Similarities and Differences
In studies comparing two or more regions or sites, especially when not using an experimental design, one must often speculate as to the reasons for differences between the sites, simply because of not having data on all the possible explanations. In this study, we have attempted to explain differences, but there are limits due to the depth of our knowledge about practice, policy and administration of the child welfare system. We hope to increase our knowledge in the future to better explain some of the differences between Michigan and Illinois. We intend to use the expertise of practitioners, policymakers and administrators in the states we study and outside of those states to improve the relevance of the work.
Prevention and early intervention
The findings on the percent of children coming into contact with the system and the type of contact they have (often no substantiated cases of abuse or neglect) suggest that points of early intervention might be clearer than previously thought. It is generally believed that even families where there is a report but no substantiation of abuse or neglect may require additional support and in some cases a high level of intervention. Further work could help pinpoint those neighborhoods and types of families which might be good targets for prevention and early intervention services.
Response of the state
Understanding the flow of cases at each juncture can help characterize the service system of the state. The higher placement rates in Illinois with the higher first contact rates obviously result in more children going into placement, per capita in Illinois. However, if one state had a higher placement rate and lower first contact percentage, it may be that the actual per capita placement rate would be very similar in the two states.