Child Protective Services (2013-MS-5)

Issued Date
October 14, 2014

[read complete report - pdf]

We also released eight letter reports to the following counties: Dutchess [pdf], Livingston [pdf], Niagara [pdf], Oneida [pdf], Rockland [pdf], Saratoga [pdf], Ulster [pdf] and Washington [pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine if actions taken by the county’s Child Protective Services (CPS) units were sufficient to reduce child abuse and neglect recurrence rates for the period January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012.


The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) oversees the child welfare programs that are administered by counties. Each county has its own CPS unit that is required to investigate child abuse and neglect reports; to protect children from further abuse or neglect; and to provide rehabilitative services to children, parents and other family members. Recent federal reviews of the State’s child welfare programs found that the State’s recurrence rate of abuse and neglect was higher than the national standard and required each county CPS unit to develop and implement a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to help reduce recurrence rates. County CPS units may use the Family Assessment Review (FAR) as an alternative response to the traditional CPS investigation process.

Key Findings

  • The PIPs generally included a measurable child abuse and neglect recurrent reduction goal, implementation plan and progress tracking mechanisms, but recurrence rates for most counties did not decline.
  • None of the eight counties we audited use available historical and programmatic knowledge to determine if program improvements are needed or if certain initiatives or actions result in positive outcomes.
  • Three of the five counties that we audited that implemented the FAR approach had not conducted evaluations to determine its effectiveness.

Key Recommendations

  • Work with OCFS to develop additional strategies to achieve long-term recurrence rate reductions.
  • Examine each recurrence and track and analyze recurrence data to identify historical trends, actions and data correlations to reduce recurrences of child abuse and neglect.
  • Develop a method to evaluate the FAR approach.