A formal template was developed to guide the policy review of each source document. (See appendix C, Blank CPS Policy Review Form.) The same form also was used to capture the updates and corrections resulting from the State administrator interviews. The instrument focused on four functional areas--administrative structure, intake, investigation, and alternative response. Administrative structure included items on State versus county administrative structure and locus of responsibility for such key functions as maintaining a hotline, receiving reports, screening reports, conducting investigations, conducting alternative response activities, and conducting safety, risk, and other assessments. Screening included items on reporters, criteria for acceptance or exclusion of a case at screening, procedures and timeframes for accepting referrals, results of screening, and notification requirements. Investigation included definitions of maltreatment, disposition definitions and evidentiary requirements, purpose of the investigation, joint responsibility with other agencies, timeframes, results of investigations, priority standards for investigation, assessments conducted and contact requirements, Central Registry and due process provisions, and requirements for short-term services. The alternative response section first asked if the State explicitly defined an alternative track in policy. The additional items were completed only if "yes." Additional items included purpose of the alternative response, extent of implementation (e.g. limited pilot or statewide), descriptions of the response options and which cases may be assigned to them, role of other agencies, assessment and contact requirements, results of inclusion in the response, and decisionmaking.
Three reviewers analyzed three State manuals to identify problems with item clarity and establish inter-rater reliability. Based on the pilot reviews, the instrument was revised to better reflect the types of information available in the State policy manuals while addressing the research hypotheses. All six reviewers piloted the revised instrument with several more States. After the second pilot review, all reviewers met to discuss their findings, with particular emphasis on areas of disagreement, to finalize the instrument, and refine a common framework for interpretation of the items.