Contact with Child Protective Services is pervasive but unequally distributed by race and ethnicity in large US counties.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This article provides county-level estimates of the cumulative prevalence of four levels of Child Protective Services (CPS) contact using administrative data from the 20 most populous counties in the United States. Rates of CPS investigation are extremely high in almost every county. Racial and ethnic inequality in case outcomes is large in some counties. The total median investigation rate was 41.3%; the risk for Black, Hispanic, and White children exceeded 20% in all counties. Risks of having a CPS investigation were highest for Black children (43.2 to 72.0%). Black children also experienced high rates of later-stage CPS contact, with rates often above 20% for confirmed maltreatment, 10% for foster care placement, and 2% for termination of parental rights (TPR). The only other children who experienced such extreme rates of later-stage CPS interventions were American Indian/Alaska Native children in Middlesex, MA; Hispanic children in Bexar, TX; and all children except Asian/Pacific Islander children in Maricopa, AZ. The latter has uniquely high rates of late-stage CPS interventions. In some jurisdictions, such as New York, NY, (0.2%) and Cook, IL (0.2%), very few children experienced TPR. These results show that early CPS interventions are ubiquitous in large counties but with marked variation in how CPS systems respond to these investigations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Edwards, F; Wakefield, S; Healy, K; Wildeman, C

Published Date

  • July 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 118 / 30

Start / End Page

  • e2106272118 -

PubMed ID

  • 34282022

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8325358

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.2106272118


  • eng