Grant will study Alternative Response Systems in Child Welfare.
Wisconsin’s Alternative Response (AR) evaluation is a mixed method evaluation of a major system reform taking place in 22 Wisconsin county child welfare agencies. AR allows child welfare workers to assess and provide services to families with low to moderate safety concerns without launching an official investigation of maltreatment. AR is intended to promote family engagement by allowing workers to focus on supporting families’ safety and well-being goals without also needing to make an official disposition decision regarding maltreatment.
Funded through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, the evaluation includes process, outcome, and cost components. The intensive process evaluation of county implementation efforts informs the sustainability and growth of AR in Wisconsin. The outcome evaluation uses statewide administrative case records as well as a large-scale family survey to assess whether the implementation of AR is associated with lower rates of CPS re-referrals, out-of-home-placement and improved family engagement. The evaluation will also document the startup and ongoing costs associated with AR implementation relative to traditional response systems. Taken together these three evaluation components have the potential to make novel contributions to knowledge about AR implementation, its impact on families, and the investment needed from public child welfare systems to support its adoption and success.