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

05/01/2003

The overall survey findings showed that CPS agencies had flexibility in how they processed referrals during the screening function. In a few situations, the processing of referrals also depended on the agency's administrative structure. Nearly all agencies in county-administered systems (93%) performed the screening and intake function themselves (Table 7-11). While this was also true for the other types of agencies, the percentages were somewhat lower (76% for agencies in State-administered systems and 80% for agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure). Not surprisingly, the State hotline performed screening less often for agencies in county-administered systems (5%) compared to agencies in State-administered systems (21%) or State-administered systems with strong county structure (17%).

Table 7-11:
Screening and Intake Agency*
Referral processing State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Local agency screens 830
(700-970)
76% 900
(840-960)
93% 440
(260-610)
80%
State hotline screens 230
(150-320)
21% 50

(20-80)

5% 90
(20-160)
17%
Missing 30
(0-70)
3% 20
(0-40)
2% 20
(0-60)
3%
Total 1,100
(970-1,220)
100% 960
(890-1,030)
100% 550
(350-750)
100%
* X2=9.10, p<.001 (excludes missing)
Note: Numbers in italics are based on 10 or fewer agencies.

The analyses also revealed two screening activities that varied depending on the agency's administrative structure. Agencies in State-administered systems and those in State-administered systems with strong county structure always searched CPS records for alleged perpetrators (81% and 84%, respectively). This screening practice was somewhat less common among agencies in county-administered systems (77%), (Table 7-12). Use of safety assessment tools during screening also differed depending on the agency's administrative structure. While 65 percent of agencies in county-administered systems always used such safety assessments during screening, this was truer for agencies in State-administered systems (73%) and agencies in State-administered systems with strong county structure (70%).

Table 7-12:
CPS Agencies that Always Conducted Screening Activities
Screening activity State-administered County-administered State-administered with strong county structure
Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent Estimate
(C.I.)
Percent
Search CPS records for information on alleged perpetratora 890
(770-1,010)
81% 750
(660-830)
77% 460
(280-650)
84%
Use of safety assessment toolsb 780
(680-920)
73% 630
(540-720)
65% 380
(220-540)
70%
a X2=16.5, p<.001
b X2=23.68, p<.001
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.