Reducing Underresponding

Improving System Response to Mandated Reporters

by Gail L. Zellman


Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback8 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

The child protective services (CPS) system in the United States is severely overburdened, and therefore CPS agencies cannot respond as they might like to many reports. This Note proposes three changes that could improve system functioning and reduce the frustration of those who are mandated by law to report child maltreatment. One reform involves information and training, which must emphasize that there are important reasons for reporting, even when CPS response is not possible. These reasons include the need to maintain scrutiny and to collect accurate data. A second reform involves formalizing the informal. Informal understandings that reports of minor abuse will not precipitate system response do not meet the system's need to collect accurate data, and rely too heavily on personal judgments and relationships. But if the informal process could be formalized, the system might be spared from having to investigate certain kinds of reports immediately. Knowledgeable reporters would not have to choose between complying with the reporting mandate and acting in what they perceive to be the child's best interests. A third reform worth pursuing is streamlining the reporting process.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.