Cases of child abuse and neglect reported in the media have led to a crisis of confidence in the current child protective services (CPS) systems in the USA, and to frequent calls for reform. Jane Waldfogel agrees that the public has a right to be concerned, but many perceptions of the CPS system and the problems it is designed to alleviate are inaccurate. This text goes beyond the headlines, using historical, comparitive, and specific case data to formulate a new approach to protecting children. Currently, Waldfogel argues, the CPS system is overwhelmed by referrals. As a result, neither high-risk nor low-risk families are adequatly served. She examines the underlying assumptions of CPS, compares the US record with those of Britain, Canada and Australia, and offers a "new paradigm" in which CPS joins with other public and private partners to provide a differential response to the broad range of children in need of protection. She highlights the reforms under way in several American states and in Britain.