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

05/01/2003

These analyses examined differences related to administration structure in the role of CPS agencies in performing the traditional CPS functions. Overall, agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure had lead responsibility for screening and investigation less often than the other types of agencies. For both functions, these agencies were more likely to have varied levels of responsibility depending on the type of maltreatment.

This same pattern held true when looking at agency responsibility for investigations by maltreatment type. For many of the more serious types of maltreatment, State- and county-administered agencies had lead responsibility much more often than agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure. For example, State- and county-administered agencies had lead responsibility for investigations of severe physical abuse, severe sexual abuse, moderate sexual abuse, and child fatalities more often than did agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure.

The role of law enforcement in responding to different types of maltreatment also depended on the agency's administrative structure. For certain types of maltreatment, State-administered agencies with strong county structure shared lead responsibility with law enforcement more often than State- or county-administered agencies. For example, these agencies more often shared lead responsibility with law enforcement for allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

When examining the level of responsibility for investigation for different types of perpetrators, two different patterns emerged. State-administered agencies more often had lead responsibility for institutional perpetrators, while State-administered agencies with strong county structure more often had lead responsibility for investigations for noncaregiver perpetrators.

Finally, a few differences by administrative structure emerged when examining the involvement of other agencies for different types of perpetrators. When the perpetrator was a noncaregiver, agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure shared lead responsibility with law enforcement much more often than did other agencies. Agencies in county-administered systems were more likely to share lead responsibility with other, nonlaw enforcement agencies when the perpetrator was a staff person at a group home or institution than were other agencies.