The North Carolina General Assembly in July 2001 mandated that the state Division of Social Services develop and pilot a county-level differential response system that used a family assessment track for selected reports of child maltreatment in addition to the traditional investigative process. North Carolina developed seven strategies as part of the larger Multiple Response System (MRS) reform, including the family assessment track, collaboration between Work-First and CPS, strengths-based structured intake process, the re-design of in-home services, implementation of Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings, facilitation of shared parenting in placement cases, and improved coordination with law enforcement.
In 2002, the North Carolina Division of Social Services (NCDSS) requested that the Center for Child and Family Policy conduct an evaluation of the new system to determine its effectiveness within the 10 pilot counties as well as 10 additional counties that began MRS implementation in mid-2003.
This comprehensive evaluation focused on multiple dimensions of MRS reform:
- Case distribution, choice of two approaches to report child maltreatment,
- Safety, including rates of assessment and repeat assessments,
- Timeliness of response and case decision,
- Frontloading of services,
- Redesign of in-home services,
- Implementation of CFT meetings,
- Collaboration between Child Welfare and Work First,
- Shared parenting activities, and
- Feedback from families.