Differential Response System

Since the enactment of Virginia’s child abuse and neglect statutes in 1975, all valid reports of suspected child abuse and neglect have been investigated by CPS. This singular response focused resources on investigating the reported incident, i.e., gathering the facts to determine if abuse or neglect occurred, identifying persons responsible, and determining the risk of future maltreatment.

The Differential Response System allows localities flexibility in responding to reports of abuse and neglect taking into consideration the severity of the report, immediacy of child safety concerns, and family needs. The alternative response to an investigation is a family assessment that focuses resources on conducting a child safety and family needs assessment, building upon family strengths, and providing needed services. Valid reports are thus assigned to receive an Investigation or a Family Assessment Response.