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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1Innovations in Differential Response Across States

The National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) has released an issue brief that summarizes how some State and local child protective services (CPS) agencies are using differential response to respond to child maltreatment reports. Beyond Investigations: Current Innovations in Responding to Reports of Child Maltreatment, by Debra A. Gilmore, is the first in a series of issue briefs planned by the QIC-DR.

Differential response refers to an approach that allows CPS agencies to respond in more than one way to screened-in reports of child maltreatment, depending on the level of risk, previous reports, and other factors. The goal is to provide individualized services to each child and family and to keep children safely at home when possible.

The issue brief notes that several States, Tribes, and other jurisdictions are implementing differential response, considering implementation, or implementing similar front-end system reforms. (A map illustrates implementation throughout the nation.) Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota use only an assessment approach for all families involved in screened-in maltreatment reports. In Minnesota, CPS added a third pathway for screened-out cases to create a Parent Support Outreach Program. States' evaluations show that a service-oriented response has more positive outcomes without compromising child safety.

The brief is available on the QIC-DR website: (988 KB)

Visit the homepage of the website for more resources on differential response: