Mathematica and Child Trends have unveiled a new database that allows a deeper understanding of each state’s child protection systems and laws. The State Child Abuse & Neglect Policies Database allows researchers, analysts, advocates, policymakers to broaden their understanding of how differences in state laws and policies might influence state variability in reported rates of child abuse and neglect.
The new database is timely in that there have been numerous critiques of state cps systems and how they are impacting communities of color as well as how certain categories of mandatory reporters (i.e., school teachers) impact child abuse reporting.
The database allows a specific examination of each state, including definitions of child abuse and neglect. These details state policies on types of maltreatment, subtypes of maltreatment, the level of harm, type of harm, or injury specified in state’s definition of child maltreatment. Under “reporting child abuse” it describes whether there is statewide centralized reporting, standards for reporting child maltreatment including known abuse and neglect, reasonable cause if there is required training for mandated reporters, types of mandated reporters, penalties for failure to report, penalties for false reporting. The section on “screening policies” includes the decision process. This details whether screening includes supervisors or team-based decisions, the required education levels of screeners, safety and risk assessments for the child, who serves as investigators, their education levels, investigation technics, and requirements, use of differential or alternate response, whether there are in-home services provided for unsubstantiated cases, if there are services when a child is reunified, and whether or not a states child welfare system is state-led or county led.