National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Site Visits Report . Alternative Response


The diversification of responses to an allegation of maltreatment is a trend that is gaining attention throughout the country. In one site, this practice was a recent innovation. Fairfax County, Virginia, recently implemented a Differential Response System (DRS). With this system, if a child was not found to be in immediate danger, a family assessment would be used to identify family needs and provide immediate services built on family strengths.

 Under the DRS, reports alleging child abuse or neglect were assessed to determine whether they deservedan investigation or a family assessment response. Family assessment responses differed from investigations in that they did not require a determination of maltreatment or the same level of due process procedures, and were not recorded on the State Central Registry.

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