Paper 1 documented CPS re-involvement following an initial report of neglect. Over one-third of U.S. children will experience an investigation by the CPS for allegations of child maltreatment, the vast majority of which are for neglect. This study examined subsequent CPS involvement by level (re-referral, substantiation, removal) and type (sexual abuse, physical abuse). Overall, 64% of children with a neglect allegation were re-referred to CPS. Children initially investigated as infants had the highest rates of re-involvement, with 79 to 83% experiencing a subsequent maltreatment allegation. Findings demonstrate that families are returning to CPS at high rates, indicating a need to think outside of services as usual in offering families support.
Paper 2 examined juvenile probation involvement for young people in Los Angeles (LA) who had contact with CPS between birth and age 18 using linked CPS and Probation records. This study documented the experiences and characteristics of young people who were involved with CPS and probation systems and compared their experiences with those who were only involved with the CPS system. Young people with dual system involvement were older at first CPS report and had more frequent CPS involvement. These relationships varied by race/ethnicity and gender, suggesting policies and procedures should be evaluated for their effectiveness by race/ethnicity and gender.
Paper 3 compared maltreatment allegations for young people with CPS-only and dual system (i.e., CPS and juvenile probation) involvement, and explored differences for boys and girls. Linked CPS and probation records for LA documented allegation types and identified probation petitions. Young people with dual system involvement were more likely to have co-occurring allegation types (compared to CPS only). Co-Occurring Sexual Abuse emerged as the greatest predictor of dual system involvement and the risk was heightened for girls. This new knowledge should facilitate discussion around gender-responsive services for youth who have contact with probation.
Paper 4 documented temporal dimensions of CPS reports and examined the extent to which those factors emerged as correlates of screening and dispositional outcomes. CPS administrative records identified referrals screened by LA's CPS hotline. A greater proportion of referrals made during weekends and nights were screened-in for investigation. Referrals made during the winter were more likely to be screened, whereas referrals made in summer were positively related to substantiated allegations. Child's referred age and reporter type were the strongest factors for increased screened-in investigations and substantiated allegations, respectively.
Findings add depth to our understanding of outcomes associated with allegations of maltreatment, demonstrate the potential to inform policy and practice using linked administrative data, and highlight the need to develop an array of services for children and families who have contact with CPS.