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Differential Response



Connections between building the protective factors in the community and appropriate response.

Connections between building the protective factors in the community and appropriate response.



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  • Many parents, reporters, and social workers become frustrated with the limited responses available to children and familiesThe CPS “investigation” is perceived as overly accusatory and adversarial as an initial response for many reportsFocus on substantiation and identifying a perpetrator does not contribute to a family’s readiness to engage in servicesThe majority of investigations do not result in any services being providedSince overwhelming majority of cases are not served through court orders, evidence collection is not always needed
  • Differential Response allows system to move more quickly to address safety needsDifferential response can support families by applying available resources to services rather than investigationsDifferential response is often accompanied by greater efforts to identify, build, and coordinate formal and non-formal services and supportsChildren are safer sooner

Differential Response Differential Response Presentation Transcript

  • DIFFERENTIAL RESPONSE National OverviewTheresa Costello, MADirectorNational Resource Center for Child ProtectiveServices (NRCCPS)April 17, 2013
  • Defining Differential Response• CPS practice that allows for more than one method of initial response to reports of child abuse and neglect• Also called “dual track”, “multiple track”, or “alternative response”
  • What differential response is NOT…• Differential response has not focused mainly on cases screened out as inappropriate for child protective services; rather it has focused on responding differentially to accepted reports of child maltreatment.
  • History of Child Welfare and the Purpose of Differential Response
  • Purposes ofDifferential Response and Child Protection  CPS was established to respond to all reports of suspected child maltreatment, but numbers overwhelm available resources  Systems either screen out or do not open for services more than half of reports, yet many children are vulnerable
  • Purposes of Differential Response in Child Welfare Traditional investigatory practice is often adversarial & alienates parents DR is a way to respond to more reports (screened in) at an earlier stage by engaging families in a non- adversarial process of linking them to needed services
  • Why Implement Differential Response?Recent Study on CP Investigations : “Child Protective Services Has Outlived Its Usefulness” Do little to reduce risk Dr. Kristine Do not result in long- Campbell, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University term improvement in of Utah family functioning or child behavior Published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Are associated with Oct. 2010 increased depression among mothers
  • Why Implement Differential Response?“A lot of times the [family] situation calls for the formation of a healing relationship so the very act of going there in an investigatory mode impairs the ability [for workers] to form a meaningful relationship in which parents can be open, ask for and get help” ~Dr. Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph. D Senior Fellow Child Trauma Academy www.childtrauma.org
  • Why Implement Differential Response?Increasingly, concerned citizens and organizations arerealizing that the best way to prevent child abuse is to helpparents develop the skills and identify the resources theyneed to understand and meet their childrens needs andprotect them from harm
  • Why Implement Differential Response?According to National Study of Child Protective ServicesSystems and Reform Efforts (2003), 20 states identified oneof 3 purposes as reason for DR system:  child safety (55%)  family preservation or strengthening (45%)  prevention of CA/N (20%)
  • Why Differential Response?• Driven by the desire to…. – Be more flexible in the response to child abuse and neglect reports – Recognize that an adversarial focus is neither needed nor helpful in all cases – Better understand the family issues that lie beneath maltreatment reports – Engage parents more effectively to use services that address their specific needs – Serve more families; majority of traditional investigations do not result in any services being provided
  • Why Differential Response?• Driven by desire to… – Address family needs more quickly; most cases not driven by court intervention, so evidence collection is not necessary – Build family support systems; DRS is often accompanied by greater efforts to identify, build and coordinate formal and non- formal family supports
  • Shared Principles of TraditionalCPS and Differential Response• Focus on safety and well-being of the child• Promote permanency within the family whenever possible• Recognize the authority of CPS to make decisions about removal, out of home placement and court involvement, when necessary• Acknowledge that other community services may be more appropriate than CPS in some cases
  • Principles and Assumptions of Differential Response The circumstances and needs of families differ and so should the response The majority of reports do not need an adversarial approach or court-ordered interventions Absent an investigation:  child safety will not be jeopardized  services can be in place more quickly  families will be more motivated to use services
  • Principles and Assumptions of Differential Response Effective assessment tools  Only cases of greater can be put in place to severity need to be on assure safety and an state central registry informed response  Cases are monitored Frontline staff in CPS and sufficiently to change other agencies are trained course/paths when in strength based and situation requires collaborative interventions
  • Practice Framework and Assumptions The primary goal of non  Families are more than investigative approach is the presenting concerns child safety  Family protective factors Most families want to can assist in keeping address threats to child children safe safety  Families are helped Most families can be through connections with partners in achieving child community services and safety resources
  • Comparing Traditional Child Protection Models andDifferential Response
  • Traditional Child Protection Practice Model Report screened to determine appropriatenessInvestigation model is of child welfare agency interventionrooted in the determinationof whether: Investigation (Is this a Child in Need of Protective Services?) 1. Safety and Risk Assessments 2. Gathering of Evidence A child has been harmed Disposition Re. Child in Need of Protective Services A child is at risk of being Unsubstantiated Substantiated harmed Category IV Voluntary Category I Removal required services recommended Category II Court mandated An individual is culpable services Category V required No services are for this conduct. needed Category III Services are needed
  • Model for Differential Response Report screened to determine appropriateness Differential of child welfare agency intervention No Yes Report is screened out. Alternative Response Screening Response System 1. Is there an administrative rule requiring Referral for other community that the report be investigated? services may be made. 2. Are there other factors that would Yes Family Assessment 1. Safety and Risk Assessments No necessitate an investigation? Investigation focusing on a 2. Complete assessment of family strengths, needs and resources. (Is this a Child in Need of Protective Services?) 1. Safety and Risk Assessments child in need of protective 2. Gathering of Evidence Family declines services and Assessment Outcome needed services Disposition Re. Child in Need of Protective ServicesNo Services Voluntary Services Recommended Services are support and engagementNo services Needed Unsubstantiated Substantiated needed Agency Category I assesses that Removal Category IV of the family. services are required Voluntary needed to services Family Family and maintain child recommended declines agency agree safely at home. Category II services upon services Court mandated services Category V required No services are Family needed accepts Category III needed Services are services needed
  • The Core Elementsof DifferentialResponse
  • Core Elements of Differential Response1. Use of two or more discrete responses to reports of maltreatment that are screened in and accepted2. Assignment to response pathways determined by an array of factors3. Original response assignments can be changed4. Ability of families who receive a non-investigatory response to accept or refuse to participate in differential response or to choose the traditional investigatory response
  • Core Elements of Differential Response 5. Establishment of discrete responses codified in statute, policy, protocols 6. After assessment, services are voluntary for families who receive a non- investigatory response (as long as child safety is not compromised) 7. No substantiation of alleged maltreatment and services are offered without formal determination that child maltreatment has occurred 8. Use of central registry is dependent upon type of response
  • Pathways in the Differential Response Continuum• There are at least two categories of response ( SC 3) – Investigation: reports that are immediately recognized as presenting serious safety issues for children/placement more likely/may be criminal charges – Assessment: reports that indicate the child may be in need of protection and the family requires services to better address child and family safety and well being.
  • Factors Determining Response• Statutory limitations• Severity of the allegation• History of past reports• Ability to assure the safety of the child (if safety threats at intake not assigned to assessment)• Willingness and capacity of the parents to participate in services
  • Assessment is the Key• Assessment must be comprehensive- more than simply a risk and safety assessment-understanding underlying family conditions• Must also identify protective factors in family and larger social context that could be mobilized to strengthen family
  • Family Engagement• Family members have significant expertise and whenever possible it is important to engage them in identifying issues and to honor family choices when they do not jeopardize safety• Seek collaboration with family and their formal and informal support system• Whenever possible, eliminate practices that produce resistance such as drop in visits, joint visits with law enforcement, and interviewing child without parental knowledge
  • Evaluation items/progress measures• Child safety• Permanency: subsequent removals and placement• Family satisfaction and cooperation• Family functioning and well-being, skills of individual family members, financial well-being and social support• Services to families• Worker satisfaction• Judicial system: referrals to juvenile/family court, reduction in court hearings, child removals, TPR orders, etc.• Cost savings/effectiveness
  • Potential Challenges• Subsequent reports• Family does not participate voluntarily• Insufficiency of service resources• Inadequate involvement of fathers and other significant stakeholders• Communication with/within community service system
  • Prospective Benefits• More children are better protected over time by engaging more parents in the process of making sustainable changes• The rate of subsequent repeat reports to CPS has been demonstrated to decrease• Both families and agency child protection workers are more satisfied with the outcomes• Involvement of larger systems of support• The approach is cost neutral or saves money over time
  • Lessons Learned• There is intrinsic value of family voice - as partners, guiding service planning and decision making• Community partnerships are most effective ways to protect children• There is a need to involve families and community stakeholders early in process
  • Lessons Learned• Communication among/across jurisdictions is essential - establish vehicles for regular contact• Assessment is ongoing and cumulative as trust builds• Evaluation matters - bring evaluators in early and make the investment to do it well
  • Differential Response Implementation Washing ton, D.C. Statewide Regional/ County Im plem entation Planning/ Considering Discontinued Tribal Screen Out Response Updated October 31. 2012 32
  • Service Types and Needs for DRS families• Concrete Services (clothing, food, utility payment, housing, job training, transportation)• Parenting Classes• Domestic Violence services• Mental Health services• Substance Abuse treatment• Counseling (adults and children)• Home-based services• Population-specific services (e.g. Spanish- speaking clients, children with disabilities)
  • Differential ResponseResearch and Evaluation
  • EVALUATION FINDINGS• Child Safety – Child safety was not compromised under differential response systems – Safety was maintained even when comparable families were randomly assigned to tracks – Increased services to families lowered recurrence
  • EVALUATION FINDINGS• Services to Families – Services were provided more often to children and families on the assessment track – The number of services received by families on the assessment track was greater than on the investigation track – Services may be provided to families earlier on the assessment track – Greater use of community resources was reported in pilot areas of at least 3 States
  • EVALUATION FINDINGS• Family Satisfaction and Engagement – Families reported satisfaction with the differential response system in Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina and Virginia – The family’s sense of participation in decision making increased in several States – Workers reported families were more cooperative and willing to accept services
  • EVALUATION FINDINGS• Cost Effectiveness – Differential response appears to be cost effective over the long term. (Minnesota study only)
  • EVALUATION FINDINGS• CPS Staff Perspectives and Issues – CPS staff like the differential response approach – Large caseloads and limited resources are obstacles to differential response effectiveness – Training is needed to make implementation successful
  • Reduction in Disproportionality Hawaii results
  • Trends in Placements as a Percentage of Investigations 50.0% 45.0% 40.0%Percent of Investigtions 35.0% 30.0% White Removals 25.0% 20.0% Native Hawaiian or Part Hawaiian Removals 15.0% 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
  • Questions?