- » Reducing Re-referral in Unsubstantiated Child Protective Services Cases: Research to Practice
Reducing Re-referral in Unsubstantiated Child Protective Services Cases: Research To Practice
Series: Grantee Lessons Learned|
Children's Bureau (DHHS), Washington, DC. |
|Year Published: 2003|
This document was made possible by the Children's Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The conclusions discussed here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the researchers. Suggested citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau (2003). Reducing Re-referral in Unsubstantiated Child Protective Services Cases: Research to Practice. Washington, DC.
The decision not to substantiate a child protective services (CPS) referral does not necessarily guarantee a child's safety from future harm.1 Many of the children in unsubstantiated cases are eventually the subjects of subsequent CPS referrals. In seeking to improve safety outcomes for these children, however, child welfare leaders face a daunting list of challenges that may compromise decision-making and the ability to ensure child safety. This paper identifies strategies to reduce re-referral2 in unsubstantiated cases.
These suggestions for practice are based on the findings of three research grants funded by Children's Bureau to explore decision-making and outcomes in unsubstantiated CPS cases. (See Appendix A.) The findings are synthesized in more detail in Child Welfare Information Gateway publication, Decision-Making in Unsubstantiated Child Protective Services Cases, available from Information Gateway at 800.394.3366 or firstname.lastname@example.org. While the studies do not represent a national sample, they do provide some thought-provoking findings practitioners and administrators may want to consider as they build and refine child welfare programs for this population. The suggestions for practice discussed here are those of Child Welfare Information Gateway and are not necessarily endorsed by the researchers.
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1 The meaning and use of the terms "substantiated" and "unsubstantiated" vary by State. For the purposes of this document, "substantiated" means there is reasonable cause to believe the child has been abused or neglected. "Unsubstantiated" means no maltreatment occurred or there was insufficient evidence under State law or agency policy to conclude that the child was maltreated. Some States require the caseworker to determine not only whether a specific incident of abuse or neglect occurred, but also whether the child is at risk of future maltreatment, in making the decision to substantiate or unsubstantiate a referral. back
2 For the purposes of this document, the term "re-referral" is used to indicate any situation in which a CPS case (whether initially substantiated or not) returns to the system for a second or subsequent referral. back
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