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Public Policy and Administration


Kristie Roberts-Lewis


In 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported an estimated 686,000 victims of child abuse and neglect. Forty-nine states reported a total of 1,593 fatalities. This quantitative research study examined the relationship between the variables: age of child, gender of child, age of parent/caregiver, prior substantiated reports of abuse, and incidents of abuse in Philadelphia at the Department of Human Services using risk practice model (RPM) and safety practice model (SPM). Although child welfare practitioners have examined the relationship between family and societal factors that affect child abuse; few researchers have examined the correlation between service delivery practice models and incidents of abuse. The findings of this quantitative study examined 34,761 components of variable data from the Department of Human Services revealed that the age of the child, age of the caregiver, and incidents of abuse are statistically significant predictors of abuse, whereas the gender of child had minimal effect on incidents of abuse. The most accurate predictor of child abuse is prior substantiated reports of abuse. The study shows that reports received in 2007 using the RPM were 9.6% more likely to have a valid report; likewise, every report received during the years 2007 and 2012 increases the probability of a valid report by 94.2%. Development of a comprehensive assessment tool that combines the principle tenets of both RPM and SPM is recommended. The implications for social change include developing a practice model that can increase safety probabilities while diminishing incidents of abuse by using a more comprehensive assessment tool.