Publication Details

Conley, A. (2007). Differential response: A critical examination of a secondary prevention model. Children and Youth Services Review, 29 (11), 1454-1468.


Whether and when to intervene and what services to offer families in crisis are critical questions in the field of child welfare. Policy makers and administrators struggle with how to target services appropriately to ensure provision to families at greatest risk while avoiding endangerment through miscalculation. This paper examines the differential (also known as alternative) response paradigm of child welfare services under which families at moderate to high risk for child maltreatment are offered preventative, strengths-based services. The Another Road to Safety Program, an example of a differential response program utilizing home visiting as a service delivery mechanism, is critically assessed to determine support for program assumptions in the child welfare literature base. The types of intervention strategies examined include voluntary service provision, home visitation, paraprofessional service delivery, and targeting of basic and concrete needs.