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Children's Bureau Child and Family Services Reviews Promising Approaches in Child Welfare

Published: June 29, 2012
Categories:
Monitoring
Topics:
Child and Family Services Reviews, Child Welfare
Tags:

Round I

State: California
Promising Approach: Foster and Kinship Care Education
Category: Training
Sponsor: California Department of Social Services/California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office
Contact: Lucy Berger, (916) 323-5276, LBerger@cccco.edu
Description: The Foster and Kinship Care Education (FKCE) Program provides training classes to foster and kinship caregivers, as well as non-relative extended family members at 65 community colleges throughout California. Title IV-E funds are used to match the California Community Colleges Proposition 98 funds for the purpose of reimbursing the California Community Colleges, Chancellor's Office for the Federal share of costs in providing foster parent and kinship care provider training. These classes are open to relative caregivers who wish to attend as well as prospective and current foster parents who must attend to become licensed or to maintain their license as a foster parent. Through an agreement with the California Community Colleges Chancellor's office, the FKCE Program and the Department of Social Services offer these classes at various California Community Colleges to allow for a large network of providers to attend. Classes cover a numbers of learning objectives and are free of charge.
Length of Operation: 1984 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: California
Promising Approach: California Child and Family Review System
Category: Quality Assurance
Sponsor: California Department of Social Services
Contact: Dave McDowell, (916) 651-8099, Dave.McDowell@dss.ca.gov
Description: The California Child and Family Review System is a State version of the Federal child and family services reviews used to monitor State performance. It requires the development and implementation of an outcomes-based county compliance review process to improve outcomes for children in the child welfare system while holding county and State agencies accountable for the outcomes achieved. All 58 counties receive quarterly data reports on their outcomes in the areas of safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system. Each county conducts a self-assessment using community-based groups to facilitate public input. A component of the self-assessment is the Peer Quality Case Review, which involves State, county, and regional training and peer review staff performing qualitative case reviews of specific areas of county practice. Following the self-assessments, counties collaborate with other local partners to develop a county System Improvement Plan (SIP), which is approved by the county Board of Supervisors. The purpose of the SIP is to establish program priorities, define specific action steps to achieve improvement, and establish goals for improvement. The California Child and Family Services Review was designed so that county self-assessments and SIPs would be the basis for the Statewide Assessment and the Program Improvement Plan for future Federal reviews.
Length of Operation: January 2004 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Delaware
Promising Approach: Child Welfare Staff Training and Retention Initiatives
Category: Training
Sponsor: Delaware Department of Services to Children, Youth, and Their Families
Contact: Shirley Roberts, Children's Services Administrator, Delaware Youth and Family Center, (302) 633-2601
Description: The Delaware Department of Services to Children, Youth, and Their Families, Division of Family Services child welfare workforce was experiencing high turnover rates, difficulties in hiring new staff, several child deaths, and public scrutiny. The agency reversed this trend by raising pay, improving the hiring process, establishing an over-hire pool, enhancing training, providing new employee support, establishing caseload standards, and raising salaries for workers with more than 1 year of experience. This approach included the support of advocacy groups who worked with the legislature to pass a caseload standard law with funding approval. Also, seasonal positions are added when caseloads are more than 10 percent over the standard and are made permanent in the next budget cycle. The caseload standard is based on the Child Welfare League of America standard plus two additional cases.
Length of Operation: 1999 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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State: Georgia
Promising Approach: Social Work Student Training Program
Category: Training
Sponsor: Georgia Department of Human Resources, Walton County Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS)
Contact: Dr. Jackie Ellis, Interim Director of Field Education, School of Social Work, University of Georgia, (706) 542-3949; Susan Denney, Georgia Department of Human Resources, (404) 463-0960, swdenney@dhr.state.ga.us.
Description: The University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Human Resources Region V, which includes Walton County, have initiated a pilot training program for BSW and MSW students. This program allows students to complete agency new worker training while performing student field practice in the Walton County DFCS office. The students complete the initial online Child Protective Services (CPS) training module, and attend a week-long CPS track training. Training also includes specialty areas. Upon completion of the training, students are tested and receive certification. Once certified, they are hired part-time by DFCS during their last semester of school. The IV-E training grant is used to fund this project.
Length of Operation:2005 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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State: Idaho
Promising Approach: Community Resources for Families
Category: Agency Collaboration, Safety, and Service Array
Sponsor: Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Contact: Shirley Alexander, Department of Health and Welfare, (208) 334-6618
Description: The Community Resources for Families is a joint venture of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and local school districts. The program is a school-based child abuse and neglect prevention program that places social workers in participating elementary schools throughout the State, thereby strengthening families, increasing the ability of children to learn, and increasing the self-reliance of families through utilization of community resources. School personnel, including principals, teachers, and school counselors, make referrals to the social worker when a child is identified as being at risk for abuse, neglect, or school failure. The social worker provides services on a voluntary basis to the family by helping the family connect with community-based resources. This program provides early intervention and a link to emergency assistance.
Length of Operation: 2000 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership
Category: Agency Collaboration, Mental Health of the Child, and Service Array
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Dr. Cynthia Tate, Deputy Director, Clinical Practice & Professional Development, (312) 814-4115, Cynthia.tate@illinois.gov
Description: The findings of the Children's Mental Health Task Force led to the passage of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Act in 2003. In 2004, public forums were held and the Illinois Children's Mental Health (ICMH) Partnership, a multidisciplinary group appointed by the Governor, was formed and charged with implementing the legislation. The ICMH Partnership includes the Department of Children and Family Services. The ICMH Partnership envisions a comprehensive, coordinated children's mental health system comprised of prevention, early intervention, and treatment for children ages 0-18 years, and for youth ages 19-21 who are transitioning out of key public programs (e.g., school, mental health). Programs and services should be available and accessible to Illinois children and their families, whether they are a new parent adjusting to the demands of parenthood, a toddler struggling to master basic developmental tasks, an adolescent who is experiencing feelings of depression, or a youth with some other mental health need. This partnership provides a potential for addressing a key finding of the child and family services reviews regarding the significant need for mental health services.
Length of Operation: 2002 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Joint Training Partnership
Category: Training
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Velma J. Williams, Department of Children and Family Services, (312) 814-4178
Description: In this joint training partnership, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) collaborates with the Illinois human service higher education programs to promote understanding of child and family welfare and to build career paths that can attract and retain high quality direct service staff. DCFS participates in the development of needed child welfare curriculum for schools of social work, especially assisting those that are striving for full program accreditation.
Length of Operation: Early 1990s to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Benchmark Permanency Hearing Program, Child Protection Mediation Program, and Court Family Conferences
Category: Court Collaboration, Case Review System, and Permanency
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Dixie Lee Peterson, Deputy General Counsel, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, (312) 814-2367, dixie.peterson@illinois.gov
Description: The Circuit Court of Cook County has instituted three programs to enhance collaboration between the court and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). First, the Benchmark Permanency Hearing Program is designed to address the unique needs of teenagers as they prepare for adulthood. The program provides teens with a chance to meet with a judge several times before exiting foster care so that the teen may express his or her concerns and personal goals. This allows the court, DCFS, and other stakeholders to explore services that will allow for a smoother transition to independent living and ultimately allow the teen to achieve his or her goals. Second, in the Child Protection Mediation Program, a trained mediator facilitates a discussion between the parties. It allows all parties to bring their issues and concerns to the table and encourages and empowers them to reach their own solutions to advance the best interests of the child. Finally, Court Family Conferences, held 55 days after temporary custody hearings, are informal conferences conducted by the judge to provide an opportunity to address the causes that contributed to the child being brought into care. The close working relationship between the Circuit Court of Cook County and DCFS has helped lead to a reduction in Cook County's active caseload from approximately 39,000 at the end of 1997 to approximately 12,800 in 2003.
Length of Operation: 2001 to present (benchmark program, court mediation); 1998 to present (Court Family Conferences)
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Grand Rounds Teaching Model
Category: Training
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Velma J. Williams, Department of Children and Family Services, (312) 814-4178
Description: The Department of Children and Family Services works with the Juvenile Protective Association to provide permanency case managers with group learning experiences through the grand rounds teaching model. Cases of children in care and their families are presented for discussion. The objective of this teaching model is to assist staff in applying child welfare principles to actual cases.
Length of Operation: Early 1990s to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Professional Development Coordination
Category: Training
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Velma J. Williams, Department of Children and Family Services, (312) 814-4178
Description: The Department of Children and Family Services coordinates Regional Training Committees to increase ready expertise in performance analysis and in performance-based training program development, thereby assisting Regional Quality Assurance Councils to build appropriate responses to staff needs for growth. The Regional Training Committees define needed learning objectives for the Regional Quality Action Plans.
Length of Operation: Early 1990s to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Integrated Assessment
Category: Service Array
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Dr. Cynthia Tate, Deputy Director, Clinical Practice & Professional Development, (312) 814-4115, Cynthia.tate@illinois.gov
Description: Children and families requiring public-sponsored child welfare service receive an immediate, multi-faceted, and comprehensive assessment of strengths and needs followed by an assessment review, inclusive service planning and family group decision making. This model employs interdisciplinary teams of certified clinical specialists and child welfare caseworkers employing a wide range of sophisticated assessment tools, multiple child and parent interviews and expansive family decision meetings, all within the first 30 days following the placement of a child.
Length of Operation: 2002 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Illinois
Promising Approach: Coaching for Performance and Results (CPR)
Category: Training
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Contact: Velma J. Williams, Department of Children and Family Services, (312) 814-4178
Description: Illinois' child welfare community, the Department of Children and Family Services, and private child welfare agencies collaboratively designed a model of performance-driven, field-based coaching delivered by private sector agencies serving as mentors to smaller networks of private sector agencies. This program is designed to compliment an individual private sector agency's training programs by focusing primarily on the application and integration of policy and practice innovations introduced by the state agency and as needed to meet the expectations of the State's Program Improvement Plan.
Length of Operation: 2005 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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State: Indiana
Promising Approach: Dawn Project
Category: Agency Collaboration and Service Array
Sponsor: Choices, Inc.
Contact: Ken Shields, Indiana Director of Choices, (317) 726-2121, kshields@ChoicesTeam.org
Description: The Dawn Project was established by State and local officials in Marion County to serve children with serious emotional disturbances who are separated or at risk of separation from their family. Dawn focuses on the strengths and needs of those families to develop an inclusive (integrated) system of care between families and community resources. Through successful collaboration from all of the partners, flexible funding has been used to provide strength-based, family-centered and culturally competent services to more than 900 families. The Dawn Project is run by Choices, Inc., a private, nonprofit, care management organization that coordinates a care system that individualizes the needs of the clients, reorganizes the funding structures to maximize tax dollars, and builds accountability into the delivery system through a community based provider network. Referrals to the Dawn Project are made through the Marion County child welfare, juvenile justice, and education systems.
Length of Operation: 1997 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Indiana
Promising Approach: Independent Living
Category: Community Collaboration
Sponsor: Indiana Department of Child Services
Contact: Alishea Hawkins, Permanency Manager, National Resource Center for Youth Development, (317) 234-5739, Alishea.Hawkins@dcs.IN.gov
Description: Transition training to assist youth "aging out" of foster care is held in cities across Indiana to educate those working with foster youth aging out of care on the services available in their own communities. Using the 7 domains needed by youth in foster care as identified in Casey Family Programs, "It's My Life," local agencies share information regarding what their programs have to offer to youth aging out of foster care and present this information at a day-long training. Trainings are held in public facilities such as libraries, community buildings, community colleges, and churches. The Department of Child Services (DCS) facilitates the conference while representatives from community agencies present programs that are available to current and former foster youth who are moving toward independence. Attendees include DCS case managers, county probation officers, foster parents, mental health providers, contracted service providers, and others working with older foster youth. These trainings have proved very successful in bringing community agencies together as well as providing valuable information to those working with youth.
Length of Operation:2003 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Iowa
Promising Approach: Community Partnership for Protecting Children
Category: Service Array
Sponsor: Iowa Department of Human Services
Contact: Barry Bennett, (515) 281-3974
Description: Community Partnership for Protecting Children (CPPC) focuses on individualized services to meet the specific needs of children at risk. In Community Partnership sites, child protection workers convene family team meetings with families, neighbors, and local service providers that result in tailor-made plans designed to support families and ensure the safety and well-being of children. These plans identify the specific activities to be carried out by parents, friends, extended families, and other formal and informal supports. There are currently 24 CPPC sites. Each Community Partnership site also creates a network of agency, neighborhood, and community supports that are available to families before, during, and after a crisis. Citizens and community members are directly involved in shaping the types of services and supports that are available to families. Localities shape their own strategies and develop a range of services based on their own resources, needs, and culture. Community Partnership sites collaborate with the domestic violence and substance abuse communities to provide more coordinated and comprehensive services to children.
Length of Operation: 1997 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

