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October 2012Vol. 13, No. 9Postpermanency Services to Improve Child Well-Being

A new series of research briefs details a Catawba County, NC, project to improve the well-being of children and youth who leave foster care through reunification, guardianship, or adoption. The Catawba County Department of Social Services began its Child Wellbeing Project in 2006—in partnership with the Duke Endowment—and will finish its 2-year pilot implementation phase at the end of 2012. The first brief in the series provides a project overview, while the second and third briefs examine the project's use of implementation science to ensure high-quality implementation of services countywide.

The Child Wellbeing Project focused on evidence-based/evidence-informed practices from the outset, implementing the following array of services based on an assessment of families' postpermanency needs:

  • The foundational Success Coach service providing ongoing in-home case management
  • Material supports for the child and family's concrete needs
  • Educational services and advocacy
  • Strengthening Families parenting classes
  • Parent-child interaction therapy
  • Support groups for adopted children

The project is assessing outcomes using well-being measures from the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale, including family safety and interactions, parenting ability, and child outcomes related to education, health, housing, employment, permanent connections, and good decision-making. Although a formal project evaluation has not been completed, the briefs describe several implementation science strategies staff believe have contributed to the project's success to date:

  • A "ground-up" process for program development and implementation that seeks stakeholder feedback and involves staff at the leadership, management, and practice levels
  • Teams of four to eight staff members who select appropriate interventions and monitor them through the exploration, installation, and initial and full implementation stages
  • Ways to address implementation drivers in key related areas:
    • Competency (staff selection, training, coaching, and performance assessment)
    • Organization (use of data in decision-making, program review and improvement)
    • Leadership (involvement in program review and actions to address barriers)
  • Continuous quality improvement that involves periodic reviews and data-focused decision-making

Each brief in the series, Building a Post-Care Service System in Child Welfare: Lessons Learned from the Frontlines of Implementation Science in Catawba County, is available on the Child Trends website: (488 KB) (519 KB) (405 KB)