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Justice Systems Processing of Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1996
33 pages
A research project sought to increase understanding of both the civil and criminal justice processing of child abuse and neglect cases, determine the types of coordination activities that produce more effective case processing, and determine the potential to track cases through the child welfare and legal systems to facilitate case coordination.
The project consisted of four separate studies: (1) a national survey of child protective services, law enforcement, and court personnel in 41 counties; (2) a case study comparison of case processing at 2 sites; (3) a case study of a site that actively prosecutes cases of child physical abuse; and (4) a prospective case tracking study of 450 cases at 1 site. The project was conducted between 1993 and 1994. Findings refer largely to cases reported during 1993-94. Results revealed that many counties lack effective mechanisms for coordinating law enforcement and protective service practice, even though the literature has been promoting and examining the use of multidisciplinary teams for more than 25 years. Teamwork is increasing, but its effectiveness depends largely on the agency structure and the nature of the individuals. The degree of miscommunication and misinformation with respect to actual practices in case processing was surprising. Findings indicated the need to develop models of tracking systems suitable to different settings. Discussion of additional implications and recommendations

Date Published: January 1, 1996