State: Iowa
Promising Approach: Children of Color Project
Category: Service Array and Foster and Adoptive Licensing, Recruitment, and Retention
Sponsor: Iowa Department of Human Services
Contact: Barry Bennett, (515) 281-3974
Description: The Children of Color Project addresses the disproportionate number of Native and African American children in the child welfare system in Iowa. It is designed to partner with community stakeholders and agencies to prevent repeat abuse and improve well-being in families, which would ultimately reduce the need for expensive foster or group home care. The project links families and children to neighborhood organizations that offer a range of culturally appropriate services and also assists the State child welfare agency in becoming more culturally sensitive and responsive in interactions with minority children and families. Pilot sites have been established in two Iowa counties: Woodbury County [Sioux City] where the identified minority population consists of Native American children and families and Polk County [Des Moines] where the identified minority population consists of African American children and families. These pilot sites receive small grants and technical assistance to help address minority overrepresentation in the child welfare system.
Length of Operation: 2004 to 2005 (9-month pilot that may be extended to 2006)
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

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State: Kansas
Promising Approach: Systems of Care Demonstration Grant
Category: Service Array
Sponsor: Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services
Contact: Beth Evans, Grant Manager, Social and Rehabilitation Services, (785) 296-6892
Description: Kansas was one of nine States awarded a 5-year demonstration grant. The outcome objectives of the Kansas demonstration grant include: reducing the number of episodes of service delivery per family; increasing by 20 percent per year the number of children who are able to remain in their own home and with their family by using community-based services; decreasing by 20 percent per year the number of children placed in out-of-home (OOH) care for reasons other than safety; reducing by 20 percent per year the mean length of time for children in OOH care to achieve permanency; and increasing placement stability for children in OOH care as a result of the availability of "systems of care" and improved service delivery in the local community. Kansas has privatized its family preservation, reintegration/foster care, and adoption services through community-based child welfare contracts. In recent requests for proposals, systems of care language and principles were included in the service expectations and outcomes. Three initial communities were selected and a community assessment has been completed in the first pilot community (Cherokee County). In addition, cultural benchmarks, cultural competency, and family orientation training has been delivered to agency staff, community partners, and stakeholders.
Length of Operation: 2003 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Kansas
Promising Approach: Independent Living Services Delivery
Category: Permanency and Service Array
Sponsor: Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services
Contact: Jaymee Metzenthin, Independent Living State Coordinator, Division of Children & Family Services, (785) 368-8192, Jaymee.Metzenthin@srs.ks.gov
Description: The State has expanded its independent living services in several ways. It has established an Independent Living Stakeholders Advisory Council, which includes former and current foster youth, and representatives from private contractors, Social and Rehabilitation Services, Native American tribes, the Juvenile Justice Authority, independent resource centers, members of the business community, and the Department of Education. An abstinence education program provides grants to six community projects for media campaigns and program evaluation. The State also has established a goal that 85 percent of all youth who are discharged from care and who were eligible for independent living services will have received at least six of the types of planned services listed on the Independent Living Data Collection Form prior to their discharge. Finally, Medicaid services to youth ages 18 to 20 years old has been expanded through the Medical Card Extension Program.
Length of Operation: March 2003 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Kentucky
Promising Approach: Supporting Child and Family Outcomes Through Program Evaluation Course
Category: Training
Sponsor: Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children
Contacts: Ruth Huebner, Course Coordinator, (502) 564-3703
Description: Supporting Child and Family Outcomes through Program Evaluation is a university course offered at the State social work schools, through the Credit for Learning System of the University Training Consortium, to meet the Cabinet for Families and Children needs for professional staff development. The course focuses on mastering and applying the concepts of program evaluation to social service agencies in an effort to improve agency outcomes. Students learn data management, interpretation of descriptive and comparative statistics, methods of program evaluation, and results analysis and dissemination. The course utilizes lecture, laboratory, guided field experiences, and projects as forms of instruction. The course is a full regular semester course taught at the graduate level, but open to undergraduates with the consent of the instructor.
Length of Operation: January 2004 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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State: Louisiana
Promising Approach: State Child Welfare Agency-Court Collaboration
Categories: Child and Family Services Plan, Permanency, Adoption, and Court Collaboration
Sponsors: Office of Community Services, Louisiana Department of Social Services; Louisiana Court Improvement Program; Office of the Judicial Administrator, Louisiana; Supreme Court; and Orleans Parish Juvenile Court
Contacts: Marketa Gautreau, Assistant Secretary, Office of Community Services, Department of Social Services, (225) 342-4073; Mark Harris, Court Improvement Program Coordinator, Office of the Judicial Administrator, Louisiana Supreme Court, (504) 568-7324; Honorable Ernestine S. Gray, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court
Description: The collaboration of the Office of Community Services and the Louisiana Court Improvement Project has resulted in the active involvement of the court regarding child and family services planning and court participation in all phases of the child and family services review (CFSR), including the Statewide Assessment and onsite review. Most notable is the court's involvement in developing and implementing the CFSR Program Improvement Plan and new five-year Child and Family Services Plan (FFY 2005-2009).
Length of Operation: 2000 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

