Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 73-87

First online:

The aftermath of nonsubstantiated child abuse allegations in child care centers

  • Judith A. BordinAffiliated withChild Development Program, California State University at Chico

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With increasing numbers of children in child care, allegations of abuse in those facilities have also increased. Unsubstantiated findings of sexual abuse in child care centers comprise approximately 79% of all allegations. This study surveyed 28 centers in California that experienced an unproven child abuse charge within the last three years. Six administrators also agreed to be interviewed. Significant differences between unfounded and inconclusive findings were discovered when observing the time of investigation, staff attrition rates, type of allegation, investigatory agency rating, and staff support. Qualitative themes included staff helplessness and vulnerability, ethical paradoxes, and policy concerns. Parent and staff relations were also examined. Implications for investigations, policy, and staff training are discussed.