• September 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 7

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Second Round Update From the CFSR Team

At the Children's Bureau's annual Agencies and Courts Meeting in August, members of the Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) team presented interim findings from the second round of CFSRs. Data from the 32 reviews completed thus far in this cycle were analyzed to present findings on safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes; systemic factors; and Program Improvement Plans (PIPs).

Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being Outcomes
In conducting the 32 reviews, the CFSR team looked at 2,609 cases, including 1,279 foster care and 790 in-home cases. Among these cases, 52 percent involved male children, 37 percent were cases of neglect, 15 percent involved parental substance use, and 42 percent involved children younger than 6 years.

Case review data were used to determine whether States substantially achieved the safety, permanency, and well-being outcome goals. These were the findings:

Outcome Average Percent of Cases Achieving Substantial Conformity Across the 32 States
Safety Outcome 1 (Children are, first and foremost, protected from abuse and neglect) 72 percent
Safety Outcome 2 (Children are safely maintained in their homes when possible and appropriate) 68 percent
Permanency Outcome 1 (Children have permanency and stability in their living situations) 40 percent
Permanency Outcome 2 (The continuity of family relationships and connections is preserved for children) 67 percent
Well-Being Outcome 1 (Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs) 45 percent
Well-Being Outcome 2 (Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs) 87 percent
Well-Being Outcome 3 (Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs) 76 percent

 

The CFSR team made a number of observations about the Outcome data in the cases reviewed, including:

  • Achievement of Permanency Outcome 1 was positively associated with assessment and provision of services for both children and parents and with caseworker visits with both children and parents.
  • Across all of the outcomes, performance was stronger in foster care cases than in-home cases.
  • Mothers generally received more services and visits than fathers across the board.

The CFSR team also provided a number of observations about the composite National Standards, including:

  • National trends over the last 4 years show an improvement in adoption trends as measured by the composite measure for timeliness of adoptions. This includes an increase in the percentage of children (1) in foster care for 17 months or longer at the start of the reporting year who are discharged to adoption during the year, (2) in foster care for 17 months or longer at the start of the reporting year who became legally free for adoption within 6 months of the reporting year, and (3) legally free for adoption who are adopted in less than 12 months of becoming legally free.
  • National trends also showed that more children in care for more than 2 years are achieving permanency.
  • National trends show little change over 4 years regarding children experiencing fewer than 3 moves while in placement.

Systemic Factors
States were rated on seven systemic factors (SFs), based on whether State performance met Federal requirements. Findings to date from Round 2 show the following:

Systemic Factor Number of the 32 States Achieving Substantial Conformity
SF 1 (Statewide Information System) 27 States
SF 2 (Case Review System) 1 State
SF 3 (Quality Assurance System) 28 States
SF 4, (Staff and Provider Training) 22 States
SF 5 (Service Array and Resource Development) 8 States
SF 6 (Agency Responsiveness), 31 States
SF 7 (Parent Licensing, Recruitment, and Retention)                              
22 States

 

No State so far has been rated as a Strength on Item 25 (The State provides a process that ensures that each child has a written case plan to be developed jointly with the child's parents that includes the required provisions), which falls under SF 2 (Case Review System).

Program Improvement Plans
States are required to develop PIPs to address areas of concern noted in their CFSRs. Working with the Children's Bureau, States establish specific amounts of improvement or activities that they will complete within a certain timeline. Thirteen States have already received approval for their Round Two PIPs. Some of the recurrent themes in these plans include:

  • An emphasis on practice models
  • Use of evidence-based assessment tools
  • Stronger worker contacts with families
  • Implementation of processes such as family team meetings
  • Enhanced supervision and quality assurance processes
  • Use of technical assistance through the National Resource Centers
  • Improved safety assessments
  • Development of differential response processes
  • Strengthened diligent search for noncustodial kin
  • Focus on concurrent planning
  • Closer review of children who have been in care a long time
  • Stronger recruitment/retention activities
  • Development of well-being checklists for use by agencies and courts

Round Two of the CFSRs is still in progress. The Federal CFSR team will continue to gather and analyze data and make the findings available on the CB website when the Final CFSR reports for the remaining 20 States are complete.

Visit the CB website to view the full PowerPoint presentation from August 2009, "Results of the 2007 and 2008 Child and Family Services Reviews":

www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/results/index.htm

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