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Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response


​The National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) is a five-year, federally funded project with the purpose of studying differential response in three research and demonstration sites: Colorado, Illinois and Ohio. Each site is conducting individual evaluations in addition to the project’s cross-site evaluation. The final evaluations are expected to be released in Fall 2013. This website serves as a clearinghouse for information and knowledge gained on differential response and highlights the many products of the project. To stay informed as products and evaluations are released, please join our mailing list.

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Project Abstract
In 2012, the American Humane Association relinquished the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) to the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado Denver. As the lead of the QIC-DR, the Kempe Center has partnered with Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc., and the Institute of Applied Research to operate the QIC-DR. All three organizations have been pioneers in advancing knowledge about differential response nationally and within States, and are uniquely positioned to collaborate and complement each other’s experiences and networks. The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and the National Conference of State Legislatures are contributing their expertise to enhance the QIC’s project activities and thus, the quality of child protective services (CPS).
The purposes of this project are to:
  1. Design and conduct evaluation, to rigorously study implementation, outcomes and cost impact of differential response in research and demonstration sites;
  2. Learn if differential response is an effective approach in CPS; and
  3. Build cutting-edge, innovative and replicable knowledge about differential response, including guidance on best practices in differential response.
 
Project Approach
The QIC-DR has a two-phase approach. Through a needs assessment, Phase I focused on the identification of knowledge gaps, service gaps, research priorities and experimental design. In October 2009, Phase II began and focuses on the implementation of the research design in three research and demonstration (R&D) sites -- Colorado, Illinois and Ohio -- and dissertation research. The QIC-DR will disseminate the most current and state-of-the-art information to practitioners, policymakers, administrators and researchers. Using a collaborative approach, the QIC-DR serves as a laboratory for innovation, application and learning.
 
The QIC-DR project team and the Children’s Bureau drew upon the expertise of families and leaders in the field at the Federal, State and community levels, as well as a National Advisory Committee, to guide and select the research focus for the three sites. The R&D sites will ultimately work to answer the following questions:
  1. Are children whose families participate in the non-investigation pathway as safe as or safer than children whose families participate in the investigation pathway?
  2. How is the non-investigation pathway different from the investigation pathway in terms of family engagement, caseworker practice and services provided?
  3. What are the cost and funding implications to the child protection agency of the implementation and maintenance of a differential response approach? 

Phase I - Year 1

Conducting a national needs assessment:
During Phase I, the QIC-DR, in cooperation with the Children’s Bureau, completed a comprehensive review of existing knowledge on differential response in child protective services through a literature review, legal and legislative analysis, information summits on relevant topic areas with experts in the field, interviews and focus groups, and listening sessions with families and tribal representatives. The website for the project (www.DifferentialResponseQIC.org) houses all of these products as well as an annotated bibliography. 

Phase II - Years 2-5

Administering projects:
Colorado, Illinois and Ohio were selected as R&D sites through a competitive process to implement differential response and conduct local evaluations of their differential response model and cooperate with the cross-site evaluation. In addition, with guidance from the Academic Scholars Panel, the QIC-DR has supported five doctoral students' dissertation research to create additional knowledge and more scholarly evidence about differential response.
 
Evaluating process and outcomes:
A cross-site evaluation will be conducted that will include process (implementation and fidelity), child and family outcomes, and cost study components. The outcomes study will use a randomized control trial (RCT) methodology. Core components of the evaluation will be comparable across sites, and will be fully incorporated into the local evaluation design. The QIC-DR will supply technical assistance and support to the local evaluators in the collection of data. Lessons learned from the implementation study will also be documented.
 
Disseminating knowledge:
To help build a knowledge-development process and engage the field, information will be shared in a timely manner throughout all stages of the initiative. Products from Phase I will be updated as necessary and continually shared with different audiences. Initial findings from R&D sites on their implementation process, strengths and challenges will also be disseminated. Finally, information on outcomes achieved through the cross-site evaluation will be shared nationally and site-specific outcomes will be synthesized and disseminated as they become available.
 
 
Final Evaluation Reports

Final Cross Site Evaluation Report

Illinois DR final report January 2014

Ohio SOAR Final Report- Executive Summary-Jan 2014

OHIO SOAR Final Report-  December 2013 

Program Evaluation of the Colorado Consortium on Differential Response - Final Report

Program Evaluation of the Colorado Consortium on Differential Response - Final Report Appendices

Final Appendices Cross Site Evaluation
 

 


 
Evaluation
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.
  • Case Report: 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.
Local Evaluations
Colorado
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.
​​​Year 1 Site Visit Reports:  
 

Publications:  
Differential Response in CPS: Research and Practice Advancement

Tribal Symposium:
This report provides a brief overview of the Tribal Symposium on Differential Response, held at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. in summer 2011.

Issue Briefs:
 
 
 

Literature Reviews:
 

Bibliographies:

Law and Legislation:
 
 
Differential Response in Child Protective Services: A Legal Analysis
This document is an overview of key legal and constitutional issues associated with differential response. It outlines considerations for jurisdictions implementing the approach and analyzes whether differential response affects children’s and parents’ rights.
 

National Survey:
Differential Response Map
U.S. Map showing the States, tribes and other jurisdictions that are implementing differential response, considering implementation, or implementing similar front-end system reforms. Last updated August 1st, 2013.
 

Information Summits:
 
Policy and Practice Information Summit
Feb. 19-20, 2009
Crystal City, Va.
Download the Final Report 
 
Prevention Information Summit
Feb. 25-26, 2009
Charlotte, N.C.
Download the Final Report  
 
Research and Evaluation Summit
March 17-18, 2009
Sacramento, Calif.
Download the Final Report 
 
Disproportionality Summit
March 24-25, 2009
Columbus, Ohio
Download the Final Report 

Presentations:
Differential Response in Child Welfare: Policy, Law and Data
Presentation from the 2009 Meeting for Agencies and Courts
Download the Presentation 

Brochures for Family and Community:
Illinois Brochure for Families in English or Spanish

​As part of the Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response, scholarships were awarded to five students in a competitive application process to support their dissertation research on differential response. 

 

​Contact Us
Contact us with questions or for more information about this project.  
 
Partners
The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect 
 
Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc.
 
Institute of Applied Research
Research and Demonstration Sites
Colorado Consortium (Arapahoe, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson and Larimer Counties): Department of Human Services 

State of Illinois: Illinois Department of Child and Family Services

 

Ohio Consortium (Champaign, Clark, Madison, Montgomery, Richland and Summit Counties)