HHS Releases Updated Child Abuse and Neglect User Manuals

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the final two volumes in its Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series. This third edition of the series includes reports dating from 2003 to 2010 and provides updated information on policies, practices, and concerns that is more relevant to the youth social service sector than the previous editions, the most recent of which dates from the 1990s.

The first of the new reports, entitled “Community Partnerships: Improving the Response to Child Maltreatment,” focuses on the ways in which organizations, agencies and individuals can best work together to provide support for children and their families. The report includes suggestions on how to form these partnerships, from identifying organizations that would be willing to participate to engaging families and youth as part of a community network. Profiles of 13 successful partnerships in various communities across the country are highlighted, and the authors provide recommendations for child protective services to incorporate the community model into their practices.

The second report, “The Role of First Responders in Child Maltreatment Cases: Disaster and Nondisaster Situations,” is geared toward professionals – primarily EMTs, police officers and child protective services caseworkers – who may be first to arrive at a scene where abuse or neglect has occurred.  The manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to recognize certain types of maltreatment, including the causes of specific injuries and behavioral characteristics associated with various forms of abuse. The report also includes guidelines for each type of professional about how to objectively collect information through interviews, how to interact with children of different ages who have been mistreated or witnessed abuse, and how to react during a disaster situation. Information about the responder’s role in the case of a child fatality is also provided.

The User Manual Series has been published since the 1970s, providing “training, self-instruction, desktop reference, and program development” for child service professionals and workers in related fields, according to the HHS’ Administration for Children and Families website. This most recent edition of the series contains 12 studies that cover a wide range of topics, from the roles of educators and childcare providers in identifying abuse and neglect, to information about working with courts and child protective services. Both of the new reports were written in conjunction with Children’s Bureau, a division of HHS.

More information about the User Manuals Series can be found at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/umsugg.cfm. The two most recent reports are available for free download at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/umnew.cfm.