The overall goal of the National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts (National Study) is to describe the current landscape of child protective services (CPS) across the United States and the future directions or systems improvement efforts underway within this landscape.1 To accomplish this objective, the National Study collected data related to policy and practice from several sources--including a summary of the extant literature on changes being undertaken by CPS agencies; a review of written State policy manuals followed by confirmation interviews with State CPS administrators; a survey of local practices in a random sample of 300 counties; and site visits to a number of local CPS agencies self-identified as implementing new approaches to providing child protective services.
This Review of State CPS Policy report presents the findings from the analysis of State policies. Chapters on administration, screening and intake, investigation, and alternative response are included. Policy manuals covering these functions were reviewed for all States and the District of Columbia.2 Forty-eight States participated in confirmation interviews designed to clarify policies identified in written materials.3 Both traditional investigatory practices and the alternatives being explored in several States were included in the policy review. This review determined that although there is considerable variation in policy, there are common functions and features of CPS policy that seem to reflect the requirements of the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and practice principles recommended by professional organizations such as the Council on Accreditation and the Child Welfare League of America.