State: Louisiana
Promising Approach: Louisiana Supreme Court Practices
Category: Permanency
Sponsor: Louisiana Supreme Court
Contact: Mark Harris, Court Improvement Program Coordinator, Office of the Judicial Administrator, Louisiana Supreme Court, (504) 568-7324
Description: In 2002, the Louisiana Court Improvement Program (LCIP), in collaboration with the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, conducted Adoption and Safe Families Act compliance audits of 18 courts with juvenile jurisdiction. Subsequent to the audits, LCIP staff conducted follow-up meetings with courts and attorneys who represented children and parents. Audit findings indicated there was a major problem with courts granting continuances. As a result, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an order that required courts with juvenile jurisdiction to submit reports to the Supreme Court of all continuances and compliance reports on cases that exceed allowable timeframes. There are only four juvenile courts plus 20 city courts and 37 judicial district courts with juvenile jurisdiction. Between September 1, 2002, and December 31, 2004, a total of 132 continuances were granted statewide. The data indicates that continuances are most likely to be granted at the adjudication hearing. Across city, district and juvenile courts, 50-67 percent of all continuances occur at either adjudication or disposition. Delays at adjudication tend to be from 20 to 35 days. Continuances at permanency hearings average 13-24 percent across the three types of courts. Continuances are most often granted for illness of a judge, attorney or other key party or for the appointment of an attorney for the parent. During 2003 and 2004, LCIP conducted more than 30 onsite visits to courts.
Length of Operation: 2002 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

State: Louisiana
Promising Approach: State Child Welfare Agency
Categories: Child and Family Services Plan, Safety, Permanency, and Adoption
Sponsors: Office of Community Services, Louisiana Department of Social Services
Contacts: Marketa Gautreau, Assistant Secretary, Office of Community Services, Department of Social Services (225) 342-4073; Bridget Clark, Continuous Quality Improvement Team Co-Chair, Office of Community Services, Department of Social Services, (225) 342-2910; Joel McLain, Section Administrator, Accreditation and Planning, Office of Community Services, Department of Social Services, (225) 342-2416; Marty Gibson, Peer Case Review Committee Chair, Office of Community Services, Department of Social Services, (225) 342-4409
Description: As part of Louisiana's successful Council on Accreditation, Louisiana utilizes three components of the Continuous Quality Improvement process that integrate numeric data within policy and practice data and contexts. First, Louisiana developed outcome measurements through mainframe, system-generated Program Improvement Plan outcomes converted to Excel pivot tables. These data enable regional and parish staff to focus on specific cases, and locate promising practices and areas of concern. Second, internal quality monitoring consists of policy and federal requirement-oriented case record reviews. Feedback from each case review is given to the supervisor or worker at the time of the review. The aggregated data is available to staff with drill down capacity to the worker level. Third, Peer Case Reviews are practice- and outcome-oriented using a modified version of the federal child and family services review form. They also include topical focus groups with consumers and collaborators. The data from these reviews is integrated into the corrective action process through supervisory channels and through the Continuous Quality Improvement Committees at State and regional levels.
Length of Operation: 2002 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

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State: Massachusetts
Promising Approach: Patch Teams
Category: Community Collaboration
Sponsor: Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Contact: Pamela Whitney, (617) 748-2338
Description: Patch Teams, named for a British term meaning neighborhood, joins child welfare workers and family support programs at community-based sites in the Athol and Dorchester communities. Essential practices of the Patch Teams approach include: neighborhood-based relocation of the Department of Social Services (DSS) staff, teamwork, accountability, restoring community confidence in DSS, empowerment practices to promote parental responsibility for child well-being, and parental involvement through family team meetings and other methods.
Length of Operation: Mid-1990s to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

