McNair Scholars Research Journal


When a child’s sole caretaker is arrested, a number of different outcomes can happen depending on how a law enforcement agency handles the situation. There is no single set of guidelines that all police departments follow. In fact, many departments do not have a policy that dictates practice. This can cause children to “fall through the cracks,” ranging from being left alone, to being turned over to unqualified care- givers, to being placed in the custody of someone they don’t know. This is a problem because not only can it put the child/children in physically dangerous situations, but also it can have long lasting psychological effects. There are some procedures and approaches that police departments have in place that can decrease the harm suffered by these children, their parents and the community when caregivers of minor children are arrested. However, more could be done in this important area. The goal of this research is to identify the possible gaps between law enforcement agencies and Child Protective Services in an effort to reduce harm and provide both agencies with a tool to aide in the development of more effective policies and practices.