It is not easy to provide children in our nation’s child welfare system with safety, permanence and well-being. But there are incentives, policies and practices that can help, starting with a focus on family relationships and permanence.
In A Child Welfare Leader’s Desk Guide to Building a High-Performing Agency, the Casey Foundation describes how child welfare casework can do more to provide children with stable living situations and build children’s long-term family relationships.
“Engaging children’s parents and kin at every decision point is key, as is making sure your community has a wide enough service array to provide kids and families with the help they need in the least restrictive settings,” says Tracey Feild, managing director of Casey’s Child Welfare Strategy Group.
“Agencies also need to ask themselves some key questions — identified in our desk guide — and tweak their approaches as a result. For example: Are children in your agency’s care getting stuck in one particular type of placement?
“In our experience as consultants to public agencies,” Feild says, “too often we find kids ending up in group placements that are not the right fit for them, simply because those placements are available. Our desk guide helps agencies identify alternatives, such as stepping up kin supports and working with private providers to implement more innovative, in-home and community-based programs.”
For more on practice models, see Practice #8 of Casey’s child welfare desk guide.