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


The LAS provides a rich source of information about the processes and practices of CPS agencies. The survey's focus on the different functional areas as well as reform efforts within the agencies contributes to the overall study's ability to describe the status of the CPS system nationally and to characterize the reform efforts underway. With a unique national perspective lacking in other research efforts, the LAS findings can help both policy makers and practitioners understand how CPS agencies nationwide operate.

The LAS findings provide concrete evidence of both the commonalities and diversity of CPS practices throughout the Nation. The diversity is at the very core of CPS practice. While all CPS agencies investigated child abuse and neglect, they did not all have the same lead responsibility. To a certain degree, the more serious the type of maltreatment, the more likely they were to share the responsibility for investigating the maltreatment. This obviously requires clear lines of responsibility and collaboration to be effective.

Furthermore, the majority of CPS agencies conceptualized their practice as having different responses for different types of maltreatment. Not only were responsibilities shared, but the responses were different. In general, alternative responses were less focused on obtaining forensic evidence, but the clear difference was that they focused on different types of maltreatment than did investigation.

The LAS provides data on CPS practice as it existed in 2002. It is hoped that it will assist in planning for improved CPS practices in future years.