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April 2011Vol. 12, No. 3New York State Pilot of Differential Response

In 2007, the New York State Legislature authorized the temporary use of differential response programs in local departments of social services outside of New York City. To date, 19 New York counties have participated in the pilot program, implementing the State's version of differential response, which is known as the Family Assessment Response (FAR), with approximately 9,000 cases.

Recently, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) submitted a report to the Governor and the legislature on findings and recommendations from the implementation of FAR. Differential Response in Child Protective Services in New York State: Implementation, Initial Outcomes and Impacts of Pilot Project also includes a history of differential response, examines the effects on improving family engagement, and highlights key findings, including:

  • Strong evidence that families were more positive about the FAR approach compared to standard child protective services (CPS) investigations
  • Evidence that the FAR approach increased a family's access to services to meet basic needs, such as food and housing
  • A decrease in needs for family court involvement and traditional public child welfare services

The report also recommends that FAR be made a permanent alternative to investigations of child abuse and neglect reports, and it offers specific suggestions for enhancing the quality and effectiveness of FAR.

The full report, by Joanne Ruppel, Yufan Huang, and Gail Haulenbeek, is available on the New York State OCFS website: (2.53 MB)