How can an organization ensure that its mission and goals are carried out through its actions? How do agencies determine if the work they do with families results in the intended outcomes? One way to create consistency in practice agency-wide and to provide a framework for accountability is to develop or adopt a practice model. In an effective practice model, the practices are grounded in the values, principles, relationships, approaches, and techniques used at the system and casework practitioner level to enable children and families to achieve the goals of safety, stability, permanency, and well-being. Organizing these practices into a model or framework provides a standard for imitation or comparison and a structure based on an underlying set of common ideas, agreements, or policies. Please click here for the full text.
How can a child welfare agency effectively partner with private providers to ensure better outcomes for children and families? State and county child welfare systems have long relied on contractual relationships with private providers for many of their most vital services to children and families. This includes direct services, such as foster and congregate care, in-home family and front-end investigative services, as well as supportive services, such as day care or counseling. While the percentage and types of services contracted by states and counties to private providers varies widely, the outcomes of any public child welfare system are impacted by the quality of these services and the extent to which a functional performance management process is in place that ensures private provider accountability. Public child welfare agencies must, therefore, make sustainable investments and align financing to support collective partnerships with their private providers around the shared goal of securing the best possible outcomes for the children and families they serve. Please click here for the full text.
Building the confidence and competence of child welfare staff gives agencies a foundation that is essential for improving outcomes for children and families. Too often child welfare agencies jump to classroom training as a “quick fix” solution to performance problems or poor outcomes. Research indicates, however, that only a small percentage of learning effectively happens in the classroom, while the majority of learning occurs in practice and through the application of new ideas in the field. Please click here for the full text.
While the environment of child welfare organizations is constantly changing because of mandates, new challenges or emerging concerns, the objective of child welfare organizations is constant: to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and promote the resiliency of families. To accomplish these goals, it is important for an agency to have a well-functioning Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) system. Agencies have been quick to address the issue of CQI, particularly after the Children’s Bureau released its Information Memorandum in 2012, by implementing specific actions and developing tools such as numerous data reports designed to monitor practice, but they often fall short of a having an effective and comprehensive CQI system. To be effective, child welfare agencies must move beyond basic quality assurance processes, which often focus on auditing case records to monitor and report on compliance activities, and into implementing CQI processes that will lead to improved outcomes, support sustainable changes, and engage the entire child welfare system. Please click here for the full text.
Assessments of child welfare systems may be structured in many ways and investigate a variety of issues. Different from formal program evaluations, which are typically more structured and follow distinct protocols, assessments may be broader or narrower in scope, and an approach can be customized based on identified needs. Approach and scope of work are designed to help the agency understand concerns that led to an assessment, including underlying causes and results. By exploring carefully-crafted research questions, using various sources of information, a well-designed assessment can provide insight into and understanding of issues for agencies seeking to improve their programs. Recommendations focused on underlying contributors to concerns and crafted using problem-solving and implementation-science principles can provide guidance to agencies in making needed improvements and moving toward desired outcomes. Please click here for the full text.
Child welfare systems are faced with a growing array of challenges in meeting the needs of at-risk children and families. Effective data use is key to a well-functioning Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) structure; it provides child welfare systems with a solid foundation from which problems’ root causes can readily and accurately be identified and solution-focused strategies implemented, monitored, and adjusted over time to effect positive and sustainable change. Please click here for the full text.
Child welfare systems must comply with federal, state, local, and judicial mandates while also attempting to achieve positive safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children and families. To support these varied goals, CSF works with agencies on system redesign and improvement initiatives to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of services to children and families. The implementation process itself is critical to ensuring that the improvement initiatives are executed with fidelity to the desired initiative or design, that the groundwork and planning to support the initiatives are in place, and that the process of implementation occurs at a pace that allows for monitoring and adjustments along the way. Please click here for the full text.