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

05/01/2003

A key distinction between State-administered agencies (including those with strong county structure) and county-administered agencies is that more State-administered agencies have strictly specialized staff performing the screening/intake, investigation, and where it exist the alternative response function. On the other hand, both State-administered and county-administered agencies have the same average number of staff who are specialized. These findings indicate the difference appears to be tied to the expectation that specialized staff may fill in for other functions when needed in county-administered agencies.

From the analysis of service data there does not appear to be any specific trend that characterizes the differences between administrative structures. In the range of services that are available, county-administered agencies may have had a broader set of services to offer. Proportionally, more of these agencies may also have established priority service arrangements with mental health providers. On the other hand, when they had a priority service relationship, more State-administered agencies had such relationship with multiple providers. An important confirmation regarding CPS from these data is that around 75 percent of agencies were able to offer services regardless of the status of the response or the disposition. It is interesting to note, however, that a few agencies required a determination of maltreatment before they were able to offer services. Almost all agencies were able to offer a potentially wide range of services and most services could be offered in well over 50 percent of the agencies. While potentially offered, the availability of these services was not addressed in this study. Of the range of services that agencies offered — parenting, substance abuse, and child focused interventions appeared to be the most common, whereas, services that address financial well-being were less common.