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"Alternative Response" to Reports of Child Abuse

July 7, 2008

Columbus, OH – Investigators assigned to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect in Ohio have a new tool they can use in select cases. It's called "Alternative Response," and it can be used when there's no immediate threat to the child. Ten counties are involved in the pilot program, which replicates highly successful programs in Minnesota and Missouri.

Max Bucey of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio says the general intent is to provide support for the family.

"The focus is more on helping the family resolve whatever issues there are, and so there's a possibility to be less conflict between the person from the agency who is working with them and the client themselves."

Bucey notes it's a constructive approach that helps families resolve issues while also maintaining the safety of the children. He believes the project carries the potential to have a noteworthy impact on families -- and on the Ohio child welfare system -- for years to come.

Experts will review the approach before it's expanded to additional counties, he adds.

"The researchers will look real closely and compare those two groups of cases to see what the difference in the results were between those that had the traditional investigative assessment, and those that who had the alternative, sort of family, assessment."

Jim Mishler/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OH