Beyond Investigations: Differential Response in Child Protective Services

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Until relatively recently, the only way that most Child Protective Services (CPS) systems could respond to allegations of child abuse and neglect was through an investigation. Concerns with certain elements of this forensic approach to child protection led to the development of a CPS reform known as Differential Response. This chapter will describe the key elements of a Differential Response approach to child protective services and highlight how it differs from a traditional investigative approach. Although a core set of practice elements have been defined that characterize Differential Response systems, wide variations in practice exist between systems, several of which will be described. As with most child welfare interventions, rigorous research on the effectiveness of Differential Response systems is limited, but quickly growing. A summary and critical review of the current evidence is provided, as well as suggestions for next steps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChild Maltreatment
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Issues in Research and Policy
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameChild Maltreatment: Contemporary Issues in Research and Policy
ISSN (Print)2211-9701
ISSN (Electronic)2211-971X


  • Child Protection
  • Child Protective Service
  • Child Safety
  • Child Welfare
  • Differential Response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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