In light of intense media scrutiny since last summer, policymakers, social service workers, and concerned citizens have had many discussions about how the state should or should not intervene when child abuse and neglect are suspected.
This issue was at the core of prominent legislation this year and continues to be a topic debated by candidates for political office and others. In Utah Foundation’s Utah Priorities Poll, the issue of parental rights emerged as one of the top ten issues facing Utah this year. This Research Brief is intended to provide data and facts to help voters better understand this issue.
To help shed light on this thorny subject, this brief will explain: 1) the processes involved when the state investigates child abuse and neglect; 2) trends in the number of referrals and the number of times a child is removed from the home, as well as the different types of cases processed by the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is provided; and 3) changes to child welfare law made by the 2004 legislative session.