Unanticipated problems in the United States child protection system

Child Abuse Negl. 1985;9(1):63-9. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(85)90093-6.


While the United States child protection system is widely recognized as probably the most sophisticated and wide-ranging in the world, it nevertheless has some inherent problems. This article addresses some of the negative effects of mandatory reporting and the lack of fit of a short-term crisis intervention treatment approach for a substantial proportion of the protective services population. Reporting may have detrimental effects on the client-reporter relationship. Further, over half of the cases investigated are not substantiated. Of concern are the impact on innocent families of being investigated and the waste of scarce worker resources on investigation. While some protective services families are well suited to a crisis intervention model, a large number are multiproblem families who are always in crisis and families with chronic problems for whom crisis intervention is totally inadequate. Furthermore, because of high caseload size, workers are often not available to intervene after they have investigated the case. The problems described have been exacerbated by funding cutbacks under the current United States administration. The child protection system, along with other social welfare programs, is at risk for being dismantled by the Reagan administration.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child Welfare / standards*
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Family
  • Financing, Government
  • Humans
  • Registries
  • United States