Frequently Asked Questions
What is Alternative Response?
Alternative Response (AR) is a more flexible way to respond to low risk child abuse and neglect cases. It is a means of engaging with families and not investigating them to come up with a finding. Under Alternative Response, low risk cases are handled using a more collaborative process involving the family in assessing the family’s own situation to identify and meet underlying needs. The assessment will help to identify appropriate supports for the family.
Will this mean more cases for child welfare workers?
No. Only cases that are currently screened in for investigation will be included in the Alternative Response program. The referral to services that can occur as a result of Alternative Response could prevent the family from becoming the focus of a future maltreatment investigation.
What major difference will this mean for responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect?
It depends on the nature of the allegation. For low risk reports where the case does not involve a serious injury or harm to a child it will result in a strength based approach to the intervention with the family. In others where serious injury or harm to the child is reported, it will result in a traditional investigation to determine if maltreatment occurred and identifying someone as responsible.
Has this approach worked elsewhere?
Yes! Many other states have used this refined approach to partner with parents to protect children while still aggressively addressing the most serious cases. Some survey results include:
- Parents in an AR case reported having more positive responses to CPS than those who received an investigation.
- Workers reported that AR parents were more cooperative and willing to accept services.
- Workers generally favored the AR approach to working with families.