National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Site Visits Report . Chapter 1. Introduction


During 2000, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in cooperation with the Children’s Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, both of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), initiated a study of State and county child protective services (CPS) systems and reform efforts. The intent of the study was to describe the current status of the CPS system nationally, including the policies, practices, and procedures which States and communities have developed and implemented to improve CPS systems. The first component of the study was a review of reforms and new directions discussed in the literature.1 The second component was an analysis of CPS policy in all 50 States and the District of Columbia that focused on organizational and administrative structures and the main CPS functions.2 The third component was a written survey of 300 randomly selected counties that examined the functions and operational practices that agencies were conducting in response to child maltreatment reports.3

The fourth component consisted of site visits to eight local CPS agencies. The purpose of the site visits was to discuss in greater detail the types of reforms that had been implemented in the local agencies. This report presents the findings from the site visits. This chapter summarizes the practice innovations and reform efforts that had been undertaken in the sites. Subsequent chapters present the report of each site visit, in alphabetical order by county name. The reports cover the history or context of the reform, the objectives of the reform, specific CPS policy, practice, and procedural components, the impact of the changes, and plans for the future.

The site visit reports are not representative of all changes being undertaken throughout the country. They are descriptive illustrations of how change has been undertaken with regards to CPS by local agencies. While the site visits were not evaluative, the changes that are discussed have for the most part been found to be beneficial by the local agency staff and the community. Problems and barriers to change are also reported. In some locations the changes and reforms were more systemic than in others, but in all sites, many types of change have been undertaken with the intent of improving the management and provision of CPS.

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