Multiple Response System: Evaluation of Policy Change in North Carolina's Child Welfare System.
Systemic challenges within child welfare have prompted many states to explore new strategies aimed at protecting children while meeting the needs of families, but doing so within the confines of shrinking budgets. Differential Response has emerged as a promising practice for low or moderate risk cases of child maltreatment. This mixed methods evaluation explored various aspects of North Carolina's differential response system, known as the Multiple Response System (MRS), including: child safety, timeliness of response and case decision, frontloading of services, case distribution, implementation of Child and Family Teams, collaboration with community-based service providers and Shared Parenting. Utilizing Child Protective Services (CPS) administrative data, researchers found that compared to matched control counties, MRS: had a positive impact on child safety evidenced by a decline in the rates of substantiations and re-assessments; temporarily disrupted timeliness of response in pilot counties but had no effect on time to case decision; and increased the number of upfront services provided to families during assessment. Qualitative data collected through focus groups with providers and phone interviews with families provided important information on key MRS strategies, highlighting aspects that families and social workers like as well as identifying areas for improvement. This information is useful for continuous quality improvement efforts, particularly related to the development of training and technical assistance programs at the state and local level.
Lawrence, CN; Rosanbalm, KD; Dodge, KA
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