The general objective of this research was to compare the relative effectiveness of court mandated services versus a voluntary service plan in preventing in child maltreatment recidivism. Four-thirty-two children were selected at random from among children in a large California County who were receiving in-home services under a court mandate or a voluntary plan. Protective services files of study children were reviewed to derive study data.

Type of plan did not make a difference on case outcome. Children were more likely to remain in the home at the end of the service delivery period in families that received voluntary plans. However, when other factors are controlled, the advantage of a voluntary plan disappears. Moreover, similar rates of recidivism were noted between both types of plans after the case was closed.