Alternative Responses to Child Maltreatment: Findings from NCANDS. Overall Referral Trends

07/01/2005

States differed in how frequently alternative responses
were used and in whether investigations were reduced.

States use of alternative response varied considerably. During 2002, referrals to alternative response ranged from 20 and 71 percent across these six States. Viewing these trends over 5 years, it appears that States were generally increasing  or maintaining  steady levels of alternative response referrals. The differences between States most likely reflect several factors, including whether the program was in the process of being implemented; whether the program is statewide or a pilot; the criteria is specified for determining to which track a case may be referred; the number of alternative tracks to which a case may be assigned; and the degree to which a State documents the outcomes of these alternative track assignments in their NCANDS data. In general, a review of multiyear trends suggests that States using alternative response have been either experiencing growth or steady use of the optional approach to responding to child maltreatment reports.

Alternative response drew clients primarily from cases
that formerly would have been investigated
but unsubstantiated, or given other dispositions.

Still, the use of alternative response appears to have an impact on the numbers of both victims and nonvictims identified by these States when comparing 19982002 disposition data. In general, the use of alternative response resulted in a decrease in the numbers of victims and nonvictims identified by States using alternative response. The impact of the alternative response system on States victim identification ranged from a 6 percent decrease (in a State in which the program is being piloted) to a 36 percent decrease. The impact of alternative response systems on the number of nonvictims identified generally was reflected by a decrease of nonvictims (ranging from 18% to 57%); however, the rate of nonvictims in Oklahoma rose by 30 percent.

Figure 2.
Trends in Alternative Response and Investigation, 19982002

Figure 2. Trends in Alternative Response and Investigation, 19982002.

Figure 2. Legend

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