The decision not to substantiate a CPS referral does not necessarily guarantee a child’s safety from future harm. Many of the children in unsubstantiated cases are eventually the subjects of subsequent CPS referrals. To improve safety outcomes for these children, child welfare leaders face a daunting list of challenges that may compromise decisionmaking and the ability to ensure child safety.
This paper identifies strategies to reduce re-referral in unsubstantiated cases. These suggestions are based on the findings of three research grants funded by the Children’s Bureau to explore decisionmaking and outcomes in unsubstantiated CPS cases.