Two main sources were used for the analysis of policy--the collection of current State policy manuals maintained by the American Humane Association (AHA) Children's Services research library and interviews with State administrators conducted to confirm, update, and expand on information contained in the initial reviews. The review began during April 2001 and used the most recent manuals and updated sections that were available at the time. Information from updates or new manuals that were identified during the State administrator interviews was incorporated into the final profiles on which this analysis is based. Thus, the information contained in this report is current through March 2002 when the administrator interviews were completed. Administrator interviews were conducted for all States that agreed to participate in the study. Three States--California, Nevada, and New Jersey--declined to participate in the interviews, and therefore information included for these States may not be up-to-date.1 All States were invited to review the report during Spring 2003; 11 States provided corrections.
Several policy manuals contained statutory references or, in some cases, actual statutory language. When information relevant to a policy feature was contained only in statute and referenced in the policy manual or by the administrator during the interview, the statutory information was reviewed and included in the State profile. Central Registry and due process elements of the National Clearinghouse for Child Abuse and Neglect database of State laws, policies, and statutes were used when little information existed in policy manuals. (See appendix B, List of State Policy Manuals.) The overall reviews were based primarily on policy manuals, which reflect State policy and regulation interpreting statutory requirements. Unless it is based on one of the exceptions identified above, most information from the reviews is consistent with, although not identical to, statutory language.
One additional source of data was an existing database of law and policy data collected for a recently completed study at AHA of unsubstantiated cases. These data were incorporated into the reviews where the policy element of interest overlapped and the information in the unsubstantiated study database was the most current available.