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Preventing Delinquency Through Improved Child Protection Services

NCJ Number
Date Published
Wiebush, R., Freitag, R., Baird, C.
This bulletin focuses on a tertiary prevention strategy that shows great promise in reducing subsequent child maltreatment once a family has come to the attention of a child protection services (CPS) agency.
The bulletin begins with a brief review of what is known about the link between childhood maltreatment and juvenile and adult offending. Next, it provides an overview of OJJDP's Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile offenders and identifies where CPS tertiary prevention efforts belong within a community's continuum of delinquency prevention and intervention efforts. The main body of the bulletin describes and assesses a particularly promising CPS tertiary prevention strategy known as Structured Decision Making (SDM). The primary goals of the SDM model are to bring a greater degree of consistency, objectivity, and validity to child welfare case decisions and to help CPS agencies focus their limited resources on cases at the highest level of risk and need. Structured assessment tools are used at various points in the case decision making process. Each tool incorporates decision protocols, based directly on assessment results, to guide the agency's response to each family. One of the key assessment tools is a research-based risk assessment that classifies families according to their likelihood of continuing to abuse or neglect their children. Thus, SDM focuses on how case management decisions are made and how agency resources can best be directed. 14 figures, 3 tables, and 43 references
Date Created: August 13, 2014