- July 2007
- Vol. 8, No. 6
Implementing Differential Response in Child Welfare Practice
A new publication from Casey Family Programs, Implementing Differential Response in California: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned, reports on efforts to improve child welfare practice in California by developing a broader range of responses for vulnerable families. Differential response allows child welfare agencies to individualize their responses to families based on the families' specific needs.
In response to two major legislative initiatives, the California Department of Social Services, in collaboration with Casey Family Programs and other partners, began implementing differential response practice changes at the local level. The 2-year effort applied a method for testing and implementing system change known as the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC). The BSC method facilitates the rapid spread of information, as teams test and learn about new practices.
A number of promising practice changes emerged from this BSC with strong potential to support the implementation of differential response systems that may improve outcomes for children and families. These responses include strengths-based interventions, shared responsibility with communities, and broader family involvement.
Implementing Differential Response in California: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned is available online from Casey Family Programs:
American Humane and the Child Welfare League of America report on the results of a survey of the different types of differential response systems in use in 15 States. The survey looks at the types of noninvestigative assessments used and the types of cases that may be referred for an alternative response. Profiles of the States with differential response initiatives are also presented.
The report, National Study on Differential Response in Child Welfare, by Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Caren Kaplan, and Alina Kwak, is available on the American Humane website: