National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Review of State CPS Policy. Due Process


While the public generally is aware that children may be removed from their homes if their safety cannot be assured by their parents, there are additional consequences to being subject to a CPS investigation. Services may be offered on a voluntary basis or court ordered. Another consequence is that a perpetrator's name may be filed on a Central Registry. States differed in the purposes of such registries, procedures for accessing information, expungement protocols, and due process requirements.

Almost all State policies specified that the Central Registry would be used for background employment and licensing checks. Many States also specified that they would share information from the Central Registry with other agencies upon request. Twenty-three States had policies restricting the Central Registry to substantiated or indicated reports; 10 States' policies also allowed unsubstantiated reports to be included on the registry. Twenty-one States stipulated that the alleged perpetrator should be notified if his or her name was placed on the registry, but timeframes for notifying the perpetrator varied from within one day to within 90 days of placing the name on the registry. Expungement rules varied considerably.

In addressing the overarching goal of protecting children, CPS agencies seek to ensure that information on perpetrators is maintained. Policies clearly addressed this need, but the variation in policies raised issues of whether the rights of persons found to be perpetrators are being addressed equitably. Because there are different maltreatment conditions and different situations under which children may be found to be victims, the field should consider whether listing persons on the Central Registry should vary according to different types of maltreatment.

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