Child Protective Services Worker Alternative Response Information

Community members concerned for child safety can make reports to Child Protective Services (CPS). Counties review reports and make a screening decision. Cases are screened-in if they meet statutory guidelines for further assessment.

In 2010, a pilot of Alternative Response began. The pilot established a two pathway system for screened-in cases.

In one pathway, Traditional Response (TR), workers determine if child abuse and/or neglect occurred. This is a maltreatment determination. If abuse or neglect occurred, workers determine by whom. This is a maltreater determination

In the second pathway, Alternative Response (AR), assessments do not have maltreatment or maltreater determinations.

AR cases are less severe and less likely to need collaboration with law enforcement or courts. In these cases, maltreater and maltreatment determinations may interfere with family engagement. Family engagement helps the worker assess for safety and talk with the family about what services will help. Without the correct services and family participation, families return to CPS.

Wisconsin CPS Alternative Response County Implementation Map

Resources for AR Counties:

Addendum to the Child Protective Services Access and Initial Assessment Standards: the program requirements and guidelines.

Alternative Response Pre-Service Modules provides online pre-service training related to Alternative Response.

Alternative Response Frequently Asked Questions provides an overview of frequent caseworker questions related to Alternative Response.

Wisconsin’s Alternative Response Pilot Report to the Legislature is the report to the legislature about the Alternative Response Pilot.

Alternative Response Implementation Readiness Assessment helps counties explore their readiness to implement Alternative Response.

eWiSACWIS Alternative Response Quick Reference Guide is a resource for creating a CA/N Primary - Alternative Response.

Alternative Response Contact Information

For additional information or questions pertaining to Alternative Response in Wisconsin, email