• September 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 7

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Enhancing Multiple Response With System of Care

Agencies that use both multiple response systems (MRSs) and systems of care (SOCs) reap more benefits than those using an MRS alone, according to a recent issue brief from the Center for Child and Family policy. Multiple Response System and System of Care: Two Policy Reforms Designed to Improve the Child Welfare System describes how SOCs can enhance the effectiveness of MRSs to produce better outcomes for children and families.

An MRS is a differential response approach in which selected reports of child neglect and dependency are assigned to a family assessment track rather than the traditional investigative approach. SOCs emphasize collaboration and coordination among agencies, family-centered practice, and building on existing strengths to support families.

The issue brief describes North Carolina's pilot projects with MRSs in 10 counties, including 3 counties that also implemented SOCs funded through Children's Bureau grants. Evaluation findings allowed comparisons between the counties with just MRSs and those with both MRSs and SOCs. Counties with both garnered the following positive outcomes in their child welfare system:

  • More effective Child and Family Team meetings that adhered more closely to the model and tended to include more relatives and other participants
  • Community Collaboratives with increased levels of participation from stakeholders

MRSs are now in place in all 100 counties in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Division of Social Services would like to integrate SOCs as well. The issue brief goes on to provide strategies for implementing SOCs without external grant funding. Strategies include:

  • Creating or strengthening the community collaborative
  • Implementing cross-agency training
  • Blending funds
  • Incorporating State-level support

The issue brief, by Nicole Lawrence and Elizabeth Snyder, is available on the Center for Child and Family Policy website:

www.pubpol.duke.edu/centers/child/pdfs/mrssoc_brief_small.pdf (352 KB)

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