Alternative Responses to Child Maltreatment: Findings from NCANDS. The Objective of this Study

07/01/2005

The objective of this study was to compare the children in each State who were referred to alternative response systems with those referred to traditional investigations. Comparisons were made in terms of response characteristics, the circumstances of their reported maltreatment, and their subsequent reports and dispositions.

The key research questions for this study were the following:

  1. What are the characteristics of children who received an alternative response?
    Reported children were compared on whether they received an alternative response or an investigation response, based on the following demographic characteristics:
    • Age of child;
    • Sex of child;
    • Race of child; and
    • Whether the child had been previously victimized.(1)
  2. How are the circumstances of the reported maltreatment related to the chances that a child receives an alternative response or an investigation response?
    Reported children were compared on whether they received an alternative response or an investigation response, based on different circumstances of the reported maltreatment. Circumstances of the reported maltreatment that were considered included:
    • The source of report:
    • The number of children;
    • The living arrangement of children;
    • The type of maltreatment;
    • Domestic violence in the home; and
    • Caretaker drug and alcohol abuse.
  3. How do outcomes differ between children who receive an alternative response and children who receive an investigation response?
    Children who received an alternative response and those who received an investigation response were compared on the variables below related to the outcomes following the reported maltreatment:
    • The services provided;
    • Placement in foster care; and
    • Any subsequent reports and dispositions within a fixed 6-month followup period (for reports between January and June, only).

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