National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Review of State CPS Policy. Overview of Functional Areas


This report focuses on specific CPS functions and crosscutting themes. These functions are those that comprise the child protection response to allegations of abuse and neglect. Because the responsibilities for these functions may reside within one or more of several agencies—the State CPS agency, the local CPS agency, State or local law enforcement, and various other governmental or nongovernmental agencies—the locus of authority also was examined from the perspective of the State CPS agency’s policy manual.

Operational definitions described in this report include:

  • Administrative Structure—the organization of authority that has the responsibility to respond to allegations of child abuse and neglect within a State. These agencies are described in Chapter 2.
  • Screening and Intake—the process by which a State receives a referral and report concerning allegations of child abuse or neglect, and decides whether or not to respond to the referral and report. This process is described in Chapter 3.
  • Investigation—the process by which a State determines whether child maltreatment has occurred or the child is at risk of maltreatment, and the decisions and actions that are needed to ensure the child’s safety. These processes are described in Chapter 4.
  • Other CPS Response and Alternative Response Track—a response to an allegation of abuse or neglect that assesses the needs of the child or family with or without requiring a determination that maltreatment has occurred or that the child is at risk of maltreatment for the purpose of providing the family with services (sometimes referred to as diversified or differential response). Such responses are described in Chapter 5.

For each function, several different features are discussed in depth. Commonalities and differences among States are discussed, with an overall objective of ascertaining the core policy similarities among State CPS systems.

Supplementary tables, which are located at the end of each chapter, provide supporting data. The appendices include a more detailed discussion of methodology, a list of State policy manuals, a blank State CPS Policy Profile form, and a list of references.

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