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March 2008Vol. 9, No. 2T&TA for Systems Change

The Children's Bureau National Resource Centers (NRCs) provide training and technical assistance (T&TA) to States and Tribes and, in some cases, grantees to help them improve outcomes for children and families involved with child welfare. Many of the NRCs are able to provide T&TA that is specific to a State's need as identified through Federal monitoring, such as the State's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) or Program Improvement Plan (PIP). States access this T&TA through their Regional Offices.

The following examples give some idea of the breadth of the T&TA available through the NRCs. Many thanks to the NRCs who provided these examples.

From the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement:

  • We worked with the NRC on Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRCCWDT) to help Missouri reform its supervision, with resulting improvements in practice. The two NRCs are now undertaking a similar supervision effort with North Carolina, and several other States also may focus on supervision.
  • With AdoptUsKids, we provided T&TA in South Dakota, working with stakeholders to create the Collaborative Circle for the Well-Being of South Dakota's Native Children. Members of the Collaborative include the State child welfare agency, the nine Sioux tribes, family members, and youth and providers.
  • In West Virginia, we partnered with the NRCCWDT to roll out a statewide assessment of the service array in 13 systems of care regions, which will result in the creation and implementation of a Resource and Capacity Development Plan for each region and a composite plan for the State.

From the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning:

  • Based on the Youth Permanency Initiative that we engaged in with AdoptUsKids, Montana has engaged our NRC in helping State staff to think further about concurrent planning and family engagement as a means toward improving permanency for youth. The State staff have really embraced client-centered meetings and have employed Family Group Decision Making techniques into their work as a result of our TA with them. It is clear that they have made systemic changes as a result.
  • As a result of TA on case planning and assessment that we provided to Arizona and Rhode Island, these States have completely redesigned how they are conducting family centered assessments with their families.
  • Our NRC rolled out TA on family search and engagement work in 10 regions in Louisiana, demonstrating how to use technology to engage and find families for children and youth. The State has purchased equipment to do this and dedicated additional funds toward supporting the systems change effort. Our TA in Louisiana has really made a difference in the area of family engagement throughout the State.

From the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption:

  • In Idaho, our T&TA in adoption-related child, youth, and family assessment and preparation contributed to the State child welfare agency rethinking how they deliver foster care and adoption-related services.
  • In Virginia, the State child welfare agency has formulated recommendations and plans on how to expedite adoptions for their children and youth in out-of-home care, in part as a result of our TA in the areas of child and youth assessments.
  • Our TA in reviewing the county child welfare system from a child/youth's entry into foster care to the adoption finalization helped the Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services reassign their staff and redesign their service delivery system to provide more timely permanency for children and youth.

From the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS):

  • Using an approach consistent with the University of South Florida's findings on implementation, our NRC has helped Alaska and its Tribal partners develop a systemic framework to ensure the fidelity of its implementation of child protective services practice standards. Six workgroups composed of both Alaska staff and Tribal partners, have been formed and now work interdependently, concentrating on how leadership, supervision, policy, documentation, staff development, and quality assurance support the practice standards.
  • Hawaii has brought about significant child welfare systems change through the design and implementation of a differential response practice model that involves contracted community partners who respond to selected referrals as an alternative to the traditional child welfare services response. The systems impact is evident in frontline practice, the information system, quality assurance, supervision, and training. (See the related article in this issue of Children's Bureau Express, "Hawaii's Differential Response System: An Interview With John Walters."

From the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare:

  • We worked with the Minnesota Supreme Court and Department of Human Services to develop a "Catch the Vision! Toolkit" titled Through the Eyes of the Child: 20 Recommended Practices to Help Families in the Child Protection Court System With Alcohol and Other Drug Issues.
  • We provided TA to the Squaxin Island Tribe to develop Forming a Family Wellness Team guidebook.
  • In New York, we worked with the NY Partnership for Family Recovery to produce Gearing Up to Improve Outcomes for Families: A Collaborative Practice Guide for Managers and Supervisors in Child Welfare, Chemical Dependency Services, and Court Systems.

Two NRCs that focus their T&TA on specific grantee groups also offered examples.

From the National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Programs (FRIENDS):

  • As a result of a joint Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF)/CBCAP session at the 2005 CBCAP Grantees meeting, the Region IV Collaboration was formed to foster ongoing collaborative efforts between CBCAP and PSSF grantees. The Collaborative meets annually and has quarterly conference calls with the goal of improving collaboration, coordination, and communication between systems. Initially, the FRIENDS NRC and the NRCCPS worked with Region IV staff to plan and facilitate the meetings; we now have increasing numbers of attendees and sponsoring NRCs.
  • In May 2007, FRIENDS, in collaboration with NRCCPS, attended a joint meeting in Region VII for State Liaison Officers and CBCAP State Lead Agencies to encourage collaboration between State child welfare agencies and community-based child abuse prevention grantees on efforts to prevent child abuse. This meeting included information-sharing opportunities, facilitated group discussions, and a time for States to develop action plans.
  • FRIENDS provides individualized T&TA on systems change to CBCAP State Lead Agencies though telephone, email, or onsite assistance. Sample activities include ensuring that the State Lead is involved in CFSRs, sending program reports (especially reports on outcomes) to all stakeholders, and encouraging parents to participate in the legislative process.

From the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center:

  • We brought together experts to review future care and custody planning for children whose parents face life-threatening or debilitating health conditions. A subcommittee authored a monograph that described a variety of approaches to voluntary permanency planning, including innovative tools (e.g., standby guardianship, standby adoption) and offered specific recommendations to service providers, child and family advocates, and legislators to advance the development and implementation of these planning tools.
  • We used our grantee meeting and listserv to inform our projects about the CFSR and PIP process so that they could get involved with their States' child welfare system reform. Our conference included a session on how substance abuse disorders were addressed in the CFSRs and how projects could assist the child welfare system in providing better outcomes for families.
  • Our 2005 national conference on interagency, statewide collaboration for substance-exposed newborns provided a venue for agencies and providers with an interest in families affected by substance abuse in States to come together and discuss and strategize how to enhance services.

For more information on the NRCs and the complete T&TA Network, visit the Children's Bureau website: