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2010 conference on differential response
2010 Conference on Differential Response

American Humane Association

  • The nation’s voice for the protection of children & animals

American humane association the nation s voice for the protection of children and animals

It Takes a Community:Visioning a Future for the Child Welfare SystemCaren Kaplan Patricia Schene Patricia Ploehn Carol Redding Ben Tanzer

American Humane Association

The nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals

More than a decade of differential response there are
More than a Decade of Differential Response, there are:

  • 13 states implementing DR statewide

  • 11 implementing DR or similar system in selected counties

  • Tribal groups in 4 states implementing DR

  • 4 states and the District of Columbia are planning or considering implementation

Evaluation results from field experiments
Evaluation Results from Field Experiments

  • Child Safety not Diminished

    • Safety of children did not decline while families received new approach.

    • Children were made safer sooner

  • Family Engagement under AR

    • Cooperation of families improved

    • Families were more satisfied and felt more involved in decision making

  • CPS Staff Reacted Positively

    • Workers overall reacted positively and believed approach to be more effective.

  • Services to Families and Children Increased and Changed

    • Needed services were delivered more quickly.

    • Services delivering basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter, and medical care) increased.

    • Greater utilization of community resources

  • New CA/N Reports and Later Placements of

    Children Reduced

    • Recurrence of CA/N reports decreased for

      families where new approach was


  • Short-Term Costs Greater, Long-Term Costs


    • While initial cost of AR in services provided

      and worker time was greater than in

      traditional CPS interventions, it was less

      costly and more cost effective in longer term.

American Humane Association

The nation’s voice for the protection of children & animals

Like a lifting fog
Like a Lifting Fog…

  • DR Evaluation results make it difficult to deny that system change is essential – practice, strategies, structure, stakeholders, roles and responsibilities…

  • This reality creates our need to respond differently.

Mismatch between system s offerings and families needs
Mismatch between System’s Offerings and Families’ Needs

  • Imminent danger and/or serious harm was absent in > 70% accepted reports (USDHHS, 2010)

  • 19.7 % of victims were subject of court proceedings &20.9% were placed in foster care in response to investigation (USDHHS, 2010)

  • CPS investigation response is ill-suited to provide improvements in social support, family functioning, poverty, maternal education, and child behavior problems associated with CA/N.

    Source: Campbell, K.A., et al. Household, family, and child Risk Factors after an investigation for suspected child maltreatment. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. [Vol. 164, No.10] October 2010.The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

This isnot the face of child protective services.

Time for a reality check
Time for a Reality Check

  • # of neglect allegations has remained level; = ¾ cases reported to CPS

  • Poverty is source of conditions that make CA/N, & most particularly, neglect of children’s basic needs more likely. - Tony Loman (April 2010)

  • > ½ of families in OH AR pilot were subjects of previous accepted CA/N reports

  • CPS, in its historical framework, has outlived its usefulness

    - Abraham B. Bergman, MD (2010, amended)

American Humane Association

The nation’s voice for the protection of children & animals

Where are we now
Where are we NOW?

What does this mean for children and their families who come to the attention of the CPS system?

The essence requisite of our work
The Essence & Requisite of Our Work

  • Services/supports responsive to specific family needs if benefits are to be realized

  • Engagement of and Leadership by Families

  • Engagement of and Involvement of ALL Stakeholders

  • System and practitioner agility

  • Parallel Processes permeate all that we do.

American Humane Association

The nation’s voice for the protection of children & animals

Growing the differential response system visioning a future for the child welfare system
Growing the Differential Response SystemVisioning a Future for the Child Welfare System


Formal referral of family to appropriate community services

Participation exclusively on voluntary basis




  • No Abuse or neglect has or is likely to occur

  • Lack of identified present danger threat

  • Court intervention not apparently necessary

  • Lack of necessary care due to poverty

  • Lack of supervision


Meet state statutory criteria of abuse and/or neglect? Yes or No

If Yes, using response specific criteria, assign to one of three response pathways.

Report of Alleged Maltreatment


Present Danger threats

Sexual abuse cases

Egregious incidents

Substantial bodily harm


Frequently Encountered Families

Pervasive, long-term challenges

Multiple, profound impairments

Entrenched poverty/destitute

Social isolation/sans social supports

American Humane Association

The nation’s voice for the protection of children & animals

Commonalities across responses
Commonalities Across Responses

  • All focus on ensuring child safety and promoting permanency within family.

  • All recognize child welfare agency’s authority to make decisions about placement and court involvement.

  • All contribute to creating system flexibilityso CPS can respond to a family’s changing circumstances, needs and desires.

Source: Kaplan, C., & Merkel-Holguin, L. (2008). Another look at the national study on differential response in child welfare. Protecting Children, 23(1 & 2), 5-21.

American Humane Association

The nation’s voice for the protection of children & animals