The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Meeting the Developmental Screening Mandates of CAPTA: The Intersection of Early Intervention and Child Welfare

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 11:15 AM
Nautilus 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Patrick Shannon, PhD, Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire, Durham, Durham, NH

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (2003) requires state Child Protection Services (CPS) agencies to conduct developmental screening with every child with a founded case of maltreatment. Research has led to speculation about whether states are fulfilling their CAPTA mandated obligations (Herman, 2007; Stahmer, Sutton, Fox and Leslie, 2008). The purpose of this study was to examine the ability of each state’s CPS and Early Intervention (EI) systems to provide developmental screening to children under the age of three who enter CPS care. Additionally, the study examined early interventionist’s knowledge of maltreatment and CPS services.

 Study Objectives

  • Examine the status of implementation of the CAPTA mandate to conduct developmental screening with each child under the age of three with a founded case of abuse and/or neglect;
  • Examine the status of collaboration between Part C Early Intervention services CPS agencies;
  • Examine the knowledge and awareness of child abuse and neglect for early intervention professionals;

 Research Question

 Have states developed collaborative arrangements between their EI and CPS agencies?

  • Are children under the age of three with founded cases of abuse and/or neglect receiving developmental screenings?
  • Are Early Intervention professionals prepared to work with children and families in CPS custody?


             Subjects for this study included all 50 State Part C Coordinators. The list of subjects was obtained from the National Education Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) at Subjects engaged in a 13 item web-based survey that was distributed by the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center using the SNAP web-based survey program. Descriptive data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).


            Questionnaires were completed by 47 of 50 Part C Coordinators for a 94% response rate. When asked if children under the age of 3 are being screened, twenty-six (55%) indicated that most to almost all are being screened, twelve (25%) have no idea, and seven (14%) believe that few are being screened. Twenty-eight (60%) reported tracking the number of screenings and twenty-four (51%) reported that their state has an interagency agreement between early intervention and CPS regarding who is responsible for developmental screenings. Finally, less than  half of respondents believe that early intervention professionals receive adequate training about maltreatment and CPS.

 Conclusion and Implications

States are struggling with developing the capacity to provide developmental screening to all children under the age of three. Collaboration between CPS and early intervention is sporadic and both systems appear to primarily operate in isolation in many states. Additionally, developmental screening efforts are being hampered by poor data tracking systems and inadequate training regarding the co-occurrence of disability and maltreatment.

 Implications for Practice, Policy, and Future Research

            States need assistance in building capacity to screen children for developmental disabilities. Incentives for increasing collaboration that include resources and training for early intervention professionals are essential. Future research should focus on model programs that demonstrate effective screening practices.