The Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center (WPIC) provides technical assistance to selected child welfare systems through implementation projects currently underway in Alaska, Navajo Nation, and Los Angeles. This newsletter describes recent activities in these projects and resources on lessons learned in implementing systems change in child welfare.
Photo from Eastern Navajo Child Drive Website 2010.
Learning to use data to better understand how to improve child welfare practices and outcomes is an important part of WPIC technical assistance to the Navajo Nation. WPIC staff and consultants met with Navajo Nation Nataanis, a leadership group comprised of the heads of Navajo Nation’s various governmental departments, to share findings from a recent assessment of concurrent planning practice and related child and family outcomes. The assessment identified practice strengths in maintaining child connections to family and kin, as well as challenges in documenting concurrent planning in case files. Navajo Nation leaders appreciated the opportunity to have an assessment of their child welfare system as this data will inform future training, supervision and ongoing quality assurance efforts.
Collecting and sharing data comes at a critical time for the Navajo project as the Division of Social Services is completing policy revisions and preparing to formally implement concurrent planning into practice across the Nation. Documentation, data collection, and analysis is gaining greater attention as an approach to identify system needs and inform practice changes. System partners and staff are eager to begin incorporating data collection into their own processes. In the words of a Navajo Nation leader, "It is time for us to collect and analyze our own data. We need to do that." Training, skill building and coaching on how to implement and document concurrent planning will be held in regional offices across the Navajo Nation. Data will be collected again next year to compare and measure the progress of implementing concurrent planning practices and achieving more timely permanency for Navajo children with their families.
WPIC Institute court role playing in large sesson.
The Alaska Child Welfare Disproportionality Reduction project was designed to enhance tribal capacity to deliver child welfare services and reduce the number of Alaska native children who go into custody in the state child welfare system. Strengthening tribal staff capacity to provide clear and compelling testimony in courts is critical for ensuring tribes have a voice in preventing children from being removed from their tribes and communities whenever possible. In August, 120 representatives, including tribal child welfare workers and directors from across the State of Alaska, Office for Children’s Services staff and tribal judges from across the United States, met in Juneau to participate in the 2012 Tribal Training on working effectively with the courts. WPIC coordinated the meeting with support from Casey Family Programs, National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, Justice for Alaska Native Children, and Facing Foster Care in Alaska.
The Institute provided an opportunity to identify and address specific issues tribal child welfare workers face in Alaska courts every day. Tribal child welfare workers shared their sense that they were not being heard in court and forgotten in the court process. They explained that sometimes the received late notification regarding AK Native children involved in court case and many tribes experienced challenges with technology when trying to participate in telephonic hearings. To empower and build the tribal child welfare worker confidence, the WPIC Institute faculty assisted participants through practicing necessary court skills, role-playing tough case scenarios, and clarifying any misconceptions, misunderstandings or questions. An experiential learning environment was created through eight learning groups. Each group was facilitated by WPIC and included a tribal judge from across the nation, Alaska Native child welfare mentor, youth guides from Facing Foster Care in Alaska, and staff from the Office of Children's Services. The entire training was videotaped and will be made available, along with a toolkit with materials and sample documents, to all tribes in Alaska to continue to support new tribal child welfare staff in working in courts.
LA DCFS staff discussing performance.
LA DCFS leadership began holding “DCFS STAT,” monthly meetings for mid- to upper-level managers to monitor priority outcomes for the department based on a data dashboard of key child welfare priorities. The data-driven management process includes collecting, disseminating and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information on priority outcome measures to understand what is working well and what needs to be improved. As part of the Los Angeles Systems Change Project, WPIC provides technical assistance through coaching, planning, facilitation support and assisting in the development of the department-wide rollout of this approach.
As part of this department-wide effort, the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services’ Glendora Regional Office was one of the first regional offices to begin holding monthly “Office STAT” meetings. Staff are engaged at all levels of the office to craft, implement and refine practice strategies based on relevant and timely information from the STAT. As a result of holding Office STAT, the Glendora Regional Office reduced foster care entries (removal from home) and increased the timeliness of Team Decision Making (TDM) meetings. By reviewing and discussing the data, they were able to address data entry issues, as well as practice barriers – the availability of the TDM facilitators at the time of removal and the need to accommodate families with after hours and in-home meetings
The success was recognized by LA DCFS Director Philip Browning at the August DCFS STAT meeting and Glendora Regional Administrator Rex White was also recognized as an early innovator and leader. This Fall, two additional Regional Offices will begin holding Office STAT meetings and plans are underway to implement Office STAT in all 18 Regional Offices by December 2013.
In addition to improvements in measures, the Office STAT process has resulted in increased teaming of TDM facilitators and development of a call-in protocol and stronger collaboration among co-workers on contacts with children. There has been improved communication and understanding between supervisors and line workers about expected outcomes and increased sense of shared accountability. Peer learning and coaching is being promoted and workers are sharing how they are learning from one another, as well as gaining clarification on policies and best practices.
WPIC has just launched a redesigned website to describe our conceptual framework and lessons learned in implementing systems change in child welfare. WPIC has identified five key elements that are essential to achieving meaningful, lasting systems change: vision and values, leadership and commitment, environment, stakeholder involvement, and capacity and infrastructure. The website describes why each of these elements are important to achieving systems change in child welfare, lessons learned from implementation projects, and related resources for further reading. An overview of each of the implementation projects, and resources used in providing training and technical assistance are also available.
Documentary just released! The Alaska Child Welfare Disproportionality Reduction Project: Strategies for Success
This five part documentary showcases the Alaska implementation project and the significant gains that have been achieved in State – Tribal collaboration, communication, and mutual understanding. The series captures personal perspectives and increased cultural responsiveness which contributed to system transformation. The DVD describes the WPIC framework for systems change and how it is guiding efforts to reform the Alaska tribal child welfare system. The DVD series includes the following topics:
For free copies of the DVD series contact Kim Helfgott (firstname.lastname@example.org) and send your contact information, including full mailing address.
Copyright © 2012, All rights reserved.
Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW Washington, DC 20007