Evaluation of Ohio's Differential Response Research and Demonstration Project

With funding from the U.S. Children's Bureau, HSRI is conducting a three-year evaluation of the Differential Response (DR) Initiative in Ohio, a best-practices approach to serving families reported for child abuse or neglect. DR provides an alternative to the traditional child welfare investigative approach, rather offering families a more critical role in assuring the safety and well-being of their children. Ohio is one of three states who are implementing a DR model and the Children's Bureau is funding a cross-site QIC evaluation of the three sites to contribute to the scientific evidence of the effectiveness of this approach; HSRI's evaluation will significantly contribute to this effort. HSRI is conducting a three-pronged evaluation design. First, we utilize a randomized control design to examine the impact of DR on child welfare outcomes, providing a case-level examination of how serving children and families through a DR pathway leads to different outcomes than when served through a traditional investigatory pathway. Second, HSRI is conducting an implementation study, utilizing interviews, site visits, and surveys to explore the nuances of how this initiative has been implemented in the six Ohio counties involved in the project. Finally, we are conducting a cost study to understand the fiscal implications of implementing a DR model; we are examining resources utilized by local child welfare agencies to support families receiving DR services, compared to traditional services.