Differential response is the option to assign an investigation or a family assessment when a child protective services hotline registers a report of child abuse or neglect.  

Rather than initiating an investigation for all screened-in reports, differential response offers an opportunity for caseworkers to, after employing safety and risk assessments, engage families and develop a tailored service plan to reduce risk and enhance safety and well-being.  

Differential response offers flexibility that can reduce racial disproportionality and disparity in child welfare. This approach encourages jurisdictions to partner with community-based resources, including concrete supports for families in which serious safety issues are not present. This allows caseworkers to focus more time on families with greater needs.  

Learn more about successful strategies and approaches that disentangle poverty from neglect, promote family-centered healing, and support meaningful partnership and engagement with families.

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