Accessing Alternative Response Payways: A Multi-Level Examination of Family and Community Factors on Race Equity


Tana Connell

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Child Abuse & Neglect

Publication Date



Background Although research has identified factors associated with child welfare involvement, less attention has been paid to how Black families are assigned to types of child welfare responses. The advent of alternative response pathways allows child protection workers to assign child abuse and neglect responses to families based on the type and seriousness of the maltreatment, history of prior reports and age of the child. Objective The effects of family and community characteristics on alternative response pathways are examined by exploring decision-making at two points in the child welfare system: access to an alternative response child welfare system and assignment to either an investigative or alternative response pathway. Participants and Setting Black and White families reported for child abuse and neglect (N = 31,802) in New York State were studied. Methods Using data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System matched with New York State county socioeconomic indicators, logistic and multi-level analyses examined the effect of county-level variables on family characteristics. Results The analysis determined that Black children and families were not assigned to alternative response pathways similarly to White families especially in counties where indication rates were higher. Conclusion Findings imply that Black families involved in the child welfare system may benefit from increased access to culturally responsive interventions that target neighborhoods with high indication rates.




Youth & families