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.