Differential Response


One size doesn’t fit all

Traditionally, when a family comes to the attention of child protective services, an “investigation” occurs, which seeks to discover what did or didn’t happen and identify a perpetrator and a victim. In serious cases, this is the most appropriate approach. But in cases in which families are vulnerable and need support, they are more likely to seek it if someone is on their side from the outset and not pointing fingers. That is the idea behind American Humane Association’s Differential Response initiative. We encourage child welfare professionals to work with families to assess their needs and build upon their strengths to keep children safely at home with their families.  Learn more »

Current Projects

Ohio Alternative Response

We are collaborating with the National Research Implementation Network and the Institute of Applied Research to guide, facilitate and support a statewide implementation of alternative response in Ohio.  Learn more »

New York Family Assessment Response

We’ve teamed up with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to implement Family Assessment Response, the agency’s differential response practice approach, in 19 counties (and counting) since 2008.  Learn more »

Learn more about all of our current projects »



Professional Resources

Explore a wide range of differential response resources for the latest in research, best practices and scholarship: 


Program Evaluation »

Training Evaluation »

Annual Conference »

Webinar Series »

Publications »






Services and History

The American Humane Association is here to help build your knowledge of differential response and apply best practices to the critical work you do with children and families.


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In October 2008, American Humane Association, in partnership with Walter R. McDonald & Associates and the Institute of Applied Research, was selected to receive a federal cooperative agreement totaling nearly $10 million over five years to develop the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services. The grant was awarded by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Learn more »