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Connecting the Dots

May 27, 2019

Child Protective Service ("CPS") records are contained within state lines.  In the mobile and transient world, the lack of data sharing harms children.  CPS records are not accessible to investigators across state lines.  

 

 For example, as abuse escalates, perpetrators have moved children across state lines to stop a CPS investigation. The investigation stops. The abuse does not stop.  Children are left in these homes with abusers and even further isolated in a new city.  If and when CPS is called in the new city, the new investigator does not have access to records in other states when determining risk of further harm.  

 

"1,720 children died as a result of child maltreatment in 2017, placing the United States second only to Mexico for the most intentional child fatalities in the developed world."

 

 - Testimony of Dr. Yo Jackson, March 26, 2019 Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Subcommittee Hearing, "Strengthening Prevention and Treatment in CAPTA" 

 

In order to save children's lives, state and local child protective service investigators must know if records of child abuse exist  in other states. When investigators are better informed, they can create better outcomes for children.  Currently, in these cases, the dots of multiple allegations of child abuse from different states often aren't connected until after the child dies.  

 

NCCASP  Thanks Rep. Bobby Scott for Recognizing the "Need to Connect Cases of Child Abuse Across State Lines" ​

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NCCASP believes the most viable, expeditious, and effective solution to creating a national database of child abuse reports is likely  sharing the The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Set ("NCANDS") among state and local investigators.  Since about 2006, states  have voluntarily submitted a "child case file" for each child abuse investigation to HHS. The data includes detailed information such as the child's name, birth date, siblings, alleged perpetrator, county where abuse allegedly occurred and outcomes. Currently, HHS uses the information to draft the Child Maltreatment Report estimating instances of child abuse in the U.S. 

 

However, since all of the data markers submitted to the HHS are the same, they could be integrated to create a national database. Encrypted access would be limited to state and local investigators.   The key difference from Child Abuse Registries is that the public would not be able to access the data in any fashion.   

 

While barriers to every child welfare data sharing system include that only 31 states and the District of Columbia,  permit public agencies in other states to access this information, they can be overcome.  State and local investigators must be able to search this data to determine if the child has a documented history of abuse in other states,  in order to craft the intervention that will not only allow a to  child to survive but thrive. 

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