Performance Improvement 2009. Are Caseworkers' Subjective Judgments Likely Used as a Basis for Determining That a Child Has Been Maltreated?


Researchers examined the relationship of caseworker judgments to the “ substantiation” decision. Substantiation denotes child welfare system (CWS) services’ official decision about the validity of maltreatment allegations.

The majority of cases investigated by child protective services were unsubstantiated. However, caseworkers did take into account their judgments of harm to the child, future risk to the child, and evidence of maltreatment when they made substantiation decisions. Substantiation rates clearly rose as the rating of harm or risk increased but evidence played an important role, even when caseworkers believed children were harmed or at risk. Substantiation was unlikely unless evidence of maltreatment was sufficient. The study found that harm, risk, and evidence did not perfectly predict substantiation indicating that other factors, like caseworker workload, may be affecting outcomes.

Report Title: National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, Brief 6: How Do Caseworker Judgments Predict Substantiation of Child Maltreatment.
Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Mary Bruce Webb, 202-205-8628
Performer: Research Triangle Institute
PIC ID: 8974

View full report


"PerformanceImprovement2009.pdf" (pdf, 1.26Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®