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


Although the primary responsibility for CPS functions generally rested with one agency--either the State or the county--State policy indicated a shared responsibility between the State and the counties for specific functions.

  • Twenty-one States (41.2%) discussed sharing responsibility for receiving referrals;
  • Fifteen States (29.4%) discussed joint responsibility for screening referrals;
  • Ten States (19.6%) discussed sharing investigation responsibilities;
  • Seven States (13.7%) discussed sharing the responsibility for maintaining the hotline--often with one or two large counties; and
  • Five States (9.8%) shared conducting safety and risk assessments, and two States (3.9%) had policy on shared conducting of family functioning assessments.

In all cases, the responsibility for conducting an alternative response was with the county or local level agencies. (Responsibility for assigning cases to the alternative response option was shared between the State and county or local agency in one State.)

The policies of a few States discussed sharing the responsibility for conducting CPS functions with non-child welfare public agencies or with private or community agency partners. The function that was shared most frequently was conducting investigations. This function was shared with law enforcement in four States, and with a multidisciplinary team in two States.

One State indicated that law enforcement had primary responsibility for conducting investigations. In that State, the State police were assigned primary responsibility for the hotline, receiving reports and referrals, and screening. Although there has been much attention paid to the idea of law enforcement taking on the role of investigative authority in order to allow CPS staff to carry out their family support and helping roles more effectively, this type of structure was found infrequently in the State policy manuals and in subsequent interviews with State administrators.

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