State Child Abuse and Neglect Policies Database


Project Overview


The State Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Policies Database compiles data on the definitions and policies that different states use in their surveillance of child maltreatment, along with data on associated risk and protective factors.

Project Motivation

Although federal law is the foundation of the child welfare system, states drive much of their own systems structure. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (C.A.P.T.A.) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g), as amended in 2010, identifies certain acts or behaviors as child maltreatment. States must comply with the broader C.A.P.T.A. definitions, but states have their own legal definitions within those parameters. State laws—and the policies states set to enforce these laws—have different definitions of child abuse and neglect and different policies for reporting and responding to child maltreatment.   

The project’s purpose is to review and compile information from selected definitions and policies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, to create a database of those definitions and policies (the SCAN Policies Database) that can be used for analysis.

Prepared For

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

The SCAN Policies Database is a resource for researchers, analysts, and others who are interested in examining differences between states in their definitions and policies on child maltreatment.

Data on the definitions and related policies for child abuse and neglect—state by state and over time—can help researchers, analysts, policymakers, child welfare agencies, and others broaden their understanding of differences between states and how these differences may influence rates of child maltreatment.

Project Impact

SCAN Policies Database Improves Access to State Definitions and Policies on Child Maltreatment

Users can access data on states’ definitions of child abuse and neglect and related policies on the SCAN Policies Database website. It provides an online tool to help explore the data, state profiles, data use resources, and links to other project resources.

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Related Staff

Elizabeth  Weigensberg

Elizabeth Weigensberg

Senior Researcher

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Mary Grider

Mary Grider

Director, Data Analytics

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Jean Knab

Jean Knab

Principal Researcher  

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Nuzhat  Islam

Nuzhat Islam

Project Manager

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