Each state regularly undergoes a Child and Family Services Review, and reports their results in significant areas using federal metrics that are aggregated nationally, known as “Outcomes“. These reviews identify areas of strength and concern in each state. When a state does not meet expectations in a requirement, they must create a plan for improving . WA ran a review in 2018, which included an analysis of 130 cases from 18 offices across the six regions statewide (chosen at random within representative categories). The final report is available on the DCYF website, and a presentation summarizing the reports from all 24 states reviewed that year on the federal HHS website. This slide sums it up
Because this report found that WA, like all the other states, was not in substantial compliance with the Outcomes, they were required to create a Performance Improvement Plan. You can read the complete plan at https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/CFSR-PIP-2020.pdf, or my attempt at a summary below :)
The identified areas of concern
- Workforce Development
- Engagement with Children and Parents
- Assessment and Case Planning
A root cause underlying all these issues was discovered to be failure to sustain practices and processes after implementation, leading to a department where improvements are identified and brought into practice but then fade into inconsistency across the state. They also identified a focus on assessing compliance rather than driving for best practices.
Strategies for improvement in each area are designed to address the systemic flaw that led to poor assessment results for each Outcome.
- Improve supervising and coaching skills within the department through training, guidelines and updated tools
- Emphasize immediate (within 3 days) entry of updates on any child’s placement, to reach the goal of always knowing where every child is placed.
Engagement with Children and Parents
- Update FamLink to gather data and documentation on caseworker visits, and publish monthly reports on performance to supervisors
- Identify a specific regional position responsible for locating parents, and establish clear guidelines and expectations on how this is done
Assessment and Case Planning
- High level monitoring of all exceptions and extensions to child safety intakes
- Recurring training on applying the standard Safety Framework and risk assessment, plus supervisor and group review of documented assessments
- Create a new case planning framework to better track services required
- Add a supervisor review step before filing dependency petitions
- Use existing data sources to track children’s medical and dental appointments, to increase the accuracy of reporting
- Create detailed reporting on availability of mental health services in order to work on filling gaps/point caseworkers to available options.
- Establish dedicated permanency facilitators
- Submit reunification petitions without waiting for court dates
- Train all groups involved in dependency court on the Safety Framework and increase emphasis on safety in all meetings
- create a single form and packet for referral and filing of termination petitions
- monitor delays in filing at all levels
- strengthen use of P4P
- reduce home study requirements for kinship care providers
- implement a new 90-day license to care for specific children