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


CPS agencies received referrals from many sources.3 Individuals, State or local hotlines, and schools were the most common referral sources. A substantial minority of CPS agencies automatically accepted referrals from certain sources such as specific agencies or mandated reporters.

Roughly two-thirds of local CPS agencies received State hotline referrals; however, most agencies had local authority in handling these referrals. For example, even though the State hotline might make recommendations regarding the local response, many agencies assigned their own priority status to the recommendation.

Very few CPS agencies made direct contact with the child, family, or reporter during the screening and intake process. In conducting screening and intake activities, a majority of CPS agencies indicated that they always searched CPS records for information on the alleged victims and alleged perpetrators, and that they used a safety assessment tool. Nonetheless, agencies undertook a wide variety of other activities during the screening process, including calls to collaterals, calls to family members, and establishing the credibility of the reporter.

A large majority of CPS agencies used various response options for screened-out referrals, including making referrals to other agencies. For all types of screened-in referrals, the most common response option was a CPS investigation; however, approximately one-quarter to one-half of agencies had several response options for screened-in referrals.