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Predicting the Decisions of Hospital Based Child Protection Teams to Report to Child Protective Services, Police and Community Welfare Services

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2014 Pages: 11-24
Rami Benbenishty; Merav Jedwab; Wendy Chen; Saralee Glasser; Hanna Slutzky; Gil Siegal; Zohar Lavi-Sahar; Liat Lerner-Geva
Date Published
January 2014
14 pages
A study conducted in Israel examined the criteria used in decisions by hospital-based child protection teams (CPTs) in determining whether there is reasonable suspicion that a child under the hospital's care has been maltreated and that the case should be reported to a community welfare agency, child protective services (CPS), or the police.
The most of the findings suggest that CPTs decisions to refer a case to one or more of the agencies are based on indexes that have strong support in the professional literature. Types of criteria related to CPTs referral decisions were socio-demographic (e.g., ethnicity and financial status); parental functioning (e.g., mental health); previous contacts with authorities and/or the hospital; current referral characteristics (e.g. parental referral vs. child referral); physical findings; and suspicious behaviors of the child and parents. Regarding the agency to which the CPT made referrals, the family's previous contact with welfare or mental health services was associated with referral to community services, but not the CPS or the police. Identification of a family as having a "difficult" economic situation triggered a referral to community welfare services; whereas, determining the family's economic situation as "severe" was associated with reports both to CPS or police and also community services. Previous reports to and engagement with protective services was predictive of the CPTs decision to report the case to both protective services and the police. The researchers recommend that CPTs and appropriate public agencies collaborate in sharing knowledge and criteria related to child maltreatment. The study consisted of a prospective multi-center study of 968 consecutive cases referred to CPTs during 2010-2011 in six medical centers in Israel. A structured questionnaire was used to capture relevant information and judgments on each child referred to the team. 4 tables and 61 references