State: Massachusetts
Promising Approach: Family Based Services
Category: Community Collaboration and Service Array
Sponsor: Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Contact: Fran Carbone, Director of Program Operations, (617) 748-2303, frances.carbone@state.ma.us
Description: Under the Family Bases Services (FBS) Initiative, the Department of Social Services (DSS) contracts with private, nonprofit, community-based organizations to coordinate a strengths-based treatment planning process that matches and manages a local network of services for DSS families and their children. In addition, FBS seeks to foster and strengthen the collaboration among DSS staff, families, providers, and other community supports and to build flexibility in the levels of care provided to families and the ability to modify services as needed. FBS emphasizes the role of the community and neighborhoods and uses community strengths in assisting and supporting children and families on a long-term basis. Currently, the DSS is strengthening its community support system for families by re-procuring its FBS and Commonworks Residential Services Lead Agency structures to create an integrated and coordinated continuum of placement and non-placement services. The goal is to improve permanency outcomes for children by increasing the funding of community-based services to bring children back into their community from long term residential care, or to divert children who would otherwise require residential care because of insufficient community supports. The DSS plans to develop a performance-based contract that will incentivize Lead Agencies to achieve improvements in permanency outcomes. Lead Agencies will be supported by Regional Resource Centers, which will work with existing residential centers to "re-engineer" their services in an effort to support transitions and diversion. Lead Agencies and Regional Resource Centers will manage a network of providers using measurable performance standards in a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process that is connected to the DSS's own CQI structures.
Length of Operation: 2000 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Missouri
Promising Approach: Stakeholder Involvement
Category: Quality Assurance and Agency Responsiveness to Community
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Social Services
Contact: Fred Simmens, Director, Children's Division, (573) 526-6009
Description: The Children's Division utilizes stakeholder involvement in policy development, program planning, consumer surveys, and case reviews. In addition, the State involves community partners in conducting Quality Assurance Practice Development Reviews (PDRs), which mirror the child and family services reviews. At the conclusion of the reviews, the PDR Coordinator presents the aggregate findings and trends to community stakeholders in a semi-annual community presentation and allows community members to ask questions and provide feedback.
Length of Operation: Early 1990s to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Missouri
Promising Approach: Youth Advisory Board Training Video
Category: Foster and Adoptive Parent Licensing, Recruitment, and Retention
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Social Services
Contact: Candy Shively, Director, Children's Division, (573) 526-6009
Description: Missouri's Independent Living Youth Advisory Board wrote and directed a 12-minute videotape entitled, "What's It All About? Missouri's Youth Advisory Board Speaks Out on Foster Care." The videotape portrays several current foster youth who talk about their experiences, both good and bad, while in care. Discussion topics include their problems with school, separation from siblings, visits with parents and social workers, the "ideal" foster parents, and the labeling of foster kids. The tape is used during foster and adoptive parent pre-service training.
Length of Operation: 2004 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Missouri
Promising Approach: System of Care Initiative
Category: Service Array and Mental Health of the Child
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Social Services
Contact: Candy Shively, Director, Children's Division, (573) 526-6009
Description: Missouri's System of Care (SOC) offers an organized system enabling children with complex mental health needs to remain in their homes, schools, and communities and receive the mental health services (psychiatric, mental retardation/developmental disabilities, alcohol and drug abuse) needed. The SOC initiative is a collaborative effort to develop statewide and local resources and remove barriers for children with special needs and is made up of agencies that provide services to individuals at the State and local levels. Participating agencies include: DSS, Division of Youth Services, Children's Division, and Division of Medical Services; Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Division of Special Education and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; Courts and the Office of State Courts Administrator; Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Maternal, Child and Family Health; Department of Mental Health, Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Parents and parent-run organizations are also included.
Length of Operation: 2000 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Missouri
Promising Approach: Partnership in Responding to Non-Child Abuse and Neglect Reports
Category: Service Array
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Social Services
Contact: Fred Simmens, Director, Children's Division, (573) 526-6009
Description: The Children's Division, Family Support Division, and the Independence School District have designed an approach to respond to reports of child abuse and neglect in Jackson County. This approach allows the Family Support Division and Independence School District to respond, intervene, and provide services to reports that are considered non-child abuse and neglect reports in an effort to drive down the rate of recidivism, provide families with the skills and services needed to exit the system successfully, and provide stronger support for families and children in the community.
Length of Operation: July 2004 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Missouri
Promising Approach: New Protocols Utilized at Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Unit
Category: Training
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Social Services
Contact: Candy Shively, Director, Children's Division, (573) 526-6009
Description: A new protocol intake screening tool was implemented to assist hotline staff in achieving greater consistency in the acceptance, prioritization, and classification of calls, thereby assuring a thorough and professional assessment of the child abuse or neglect report. The protocol tool is based on structured decision-making principles and uses decision trees for making assessments of child safety and establishing necessary response times. The protocol uses a standard interview beginning with entry questions, followed by a set of key questions for 30 maltreatment concerns (called Pathways), and ending with a closing procedure that is specific to the classification of the call. This new tool further assists hotline staff in directing the interview so that pertinent information regarding a child is not missed and is gathered in a timely manner.
Length of Operation: December 2003 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Nebraska
Promising Approach: Integrated Care Coordination Units
Category: Service Array
Sponsor: Department of Health and Human Services, Behavioral Health Regions and Local Family Advocacy Organizations
Contact: Michelle Eby, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, (308) 324-7989
Description: The Integrated Care Coordination Units (ICCUs) utilize informal supports and services by building on the strengths of families. Caseworkers are typically employed with a reduced caseload of 10 families, which allows youths and families to receive intensive case management. The ICCUs utilize several assessment tools to guide child and family teams and monitor outcomes for youth and families served, thereby decreasing the time it takes to meet a child's permanency goal. There are five ICCUs operating in Nebraska, serving approximately 1,078 youth and their families.
Length of Operation: 2001 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: Nebraska
Promising Approach: Performance Accountability
Category: Training and Quality Assurance
Sponsor: Nebraska Office of Protection and Safety
Contact: Sherri Haber, Deputy Administrator, (402) 471-7989
Description: The Performance Accountability program encompasses four focus areas: supervision, training, key performance measures, and customer satisfaction. The supervision focus enables supervisors to prepare new workers to perform their jobs competently within protection and safety guidelines, and establishes expectations for supervisors. Supervisors assist in helping workers become successful, thereby improving service delivery and job performance. The training focus involves a redesign of the New Worker Training model. The redesigned model includes classroom and limited field study, linked learning where the classroom reflects cases in the field, and in-depth focused casework with increasing caseloads. It also includes skill-based evaluation of trainee performance at all phases, thereby allowing case managers to build effective, powerful, and essential case management skills. Under the key performance measures, Federal agencies and community advocates assist in the identification of safety, permanency, and well-being measures. Also, performance evaluations are completed for frontline workers, supervisors, and administrators. The performance evaluation process makes performance discussions a regular occurrence, more often than once a year. Finally, a short survey will focus on five key areas with emphasis on customer service. These areas include: treating families with dignity and respect, timeliness of providing information to families, active involvement of families when developing case plans, monthly quality visits with the family, and timeliness of returning phone calls. A customer satisfaction survey was developed to provide non-punitive feedback to frontline staff from families, law enforcement, judges, and advocates.
Length of Operation: Supervision and Key Performance Measures: October 2004 to present;
The New Worker Training redesigned model: September 2004 to present;
Customer Satisfaction Surveys: March 2005
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

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State: New Hampshire
Promising Approach: Foster Care Health Program
Category: Physical Health of the Child and Service Array
Sponsor: New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families
Contact: Erica Gesen Unagarelli, Assistant Administrator, (603) 271-7298, EUngarelli@dhhs.state.nh.us
Description: The Foster Care Health Program provides nurse coordinators in each district office to ensure that the health needs of children in foster care are met. Health care coordination includes the medical, dental, and mental health care needs of all children in foster and relative home placement. All who are involved with the child are considered part of the health care team. The program also encourages parents to participate actively in addressing their child's health care needs by attending as many of the appointments as possible. The nurse coordinators will also arrange and conduct a health care planning meeting to identify the child's past and current health status and set up timelines and responsibilities for ongoing health care while the child is in placement. The nurse coordinator is called upon often to be a consultant on medical issues and to provide educational support on such issues to the child protection team. By having nurses on staff in each office, appropriate physical and mental health services are more easily accessible and children in out-of-home placements get the ongoing care they need to achieve and maintain optimal physical, emotional, and developmental health.
Length of Operation: 1999 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: New Mexico
Promising Approach: Adoption and Adolescent Resource Teams (AART)
Category: Case Review System
Sponsor: Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD)
Contact: Jared Rounsville, CYFD AART Director, (505) 841-2918
Description: New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department launched an extensive case review system through the use of three teams called Adoption Resource Teams (ART). The teams, composed of a contract adoption consultant and a State agency partner, review cases every 60 days with the goal of making specific, time-limited recommendations that will move foster children to adoption more quickly. Cases are composed largely of children who have had a recent permanency plan change to adoption, or children who have had a plan of adoption for more than a year and still have not been placed in an adoptive home. At each staffing, the recommendations from the previous staffing are reviewed, with findings entered into a database to show whether or not a recommendation was carried out fully; new recommendations are then made. The project has been extremely successful in helping to accelerate adoptive placements for foster children. Effective February 2006, ART also reviews cases of all foster youth ages 16.5 through 18 (regardless of permanency plan), to ensure that necessary supports are in place to enable the youth to function successfully after leaving State care; thus, ART is now Adoption and Adolescent Resource Teams (AART).
Length of Operation: ART, since April 2004; and AART, February 2006 to present.
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

State: New Mexico
Promising Approach: Permanency Obstacle Removal Team (PORT)
Category: Permanency
Sponsor: Children, Youth and Families Department
Contact: Mary Ann Shaening, Shaening and Associates, (505) 983-8243
Description:To coincide with the Adoption and Adolescent Resource Teams (AART), the Children, Youth and Families Department implemented a statewide committee to develop strategies to address systemic issues and barriers to permanency identified by the AART and other staff. The committee, Permanency Obstacle Removal Team (PORT), is composed of AART members, field staff, the Independent Living manager, legal staff, and director/deputy staff, and is chaired by a contractor with expertise in research, statistics, and child welfare issues. The committee meets monthly and deals with a variety of topics such as recruitment issues, establishing and preserving connections, the use of psychotropic medications for foster children, placement stability, mediated open adoptions, the length of time to permanency, post-adoption services, and life skills and supports for adolescents. PORT has been successful in aggressively addressing and resolving many issues that otherwise might have been met with a fragmented response. As concerns are resolved and processes are developed and improved, new issues are identified and given concentrated attention until a resolution is reached.
Length of Operation: May 2004 to present.
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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State: North Carolina
Promising Approach: Multiple Response System (MRS)
Category: Service Array, Agency Collaboration
Sponsor: North Carolina Division of Social Services
Contact: Patrick Betancourt, MRS Coordinator, (919) 733-4622, patrick.betancourt@ncmail.net; Candice Britt, CFSR Coordinator, (919) 733-7831, candice.britt@ncmail.net.
Description: North Carolina's MRS is a comprehensive reform of the child welfare system, based largely on the use of family-centered practices with the goal of providing a more individualized response to families and children involved in the child welfare system. MRS reform is coupled with a movement towards incorporating system-of-care values and principles into practice. The North Carolina MRS is comprised of seven strategies: a strengths-based, structured intake process; differential response to child neglect and dependency reports; coordination between law enforcement agencies and child protective services for the investigative assessment approach; a redesign of Child Protective Services (CPS) in-home services; implementation of child and family team meetings throughout the life of the case; implementation of shared parenting meetings in child placement cases; and collaboration between the Work First and child welfare programs.

MRS was first implemented as a pilot effort in 10 counties in August 2002 after an extended planning period in which the counties worked with the State to develop policy and best practice guidelines. In 2003, 42 more counties implemented this new system. In 2006, the remaining 48 counties began MRS implementation. After an initial evaluation by the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, it was clear that MRS kept children as safe as the traditional system. The evaluation also revealed that it seemed that MRS was better able to engage families cooperatively, based on comments made by families during the evaluation.

