Q: What is Multiple Response Systems?
A: In North Carolina, ten counties will pilot the
Multiple Response System (MRS). There are two categories of child protective services reports. The first category includes reports that are immediately recognized as presenting serious safety issues for children and or potential criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator. These reports go on an investigative track.
second category of reports includes situations in which there are needs that, if addressed, could stabilize the family and enable the parents to better care for these children. These reports go on the assessment track. Normally in MRS, reports are not substantiated and substantiation is not required for a family to receive services. Instead, a family's needs dictate whether a case is opened. If serious maltreatment is uncovered during the course of an assessment, a family can be moved to the investigation track.
It is anticipated that with MRS, DSS social workers would be better able to work with families from a strength-based, family-centered perspective without the parents being "labeled" as being abusive or neglectful, etc. This approach allows a DSS to handle a case without the need for a forensic investigation (one where evidence is gathered for the purposes of making a determination regarding abuse, neglect and/or dependency). It allows for a more team-centered approach for the parents and other community participants.
Q: How is a MRS county's response different now than before MRS?
A: Please see the response above. Also, investigating social workers can keep the cases longer without having to turn the case over to another unit in DSS. There is continuity with the social worker that works to bring community resources and assistance to families without having to substantiate abuse, neglect or dependency. Participation requires full cooperation from the families, or the case must be transferred to another DSS/YFS unit.