The articles reviewed for this paper describe many proposals and initiatives for improving child protection practice. Interestingly, these proposals tend to take a structural approach to improvement. That is, the proposals suggest that CPS agencies may need to more precisely define, divide, and channel interventions into particular philosophical models, rather than leaving intervention decisions to workers.
For most of the past thirty years, agencies providing protective services to children have allied themselves based on law, policy, training, and organizational culture at some mid-range point along the legalistic to helping intervention continuum. Individual case-level intervention decisions by workers, supervisors, and other community collaborators have encompassed a range of responses depending on the case circumstances and the organization's context. Perhaps the increasing scrutiny to which agencies are exposed has generated this new interest, found in the literature, in structural solutions.
The review also suggest some of the general directions that change in CPS practice might take in the next few years, e.g. offering alternative responses to child maltreatment reports, increasing the involvement of police in child maltreatment cases, and expanding the network of service providers in a coordinated fashion. The literature does not, however, provide a clear or comprehensive picture of how CPS work is currently being done.
The national study of CPS systems and reform efforts, of which this literature review is a part, will address this need. The study will examine the complexities of current CPS work processes from the knowledge gained through interviews of State administrators, surveys of county CPS agency staff, and site visits to innovative localities. The final report will be completed in Fall 2002.