One of the goals of the MRS system is the use of one social worker from CPS assessment through CPS in-home services. Duke's initial evaluation recommended that in order to achieve this goal, the caseload ratio would need to be reduced from the current 1:12. The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that reduced CPS caseloads to 1:10. This was supported by two recurring allocations to hire more social workers to bring caseloads to this level. All counties now have funding for positions to reach this caseload ratio. Evaluation by Duke University is ongoing.

The complete implementation of reform of the child welfare system is a challenge in a county administered system, and each county DSS is at different stages of full implementation of all seven strategies. The North Carolina Division of Social Services continues to support counties in their implementation through a myriad of efforts. The Division has two staff members dedicated to supporting MRS; a coordinator, and a consultant. Other efforts to support counties include monthly regional MRS meetings, a quarterly MRS newsletter, specific consultation from field staff, training curricula targeted at all of the MRS strategies and best practices, and an annual MRS Learning Institute focused on skills building.

Additionally, the State has implemented a school-based Child and Family Support Team Initiative to identify and coordinate appropriate community services and supports for children at risk of school failure or out-of-home placement in order to address the physical, social, legal, emotional, and developmental factors that affect their academic performance. The Initiative was developed through the leadership of the Office of the Governor and funded and authorized by the State legislature. It requires collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Instruction, State Board of Education, Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Administrative Office of the Courts, and any other State agencies that provide services for children. This Initiative, in place in 101 schools, is implementing a child and family team approach and focusing on family involvement.
Length of Operation: January 2006 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

State: North Carolina
Promising Approach: Dental Clinic
Category: Physical Health of the Child and Service Array Sponsors: North Carolina Department of Public Health and Franklin County Health Department
Contact: Sandra Wood, Franklin County Interim Health Director, (919) 496-2533
Description: In response to the lack of dental care for children with Medicaid and health insurance, the Franklin County Health Department received a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation to establish a dental clinic for a three-county area. The clinic provides dental care to children and young adults up to age 21 and also provides transportation, as needed.
Length of Operation: 2000 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

State: North Carolina
Promising Approach: Biennial Reviews
Category: Quality Assurance
Sponsor: North Carolina Division of Social Services
Contact: Beverly Daniel, Division of Social Services, (919) 733-9461
Description: In 1992, the Division of Social Services (DSS) initiated biennial reviews of county child protective services programs in an attempt to strengthen service delivery. After the Federal child and family services review in 2001, the DSS created a Children's Services Advisory committee to redesign the review process to focus more on outcomes. As a result, a new review process was created to mirror that of the Federal process. County and DSS staff are paired to review cases using interviews, review instruments, and stakeholder surveys, similar to those of the Federal reviews. Before final rating decisions are made, the county and DSS staff debrief each case. After ratings are applied, a final report is drafted and submitted to the DSS director and others. The report details the outcome areas that were not found to be in substantial conformity as well as outcome areas that achieved substantial conformity. The report also includes information provided by the county in a self survey. In addition, the report includes an analysis of the county's outcome data conducted by DSS staff. If the county fails to achieve substantial conformity in any of the outcome areas, the county is required to develop a Program Improvement Plan that is approved and monitored by the DSS until successful completion.
Length of Operation: 1992 to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

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State: North Dakota
Promising Approach: North Dakota Juvenile Court Act 27-20
Category: Permanency and Reunification, Guardianship, or Permanent Placement with Relatives
Sponsor: North Dakota Department of Human Services
Contacts: Tara Muhlhauser, Director, CFS, Division, (701) 328-3587, tmuhlhauser@nd.gov
Description: On August 1, 2001, language was added to the North Dakota Juvenile Court Act 27-20 to make it consistent with the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act. The language allows concurrent planning while reasonable efforts toward reunification are made. Concurrent planning and reunification efforts are reviewed in each region of the State during the State child and family services review, which occurs at least once each year. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is able to assess efforts made at the county level for reunification while being prepared for termination of parental rights if necessary. This allows DHS also to review the length of time for reunification or finalization of adoption. The State is currently working with a legal work group that is reviewing 27-20 for needed changes.
Length of Operation: 2001 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Oklahoma
Promising Approach: Swift Adoptions
Category: Adoption
Sponsor: Oklahoma Department of Human Services
Contact: Amy White, Programs Administrator, Children and Family Services Division, (918) 521-2190, amy.white@okdhs.org
Description: Swift Adoptions is a service delivery model in which all adoption staff is organized into specialized units that support each of the six Oklahoma Department of Human Services service areas. Key elements of the model include specialized supervision, regularly scheduled meetings to focus the efforts of staff, goal setting, and increased accountability. Logistical barriers were identified and addressed to streamline the process, including copying case records, preparing background information on children and completing adoptive family assessments within specified time frames. Monthly meetings identify resources, identify and address ongoing barriers, and focus staff on adoption planning and finalization. These efforts have greatly increased the number of children moving into trial adoption each year, the number of adoptions finalized annually, and the progress toward meeting the Federal data indicator on length of time to achieve adoption.
Length of Operation: 1999 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Oklahoma
Promising Approach: Contact Guides
Category: Child and Family Well-Being
Sponsor: Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Children and Family Services Division
Contact: Amy White, Programs Administrator, Children and Family Services Division, (918) 521-2190, amy.white@okdhs.org
Description: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Children and Family Services Division has developed Contact Guides to help direct staff on important topics to address during visits with children, youth, placement providers, parents, and legal guardians. There are separate guides for each type of face-to-face contact. The list of topics includes:

  • Adjustment in placement (including concerns, interaction in the home, activities, discipline)
  • Visitation (including types of visits with parents, siblings, and relatives; any changes needed in visitation)
  • Treatment plan/court (including clarifying the child or parents' understanding of the reason for out-of-home placement and progress on the treatment plan)
  • Dental/medical/psychological (including record of any new appointments, treatment or concerns regarding emotional well being; and any medication and effectiveness)
  • Education/extracurricular (including current grade, successes, needs, extracurricular activities and any concerns)
  • Clothing/hygiene (including observations of the child's hygiene and need for clothing)
  • Values/beliefs/religion/language/traditions/other factors (including concerns and activities needed to reinforce support of the child's identity)
  • Assessment of life skills development—ongoing (including an assessment of the youth's attainment of skills necessary for transition to independent living, concerns and activities needed to reinforce skill development—daily living, housing, community resources, money management, self care, social development and work or study skills)
  • Safety issues/concerns (including any safety concerns noted for parents such as needing to use a car seat, storing of weapons, medication, and any other environmental factors)

