With Casey Foundation Consultants, Delaware Bolsters Child Welfare Outcomes

Posted February 26, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog delawarebolsterschildwelfare 2016

A return to their social work roots. That’s how case­work­ers in Delaware’s state-run child wel­fare agency describe the results of a three-year improve­ment effort pre­sent­ed in Cri­sis and Oppor­tu­ni­ty in Delaware — a new Casey Foun­da­tion case study.

The state’s com­pre­hen­sive reform effort devel­oped as an out­growth of a part­ner­ship between the state agency and con­sul­tants from Casey’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group. The col­lab­o­ra­tion led to a new state effort to keep more teens at home with their fam­i­lies and out of the fos­ter care or juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem. It also refo­cused case­work­ers on engag­ing fam­i­lies in car­ing for chil­dren. By work­ing with par­ents in a new way, the state reduced its use of group place­ments by 42% and increased the num­ber of kids who were able to stay at home with their par­ents or live with kin caregivers.

As the case study shows, the close part­ner­ship between Casey and Delaware offi­cials began with a rig­or­ous assess­ment of the state agency’s poli­cies, prac­tices, data and oper­a­tions. That assess­ment was key to build­ing a plan of action, says Vicky Kel­ly, for­mer head of the Delaware Divi­sion of Fam­i­ly Ser­vices. Anoth­er crit­i­cal strat­e­gy was using staff-dri­ven work­groups to trans­form the sys­tem. The upshot, accord­ing to one case­work­er, is a sys­tem that now relies on more com­mon-sense social work” than arbi­trary, fla­vor-of-the-month” reforms.

Down­load Cri­sis and Oppor­tu­ni­ty in Delaware

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