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Is child protective services effective?

Jesse Rio Russell, Colleen Kerwin and Julie L. Halverson

Children and Youth Services Review, 2018, vol. 84, issue C, 185-192

Abstract: A number of studies have concluded that there is little observable connection between CPS involvement and improved outcomes for children and families. Evidence of CPS effectiveness is complicated by the presence of selection bias and difficulty controlling for confounding. To understand outcomes by group and intervention effects, comparable groups are necessary and difficult to ascertain using CPS administrative case record data. This study examines the causal effect of CPS involvement on the likelihood of future maltreatment using administrative case management records from July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. The current study accounts for differences in pre-existing condition between groups to establish sound estimates of CPS involvement effects. Logistic regression models were used to examine the difference in subsequent substantiated investigation between families with comparable risk and differing service recommendation (p=0.83), recurrence among families with comparable risk, the same service recommendation that did or did not receive services (p=0.83). Hazard models were used to explore risk of substantiated investigation among families with comparable risk and differing service recommendation (p=0.77). Results indicate receipt of CPS services had no observable effect on recurrence of maltreatment overall and among families with similar levels of risk of recurrence. Further inquiry into worker attributes, decision-making, types of and quality of services offered to families could help explain the effective, or ineffectiveness, or services.

Keywords: Child protection; Child maltreatment; Service use; Service effect (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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