Children and Youth Services Review Volume (issue): 22 (11-12) 2000
Looks Can Be Deceiving: Using a Risk Assessment Instrument to Evaluate the Outcomes of Child Protection Services 935 -- 949
Charles Gene Lyle, Elliott Graham (Ramsey County Community Human Services Department)
This study explores the use of a risk assessment instrument based on the Illinois CANTS-17B in the child protection services division of a large urban public social services agency. It addresses the usefulness of the instrument as an outcome measure tool, that is, as means of measuring successful case outcomes based on reductions in maltreatment risk between case opening and case closing. Two separate studies were conducted in which the initial and closing risk levels on the 14-item scale were compared. Results were highly statistically significant in both studies, with the difference being in the expected and desired direction: a decrease in risk scores at case closing. However, a more detailed exploration of the data and of the practice issues involved in the agency setting strongly suggests that these differences are largely due to the artificial inflation of initial risk scores by caseworkers in order to ensure children's acceptance for ongoing child protection services. These factors are discussed in detail, along with the policy decisions that ensued from the study.
Source: Children and Youth Services Review