• August 2003
  • Vol. 4, No. 6

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National Review of State Child Protective Services Policies

State child protective services (CPS) policies generally appear to reflect Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements and principles recommended by such professional organizations as the Child Welfare League of America, according to a recently released report, National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Review of State CPS Policy. There were, however, wide variations among the States in terms of specific details. Information from this report may be useful for States that are revising their CPS policies.

Other key findings include:

  • Much of the responsibility for carrying out CPS policies rests at the county or local level.
  • Nearly all States included the four major types of maltreatment discussed in CAPTA in their policies, and many included additional types as well.
  • 23 States specified high evidentiary standards for substantiating maltreatment.
  • Timeframes for completing investigations ranged from 2 weeks to more than 4 weeks.
  • 20 States indicated that they offer alternative responses to address child or family needs in cases where it was not determined that maltreatment occurred. Types of alternative responses varied widely.

The National Study, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was initiated to examine the current status of CPS systems and improvements. The Review of State CPS Policy is one of five study components. The study also includes a literature review (released in May 2001), a local agency survey report (published in April 2003), a site visit report, and a symposium background paper and proceedings document (both forthcoming in 2003).

Print copies of the reports may be requested from:

Human Services Policy, Room 404E
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Fax: (202) 690-6562

More information about the National Study and links to electronic copies of the reports (as they become available) can be found at www.aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/cps-status03.

Related Item

For more information about the literature review, see "Lit Review Looks at Changes in CPS" in the July/August 2001 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

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