Prediction accuracy of the Washington and Illinois risk assessment instruments: An application of receiver operating characteristic curve analysis

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Abstract

In recent years many child protective services (CPS) agencies have used structured risk assessment to streamline and rationalize case identification and management in a resource-depleted environment. Empirical evidence of risk assessment's capacity to predict child maltreatment has been limited to tests of single instruments. This article compares the predictive performances of the Illinois CANTS 17B and the Washington State Risk Matrix on a sample of New Jersey CPS cases using logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Both instruments predict case recidivism, closings, and substantiation with probabilities greater than chance. Moreover, in the prediction of case recidivism, the Washington instrument showed superiority at a statistically significant level. The implications of ROC analysis for child welfare decision makers and the relationship among test accuracy, problem prevalence, and diagnostic cutoff points are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work Research
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Child abuse
  • Child protective services
  • Illinois Cants 17B
  • Receiver operating characteristic curve
  • Washington State Risk Matrix

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