ACY Applauds Alternative Response in Maryland’s Child Welfare System
In partnership with the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and child welfare stakeholders, ACY won the support of the General Assembly to create Alternative Response in Maryland’s child welfare system. Alternative Response creates a new way to respond to less serious cases of child abuse and neglect. In those cases, when a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker responds to an allegation, rather than initiating a formal investigation into whether the alleged incident of abuse or neglect occurred, the CPS worker meets with the family, conducts a thorough family assessment, and offers voluntary services to the family. Nearly half of all states have alternative response and studies have shown that families who receive an alternative response receive more services and are more satisfied with their experiences. This bill will be signed into law this summer. During the first year, an advisory council will be created and convene, case workers across the state will be trained on alternative response, and an evaluation of the program will be created to measure both implementation and outcomes.
There are approximately 10,500 children in Maryland’s child welfare system. This includes nearly 3,400 families who are currently receiving in-home services. The children in these families remain in their homes, but are receiving assistance from their local department of social services. It is a subset of these 3,400 families that will be eligible for alternative response.
This alternative response bill was a collaborative effort between the Department of Human Resources, Advocates for Children and Youth, Catholic Charities, the Citizens Review Board for Children, The Family Tree, the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth, the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, and the State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect.
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Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY) was founded in 1987 by a group of prominent child advocates in Maryland who saw the need for an independent organization to advocate for the needs of the state's children and families in the community, the media and the public policy arena. ACY's mission has remained unchanged since its founding: to identify problems, promote policies and programs that improve results for Maryland children in measurable and meaningful ways, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies for the state's children and youth.