Child welfare system (CWS) agencies across the country investigate thousands of reports of child maltreatment yearly and typically substantiate allegations of maltreatment when they believe there is sufficient evidence that it occurred. Substantiation can be a first step toward providing child and family services; however, research suggests that children in unsubstantiated cases may also be harmed or at risk and consequently may need services. Most states allow for service delivery in unsubstantiated, as well as substantiated, cases. But we do not know how often the children in these cases are perceived to need services and receive them, either from CWS or other service providers.
In this research brief, we examine the well-being of children in substantiated and unsubstantiated maltreatment cases. It provides information about their access to child welfare, mental health, and special education services.