Three research and demonstration sites (Colorado, Illinois and Ohio) are undergoing a randomized controlled-trial (RCT) evaluation of differential response that includes local evaluations, and a cross-site evaluation that will draw on data from all three sites. The three main research questions that the cross-site evaluation will focus on are:
Are children whose families participate in the non-investigation pathway as safe as or safer than children whose families participate in the investigation pathway?
How is the non-investigation pathway different from the investigation pathway in terms of family engagement, caseworker practice and services provided?
What are the cost and funding implications to the child protection agency of the implementation and maintenance of a differential response approach?
Cross-Site Evaluation Instruments
The following tools were used to create a base for the instruments that will be used by all of the local evaluators to make sure that each research and demonstration site is collecting the same information. To access the site-specific tools used in each location, please scroll down to the local evaluation descriptions below.
This report is filled out by the caseworker for each RCT case at the close of the initial case. It gathers information on the following topics: contacts with the family; family functioning in multiple domains; threats to safety at first contact and case close; service receipt across multiple areas of need; service effectiveness and match to needs; and family engagement and cooperation. The report provides comparable case-level information across the three sites.
General Caseworker Survey:
This is a survey of child welfare caseworkers and supervisors in participating counties across the three sites. The survey was fielded during the first year of DR implementation. Several of the sites are planning a similar follow-up survey near the end of the evaluation period. Topics covered include: tenure and duties; professional skills and approach; job satisfaction; knowledge of the non-investigation pathway and attitudes towards the non-investigation pathway; DR training; assessment of the availability of services in the community; and demographic characteristics of the caseworker/supervisor.
Family Exit Survey: This is a voluntary and confidential survey of primary caregivers of RCT families after their initial case is closed. The survey covers the following topics: client satisfaction; qualities of the relationship with the caseworker; services received and the adequacy of services to meet family needs; effects of the experience on child safety, parenting, and material well-being; and selected demographic information. Surveys were provided in English and Spanish as appropriate. Families received the survey from the caseworker or by mail, to be filled out and returned to the local evaluation team. In some cases, families responded over the telephone.
Colorado State University and Westat are the local evaluators for the five county consortium (Arapahoe, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson and Larimer counties) in Colorado participating in a randomized control trial evaluation of differential response.
The Child and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the local evaluator for the state of Illinois, the only site to implement the randomized control trial evaluation statewide.
The Human Services Research Institute is the local evaluator for the six county consortium (Champaign, Clark, Madison, Montgomery, Richland and Summit counties) in Ohio participating in a randomized control trial evaluation of differential response.