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


The National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts, under the leadership of the Children's Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, both within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has examined the current system of child protective services (CPS) from both a policy and a practice perspective. While there are five main components to the National Study, this report discusses the findings on CPS practice based on just one of the components--the Local Agency Survey (LAS) of the CPS agencies serving a randomly selected sample of counties in the United States.

The purpose of the survey was to identify the ways in which local agencies carried out the CPS functions across the U.S. Its design consisted of a mail survey to the CPS agencies serving a representative sample of 375 counties. The sample was designed to assure adequate representation of urban and rural counties, counties in both State-administered systems and counties in county-administered systems, and all census regions. An 80 percent response rate was achieved; surveys covering 300 counties were received.

After a brief description of the study, this report discusses current practice (as of 2002) related to the organization and administration of CPS, the screening and intake functions, the investigation function, the provision of an alternative noninvestigative response by many agencies, and the role of law enforcement and other agencies in CPS work.1 In addition, changes being undertaken by local agencies and conclusions are presented.