Familial risk and protective factors affecting CPS professionals’ child removal decision: A decision tree analysis study

Luca Milani, Sarah Miragoli, Daniela Traficante, Serena Grumi, Elena Camisasca, Paola Di Blasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


CPS (Child Protection Services) workers are required to assess the level of safety of referred minors and to identify the best intervention to protect them. CPS workers’ decision making, in particular the child removal decision, has been the focus of a growing number of studies in order to identify which factors influence workers’ evaluation. The present study aimed to investigate both familial and mother/father-related risk and protective factors that influenced CPS workers’ decision about the child placement through the “judgment analysis” approach. We analyzed 340 social records of families referred to CPS due to child maltreatment were retrospectively analyzed on the basis of the Protocol of risk and Protective factors (Di Blasio, 2005). The mean age of the mothers was 36.85 (SD = 7.61; range = 17–58), while the mean age of the fathers was 41.86 (SD = 8.85; range = 21–72). The mean age of the children was 8.37 (SD = 4.87; range = 0–17), the 48.8% of them were males. To identify the most relevant factors for the discrimination of high- and low-risk cases (operationalized as child out-of-home placement vs monitoring and parental abilities support), 3 decision tree analyses (C&RT) models were tested. Results of our research seem to indicate that workers attribute great importance to autonomy and independence of parents: when this factor is absent, the likelihood of child removal from the family is higher. Results also indicate that workers attribute different weight to specific information cues, when they characterize either the maternal or the paternal role. We speculate that in the future, decision tree models can help CPS professionals in processing the information collected during psycho-social investigations of at-risk families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Child maltreatment
  • Placement decision
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors
  • Safety assessment


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