No Filter

New data shows that New York screens out far fewer hotline calls than most states, contributing to the state’s high investigation rate

Published: March 5, 2024

In recent years, parent-led activism and new research have documented the harmful effects and enormous scope of child welfare investigations, with 1 in 10 children in many of New York City’s Black and Latino neighborhoods experiencing a knock on the door in a single year.

Parents have spoken of “doorbell trauma” – mothers having panic attacks, their kids stripping off clothes to be inspected – when they hear their buzzer. At a recent meeting of Brownsville families, one parent described Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) involvement in her family and neighborhood as “like someone is on fire and screaming and no one is able to help them.” Another said, about fighting off malicious calls, “My whole life changed.”

Despite the documented harm, the number of families investigated each year has not fallen, unlike foster care removals, which have declined dramatically in the past three decades. By contrast, investigations are as high now as in the 1990s.

In 50 city zip codes, 1 in 10 Black children was investigated annually in 2019. In Brownsville, it was 1 in 5. After a pandemic drop, calls have leapt back up, even though nearly 80% of cases were not substantiated in 2023.[1] This means that more than 40,000 NYC families experienced state intrusion in their lives last year for allegations that were not substantiated. Across the state, these investigations leave their mark primarily on Black and Latino families, which make up 88% of investigated families.

In response to years of advocate demands to end surveillance and policing of Black and Latino families, city and state officials have begun to take steps to reduce hotline calls and investigations in NYC and statewide. So far, efforts have focused on training for mandated reporters and legislative reforms, with bills advancing to end anonymous reporting and require consent for drug testing of newborns and birthing parents. At a New York State Assembly hearing on mandated reporting in September, advocates and officials suggested additional legislative remedies, such as narrowing the definition of neglect and ending criminal penalties for failure to report.

Missing from the conversation has been the role of the State Central Register (SCR), run by the state Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS), which determines whether allegations of neglect or abuse called into the state hotline require an investigation or should be “screened out.” Nationwide, half of hotline calls alleging maltreatment are screened out.[2] In addition to protecting families from unwarranted state intrusion, screen-outs enable investigators to focus their attention on children who are actually in danger. In New York, however, previously unreleased OCFS data obtained by the NYC Family Policy Project (FPP) shows that the state filters out far fewer hotline calls than most states, contributing to the state’s high investigation rate.[3]

Specifically, data from 2018-2022 shows that New York’s SCR:

  • Rejected only about 25% of calls alleging maltreatment—far lower than the national average of 50%.
  • Received calls at a lower rate than typical nationwide, but passed along reports at a higher rate, resulting in an investigation rate above the national average.
  • Rejected only 12% of calls for the three statutory reasons that require SCR staff to use their judgment about whether allegations reach the legal threshold for a report, such as whether the child was harmed or the caller had “reasonable cause to suspect” maltreatment.
  • Rejected only 1% of calls on the grounds that a child was not in “imminent danger.”

Even as pressure has grown for child welfare officials to reduce family surveillance, the percentage of calls accepted by the SCR remained largely stagnant over these five years, suggesting that OCFS’s efforts to change the behavior of mandated reporters has not been matched by an effort to train and support practice change with its own staff.

For families, the consequences are serious. Families under investigation endure two months of inspections of their homes and bodies, demands for medical and school records, and intrusive interviews with their neighbors, doctors and teachers that can damage their reputation, all while holding their breath, not knowing if their children may be taken. Research shows that investigations alone increase family precarity, as parents draw back their social networks and help-seeking to limit exposure to this terrifying experience.

Hotline callers can, in good faith, make allegations that don’t reach the threshold set by state law for a child protective investigation. A teacher, for instance, may be concerned about a child’s wellbeing but not know enough about the family’s circumstances to meet the standard for a “reasonable suspicion” of neglect or abuse, or to allege that a parent hasn’t shown a “minimum degree of care.” Mandated reporters also face the prospect of criminal liability and loss of their jobs or licensure for failing to report and may call the SCR out of an abundance of caution, leaving the determination in the hands of SCR staff. Once a reporter picks up the phone, SCR staff are the only bulwark standing between an allegation and an investigation.