Practice Implications: The contact guide was initially offered as an optional tool to assist in facilitation of improved interaction and effective documentation of worker visits with children, parents and placement providers. The guide was designed to meet the needs of a relatively inexperienced workforce by providing concrete direction within topic areas. Feedback from both workers and supervisors has been overwhelmingly positive, with most workers in the State utilizing the guide. State Continuous Quality Improvement case reviewers have noted a measurable improvement in the quality of documentation in the State's Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) as a result of its implementation.
Based on the above described results, a work group was created to facilitate the integration of the contact guides into the SACWIS system. As a result of the efforts of the work group, the guide is currently being revised into one form for use with all contacts, with addendums for infants, toddlers, and youth receiving independent living services. The revised content areas will be integrated into the contacts screen in the SACWIS system in a future release. Finally, policy will require the use of the contact guides to ensure uniformity in implementation.
Length of Operation: Since November 1, 2002
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Oregon
Promising Approach: System of Care
Category: Service Array
Sponsor: Oregon Office for Services to Children and Families
Contact: Kevin George, Foster Care Program Manager, (503) 945-5987, kevin.george@state.or.us
Description: System of Care is a strength-based approach to service planning and delivery that emphasizes family involvement, expanded visitation, concurrent planning, and foster care reform. It was implemented as a multi-phase plan beginning with phase 1 in 1995 and the final phase ending in 2002. Currently, the State of Oregon provides child welfare services with a System of Care approach. The State reformed its child welfare practices by addressing the issues of child safety, attachment, permanency, and well-being in every case. In addition, the State provided practice, policy, and systemic reforms that more efficiently utilize the resources in every community and support more flexible services to meet the individual needs of families and children.
Length of Operation: 1995 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Pennsylvania
Promising Approach: Training Curriculum Review
Category: Quality Assurance and Training
Sponsor: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Office of Children, Youth and Families
Contact: Mary Ross, Training Director, mross@pittstate.edu
Description: The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Office of Children, Youth and Families has undertaken a quality assurance approach to reviewing its training curriculum every three years. This effort will ensure that training reflects current policy and practice standards. The training curriculum for child welfare staff is developed and reviewed by faculty from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work. Regional training centers are utilized to deliver staff training and to encourage and maintain strong partnerships with county departments. County departments assist by identifying emerging training needs, updating the training curriculum, and evaluating the training.
Length of Operation: 1997 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: South Dakota
Promising Approach: Placement Monthly Reporting Form
Category: Quality Assurance
Sponsor: South Dakota Department of Social Services
Contact: Virgena Wieseler, Director, (605) 773-3227, Virgena.Wieseler@state.sd.us
Description: Placement Monthly Reporting Forms are used by group, residential, and foster care providers to provide information to the child's assigned worker regarding how the children in their care are doing at home and in school, their activities, and their medical or mental health needs and the services received addressing each child's well-being. Following South Dakota's Federal child and family services review (CFSR) in 2001, the State added items to the form to more fully reflect the CFSR well-being items.
Length of Operation: Early 1990s to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: South Dakota
Promising Approach: Foster Care Monthly Reporting Form
Category: Child and Family Well-Being
Sponsor: South Dakota Department of Social Services—Child Protection Services
Contact: Virgena Wieseler, Director, (605) 773-3227, Virgena.Wieseler@state.sd.us
Description: The State has implemented a monthly reporting form that is completed by caregivers and used by Family Service Specialists during monthly visits to guide discussion on the foster child's progress/needs. If not completed prior to the Family Service Specialist's visit with the caregiver, the Family Service Specialist may complete it during the visit. This practice fosters a sharing of key information concerning the child's physical, educational, and mental health well-being. Institutionalizing and focusing communication during monthly visits between the child, caregiver and Family Service Specialist contributes to successful outcomes for children in care. If you would like a copy of the Placement Resource Monthly Reporting Form, please contact Virgena Wieseler at Virgena.Wieseler@state.sd.us.
Length of Operation: At least since March, 2007
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Texas
Promising Approach: Texas State Strategy on Disproportionality
Category: Quality Assurance
Sponsor: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protective Services
Contact: Tanya Rollins, (512) 438-4944
Description: The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has collaborated with Casey Family Programs to address the over-representation of African American children in the Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) system and disparity of outcomes for children of color in the Texas child welfare system. In Texas, African American children are more likely to enter the child welfare system than those of other ethnicities. African American children represent 12.6 percent of the State's child population, but account for 26.1 percent of children brought into the foster care system. The work that is being done at the State and regional levels promotes parity and improved outcomes for all children and families in Texas. This partnership will examine issues surrounding not only the disproportionate rate at which such children enter the CPS system, but also the equity with which children of color and their families are provided access to available services. In addition, CPS is committed to addressing the disproportionality and disparate outcomes for children once they are engaged in the child welfare system, including the phases of investigation, removal, placement and emancipation. Two regional Community Advisory Committees on Disproportionality, one for Region 6 and one for Region 3, have been established with broad representation from various segments of the community. These committees will be an ongoing source of recommendations and insight for policymakers and CPS management at the regional and State levels.
Length of Operation: Official start date for this work—May 2004. Initial planning and implementation extends through calendar year 2005 and will continue based on a phased-in statewide plan throughout all CPS regions.
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

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State: Vermont
Promising Approach: Individualized Services for Juveniles With Sexual Offending Behavior
Category: Agency Collaboration and Service Array
Sponsor: Vermont Department for Children and Families
Contact: Don Mandelkorn, Field Director, (802) 479-7594
Description: The collaboration between the child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health agencies is meeting the needs of youth on probation for sexual offending behavior. The local mental health agency provides individualized wrap-around services, treatment, and supervision, while maintaining the safety of the child and community.
Length of Operation: Early 1990s to present
Whether this promising approach remains active is unknown.

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State: Washington
Promising Approach: Washington Quality Assurance System
Category: Quality Assurance
Sponsor: State Department of Social and Health Services, Children's Administration
Contact: Lyn Craik, Sharon Gilbert; (360) 805-3002, (360) 902-7822
Description: The Washington Quality Assurance System is unique in that it reviews a large number of cases and is designed to meet Council on Accreditation and Program Improvement Plan requirements. Each office is reviewed bi-annually using a combination of Central Case Review Team reviews and peer reviews, and 1,200 to 1,500 cases are reviewed each year. Reviewers use an automated tool with about 50 questions designed to provide ratings on 20 of the 23 Federal child and family services reviews items. Information is obtained from case records and is supplemented by interviews.
Length of Operation: November 2002 to present
Most of the information in this promising approach summary was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date. The contact information was updated in January 2012.

State: Washington
Promising Approach: Promote Academic Success for Students in Foster Care
Category: Educational Needs of the Child
Sponsor: Washington State Division of Children and Family Services, Region 4
Contact: Jane Wu, (206) 691-2526
Description: The Department of Children and Family Services, Region 4 and the Seattle Public School District entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to raise awareness concerning the needs of students in foster care, thereby promoting their academic success. The service delivery model includes collaborative staff training, inter-systems communication, and joint social/academic planning and support for foster care children in the Seattle School District elementary schools.
Length of Operation: 2004 to present
Information in this promising approach was obtained from round 1 reports and activities and may be out of date.

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Round II

State: Delaware
Promising Approach: Externalized Process for Centralized Intake
Category: Agency Responsiveness to the Community
Sponsor: Delaware Division of Family Services
Contact: Susan Radecki, (302) 633-2659, Susan.Radecki@state.de.us
Description: Delaware implemented a centralized intake in 2003 and developed an external process which focused on customer relations. It was believed that public satisfaction with the DFS Report Line correlated with the perception of courtesy and resource knowledge of Intake staff. All DFS Intake staff were required to receive specialized training on customer service. In conjunction with improved customer service by the Report Line, DFS implemented a digital call recording system in late spring 2004 in lieu of a manual phone log system to log and describe every call made to the Report Line. The manual logs were necessary to conduct research of calls made to the Report Line, but detracted from time spent with callers. Implementation of the digital call recording system provided reliable recording and call retrieval playback. The digital call recording system provided management with a leading edge quality assurance mechanism. When cases are randomly selected for monthly quality assurance reviews by management, the recorded calls are sent to a reviewer. The QA tool was revised to include questions to assess accurate reflection of the information in the written report compared to the oral report, sufficient probing of the reporter, and the professionalism of the Report Line staff.
Length of Operation: 2003 to present
Posted: April 2009

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State: Hawaii
Promising Approach: Hawaii's Differential Response Process, Ohana (Family) Conferencing, Front-End Family Finding, Outreach and Collaboration
Category: Agency Responsiveness to the Community, Child and Family Well-Being, Community Collaboration, Safety
Sponsor: Hawaii Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Services Branch (CWSB)
Contact: John Walters, Administrator, Program Development, (808) 586-5675
Description: About 31.3% of the general population of children age 0 to 17 in Hawaii are Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian. In State fiscal year (FY) 2004, Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian children comprised 49.7% of the State's foster care child population. The State significantly reduced this foster care population disproportionality to 34.9% in State FY 2008. Efforts undertaken include the following:

  • Implementation of differential response and standardized intake, safety, risk and strength assessments;
  • Expansion of Ohana (Family) Conferencing;
  • Implementation of front-end Family Finding; and
  • Outreach to and collaboration with the Native Hawaiian community, including the Na Kupuna (Elders) Tribunal, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and community "Aha" gatherings statewide.

Hawaii's DR process entails the following three possible responses to reports of child abuse or neglect:

  • Low/moderately low-risk families with no safety concerns are referred to State-contracted providers of Family Strengthening Services (FSS).
  • Moderate/moderately high-risk families with no safety concerns are expected to participate in State-contracted Voluntary Case Management (VCM) services. When there are safety concerns or if the family chooses not to participate in services or prematurely terminates services, it is referred back to the child welfare agency for an investigation. Families receiving VCM services have the same access to all Purchase of Services as families assigned to CWS.
  • Allegations of child abuse and neglect for high-risk families or families for whom there are safety concerns are not diverted to VCM or FSS and are instead investigated. After an investigation is completed, families may be referred to VCM or FSS for ongoing services, as applicable.

