Defining new approaches to the traditional investigatory function of child protective services is a complex issue. Although new or alternative responses may be conceptualized more broadly, most States appeared to define an alternative response in terms of a track that would not include all the legal requirements of an investigation. For example, workers might not make a determination of maltreatment or they might not designate a perpetrator. Generally, the approach differed from trying to find evidence against the parents to working with the family. For purposes of the National Study, alternative response was defined as “a formal response of your agency that assesses the needs of the child or family without requiring a determination that maltreatment has occurred or that the child is at risk of maltreatment.” By this definition, the study of CPS policy identified 20 States as offering one or more alternatives to the traditional CPS investigatory response.1 This chapter presents an overview of policy on alternative approaches to investigation and assessment and examines differences and similarities among the 20 States.
Key areas that are examined include:
- Scope of implementation;
- Goals and purposes;
- Types of cases served;
- Role of other agencies;
- Types of contacts;
- Results of the assessment; and
- Decisionmaking responsibility.