Methods: The sample includes cases of all children aged 0-9 who arrived at the hospital from 1991 thru 2006 that were referred to the CPT. The current analysis includes 915 cases, 54.2% of which were reported to CPS. Case files were analyzed using a comprehensive structured guide. Bi-variate and multivariate hierarchical logistic regressions were conducted to estimate the predictive value of information cues.
Results: The decision to report to CPS was predicted well (81.7% accurate predictions) by case information. Socio-demographics (single-parent and poor families) and assessments of children's and parents' negative reactions to investigation contributed to higher levels of reporting, while physical signs (e.g., head injuries) were associated with fewer reports.
Conclusions: There are indications for systematic decision processes that reflect current knowledge in this area. The importance of socio-demographics in predicting the decision may reflect the importance of family stress or stereotypic views of practitioners. Assessments of children's and parents' reactions to the situation may not be systematic and reliable enough.
Practice Implications: It is important to explicate and critically examine the decision-making process in order to identify potential biases. Structured data collection instruments shared by all CPT's should be considered. More rigorous training, methods and instruments should be developed to ensure that judgments regarding parents are made in a reliable and valid manner, and do not reflect prior biases and stereotypes. Furthermore, follow up investigations should be conducted to assess the validity of the reports by CPT's to community child protection services.