agencies were more likely to always use standardized domestic violence assessment instruments (18%) compared to county-administered agencies (4%) or agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (8%).

Table 7-24
CPS Agencies that Always Used Instruments or Tools During Alternative Response
Instruments and tools State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I. )
Percent
Formal safety assessment instrumenta 120
(60-180)
16% 200
(130-270)
35% 100
(30-180)
31%
Formal risk assessment instrumentb 170
(110-230)
22% 240
(180-310)
43% 90
(20-160)
27%
Standardized domestic violence assessment instrumentc 130
(60-210)
18% 20
(0-40)
4% 30
(0-70)
8%
a X2=17.01, p<.01
b X2=15.96, p<.01
c X2=11.96, p<.05
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.

Access to professional resources during the alternative response also varied depending on the agency's administrative structure. For example, agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure were more likely (75%) to always have child advocacy centers available compared to State administered agencies (55%) or county-administered systems (38%). For one professional resource, both State-administered agencies (48%) and agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (42%) were more likely (48%) to always have citizen CPS review teams available compared to agencies in county-administered systems (30%), (Table 7-25).

Table 7-25:
CPS Agencies that Always Used Professional and Group Assistance During Alternative Response
Assistance State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Child Advocacy Centera 410
(300-530)
55% 220
(150-280)
38% 250
(130-380)
75%
Citizen CPS Review Teamb 360
(250-430)
48% 170
(110-230)
30% 140
(60-220)
42%
a X2=13.76, p<.01
b X2=10.0, p<.05
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.