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Decision-making process within child protective services

Decision-making process within child protective services: A corollary concern
is how child protective services makes decisions. While certain studies suggest that
child protective services workers maintain beliefs that are not empirically supported
(Downing et al., 1990; Ryan et al., 1991), we have no information concerning why
child protective services workers maintain these beliefs and how the beliefs are
maintained by the system. Another area of research is the costs to the system and
individuals associated with falsely charging mothers as co-offenders and removing so
many children needlessly. Still another area of compelling research is whether the
qualifications of child protective services workers are related to decision-making
capacities. Do workers with bachelor degrees assess cases differently than those with
graduate degrees? Do workers with mental health degrees assess cases differently than
those with other degrees, and is the type or level of education related to biases workers
maintain? Is training within child protective services related to their ability to more
correctly endorse items that assess knowledge and myths about child sexual abuse?
As yet, no known research has considered these issues.
Child protective services workers also make critical decisions about whether to
screen in or out a case, substantiate a case, and remove the child. Again, research is
extremely limited, even though these are all critical to the welfare of the child and
family. There are some indications that unsupported beliefs about child sexual abuse
that are maintained by child protective services workers are related not only to
decisions to screen a case in or out (Downing et al., 1990; Giovannoni, 1991), but also to decisions to substantiate abuse (Haskett et al., 1995). Thus, we need much
more research on case and worker characteristics predicting decisions made by child
protective services workers.
A final consideration is how funding affects decisions. Are funding fluctuations
of child protective services agencies related to rates of substantiation and removals?
How is the time a case worker spends on an average case related to decisions made
in that case, and how does finding affect the average time allocated to cases? Finally, it
is suggested that the federal government mandate annual federal studies that assess
decision-making in child protective services. This black box called child protective
services should be opened to greater empirical examination, and one important method
of doing so is to have large federally mandated studies.

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