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1 Understanding and Developing Child Welfare Practice Models Steven Preister, Associate Director National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement A Service of the Children’s Bureau, U.S.D.H.H.S. Midwest Child Welfare Implementation Center Tribal Convening August 27-28, 2009

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Understanding and Developing Child Welfare Practice Models

1Understanding and Developing Child Welfare Practice ModelsSteven Preister, Associate DirectorNational Child Welfare Resource Centerfor Organizational ImprovementA Service of the Childrens Bureau, U.S.D.H.H.S.Midwest Child Welfare Implementation CenterTribal ConveningAugust 27-28, 200912IntroductionEvery child welfare agency has a practice model, even if it is not articulated.At a minimum, the agencys practice model is embedded in its policy.If the agencys unarticulated practice model is embedded in its policy, the model is not easily accessible.If the agencys practice model is not articulated, it may not be the practice model the agency really wants.

3The Need for Integrating/Aligning Child Welfare AgenciesMissionVisionCore Principles

into developing:PolicyProceduresTrainingSupervisingMeasuringEvaluating4Definition of a Practice ModelA child welfare practice model is a conceptual map and organizational ideology of how agency employees, families, and stakeholders should partner in creating a physical and emotional environment that focuses on the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and their families.The practice model contains definitions and explanations regarding how the agency as a whole will work internally and partner with families, service providers, and other stakeholders in child welfare services.5Definition (contd)A practice model is the clear, written explanation of how the agency successfully functions.The practice model is prescriptive in how services should be provided as articulated in agency regulations, policies, and procedures. It includes the practice activities and rationale that form the case process.It is the agencys guide to working with children and families.6Definition (contd)The practice model should make an explicit link connecting the agencys policy and practice with its mission, vision, and core values.It is a practice structure conceptualized and driven by fundamental values which incorporate integrated best-practice behavior to achieve overarching goals.It is a framework to guide the daily interactions of employees, families, stakeholders, and community members connected to their work with the child welfare agency in conjunction with the standards of practice to achieve desired outcomes.It can be used to drive critical systemic and operational issues to achieve greater system-wide advancement.7Elements of a Child Welfare Practice Model Could Include:Core principles, agency values, and standards of professional practice.Strategies and functions to achieve the core principles, agency values, and standards of professional practice.Plan for assessing service needs and engaging families.Strategies to measure family outcomes.Strategies to measure agency and worker outcomes.Plan for measuring and sustaining organizational success.Plan for supporting organizational and practice change.

8A Model of Practice:Applies to everyone.

Defines relationships.

Guides thinking.

Structures beliefs about families.9Three Components of a Practice ModelValues


Outcomes10First Component: Values.Values are expressed byA set of principles to work from

Choices of tools for training and working

Organization-wide commitment to chosen values11Values SupportThe central position of the child and the family

The primary considerations for the caseworkers in their interactions with children and families.

Shared commitments across agency and partner roles.12Second Component: Practice.Defining PracticeWhat processes will be used.

What skills are needed.

How the agency will mirror the caseworkers relation to the family.13The Approach to Practice is Continuously DefinedThe model provides a guide.

Training provides a knowledge and skill base for practice.

Supervision reinforces and refines practice.

Practice is continuously re-implemented in the field with greater levels of consistency and sophistication.14The Third Component: Outcomes.Outcomes for a Model of PracticeOutcomes are specific and positive for children and families.

Measured in terms of the models expectations.

Explicit measurement for the model.

Measurement motivates a standard of practice.Phases in Developing and Implementinga Child Welfare Practice Model:Core RequirementsAnticipate 2-4 years for full implementation which results in significantly improved outcomes.Involve all your internal and external stakeholders, including birth parents, resource families and youth.Include your contracted providers so there is one model, not multiple models.A powerful Work Group to do the work (phases) that is fully supported by the Leadership. Needs to include Agency leadership, supervisors and frontline workers, key community service providers, policy writers, quality assurance, training staff and partners, procurement and contracting, information technology, etc.Use technical assistance if available.15Phase 1: Readiness AssessmentAre the agencys Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles ;and Values already clearly articulated?Are they consistent with the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) and Systems of Care (SOC) practice principles?How widespread have they permeated the organization?Is there system-wide consensus that these adequately define where the agency wants to go?16Phase 1: Readiness Assessment (contd)Is there evidence that the agency is ready developmentally to focus seriously on quality child welfare practice as the key to achieving good outcomes for children and families?Is there agency-wide interest in focusing on practice?Is there a concern within the agency and among stakeholders about consistency in child welfare practice across the jurisdiction?Does the agency currently use child welfare supervisors as practice change agents?At this point in time, is the agency able to invest the person power and fiscal resources that will be required to undertake such an intensive systemic change strategy?17Phase 2: Basic Articulationof the Practice Model (brochure phase)Revisit the agencys Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles and Values. Update and revise if needed. Secure commitment of work group members to this articulation.Drawing on the Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles and Values, begin a basic articulation of the practice model so that it flows from these.This articulation is basic and brief (brochure).18Phase 2: Basic Articulationof the Practice Model (contd)Fundamentally, this articulation uses the Mission, etc. to describe what the stages of the child welfare casework process should look like if it reflects the mission, vision, values.For example, the casework stages can include engagement, assessment, planning, intervening, monitoring, closing.Can be accomplished in a few months.For each phase, circulate and feedback.This basic articulation does NOT mean the agency has a practice model that has permeated its system.

19Phase Three: Preliminary Implementation PlanWhat and WhereFull implementation of a p child welfare practice model is complex and time intensive.To roll out a comprehensive full practice model in an entire jurisdiction would be overwhelming and could lead to failure.Therefore, after the basic articulation of the model, the agency decides what part of the model to implement first and where to do it.

20Phase 3 (contd): What and WhereFor example, Agency X decided it wants to first implement the Assessment and Investigation stage of the child welfare casework process.Break it down even further: Agency X will implement differential response (DR) first and then decide how to approach investigations differently.Break it down even further: It will implement DR in one catchment area.21Phase 3 (contd): What and WhereFirst, develop specific practice guidance for assessment, investigation, and differential response.Develop a plan to implement in the catchment area.Include what else will need to change in order to implement this: changes in policy, procedures, tools, training, supervision, quality assurance, procurement and contracting, and information technology.Learn from the experience and roll out sequentially in the other catchment areas until it is a universal practice for the agency.22Phase 4: Sequencing and Implementing the Other Stages and TracksAgain, What and WhereSequence the other stages of the casework process (e.g., planning, intervening, monitoring, closing): what and where.Sequence the different child welfare tracks (e.g., in home, foster care, adoption, other permanency, youth development): what and where.For each: development of specific practice guidance for each stage each track.For each: changes in policy, procedures, tools, training, supervision, quality assurance, procurement and contracting, information technology.23Phase 5: Ensuring Effectiveness through Continuous Structured FeedbackPlanning and rolling out a child welfare practice model is a very complex endeavor.It will require the agency to develop plans for continuous monitoring through its QA and other systems.24Resource: www.nrcoi.orgPractice Model Framework: A Working Document (July 22, 2008).Developing and Articulating a Practice Model (forthcoming in 2009).Implementation Strategies (forthcoming in 2010).Ensuring Effectiveness through Continuous Structured Feedback (forthcoming in 2010).25Contact InformationSteven Preister, Associate Director, National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational [email protected]