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Dataset Details

Cross Site Evaluation – Quality Improvement Center for Differential Response (QIC-DR)

Dataset Number: 194


Merkel-Holguin, L., Yuan, Y. T., Jowers, K., Hollinshead, D., Fluke, J., & Hahn, A.


Differential response (DR) is a variation of delivering child protective services (CPS), which includes at least two distinct pathways for responding to screened-in reports of child maltreatment: the investigative response (IR) and the alternative response (AR). DR is also sometimes used to refer to CPS systems that are comprised of only one pathway for responding to screened-in reports, namely IR, but includes a diversion component, which triages screened-out reports to community agencies. This dataset does not address this latter type of DR system. Generally, AR, under the dual response pathway version of DR, is intended for low- and moderate-risk maltreatment allegations, while IR is reserved for allegations of child maltreatment that are considered to be of high risk or needing potential involvement of law enforcement. Given the interest and growth of DR throughout child welfare systems in the United States, the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services funded the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR). The American Humane Association received this award, which was later transferred to The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. The QIC-DR operated between 2008 and 2014.

Three research and demonstration sites were selected to implement and evaluate DR. The sites selected were:

  • The Colorado Consortium on Differential Response (CCDR), representing five counties (Arapahoe, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson, and Larimer), with the local evaluation conducted by Colorado State University Social Work Research Center.
  • The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, consisting of a statewide implementation of DR, with the local evaluation conducted by the Children and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Four regions are included in the dataset (Cook county area, and northern, central, and sothern areas of the state).
  • The SOAR Consortium, representing Six Ohio Counties Implementing Alternative Response (Champaign, Clark, Madison, Montgomery, Richland, and Summit), with the local evaluation conducted by the Human Services Research Institute.

The cross-site evaluation of the three sites was formulated to research multiple aspects of DR implementation. Using a framework of studying families who met the eligibility criteria for AR and comparing families from this group who were randomly assigned to AR or IR, the following core research questions were examined:

  • Are children in AR families as safe as or safer than children in IR families?
  • How is the AR pathway different from the IR pathway in terms of family engagement, caseworker practice, and services provided?
  • What are the costs for child protection agencies that implement DR?

The QIC-DR dataset contains data from the three sites. Counties and regions are de-identified in the dataset.

Bibliographic Citation

Merkel-Holguin, L., Yuan, Y. T., Jowers, K., Hollinshead, D., Fluke, J., & Hahn, A. (2018). Cross Site Evaluation – Quality Improvement Center for Differential Response (QIC-DR) [Dataset]. National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect.

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