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Substantiation as a Multitier Process: The Results of a NIS-3 Analysis

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 8 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2003 Pages: 173-182
Gary King; Nico Trocme; Nandita Thatte
Date Published
August 2003
10 pages
This study examined various investigatory factors influencing the multitiered child maltreatment substantiation process used by child protection services.
Mandatory reporting of suspect child maltreatment, coupled with increased public education on this issue, resulted in an increase of reported cases during the early 1990’s. However, the substantiation rate during the period from 1986 to 1993 decreased from 51 percent to 28 percent. Low substantiation rates present a problem to an overburdened child protection system because it shows that valuable human resources are not being spent on the most needy cases. As such, the authors examined data from the 1993 Third National Incidence Study (NIS-3) of substantiated and unsubstantiated reported incidents (N=7,263) to determine which factors influenced the multitiered substantiation process. Independent variables examined included demographic characteristics, case-processing variables, and maltreatment characteristics. Results of bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that 60.2 percent of reported cases were evaluated as unfounded, 22 percent were founded, and 17 percent were classified as indicated. Case processing variables were predictive of founded and indicated status. The demographic characteristics of income and race were also predictive of cases which were classified as founded. Cases in which the family had a mid-range income (between $15,000 and $29,999) were less likely to be classified as founded compared to cases of families with less than $15,000. Cases of Hispanic children were more likely than any other race category to be classified as founded. Further analysis of the substantiation process is crucial for providing a more effective investigation and substantiation system. Table, references