Ohana (Family) Conferencing, a State-contracted service, brings family members together to facilitate understanding of the issues at hand, family involvement, case plan development, and placement with appropriate relatives if child removal is warranted. Family finding efforts to identify relatives at the beginning of the case are also made.

Increased partnerships with the Native Hawaiian community, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other social and cultural groups, broaden the safety and support network for native Hawaiian families and children.

The active support of the Native Hawaiian community, including the Na Kupuna (elders) Tribunal, to help the child welfare agency prevent child abuse and neglect, strengthen families, and leverage cultural values and beliefs to improve the lives of their native Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian children and families who are at risk distinguishes this approach from similar approaches used elsewhere, as do extensive reinvestment of TANF funds in poverty prevention programs, implementing differential response, and providing services to families at risk.
Length of Operation: Hawaii's Differential Response Process and standardized intake, safety, risk, and strength assessments (2005), Ohana (Family) Conferencing (1998), Outreach and Collaboration (2004)
Posted: January 2010

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State: Maine
Promising Approach: Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC)
Categories: Community Collaboration, Agency Collaboration, Agency Responsiveness to the Community
Sponsors: Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Child and Family Services
Contacts: Ms. Robbie Lipsman, Project Coordinator, CPPC, rlipsman@cppccumberland.org; Rosemary Whittaker, Program Specialist, CPPC, OCFS, Child Welfare Services, rosemary.whittaker@maine.gov
Description: The Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) in Portland adopted the collaborative approach of a national initiative designed to reduce childhood abuse and neglect. The Cumberland County CPPC began with two neighborhoods in Portland that reported the largest numbers of abuse and neglect, the highest incidences of domestic violence and substance abuse, and the most police activity. The CPPC now works in four Portland neighborhoods with recent expansion to high-need neighborhoods in South Portland and Westbrook. Collaborators on the project include Maine DHHS Child Welfare and Children's Behavioral Health Services, the local Children's Advocacy Council, United Way, Casey Family Services, three neighborhood associations, City of Portland Health and Human Services, Refugee Services, Juvenile Corrections, the Portland Police Department, Portland Public School System, the City of South Portland (schools, police, city council and city manager), the City of Westbrook (police and schools), local counseling centers, parents, local residents, and many others.

The program is successful in engaging communities in the neighborhoods where it is operating. CPPC trains community members to facilitate Family Team meetings so they can offer families in crisis a means to develop a plan with the goal of preventing abuse and neglect. Refugee Resettlement, the Portland School Department, Spurwink, the Westbrook Police, and the Westbrook School Department offer Family Team Meetings without DHHS intervention. Community partners who work directly with neighborhood families meet regularly to coordinate services for families with complex problems.

Under the umbrella of CPPC and with the help of the community and parents with closed cases who successfully reunified with their children, a Parent Partner program began in the fall of 2007 and now has a working agreement with the Office of Child and Family Services. This program offers support groups, training, and other assistance to parents with open cases in Portland's child welfare system. Since partnering with parents, CPPC has learned that engagement is critical in creating successful outcomes for families.

Stakeholder comments and feedback from case reviewers demonstrate that the approach is working as intended and becoming integrated into the local level. For example, it was reported that at recent CPPC meetings, Westbrook library officials talked about what services they can offer children and families, including a safe place for children to go after school, conference meeting rooms for classes, and tutoring for both parents and children. These local neighborhood resources are easily accessible to children and families and can provide safe havens and close contacts.
Length of Operation: Winter 2005/Spring 2006 to present
Posted: January 2010

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State: Missouri
Promising Approach: Combined Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement System
Category: Quality Assurance, Agency Collaboration, Service Array, Child and Family Well-Being, Safety
Sponsor: Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) – Children's Division
Contacts: Meliny Staysa, QA Unit Manager, Meliny.J.Staysa@dss.mo.gov; Linda Miller, QI Unit Manager, Linda.K.Miller@dss.mo.gov
Description: The Missouri DSS – Children's Division developed a combined Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Improvement (QI) System that consists of a QA Unit and a QI Unit. Each Unit is comprised of seven regionally based specialists who are co-supervised by the central office QA or QI Unit manager and a regional director. Additionally, a management analysis specialist, who coordinates the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) and Program Improvement Plan, and a program development specialist, who provides support and oversight for QA activities, are members of the QA Unit.

In this combined system, QA and QI specialists work together to identify gaps between desired and actual performance, to determine root causes for poor performance, and to develop strategies to improve services. Many agencies have a QA system but do not have a combined QA and QI system staffed with specialists who are trained to carry out QA functions (collecting and analyzing data from data sources and reporting results) and QI functions (using recommendations and working directly with individual jurisdictions to test developed strategies and implement improvements to practice and systems). Both the QA and QI Units are committed to quality service delivery, are data- and mission-driven, and subscribe to a system of continuous quality improvement. Each Unit is also designed to perform unique tasks and to function in its specific role.

QA and QI specialists played key roles in helping the agency attain statewide accreditation in November 2009 and maintain best practice standards and principles promoted by the Council on Accreditation and the Children's Bureau. While preparing for accreditation site visits and the second round of the CFSR, QA and QI specialists helped all jurisdictions in Missouri focus on adhering more closely and strictly to accreditation standards, practices, principles, policies, and procedures, all of which promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children. Additionally, accreditation standards promote the lowest number of moves, the best placements, support for children in care, and support for foster parents. Paying close attention to best practice standards led to improved marks on stability and other measures. Through these efforts, many QA- and QI-structured activities are now in place to ensure compliance, effective practices, and the achievement of desired outcomes.
Length of Operation: June 2007 to present
Posted: December 2010

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State: Montana
Promising Approach: Promotional Interactive Family Activity
Category: Foster and Adoptive Parent Licensing, Recruitment, and Retention
Sponsor: DPHHS—Child and Family Services Division
Contact: Lee Reynolds, (406) 268-3747, rreynolds@mt.gov
Description: In an effort to recruit more foster families and retain the families we have licensed, Region 2 Child and Family Services sponsored a night at the baseball park. Working in partnership with Jim Keough, General Manager of the Great Falls Voyagers, a minor league baseball team associated with the Chicago White Sox, we purchased 75 baseball tickets, and Jim, on behalf of the ball club, donated an additional 10 tickets. These tickets were given to licensed foster parents and children in foster care and included admission to the game, a reserved area on the first base line, catered dinner, and activities for the children. CFS handed out squishy baseballs with our recruitment logo to the first 150 people attending the game and an information booth was set up at the main entry to the stadium for those inquiring about how to become a foster parent. Announcements were made during the game also encouraging people to stop by the booth and inquire about becoming a foster parent. Some of the foster children were able to chase down foul balls which players and coaches autographed for them. One of the children in foster care was selected as honorary bat person for the evening.
Length of Operation: Since May, 2008
Posted: April 2009

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State: New Hampshire
Promising Approach: Spotlight on Permanency
Category: Court Collaboration, Permanency
Sponsor: New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Division for Children, Youth and Families and Division for Juvenile Justice Services
Contacts: Ms. Maggie Bishop, NH Child Welfare Director, (603) 271-4455
Ms. Kristy Lamont, JD Court Improvement Coordinator, (603) 271-2418
Description: Since round 1 of the Child and Family Services Reviews, New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and Division for Juvenile Justice Services have prioritized efforts to ensure that all children in care achieve permanency. Practice changes included the creation of permanency workers, development of permanency planning teams, and contracting with case mining specialists to locate relatives or fictive kin in order to develop lasting connections between children and their birth families. In addition, the Permanency Committee, spearheaded by the Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, encouraged collaboration between the New Hampshire Court Improvement Project, the New Hampshire Judicial Branch, CASA, and the New Hampshire DCYF that emphasized a commitment to ensuring that children in care receive timely permanency hearings and that permanency goals are in the best interest of the child. Through a 2006 statutory change, New Hampshire's DCYF enacted a policy for voluntarily mediated adoptions, to provide an opportunity for all parties to actively participate in creating a timely permanency plan of adoption for each child. The courts approved agreements, and stipulated ongoing communication or contact with birth parents if it was in the best interest of the child. From FFYs 2006 through 2009, 594 adoptions were completed in New Hampshire. Thirty-five percent of these adoptions have resulted from mediated agreements.  Another statutory change ensured that there was a stronger legal foundation for timely permanency hearings.

