Ted Cross has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Boston University.
Dr. Cross’ overarching interest is in developing effective systemic responses to victims of child maltreatment. His current interests include a) well-being and mental health services for children involved with protective services, and b) investigation, prosecution and service delivery in response to child sexual abuse. Among his specific topics of interest are children's advocacy centers, child forensic interviewing, substantiation of child maltreatment, and polygraph testing in child abuse cases. He has served as an expert witness on polygraph testing and maintains a small private practice in child and adult psychotherapy.
Dr. Cross served as the Principal Investigator on the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a statewide longitudinal probability study of child well-being, service delivery and child welfare outcomes for children involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Families. He is also working with Dr. Chiu on the evaluation of the Simulation Training for child welfare caseworkers in Illinois. And, he is part of the CFRC team that will be evaluating child healthcare services in Illinois.
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are central to the response to child sexual abuse and other child maltreatment in the United States. CACs coordinate the investigative and service response to child victimization, and support child survivors and their families to reduce the stress that follows a child maltreatment allegation. Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are the mechanism CACs use to coordinate investigation and service delivery in a centralized, child-friendly setting. CACs use forensic interviewers specially trained to work with children; and offer children and families medical, therapeutic, advocacy services, and other services. Presenting results from a U.S. survey of CAC directors, this research brief focuses on the composition of MDTs and the forms of assistance CACs provide. Compared to previous studies, this brief provides more detailed information on the kinds of help that CACs provide and the range of agencies that participate in CACs
This study examined the relationship between DNA evidence and outcomes of prosecution of sexual assault. Researchers coded data from prosecutor and crime laboratory files for sexual assault cases referred to prosecutors between 2005 and 2011 in a metropolitan jurisdiction in the northeastern United States. Cases with a DNA match were significantly more likely to move forward and result in conviction, even with other predictor variables statistically controlled. Analyses suggest DNA evidence contributes to case progression but also is a result of it. These findings strengthen the case for quality forensic medical examinations, investment in DNA analysis, and increased prosecutor training.
A national movement has been developed in the last decade to use simulation training to train child welfare workers. This article reports on a practical measurement method, Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST), that the authors have used since 2018 to evaluate every cohort in a week-long statewide simulation training program for new child protection investigators. The DEST measures daily changes in trainees’ self-report confidence, solicits feedback on the training team, and offers trainees the opportunity to reflect on their experience. Trainees report substantially increased confidence in 13 child protection skills, provided positive feedback to the training team, and offered a number of suggestions for improvement. We discuss methods for implementing a measurement system like the DEST, even for programs with limited resources. DEST results demonstrated considerable consistency across 27 training cohorts. Copies of the article are available from the first author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is a national crime database compiled by the Federal Bureau Investigation from data submitted by hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country. NIBRS is used to study national crime trends and has been employed in scores of crime studies for more than two decades, but its accuracy for capturing arrest data has never been fully tested. This study compared NIBRS arrest data in a statewide sample with arrest and summons data on the same cases collected directly from law enforcement agencies (LEAs). NIBRS matched LEA data in 84.1% of cases. However, 5.8% of LEA arrests and 52.9% of LEA summons were false negatives, that is, they were incorrectly represented as not cleared by arrest in NIBRS. False negatives were more likely when more than 1 day elapsed between incident and arrest and when the crimes were sexual assault or intimidation. False negatives were less likely in small LEAs (for summons) Recommendations are presented for improving accuracy.
A new movement has developed to provide simulation training to child protection professionals to prepare them to work with families around child safety and well-being. This article reports on a survey of child protection investigators in Illinois that was conducted as part of a program evaluation of a prominent simulation training program, the Child Protection Training Academy. Simulation-trained investigators continued to value their simulation training months to years later, rated their certification training more highly than investigators without simulation training, and reported less difficulty developing the skills of evidence-based documentation and testifying in court.
Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, we examined whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. This research brief is reproduced from Chapter 5 of the 2021 Monitoring Report for the B.H. Consent Decree and adapted from a journal article by the authors. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Having a behavioral or emotional need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home c are. The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in substitute care for an extended period. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in substitute care.
Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) of the Zero Abuse Project is a national program responding to the deficit in education in child maltreatment. Colleges and universities throughout the United States provide CAST courses and certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment and help prepare many for careers in child-serving professions. Through the effort of Children’s Advocacy Centers of MississippiTM (CACM), Mississippi implemented CAST across a wide range of the state’s institutions of higher education. CFRC has completed a final report from a mixed methods program evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative. The program evaluation features multiple components. It included a study of the implementation, development, and student and faculty experiences of CAST programs based on interviews with faculty and CAST graduates. The program evaluation also included an outcome study assessing students’ experience of their CAST courses, and comparing CAST and non-CAST students on their knowledge and judgment about child maltreatment. CAST is firmly established and highly valued in a range of different colleges and universities in Mississippi. Most CAST students rated their CAST courses highly on multiple dimensions. Mississippi CAST students had knowledge and skills that were superior to non-CAST students. CAST students’ knowledge and skills positions them to respond more effectively to child maltreatment in their young careers.
Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) of the Zero Abuse Project is a national program responding to the deficit in education in child maltreatment. Colleges and universities throughout the United States provide CAST courses and certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment and help prepare many for careers in child-serving professions. Through the effort of Children’s Advocacy Centers of MississippiTM (CACM), Mississippi implemented CAST across a wide range of the state’s institutions of higher education. This presentation at Mississippi’s annual One Loud Voice conference provides highlights from a two-year mixed methods program evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative that CFRC conducted.
Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. The FY2021 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2020 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in five chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes, including child safety, continuity and stability in care, legal permanence, racial disproportionality, and child well-being.
In response to a national deficit in education about child maltreatment, colleges and universities throughout the United States provide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) courses and CAST certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment. This article reports results from an implementation evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative, the first effort to implement CAST courses and programs in colleges and universities throughout a state. Through interviews with administrators and faculty implementing CAST in Mississippi, we provide a brief history of the initiative, review the initial development of CAST courses and programs, discuss considerations related to the program’s implementation, and report faculty’s plans for the future of CAST. Our evaluation provides evidence that the implementation of Mississippi’s CAST initiative has had considerable success and has good prospects for enduring. Our findings also expand knowledge about the contextual issues involved in implementation, point to the value of strong partnerships between CAST colleges and universities and community organizations, and identify some considerations connected to expanding enrollment in CAST. Copies of the article are available from the first author at email@example.com.