The decision to investigate: Child protection practice in 12 local agencies

Susan J. Wells, John D. Fluke, C. Hendricks Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This study examined child protective service (CPS) screening practices in twelve sites from five states, and sought to identify factors predictive of the decision to investigate a report. The authors found that few contacts with CPS agencies were determined clearly inappropriate for CPS investigation; 70% of the reports entailed specific allegations of maltreatment. Fifty- three percent of all reports were investigated. Of those concerning specific allegations of maltreatment, only 66% were investigated. When injury was alleged, reports were investigated 70% of the time, regardless of the specificity of the allegation. Study findings suggest that the most important problem for CPS intake and investigation is not that workers are over-investigating bogus reports. In this sample, very few clearly inappropriate reports were made, and of these, very few were investigated. Rather, with reports alleging specific types of maltreatment, intake was used to "screen out" reports which might be appropriate for further CPS investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-546
Number of pages24
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The decision to investigate: Child protection practice in 12 local agencies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this