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October 2018Vol. 19, No. 8Child Welfare Practice Within the Context of Public-Private Partnerships

An article in Social Work discusses how child welfare practice operates within a partnership between public agencies, which have a statutory mandate to provide child welfare services, and private organizations, which provide a variety of services informally or through contracts. According to the article, "Child Welfare Practice Within the Context of Public-Private Partnerships," results from a recent national survey of private child-serving agencies showed that 89 percent of them had contracts with public institutions for services such as family preservation, foster care case management, and congregate care. In addition, federal policies, such as the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, and the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011, have raised accountability expectations for agencies to meet federal benchmarks for service delivery in order to keep their federal funding, underscoring the need for interorganizational trust and collaboration.

The article reviews current literature to answer the following questions:

  • How should public and private child welfare relationships and contracting procedures be structured to provide effective service delivery?
  • How can performance measurement and management systems be developed to promote child safety, permanency, and well-being?
  • How can managers help promote effective and culturally appropriate services?

The article suggests developing a shared mission for service planning, clarifying the roles of both public and private frontline staff, and coordinating day-to-day communication and service activities as the best ways to promote the well-being of children and families involved in child welfare.

"Child Welfare Practice Within the Context of Public-Private Partnerships," by Crystal Collins-Camargo and Bowen McBeath (Social Work, 62), is available at