• March 2007
  • Vol. 8, No. 2

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Quality Improvement Centers Update

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau began funding Quality Improvement Centers (QICs) in fiscal year (FY) 2001 as part of an effort to support regional research and demonstration projects in child welfare, as well as training and technical assistance. QICs are tasked with planning a project for a particular region, selecting an advisory group, awarding subgrants, providing technical assistance, and evaluating and disseminating their findings. There is also significant interaction with Federal staff, as the QICs move through these planning and implementation steps during the 5-year funding period.

With Federal funding ending for the first four QICs and projects just beginning for two recently funded QICs, the grantees met in Arlington, VA, in December to share presentations on their projects. The six presentations highlighted the broad range of QIC child welfare projects:

Frontline Connections QIC

The Northwest Institute for Children and Families at the University of Washington was funded to implement culturally appropriate interventions in working with African-American, Alaska Native, and Native American families involved with child welfare. The QIC awarded subgrants to three local organizations that focused on engaging kin and communities in the care of neglected children.

Findings—The subgrantees implemented culturally responsive services and practices that influenced both clients and the child welfare system and resulted in more placements with kin, preservation of family and cultural connections, and services that allowed more children to remain at home.

QIC on Adoption

United Methodist Family Services of Virginia concentrated on the adoption of children from foster care in that State. They focused on partnerships between private and public agencies and the use of evidence-based adoption practices in three projects.

Findings—The partnerships and improved practices resulted in strengthened preparation of families and children for adoptive placement, the development of a child-centered model for adoptive family recruitment, procedures for concurrent planning and dual licensure, and increases in the percentage of children adopted and in the percentage of children with a goal of adoption.

Rocky Mountain QIC

American Humane received funding for this QIC to focus on strengthening families struggling with substance abuse and child maltreatment in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming and the Indian Tribes in and around these States. This QIC funded four local projects, all serving families with substance abuse issues. They provided extensive technical assistance as the local organizations built partnerships in the communities and developed culturally competent services.

Findings—Evaluation data showed a number of positive outcomes, including the provision of prevention and treatment services that supported children to remain at home, increases in reunifications, and high numbers of parents entering treatment with measurable periods of abstinence from substance use. Other outcomes included mixed substantiated recurrences of maltreatment, with two projects being lower than or at the State average and two projects showing somewhat higher maltreatment rates.

Southern Regional QIC

The University of Kentucky funded projects in four southern States (Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee) that focused on clinical supervision and emphasized partnerships among universities, public agencies, and communities. This QIC's cross-site evaluation looked at child welfare workforce satisfaction and turnover, worker practice, and child and family outcomes.

Findings—Structured methods of clinical casework supervision positively affected the organizational culture, workforce turnover, and worker practice in most of the agencies, and it appears to have improved client outcomes as clients became more engaged and empowered.

QIC on Privatization of Child Welfare Services

Also run by the University of Kentucky, this QIC was funded in FY 2005 to provide information about the usefulness of privatizing portions of the child welfare system in certain settings and about public–private partnerships in the provision of child welfare services. Based on the results of a national analysis of knowledge gaps, this QIC recently has funded projects in Florida, Illinois, and Missouri to test the impact of performance-based contracting and quality assurance systems on organizational and client outcomes.

QIC on Nonresident Fathers

This newest QIC, funded in FY 2006, is operated by the American Humane Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Fatherhood Initiative. The QIC will work toward improving child welfare outcomes by identifying and implementing best practices for involving nonresident fathers in their children's lives.

The December meeting of all the QICs gave grantees the opportunity to share information about their successes and challenges and allowed staff from the recently funded QICs to benefit from the experience of those who were in their evaluation and dissemination stages. The QICs will next meet in June to share updated findings.

For more information on the Children's Bureau QICs, contact Melissa Lim Brodowski, Federal Project Officer in the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect:


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