This report is based upon policy summaries that were derived from both written materials and interviews. (See Appendix A, Methodology.) A topical outline was developed that focused on administrative structure, screening and intake, investigation, and alternative response. Items of interest were identified for each broad category. The most recent State policy manuals as of 2001 were examined for all 50 States and the District of Columbia, and data were extracted for each item of interest.2 (See Appendix B, List of State Policy Manuals.)
Some topics were supplemented by additional data sources. For example, information concerning the role of law enforcement in front-end functions of CPS was abstracted from a project conducted by the American Humane Association.3 Data concerning Central Registries and due process requirements were abstracted from State statutes from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. These data were also added to the topical outline, and then policy summaries were developed for each State. (See Appendix C, Blank State CPS Policy Review Form.)
During spring 2002, State-level administrators were asked to review their policy summary and were interviewed in order to confirm its accuracy and provide updates and corrections as needed. Revised manuals were collected if the original manuals had been updated. Forty-eight States took part in these interviews.4 The confirmation interviews with the State administrators served to update information that had been gathered, clarify definitions of terms, and in some instances to discuss the intent of State statutes that were the foundation of departmental policy. During March 2003, State administrators were invited to review a draft copy of this report—11 States submitted corrections, which were subsequently incorporated into the final document.