Community Response Program

Community Response Program logo

The Community Response Program was created in 2006 to fill a gap in the child maltreatment prevention continuum. CRP provides voluntary supports to families reported to county child protective services (CPS) for alleged child abuse or neglect who are not receiving services because the referral is either screened out or the referral is screened in for further assessment, but the case is closed due to a finding that the report could not be substantiated.


The largest number of maltreatment reports made to CPS are families who are screened out. The second largest number of maltreatment reports made to CPS are families who have their case closed after the initial assessment. The Department of Children and Families publishes an annual Child Abuse and Neglect Report. Preliminary findings indicate that 25% to 30% of the families who have been screened out or case closed after initial assessment are re-reported to CPS.


Child maltreatment not only exacts a high price from its victims, it is also extremely costly to the average tax payer, both in terms of lost human potential and real dollars. The total lifetime expense for just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment is estimated at 121.6 billion dollars. Prevention works. Implementing Community Response Programming with families experiencing some type of stress before child abuse or neglect occurs, not only protects children but can also reduce the number of families who are re-referred to CPS.

Community Response Program Overview

One of the lead evaluators, Dr. Kristen Slack, UW Madison School of Social Work, provides the history of the Community Response Program (CRP) in Wisconsin, the program components, practice framework, and the intended outcomes of CRP. Webinar is 20 minutes in length.


The overall goal is to strengthen families, prevent child abuse and neglect, and reduce re-referrals to CPS. CRP is a short-term (20 week maximum) voluntary prevention program that includes: 

  • Case Management
  • Home Visits
  • Collaborative Goal Setting
  • Comprehensive Assessment 
  • Flexible Funds 

CRP staff work with the families to identify immediate needs and assist families in connecting to formal and informal resources to meet these needs (e.g., parenting supports, mental health treatment, child health and development). CRP works not only to mitigate risk factors, but also to identify and build protective capacities of parents and caregivers.

On average CRP staff work with families for 16-20 weeks. The comprehensive assessment allows the family to discuss and identify their critical stressors and their goals. Families typically select between 2 to 5 goals.

A primary focus of CRP is to assist families with economic stressors. Decades of research show evidence of a strong correlation between poverty and child maltreatment. This relationship persists regardless of whether maltreatment is measured using official CPS reports or through parent-reported risk behaviors related to maltreatment (e.g., high reliance on physical punishment, insufficient supervision, substance abuse).[1]

Community Response Program Evaluation

One of the lead evaluators, Dr. Kristen Slack, UW Madison School of Social Work, provides an overview of the Community Response Program, context of social welfare evaluations, explains evidence-based programs vs. evidence-based practices and describes why it's important to invest in a rigorous evaluation of the Community Response Program. Webinar is 20 minutes in length.


To learn more about the implementation project led by a team of experts from the University of Wisconsin - Madison go to the final implementation report of the Community Response Program.

View the report, Moving Forward with Wisconsin's Community Response Program, written by graduate students from UW La Follette School of Public Affairs.    

Map of Community Response Program grantees