Substantiation as a Multitier Process: The Results of a NIS-3 Analysis

Gary King, Nico Trocmé, Nandita Thatte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies on child maltreatment reporting have focused mainly on one level of substantiation. This article analyzes factors influencing the multitiered substantiation process. Method: The 1993 Third National Incidence Study (NIS-3) data of substantiated and non-substantiated reported incidents (N=7,263) of maltreatment were analyzed. Substantiation was classified into three categories: unfounded, indicated, and founded. Independent variables included demographic characteristics, case-processing variables, and maltreatment characteristics. Data analysis: Emanate and multiple logistic regression (MLR) analyses were calculated to determine whether demographic and case processing variables predicted unfounded or founded/indicated dispositions. Second-level analysis examined demographic, case processing, and maltreatment characteristics as predictors of founded or indicated status. Results: These results showed that 60.2% of CPS investigations conducted were evaluated as unfounded, about 22% were categorized as founded, and 17% were classified as indicated. In the MLR analysis for the first level of substantiation, case processing variables were highly significant predictors of founded/indicated status. In the second-level substantiation MLR model, cases in the mid-range income level ($15,000-29,999) had a lower probability (adjusted OR = .58, p - .02) of being founded than those of less than $15,000, and reports involving Hispanic children (OR = 3.04, p = . 05) were more likely than the "all other" race-ethnic social classification to have been substantiated as founded. Conclusions: This analysis of NIS-3 data suggests that a three-tiered rather than a two-tiered system is a more accurate representation of the CPS substantiation process. Further analysis of substantiation patterns is required to provide a basis for developing more effective investigation systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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