What is Alternative Response?

You were referred to Alternative Response because Hamilton County Children’s Services received a report of concern about your child or children. Alternative Response is a new approach being used by county child welfare agencies in Ohio. It focuses on creating partnerships between families and the agency. It is designed to address the family’s issues early on, before they lead to the stress that may cause abuse or neglect.

Caseworkers partner with families to:

  • Discuss the issues confronting the families,
  • Assist them in determining the causes, and
  • Search for potential solutions.

A caseworker will work with you and other members of your family so that you receive the help you need to keep your children safe.

How is it different?

For many families, Alternative Response is a better approach than the traditional, investigative response. Hamilton County Children’s Services will not assign blame or apply negative labels, but will work together with the family to identify solutions, if needed. Families help to identify their own strengths and assist in making decisions regarding safety concerns for their children. If after the caseworker meets with you, he or she discovers significant safety concerns, a formal investigation may have to occur.

Do I have to participate?

Participation in the Alternative Response program is voluntary; however, Hamilton County Children’s Services must assess each concern it receives. If a family chooses not to participate in the differential approach, the traditional approach to assessing reports of possible child abuse or neglect will apply.

Now what?

If the family and the agency agree that services are needed, a service plan will be developed to outline what services could benefit the family. These services are short-term in nature and could include referrals to other agencies for parenting education, budgeting, counseling, etc., or assistance with transportation, food, clothing or shelter.

Questions? Need additional information?

Please contact the caseworker identified in the Working With Children's Services: A Guide for Families form.

HCJFS 7809 (REV. 2-12)