An ideal ecosystem of change would include alignment and accountability across multiple levers: rising public consciousness of the impact of hotline calls and the legal standards for making them; enhanced training and consultation options for mandated reporters; legislative change to reduce pressure to report and to narrow opportunities for making false or unnecessary reports; and an assertive SCR screen-out role to ensure that it is filtering out every call that does not meet the legal standard.

The data gathered in this report—including evidence that recent SCR practice adjustments do seem to have reduced some reports—strongly suggest that the SCR can potentially function as a much greater defense against investigations that are not justified under state law. They also suggest that changing SCR processes and outcomes will require heightened transparency and oversight.

Currently, the SCR is operating with little public accounting of its processes or outcomes. OCFS has long maintained that it does not collect data on calls that are filtered out, even though it does, and it has provided almost no public data or information on its processes. That requires scrutiny. As urgency builds to strengthen guardrails to limit an experience that parents describe as “humiliating” and “traumatizing” to themselves and their children, much more information about the SCR’s training, practices and outcomes should become part of the public record and be used to develop practice changes and support accountability.




The SCR Role and Process

Housed in a converted warehouse outside of Albany, the New York State Central Register (SCR) receives all calls to the state child abuse and neglect hotline and determines whether the allegations require an investigation.[4] In calls that frequently last 20-30 minutes, SCR staff are responsible for deciding whether a call includes all of the required elements to accept it as a report of abuse or neglect under New York State Social Service Law and the Family Court Act. (See Table 1.) If it does, a report is “screened-in”—passed along to ACS or county child welfare agencies for investigation.

Table 1: Required Elements to Accept a Hotline Call as a Report of Abuse or Neglect under New York State Social Service Law and the Family Court Act

Source: OCFS communication
  • Reasonable cause to suspect
  • that a minor child (less than 18 years old) has been
  • impaired (harmed) or is in
  • imminent danger of impairment because of the failure of a
  • parent or person legally responsible to exercise a
  • minimum degree of care for the minor child
  • New York state jurisdiction
  • Sufficient demographic information to initiate an investigation (to find the child/family)

Several of these elements are simple. Reports can be rejected if the child is over 18 or out of state, there is insufficient information to conduct an investigation (such as an address), the allegation is not against a parent or other legally responsible adult, or the caller hangs up or decides not to complete the report.

Other elements require SCR staff to make more complex determinations about whether allegations meet the criteria for neglect or abuse under state law. Whether a child might be in “imminent danger” of “impairment” or whether a parent has displayed a “minimum degree of care” in protecting a child from harm are open to interpretation. For instance, New York state law does not specify an age when a child may be left home unattended or for how long, or the circumstances under which a parent must take a sick or injured child to a doctor.

This invests the SCR with significant determinative power. Most callers to the hotline have little or no training in what constitutes abuse or neglect under state law. Neighbors, family and others with no training at all make 30% of calls. Most mandated reporters receive only a single 2-hour training and are not required to consult with anyone more experienced before making these life-altering calls. They also face the specter of criminal liability for failure to report. SCR specialists, by contrast, receive six weeks of training, including training in applying the law, according to OCFS. In most cases, then, SCR staff are the only people highly trained to apply state law who stand between an allegation and an investigation.

Table 2: Training for SCR Staff 

New SCR staff must complete a 6-week intensive training program comprised of instructor-led classroom training and on-the-job training, according to OCFS. The curriculum includes:
  • New York State Social Services Law
  • Child abuse and maltreatment allegations and definitions
  • Interviewing public and mandated callers
  • Decision-making/evaluating information against the law
  • Criteria for registering a CPS report

Once a call is accepted as a report by the SCR, it is rare that it does not result in an investigation. If local investigators believe that the SCR has made an error in accepting a report, the agency is required to ask the SCR to review the case, but “a report is usually not withdrawn by the SCR” after it progresses to local agencies for investigation, according to OCFS training documents, and the SCR has the final say.[5] (Both OCFS and ACS say they do not collect data on review requests or withdrawn reports, although ACS is developing a new process to request reviews more often.)



How New York Compares to Other States

Until now, it has not been possible to understand how New York compares to other states in how often it filters out calls. New York is one of only six states that reports no “screened-out” hotline calls to the federal data system, National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS).[6] Each year 2018-2022, OCFS reported to NCANDS that “New York State does not collect information about calls not registered as reports” and, in communication to the federal Children’s Bureau, which maintains NCANDS, has said that there is “no existing mechanism currently” to separate calls that allege abuse and neglect but are not accepted as a report from other types of calls to the SCR, such as those seeking information, which don’t contain allegations.[7]

New York Screened-in Reports, “Non-Reports” and Total Reports

However, OCFS data obtained through a freedom of information law (FOIL) request shows that the state does reject approximately 50,000 calls annually; tracks “information and referral” calls separately from those alleging maltreatment; and has kept data on these calls at least since 2018. It also shows that what OCFS calls “rejected reports” or “non-reports” are substantially identical to what other states report to NCANDS as “screened-out” calls.

The NCANDS codebook defines “screened-out referrals” as “referrals of maltreatment that did not meet the state’s standards for acceptance as a report and were screened out prior to CPS investigation or assessment,” which describes “non-reports.” In addition, Child Maltreatment, an annual report published by the Children’s Bureau, provides a list of more specific reasons that calls may be screened out, which closely matches OCFS non-report codes. Therefore, FPP concludes that “non-reports” can be compared to screened-out calls reported by other states.

In the analysis below, NYC Family Policy Project uses this data and NCANDS data published in the federal government’s annual Child Maltreatment report to compare New York state’s SCR practices to other states, substituting “non-reports” for “screened-out” calls. (See the Methodology for details on these data comparisons.)



From 2018-2022, New York state’s rate of total hotline calls received was lower than the national average. (The rate is calculated as calls per 1,000 children in the state population, so comparisons can be made across states.)


However, New York rejected a lower percentage of hotline calls than most other states. Forty-two states rejected a higher percentage of reports in 2022.[8]



The result is that New York had a higher rate of screened-in hotline calls than the national average.



New York’s investigation rate was also higher than the national average all five years, meaning that a higher proportion of children in New York were impacted by an investigation than in other states. (State laws vary on whether all screened-in reports must be investigated. Therefore, states’ screened-in report rate and investigation rate can differ.)



The upshot is that, even though the rate of hotline calls being made in New York state was lower than the national average, because the SCR rejected such a low percentage of calls, children and families in New York state experienced investigations at a higher rate than nationally. This suggests that the SCR subjects thousands of children to intrusive investigations because it does not use its screen-out authority on par with the rest of the nation.

It is important to note that the screened-in report rate and investigation rate for New York state as a whole is actually higher than in NYC. New York City’s rate of screened-in reports per 1,000 children in the population is fairly similar to the national rate and substantially lower than the rate for New York state.



New York City’s investigation rate was somewhat below the national rate and substantially below the rate for New York state as a whole. However, the majority of Black and Latino children live in zip codes with double or triple the citywide or national investigation rate.



Reasons for Call Closures

When rejecting a call, SCR staff select a single “closure code” that best describes which required element for accepting a call was not met.[9] In most years 2018-2022, only 25,000 calls out of approximately 200,000 were rejected on the three statutory grounds that require SCR staff to apply scrutiny and judgment to whether the allegations meet state definitions of neglect or abuse: “no reasonable cause to suspect” abuse or neglect, “no harm/effect on child,” or “no imminent danger” of harm. That is, only about 12% were not registered as reports for these reasons.

Note: There is no closure code to indicate that an allegation was rejected because a parent showed a “minimum degree of care,” which should be assessed across all allegation types. OCFS would not provide any information on how it assesses “minimum degree of care.”

Rejected Reports by “Closure Code,” 2018-2022

Non Reports Closure Reasons Count Chart

Surprisingly, only 1 in 100 calls—or 1%—were rejected because they didn’t meet criteria for “imminent danger,” even though ACS now tracks almost 25 out of 100 screened-in reports to a separate assessment track, called “CARES,” for cases that are not considered high risk, suggesting that, at intake, few of these reports are considered to reflect imminent danger on their face. (While maltreatment may surface in these cases, only 3% ended up as indicated investigations and fewer than 1% resulted in removal in 2022, according to ACS data.) OCFS’s new “decision tree” to guide mandated reporters emphasizes applying the law’s “imminent danger” standard as does ACS’s new training for school personnel. However, the SCR itself has been rejecting very few calls on the grounds that they do not meet this standard.

Across all closure reasons, the percentage of calls rejected over this 5-year period did not substantially change, even though this has been a time of heightened attention to the harms of investigations, particularly on Black and Latino families, and to the need for reforms.

In theory, SCR staff would shore up training that encourages mandated reporters to “support, not report,” helping callers determine whether their efforts to address family hardship and challenges have truly been exhausted, and offering guidance to better apply legal standards. These data suggest that heightened transparency and oversight around SCR training, practices and outcomes may be important to continued efforts to reduce the harm of the child welfare system.



Promising Evidence on SCR Adjustments

Recent reductions in two types of reports—from NYC education personnel and anonymous callers—offer evidence that SCR practice reform can have an impact. Preliminary 2023 data for NYC shows that screened-in reports by anonymous callers have dropped 42% since 2019, according to ACS. NYC screened-in reports from education personnel have dropped 18% and educational neglect allegations fell 26% in that timeframe, according to ACS. These outpaced the 7% overall reduction in screened-in reports between 2019 and 2023.[10]

While it’s unknown how many calls by these reporters or containing these allegations were rejected by the SCR, it’s likely they reflect procedural changes by the SCR.

With anonymous reports, the harm is obvious—many parents experience repeated unsubstantiated investigations rooted in harassment, including a mother in Brooklyn who filed a lawsuit in November after enduring dozens of investigations stemming from anonymous calls. Yet proposed legislation to end anonymous reporting has not passed, so SCR practice has been the only lever for change. Recently SCR staff began to require anonymous reporters to speak with a supervisor, according to ACS. For NYC, these calls fell to approximately 2,700 in 2023 compared to 4,700 in 2019.

Educational neglect, likewise, has long been recognized as overreported. In 2019, legislation went into effect that raised the legal standard for making this allegation. Now, the law requires that school personnel work with parents to address absences, such as by helping with transportation barriers or connecting families to mental health support, prior to making a call. This legislative change also was backed up by ACS training for school liaisons on the law as well as options for directly supporting families.

The reductions in screened-in reports from these two sources indicate that SCR staff were able to filter out unwarranted reports by taking a more rigorous approach.[11] Even so, NYC education reporters still made 12,000 screened-in reports in 2022, and 85% of reports made January to June were not substantiated.[12] Beyond educational neglect, state law specifically includes clauses to protect against acceptance of reports that reflect circumstances of family hardship and distress, not neglect. Lack of provision of medical care, food and shelter can only be considered neglect if a parent is “financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so.” According to ACS, many screened-in reports “continue to involve concerns such as educational neglect or inadequate guardianship, which, upon assessment, often actually reflect truancy situations, children with active PINS cases, or families with basic needs that interfere with school attendance but where parents are displaying a minimum degree of care.”

Often, written reports referred by the SCR use such unspecific stock language—and CPS investigators do not have access to call recordings—that it is not until the first conversation with a family that it becomes clear that a report was unwarranted. “They’re relying on us to ask the questions,” a former county administrator told FPP.




Research on hotline callers has found that many reporters treat child protective systems as a “catch-all” to address family needs that they’re under-resourced to help with, or as an authority to force parents to “fix” their family, even when families’ circumstances do not merit an invasive and threatening intervention meant to identify children in need of removal from home. Staff of the SCR are in a unique position to reject hotline calls that may reflect misunderstandings or misuse of the system’s heavy hand. They are also uniquely situated to identify and address harmful patterns in calls.

Because of the sheer number of mandated reporters, it is possible for individual reporters and even institutions to feel they are being relatively judicious in making hotline calls while total calls still add up to a very high burden on Black and Latino families. More than 45 job categories representing hundreds of thousands of workers are mandated reporters. In the NYC public schools alone, there are more than 75,000 teachers. Each teacher making a single call every six years could still add up to 12,000 calls from education reporters annually, most of which are not substantiated.

SCR staff are provided much more training than mandated reporters, can access supervision in making determinations and spend hours every day assessing the legal basis for these calls. They are in a much stronger position than most reporters to make difficult judgment calls about whether allegations meet the criteria for acceptance. A potentially more rigorous SCR process would appropriately shift more of this assessment burden and liability to highly trained professionals at the SCR and away from individuals with little background in applying the law.

Change should start with greater transparency about SCR practices. It is possible that a close review of New York state’s SCR practices would legitimize its low rate of rejecting calls. State law limits SCR staff to accepting allegations on their face; they are not authorized, like CPS investigators, to decide whether they believe them or not, and the evidence available to them is limited to what they can learn from the caller. However, New York’s very low rate of rejected calls compared to other states should raise concern that SCR procedures are passing on too much of a burden to vulnerable families. OCFS provided very limited information about specific SCR training or practices, saying only that SCR staff “do not use a script” and that, “if a mandated reporter (or anyone) calls the SCR and provides all of the elements needed register a report of maltreatment/abuse, the SCR is required to register a report regardless of what the reporter has/has not done.”

Announcing its new training for mandated reporters last February, former OCFS Deputy Commissioner Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu said that messaging to mandated reporters to call the SCR whenever in doubt “has resulted in a staggering increase of abuse and maltreatment reports that not only are unwarranted in the first place, but in many cases were based solely on race and poverty. Black and Latinx populations have suffered for decades due to being disproportionately targeted by the child welfare system under these guidelines.” It is important that OCFS provide greater clarity on how it has sought to rigorously apply its own power under the law to filter out these unwarranted reports.



The following actions would bring needed transparency and accountability to SCR practices:

State Legislature

  • The State Legislature should hold hearings on SCR training and practices to examine how SCR staff are being trained to apply state law, how the SCR quality assurance team reviews calls and determinations, and how coaching and development is provided to staff.  Particular attention should be given to statutes that require SCR staff to exercise judgment in applying the law and to practices, such as requiring that education reporters provide information about all efforts to assist families, that may not match statutory intent.
  • As lawmakers and policymakers examine additional remedies to reduce unwarranted reports, such as narrowing the definition of neglect, they should include requirements for coding practices, data reporting and practice implementation monitoring to ensure that outcomes can be measured.
  • The legislature should develop specific remedies—in addition to ending anonymous reporting—to identify and end investigations based on harassment, such as enabling ACS and county agencies to have discretion to screen out reports or hold low-contact check-ins with parents when case reviews show that a report is likely malicious.

State Comptroller

  • The State Comptroller’s office should conduct a review of screened-in reports to examine the appropriateness of screen-in determinations, particularly for cases tracked to CARES/Family Assessment Response (FAR), just as it recently conducted a review of the appropriateness of screened-out report determinations.


  • New York state should align its SCR data to NCANDS and report screen-outs as well as publicly share detailed data on SCR intakes and rejected/screened-out reports annually, breaking out rejected call volume by reporter type and allegation in public data. However, it should not expand family surveillance in any data tracking, such as by collecting or maintaining any information on families in rejected calls, or tracking family information when referring callers to its resource line, called HEARS.
  • OCFS should develop closure codes that cover each aspect of state statutes, including “minimum degree of care” and neglect provisions that require families to be offered support prior to an SCR report, such as assistance with food, shelter, medical care, or school attendance challenges, so that these codes function to support decision-making and better represent why a report was not registered.
  • The SCR should provide audio of calls along with written reports to ACS and county agencies so CPS can better understand the content of the report.
  • OCFS should provide guidance to ACS and county agencies on appropriate documentation to close cases after a 24-hour or 7-day assessment when initial conversations lead investigators to conclude a report was unwarranted.

ACS and County Agencies

  • ACS and county agencies should more routinely ask the SCR to review reports, the investigative timeline should pause during reviews, data on these reviews and determinations should be added as a field in the CPS database, CONNECTIONS, and this data should be made public.
  • ACS and county agencies should vigorously refer suspected malicious calls for prosecution.



Data Sources: This report uses data reported to NCANDS and published annually in the Children’s Bureau’s Child Maltreatment report; OCFS data for New York state provided by OCFS and obtained through a FOIL request; and NYC data provided by the Administration for Children’s Services. The OCFS and ACS data are on a calendar year and NCANDS data is on the federal fiscal year, which runs October 1-September 30. However, they are substantially similar, with the exception of 2020. See comparisons below. For rates, NCANDS uses the child population estimates that are released annually by the U.S. Census Bureau. These child population estimates are used for all state and city child population numbers and rates in this report.

Screened-in Referral Rate: Child Maltreatment calculates the screened-in referral rate for each state each year by dividing the number of screened-in referrals by the child population, multiplying the result by 1,000, and rounding to the nearest tenth. Because New York state reports this number to NCANDS, screened-in referral rates in this document reflect NCANDS data and are on the federal fiscal year.

Screened-in Rate: Comparing Fiscal Year (FY) to Calendar Year (CY)

The “screened-in” call rate does not reflect every call made to the hotline with screened-in allegations. In New York, subsequent and duplicate calls about the same family are consolidated into single reports if they are called in within a short timeframe. The family experiences one investigation or CARES case, even if multiple callers (such as a primary care doctor and emergency room doctor) both report a concern. Therefore “screened-in reports” reported to NCANDS reflect these consolidations, consistent with NCANDS guidance. In its monthly Flash updates, ACS reports unconsolidated “SCR Referrals” as well as “Consolidated Investigations” and CARES cases. The total of “Consolidated Investigations” and CARES cases together reflects “screened-in reports” for NYC.

Screened-out Referral Rate & Rejected Reports Rate: Child Maltreatment calculates the screened-out referral rate for each year by dividing the number of screened-out referrals by the child population, multiplying the result by 1,000, and rounding to the nearest tenth. New York state does not report this number to NCANDS. However, the New York state description of “non-reports” closely matches the NCANDS codebook description of “screened-out” reports. Therefore, FPP calculates the screened-out/rejected reports rate for New York state by dividing “non-reports” by the child population in New York state, multiplying the result by 1,000, and rounding to the tenth. For this rate, FPP uses calendar year data.

Total Referral Rate (Screened-in and Screened-Out): Child Maltreatment calculates the Total Referral Rate for individual states by dividing the number of total referrals (screened-in plus screened-out) by the child population of states and multiplying the result by 1,000. Except for 2020, rates are substantially similar whether using fiscal year or calendar year data for the screened-in reports; screened-out reports are by calendar year in both calculations. New York state total referral rates in this report are calculated using calendar year data for both screened-in and screened-out report.

Total Referral Rate: Comparing Fiscal Year (FY) to Calendar Year (CY)

Investigations Rate: FPP uses the shorthand “investigations rate” to refer to the Child Maltreatment data set “Children Who Received an Investigation or Alternative Response.” Child Maltreatment calculates this rate by dividing the number of children in both investigations and alternate response cases by the child population count and multiplying by 1,000. Children who may have experienced multiple investigations or alternate response cases in a single year are counted only once (“unique children”). Because New York state reports this number to NCANDS, state investigation/alternative response rates in this document reflect NCANDS data and are on the federal fiscal year, which runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30. NYC data also reflects unique children and is on the calendar year.

Report Rates vs. Children in Investigations Rates: Note that Child Maltreatment tallies rates for “screened-in” and “screened-out” referrals by number of reports, while investigation and alternative response rates are tallied by the number of children involved. For instance, a single report on a family may include multiple children, but it would be counted as a one report. A single investigation also may include multiple children, but each child would be counted. Therefore, rates for investigations are higher than report rates.


