Child Protective Services Reports in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: A Delphi Process Examining Best Practices

Acad Pediatr. 2022 Jul;22(5):833-841. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2022.02.019. Epub 2022 Mar 5.


Objectives: Child protective services (CPS) reporting for families experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) is complex. The goal of this study was to develop expert-driven best practices for pediatric providers filing CPS reports in the context of IPV.

Methods: We conducted a Delphi study with experts in IPV and child abuse and neglect (CAN) through 3 rounds of surveys. In Round 1, participants selected clinical scenarios for which they would file, as well as best practices when CPS reporting is indicating. In Round 2, participants described how strongly they agreed that a provider should file for each clinical scenario and how important each best practice was on a 5-point Likert scale. Finally, in Round 3 participants reviewed Round 1 and 2 results, then reported their final determination by selecting yes or no for each option. Consensus was achieved in Round 3 if >80% of participants agreed. In each round, participants could provide further detail via free-text answers.

Results: Twenty-three (40%) of the invited experts participated. Consensus was not achieved for children directly witnessing IPV or experiencing health symptoms due to IPV exposure. Participants were in consensus regarding need for CPS reporting when CAN was present and that reporting should not occur for exposure to IPV only. Best practices included supporting IPV survivors, developing healthcare-based IPV advocacy programs, and optimizing the child welfare system.

Conclusion: This study provides expert-driven recommendations for filing CPS reports in the context of IPV and highlights the inherent complexity of filing and the need for further guidelines.

Keywords: Delphi; child abuse and neglect child protective services; intimate partner violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child Protective Services
  • Child Welfare
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires