This review of CPS policies in the States inventoried the major components governing front-end service provision by CPS agencies. These procedures and practices were described in great detail in the policy manuals of most States. Responsibility for decisionmaking was delegated to the local level regardless of whether a State's administrative structure was generally designated as a "State-administered" or a "State-supervised, county-administered" system.
While there are certain core policies that are common to almost all jurisdictions, there is also extensive variation in some aspects of policy. Such variation may be indicative of local standards or may imply that a systematic review of policy has not been undertaken recently by some of the States. However, variations in policy may contribute to significant differences in responses to children and families. For example, earlier research has shown that States with more disposition categories have higher rates of substantiation. This review may be helpful to States that choose to revise their CPS policies by informing them about the range of policies in place in other jurisdictions.