• October 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 8

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New Study Examines Trends in CPS Practice

A new report released by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) examines how the delivery of child protective services (CPS) in the United States has changed in recent years. The results reflect some of the responses that States have developed to meet requirements of their Federal Child and Family Services Reviews and Program Improvement Plans.

The report, Recent Trends in Local Child Protective Services Practices, compares data from the 2002 National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts (HHS, 2003) to 2005-2006 data from the CPS Structure and Practices Mail Survey (Li, Shusterman, and Sedlak, 2009), which is a substudy of the Fourth National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4). Both studies surveyed administrators of nationally representative samples of CPS agencies to collect information about local agencies' investigative practices.

Findings show changes in a number of CPS practices, resulting in more standardization. At the same time, the availability of services for families generally declined, although parenting training and substance abuse treatment became somewhat more available through CPS agencies. Most practice changes appeared unrelated to child maltreatment outcomes over this time period; however, alternative response practices were associated with lower maltreatment rates, even at the same time that the use of alternative responses dropped from 69 percent in the 2002 study to 39 percent in the 2005-2006 study. In addition, agencies that always reviewed previous child abuse history records during investigations had higher rates of maltreatment on a number of measures.

The report was prepared by Westat, Inc., and is available on the ASPE website:


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