National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts. Review of State CPS Policy. Primary Responsibility


For each of several functions, State policies were reviewed in terms of delineations of primary and shared responsibility. Responsibility usually was interpreted to mean to have the mandate to actually carry out the task or function. Therefore, regardless of official administrative structure, the locus of responsibility was most often described as being at the county level. In some cases, sharing of responsibility was clearly enunciated by either indicating that the task was shared by the State and the counties, or by giving primary responsibility to one entity and shared responsibility to another.

  • Twenty-six States (51.0%) assigned primary responsibility for all functions to the counties;
  • Another 10 States (19.6%) assigned primary responsibility for all functions to the counties with the exception of the hotline, which was assigned to a State-level agency;
  • Seven States (13.7%) assigned primary responsibility for all functions to the State or to regional offices in the State; and
  • Six States (11.8%) specified mixed patterns of primary responsibility by type of function.

These patterns were not systematically related to administrative structure. The clearest relationship between administrative structure and responsibilities was applicable for those States classified as State-supervised, county-administered. Of the 13 State-supervised, county-administered systems, 8 described the county as having primary responsibility for all functions, and 5 described the county as sharing responsibility with the State for maintaining the hotline, receiving referrals and reports, and screening.

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