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Comments on How Child Protective Services Investigators Decide to Substantiate Mothers for Failure-to-Protect in Sexual Abuse Cases

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Dated: 2006 Pages: 83-95
Amy L. Shadoin; Connie N. Carnes
Date Published
13 pages
This commentary article discusses the decisions of child protective services (CPS) investigators in substantiating mothers for failure-to-protect (FTP) from child sexual abuse.
The authors discuss four main issues that should be considered within the child maltreatment research community in order to inform policies governing CPS investigations of non-offending caregivers (NOCs) for FTP: (1) the differences in statutory definitions and common guidance on FTP cases; (2) the variation in availability and quality of professional education and training on substantiation decisions for CPS workers; (3) the limited state of current empirical knowledge of FTP decisions; and (4) the limited state of current empirical knowledge on NOCs. State, Federal, and administrative statutes differ in their definitions of child maltreatment as well as in the amount of specificity provided to caseworkers to guide substantiation decisions. The problem created by the differences in statutes is compounded by the fact that national and government agencies provide limited common guidance to CPS investigators regarding substantiation criteria for FTP. A lack of common guidance becomes more of a problem when considering that the education, training, and experience among CPS investigators vary widely from State to State and from county to county. Moreover, empirical research regarding the factors influencing FTP and about NOC who are not battered women is sorely lacking. Future research is warranted in all four areas. For example, future research could focus on how decisions on substantiation for FTP are influenced at the levels of agency policy and individual cases by variations in statutory definitions of child abuse and neglect and in published guidelines for CPS investigators. One of the ultimate goals in increasing our understanding of FTP is the development of non-punitive models for service. References