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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
June 2009
The 2008 Legislature directed the Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (OFCO) to analyze referrals of child abuse and neglect to find out whether the source of the referral influenced the response by the Child Protective Services (CPS) at the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). OFCO contracted with the Institute to perform the study. We examined a total of 96,000 referrals made between January 2006 and February 2008 and found that educators and social services professionals make more reports to CPS than other types of reporters. Compared with other reporters, referrals from law enforcement were more likely to both be accepted for investigation and result in removal of a child from his or her home.

The study also found variations in the outcomes of referrals from the various types of reporters. The largest variations in outcomes were determined by DSHS region and the risk assignment history of individual intake workers. Intake workers with a history of assigning higher levels of risk than their peers were more likely to continue to assign higher levels of risk.
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