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Child Abuse Negl. 2000 Mar;24(3):375-88.

Alternative responses to child protective services: emerging issues and concerns.

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Children's Administration, Office of Children's Administration Research, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Olympia 98504-5701, USA.



Increased calls to "do something" about child protective services (CPS) have resulted in proposals or new "paradigms" for services to at-risk or abusive families. These new paradigms call for the reform or revamping of CPS through the development of a community-based alternative response to some reports of child abuse and/or neglect.


This article reports on outcomes for 1,263 "low" risk CPS referrals diverted to a community-based alternative response system. Data on child, family, and case characteristics and services provided are presented as well as outcomes associated with re-referral and placement post service provision.


The risk level and severity of some of the referrals to alternative response systems seems inappropriately high. The rates of re-referral were similar for families who did or did not engage in assessment services, and were highest for families where domestic violence was present.


Criteria for diversion to community alternatives to CPS must be clearly articulated and applied. Both CPS and alternative response system workers must have the skills required to address a family's recognition of the problem and degree of motivation to engage in problem resolution, and to understand their relationship to continued risk of CA/N.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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