Report written by Nora McCarthy. Data fact-checking by Cat Pisciotta. Proofreading by Angela Butel. A special thank you to readers who provided excellent guidance: Rachel Blustain, Josh Gupta-Kagan, Meredith Giovanelli, Steve Cohen, Mahima Golani, and all those who shared information and insights, especially Jey Rajaraman. 

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[1] The percent of investigations plus CARES cases that resulted in substantiated investigations in 2023 was 22.7%, according to ACS’ January 2024 Flash Report, p. 8, which means that, out of 52,873 investigations and CARES cases in 2023, 40,870 cases were not substantiated. CARES stands for “Collaborative Assessment, Response, Engagement & Support,” and is the name for NYC’s “alternate response” approach. CARES does not result in any determination, such as “indicated” or “unsubstantiated”; cases are simply closed. Requirements for conducting CARES assessments can be found in statute SSL §427-a and regulation 18 NYCRR §432.13. Case substantiation rates in New York City have decreased substantially since January 2022, both because of a new law raising the standard of evidence and because far more cases are now tracked to CARES.

[2] Using the national estimate of screened-out referrals and national estimates of total referrals in Child Maltreatment (p. 7 in the 2022 edition), the percent of referrals screened out was 50% in 2022, 49% in 2021, 47% in 2020, 46% in 2019 and 45% in 2018. Child Maltreatment is an annual report by the Children’s Bureau, an office of the federal Administration for Children and Families, that draws on federal National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data. More information on state statutes for report screening can be found in this resource from the Child Welfare Information Gateway. New York statutes appear consistent with most states' screening requirements.

[3] “Investigation Rate” and “Investigation” throughout this report are a shorthand referring to both investigations and “alternative response” cases, which are called CARES in NYC and Family Assessment Response (FAR) in the rest of New York state. In Child Maltreatment, these rates are reported together under the heading “Children Who Received an Investigation or Alternative Response.” Both investigations and alternate response cases involve Child Protective Services visits to the home, a safety and risk assessment, interviews with teachers, doctors, neighbors and others, and reviews of family health and educational records, with CARES cases in NYC in 2022 frequently lasting 40-60 days, similar to a 60-day investigation, according to ACS data.

[4] OCFS Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said in testimony to an Assembly committee hearing on mandated reporting in September that OCFS is adding a second SCR site in Onondaga County, which is anticipated to increase the racial diversity of SCR staff.

[5] OCFS CPS Manual 2023, Chapter 3, p. A-6

[6] New Jersey, which also reports no screen-outs to NCANDS, does provide detailed monthly data on SCR call outcomes.

[7] OCFS data obtained by NYC Family Policy Project through a FOIL request shows that, in addition to “non-reports,” the SCR received the following numbers of “information and referral” calls: 23,890 in 2018; 29,892 in 2019; 28,940 in 2020; 31,811 in 2021; and 33,791 in 2022.

[8] See Child Maltreatment 2022, p. 13. This number varies very little 2018-2022.

[9] A 2023 audit by the State Comptroller found that “closure codes for non-report calls could more accurately reflect the nature of closure and why the call did not result in a report,” and OCFS responded that it will add the following codes: 1) disconnected before providing adequate information; 2) Information Technology issues; 3) Caller was interrupted and will call back; 4) Law enforcement referral processed; 5) Completed in backup system.

[10] NYC had 52,873 investigations and CARES cases combined in 2023, compared to 57,148 in 2019, according to ACS Flash Reports, representing a 7% reduction.

[11] Educational neglect accounted for only 3% of allegations in 2023 and anonymous reporters accounted for only 4% of all callers, according to ACS Flash Reports.

[12] According to the ACS School-Based Early Support concept paper, of cases opened in the first half of 2022 that stemmed from allegations made by education personnel, 85% were unfounded or were diverted to CARES, compared to 79% of cases called in by all reporter types.

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