New York: Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect for Mandated Reporters (348)Page 5 of 16

4. Alternatives to Reporting

Mandated reporters are legally obligated to call the SCR only in certain circumstances. Families in crisis may not meet the legal criteria required to call the SCR and may be better served by being connected to a variety of community services in their area.

In some states, reports of maltreatment may not be investigated, but are instead assigned to an alternative track, called alternative response, family assessment response, or differential response. An alternative response is a response other than an investigation that determines if a child or family needs services (DHHS, 2023).

In these types of cases, a determination of maltreatment is not made, and a perpetrator is not determined. Cases receiving this response often include early determinations that the children have a low or moderate risk of maltreatment (DHHS, 2023).

Alternative responses usually include the voluntary acceptance of CPS services. The term “disposition” is used when referring to both investigation response and alternative response (DHHS, 2023).

4.1 Family Assessment Response (FAR)

In New York, Family Assessment Response (FAR) is the state’s alternative Child Protective response to some reports of child maltreatment. FAR does not require an investigation and determination of allegations and individual culpability for families reported to the SCR (NYSOCFS, Nd).

FAR provides protection to children by engaging families in an assessment of child safety, family needs, and solutions to family problems. The process identifies informal and formal supports to meet family needs and increases their ability to care for their children (NYSOCFS, Nd).

4.2 H.E.A.R.S.

The OCFS H.E.A.R.S. program helps, empowers, advocates, reassures, and supports families by providing resources and referrals to a variety of services such as food, clothing, housing, childcare, parenting education, and more. Representatives are available to help Monday through Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. If you know a family that could use support, please ask them to call the OCFS HEARS family line at 888-554-3277.

4.3 NY Project Hope

NY Project Hope provides emotional support for New York State residents. This includes an Emotional Support Helpline (1-844-863-9314), Online Wellness Groups, and a website filled with supportive resources (

4.4 Prevent Child Abuse New York

Prevent Child Abuse New York also has a prevention and parent helpline available for parents and caregivers. It is confidential and multi-lingual and can refer or connect caregivers to community-based services. This helpline is available Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm at 1-800-CHILDREN.

4.5 Calling 211

Parents and caregivers may also call 2-1-1, operated by the United Way, for health and human services information, referrals, assessments, and crisis support to help them find the assistance they need to address the everyday challenges of living, as well as those that develop during times of disaster or other community emergencies. 2-1-1 is multi-lingual and available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.