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May 2008Vol. 9, No. 4CFSRs Prompt New Family Engagement Strategies

A review of reports from the first round of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) found that most States fell short on ratings of family engagement. Only seven States received a rating of strength on one or both of the CFSR items designed to assess family engagement. However, most States used their subsequent Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) as an opportunity to address this challenge by identifying specific approaches to involve children and families in case planning.

These findings are reported in American Humane's Families Gaining Their Seat at the Table: Family Engagement Strategies in the First Round of CFSRs and PIPs. The report focuses on the 45 States that identified a specific model or strategy for engaging families. The most common terms used by these States to describe their approaches were family group decision-making, family group conferencing, and family team meetings.

The report also notes that States frequently identify formal family engagement strategies in their PIPs. These include models that emphasize family engagement and individualized service delivery: Family to Family; Family Solutions; Engaging Families; One Family, One Worker; and One Family, One Plan.

States' PIPs also include a variety of other strategies to increase family engagement, for example:

  • Expansion of current programs to reach families more often
  • Better outreach to families and staff regarding agency efforts and policies
  • Increased training for staff
  • Improved data collection and quality assurance activities
  • Redesign and revision of the case planning process and documents to increase opportunities for family engagement

Families Gaining Their Seat at the Table was written by Sara Munson and Madelyn Freundlich. The full report includes two appendices with CFSR and PIP information for each State. (1,402 KB)