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Alternative Responses to Child Maltreatment: Findings from NCANDS

Publication Date
Jun 30, 2005

Alternative response systems are a new and quickly growing innovation in the child maltreatment field. More defined by what they are not (investigations) than by what they are, States have implemented a range of alternative response models. In general, these models are intended to focus on family strengths and needs and take a more service oriented approach than do investigations, which more forensically are intended to determine whether or not a particular incident or circumstance occurred. While the first alternative response systems emerged less than a decade ago, in some states the majority of child abuse and neglect reports are no longer investigated, but rather are referred to these new response models. And while a few early studies of individual states show promising results, to date there have been no cross-state studies of these programs. This study uses data from six states' submissions to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) to begin understanding, across states that use these systems, which children no longer receive investigations and whether those children are more or less likely than others to receive services, be placed in foster care, or to be the subject of subsequent maltreatment reports. The analysis described here was conducted by staff of Walter R. McDonald and Associates under contract to ASPE and in cooperation with the Administration for Children and Families. [69 PDF pages]