What are the elements of an effective hotline system?
As the point of entry for family involvement in the child welfare system, hotline decisions can have a lifelong impact upon the safety, permanency, and well-being of vulnerable children. Getting the screening decision right — whether to screen a case in or out of the system — is one of the most important functions of a child protection agency.
If a referral is incorrectly screened in, the child and family are subjected to needless investigations, potential court and law enforcement involvement, and even unnecessary removals of the child from the home. Incorrect screen-in decisions also burden the workload of every unit in the system that subsequently encounters the child and his or her family. When referrals are incorrectly screened out, however, opportunities to help children and families are lost, potentially resulting in continuing or fatal harm to children.
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