In FFY 2009, 79 percent of New Hampshire's legally free children were adopted in less than 12 months. This is a significant increase from FFY 2007 data, which showed that 64 percent of the legally free children were adopted in less than 12 months. Comprehensive legislative changes, combined with the child welfare agencies' commitment to permanency practice changes, resulted in a true partnership that has improved the lives of children and families in New Hampshire.
Length of Operation: Voluntary mediated adoptions came into effect in January 2006. New Hampshire Permanency Legislation, known as SB 152, came into effect in January 2008.
Posted: December 2010

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State: Ohio
Promising Approach: School Success Program
Category: Agency Responsiveness to the Community
Sponsor: Ohio Department of Jobs and Ohio Department of Family Services
Contacts: Lea Arcuri, MEd, LISW-S, Lorain County Children Services, School Success Initiative, (440) 329-5610, leaarcuri@childrenservices.org
Description: The School Success Program was originally started around 2000-2001 in Lorain County. It was created to fill a need with elementary school-aged children who were coming into foster care and were not able to perform academically at age level. In the pilot, foster care children were provided one-on-one tutoring by paid teachers in the home, a computer, and interactive software. Internet access was protected. As the program has developed, the agency now provides routine maintenance for the computers, which are generally donated. The program allows a home-school connection for children who may not have had one in the past; the use of the computer further facilitates this as the family can access the school Web site. An offshoot of the program is engaging the parents in a positive relationship with the schools, whereas in the past, they (as children themselves) may not have had a positive relationship and modeling of how to engage in school activities or other inexpensive activities with their children. The program is open to foster children of any age and also those who are receiving services in-home from the agency. All children under placement and care responsibility are referred to the program by their workers. Youth receiving IL services are also referred, but if education isn't the child's biggest need, then participation in the program takes a secondary role. Even if agency involvement with the child/family ends, they can continue to stay active with School Success as long as they wish. Children who are developmentally challenged are also included and have benefited from the program, including one child in the CFSR case sample who is autistic. Progress information on the children is provided to their caseworkers every 4-5 weeks. The program currently costs about $1.3 million and is funded solely by the local agency. Unfortunately, the program size has been reduced from 425 children to approximately 150 due to financial cuts. The program is currently seeking other funding avenues. All stakeholders in the recent CFSR mentioned the positives of this program.
Length of Operation: From 2000-2001 to present
Posted: September 2009

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State: South Dakota
Promising Approach: Foster Care Monthly Reporting Form
Category: Child and Family Well-Being
Sponsor: South Dakota Department of Social Services—Child Protection Services
Contact: Virgena Wieseler, Child Welfare Director, (605) 773-3227, Virgena.Wieseler@state.sd.us
Description: The State has implemented a monthly reporting form that is completed by caregivers and used by Family Service Specialists during monthly visits to guide discussion on the foster child's progress/needs. If not completed prior to the Family Service Specialist's visit with the caregiver, the Family Service Specialist may complete it during the visit. This practice fosters a sharing of key information concerning the child's physical, educational, and mental health well-being. Institutionalizing and focusing communication during monthly visits between the child, caregiver and Family Service Specialist contributes to successful outcomes for children in care. If you would like a copy of the Placement Resource Monthly Reporting Form, please contact Virgena Wieseler at Virgena.Wieseler@state.sd.us.
Length of Operation: At least since March, 2007
Posted: September 2009

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State: Tennessee
Promising Approach: Well-Being Teams
Category: Agency Responsiveness to the Community
Sponsor: Department of Children's Services
Contact: Audrey Corder, DCS Executive Director for Child and Family Well-Being, audrey.corder@state.tn.us
Description: Tennessee has implemented Child Well-Being teams for children in care. These teams are comprised of DCS regional Well-Being staff who support family service workers, foster parents, and agency workers by providing recommendations, consultation, and technical assistance regarding well-being services. The Well-Being teams include:

  • A Health Advocacy Representative
  • A Services and Appeals Tracking Coordinator
  • A Nurse
  • A Psychologist
  • An Education specialist
  • A Master's Social Worker
  • An Interdependent Living specialist
  • A CANS assessment evaluator

Tennessee has had particular success with including an education specialist on Well-Being teams who has the expertise to advocate for children in the school system. This approach relieves the agency of having to train all case management staff on education issues, and the input of the team is more accepted by the school district. Through advocacy with the schools, Tennessee was successful in creating unique solutions for children who had lost credits and who might not have accomplished as much as they did without the expertise of education specialists.

Well-Being staff serve as the catalyst in the region to reinforce health and educational concerns for children. They participate in Child and Family Team Meetings and are available to field staff for consultation on individual cases on an ongoing basis. Family service workers are encouraged to contact Well-Being staff regarding any clinical questions or health access concerns.
Length of Operation: since 2005
Posted: September 2009

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State: Virginia
Promising Approach: Ambassadors Program and Fairfax Families4Kids
Category: Agency Responsiveness to the Community; Community Collaboration; Foster and Adoptive Parent Licensing, Recruitment, and Retention
Sponsor: Virginia Department of Social Services; Fairfax Department of Family Services; Children, Youth and Families Division
Contacts: Stephanie Pegues, Ambassadors Program, (703) 324–7792
Marilyn Durbin, Fairfax Families4Kids, (703) 324–7588
Description: The Fairfax County Department of Family Services' foster and adoptive parent recruitment staff has established two successful recruitment programs that incorporate suggestions from community members and offer opportunities for involvement for those who may not feel prepared to become resource families. Together, these programs provide a variety of opportunities for community members to become involved with and support the children in foster care in Fairfax County.

The Ambassadors Program is distinguished by the use of current foster/adoptive parents who speak to members of the community about their own experiences and the diversity of ways that community members can help children in foster care. Ambassador parents often speak to members of their own communities (such as at their places of worship) where they can more effectively reach potential volunteers than county staff. While some participants in these community events do pursue foster or adoptive parenting, others who are not ready for this commitment become involved in different ways. Examples include sponsoring children, providing them with back-to-school clothes and supplies, and contributing to birthday gifts for children in care. Additionally, a group of bank employees conducted a free class in managing personal finances for teens in care, and a professional face painter provides her services for free at various community recruitment events.

Fairfax Families4Kids offers volunteer opportunities for potential mentors or resource families to become acquainted with youth in foster care, ages 10 to 18, who need permanent homes (the median age is 15). Interactions between the adults and youth take place in positive, child-friendly, community environments where there is no pressure to adopt. Recruited adults serve as group volunteers and mentors, interacting with up to 20 youth through twice-monthly, organized community activities. As a result of this interaction, a natural match occurs between a youth and his/her mentor, and they mutually decide that they have something to offer each other. After this relationship is established, mentors begin a one-on-one relationship with their youth mentees. Mentors are asked to commit to the youth for 2 years, but many have mentored for up to 5 years. In 2009, Fairfax Families4Kids matched 24 mentors and youth and achieved five adoptive placements and nine permanent connections (in which the adult committed to continuing a relationship with the youth beyond the youth's stay in foster care).
Length of Operation: Both programs, 5 years
Posted: July 2011

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State: Virginia
Promising Approach: Respite Care for Intact Families
Category: Child and Family Well-Being
Sponsor: Virginia Department of Social Services; Fairfax Department of Family Services; Children, Youth and Families Division
Contacts: Sonia Aronow, (703) 237–6084
Description: In Fairfax County, Virginia, Child Protective Services (CPS) workers use respite care to provide short-term emergency placements when a child cannot be maintained safely in his or her normal place of residence, when the nature of the crisis does not leave sufficient time to explore alternatives, and when parents are willing to place the child voluntarily. The parents sign the same forms that any respite placement requires, but the respite care is provided when previously a removal would have occurred. Placements are for a maximum of 30 days but are often much shorter, as the time is used to identify alternative living arrangements or safety interventions. This approach has been used successfully in a variety of cases, including serious infant injuries, sexual abuse, unsanitary living environments, and parental incapacitation due to serious substance use or mental health issues.

In the State of Virginia, there is currently no mechanism for placing a child in need of protection in care other than by the Department of Social Services assuming custody. By using respite care, the State is able to protect the child at a particular point in time without invoking the full measure of State authority, with all of its implications, or the foster care system's numerous mandates and statutory obligations. In this approach, the CPS worker and the parent remain the driving parties in subsequent decision-making; the family feels respected and remains empowered (and thus engaged); the case is not transferred to a new worker (the agency has a separate foster care program); and the collaboration between the parent and the Department is thus enhanced. The State is just beginning to collect data; however, based on anecdotal evidence, an estimated 90 percent of children placed in respite care return to their homes.

Length of Operation: 2004 to present
Posted: July 2011

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