Abstract: The Decision of Hospital-Based Child Protection Teams to Report Children and Families to Community Child Protective Services (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

11977 The Decision of Hospital-Based Child Protection Teams to Report Children and Families to Community Child Protective Services

Thursday, January 14, 2010: 3:30 PM
Pacific Concourse A (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Rami Benbenishty, PhD , Bar Ilan University, Israel and Haruv Institute, Professor, Ramat Gan, Israel
Bilhah Arad-Davidzon, PhD , Tel Aviv University, Senior Lecturer, Tel Aviv, Israel
Wendy Chen, MSW , The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Social Worker, Tel Hashomer, Israel
Saralee Glasser, MA , Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Senior Researcher, Tel Hashomer, Israel
Shmuel Tzur, MD , Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Pediatrician, Tel Hashomer, Israel
Liat Lerner-Geva, MD , The Gertner Institute for Epidemiology, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Director, Tel Hashomer, Israel
Objective: To describe the factors involved in decision-making of a hospital-based child protection team (CPT), regarding report of cases to community child protective services (CPS). Specifically, the study examines the relationships between the available information cues about the child and family and the decision made by the CPT on the basis of these cues.

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.