A Framework for Effective Child Welfare Practice Series Part 2 of 5

A Framework for Effective Child Welfare Practice Series Part 2 of 5


– HI. IF YOU’RE JOINING US
FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU MIGHT FIND IT HELPFUL
TO BEGIN WITH VIDEO ONE, IN WHICH MY PARTNER
AND I PRESENT THE NEED FOR BUILDING EVIDENCE
IN CHILD WELFARE, DISCUSS SOME OF THE CHALLENGES, AND THEN INTRODUCE
THE FRAMEWORK TO DESIGN, TEST,
SPREAD, AND SUSTAIN EFFECTIVE CHILD
WELFARE PRACTICE. EACH PHASE OF THIS FRAMEWORK
CONSISTS OF DISTINCT STEPS, AND TOGETHER, ITS 5 PHASES
FORM A COMPLETE PROCESS FOR BUILDING AND SPREADING
EFFECTIVE PRACTICE. – THE FRAMEWORK BEGINS
WITH AN EXPECTATION TO “IDENTIFY AND EXPLORE”
BEFORE MOVING ON TO ONE OR MORE OF
THE OTHER PHASES. DEVELOP AND TEST, COMPARE
AND LEARN, REPLICATE AND ADAPT, AND APPLY AND IMPROVE
ARE SEQUENTIAL, AND CYCLICAL PHASES THAT FOLLOW
IDENTIFY AND EXPLORE AND BUILD ON ONE ANOTHER
TO SUPPORT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE. IDENTIFY AND EXPLORE WILL BE
OUR FOCUS IN THIS VIDEO. TO DISCUSS THIS INITIAL
PHASE IN THE FRAMEWORK, MY COLLEAGUE CHAR WILL JOIN US. CHAR IS A CHILD
WELFARE DIRECTOR WHO RECENTLY
CONTACTED ME BECAUSE A LARGE NUMBER OF
FAMILIES IN HER STATE ARE ENTERING THE SYSTEM DUE TO
REPEAT REFERRALS FOR NEGLECT, AND SHE WANTED TO DISCUSS WAYS
TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM. – GREAT. WELCOME, CHAR! – THANKS! I’M THRILLED
TO BE HERE. – THE PURPOSE OF
IDENTIFY AND EXPLORE IS TO EITHER SELECT
AN INTERVENTION WITH AN EXISTING EVIDENCE BASE OR TO DECIDE TO DEVELOP
AN INTERVENTION BASED ON THEORY
AND PRACTICE KNOWLEDGE THAT ADDRESSES
AN IDENTIFIED PROBLEM. – YES, THIS IS TRICKY. I HAVE A TENDENCY TO RUSH
THROUGH THIS PROCESS. – LOTS OF PEOPLE DO–
ESPECIALLY IN THEIR EAGERNESS TO FIX PROBLEMS. THE FRAMEWORK REQUIRES
THAT WE SLOW DOWN AND FOLLOW SOME
DELIBERATE STEPS. THE KEY STEPS
FOR THIS PHASE ARE: IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM, UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM, DEVELOP A THEORY OF CHANGE,
RESEARCH SOLUTIONS, AND CHOOSE A SOLUTION. THE FIRST STEP IN
“IDENTIFY AND EXPLORE” IS PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION. PROBLEMS, OR AREAS OF PRACTICE
OR SYSTEM PERFORMANCE THAT NEED TO BE IMPROVED, ARE
IDENTIFIED IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. SOMETIMES AREAS
NEEDING IMPROVEMENT ARE IDENTIFIED THROUGH
EXTERNAL PROCESSES, LIKE FEDERAL
MONITORING REVIEWS. – I OFTEN IDENTIFY PROBLEMS
WHEN I’M REVIEWING REPORTS PRODUCED BY OUR DATA SHOP, BUT SOMETIMES
PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION IS OUT OF MY HANDS. FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAD A CHILD
FATALITY A FEW YEARS AGO. THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE CONDUCTED
AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION AND ORDERED AN OVERHAUL OF THE
INTAKE AND INVESTIGATION SYSTEM AS A RESULT. – HOW A PROBLEM IS IDENTIFIED CAN ARISE FOR MANY REASONS, AND IT’S IMPORTANT TO INVOLVE
MULTIPLE STAKEHOLDERS IN DEFINING THE PROBLEM. ONCE THE PROBLEM
HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED, IT’S IMPORTANT THAT
WE UNDERSTAND IT FIRST, BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO FIND
AN APPROPRIATE SOLUTION. THIS INCLUDES UNDERSTANDING
THE PREVALENCE OF THE PROBLEM, THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM, THE POPULATION MOST AT RISK
OF EXPERIENCING THE PROBLEM, AND WHETHER CULTURAL
OR CONTEXTUAL FACTORS NEED TO BE TAKEN
INTO CONSIDERATION. – LAST YEAR, OUR
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS SHOWED THAT A LARGE NUMBER
OF THOSE FAMILIES WITH A HISTORY OF RECURRING
ALLEGATIONS OF MALTREATMENT HAD BEEN REFERRED FOR NEGLECT. THIS RESULTED IN MULTIPLE
AGENCY INVESTIGATIONS WITH THE SAME FAMILIES. – GOOD EXAMPLE. TO UNDERSTAND THE PREVALENCE
AND NATURE OF THE PROBLEM, A TEAM MIGHT BE
ASSIGNED TO REVIEW ALL OF
THE APPLICABLE REFERRALS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND CASE DATA. – THE TEAM MIGHT
LOOK FOR SIMILARITIES IN CHILD AND FAMILY
CHARACTERISTICS, BEHAVIOR, AND CIRCUMSTANCES, TRYING TO IDENTIFY POSSIBLE
PREDICTORS OF REFERRAL– LIKE RISK
AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS. IT MIGHT ALSO EXAMINE THE
AGENCY’S INVESTIGATION PROCESSES AND QUALITY OF SERVICE DELIVERY
TO THE FAMILIES. THE TEAM MIGHT EVEN DISCUSS FINDINGS WITH
OTHER JURISDICTIONS TO COMPARE REPEAT
REFERRAL RATES AND CONSIDER THE POTENTIAL
INFLUENCE OF LARGER SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS. – IT COULD ALSO REVIEW THE CASES
OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES THAT DIDN’T HAVE
REPEAT REFERRALS TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND
WHAT FACTORS MAY HAVE SUPPORTED FAMILIES
AND REDUCED THE LIKELIHOOD OF REPEAT MALTREATMENT. – I AGREE THAT THIS APPROACH
COULD HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND NEGLECT ALLEGATIONS,
THE FAMILIES BEING REFERRED, AND OUR SERVICE DECISIONS. – SOMETIMES IN CHILD WELFARE, WE
ACTUALLY CHOOSE AN INTERVENTION BEFORE WE FULLY
UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM. – FOR THIS
REPEAT RECURRENCE PROBLEM, I’M GETTING A LOT
OF PRESSURE FROM THE COMMISSIONER OF THE AGENCY
FOR HUMAN SERVICES IN MY STATE TO IMPLEMENT AN INTERVENTION
THAT A FARAWAY STATE HAS HAD SOME SUCCESS WITH. I’VE READ A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT IT. IT SOUNDS GREAT, AND IT
HAS AN EVIDENCE BASE. BUT WE HAVEN’T DONE THE RESEARCH
YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT, AND I DON’T EVEN
KNOW MUCH ABOUT WHICH FAMILIES ARE BEING
REFERRED FOR NEGLECT AGAIN AND AGAIN. – RIGHT! THAT STATE’S
INTERVENTION MIGHT BE GREAT FOR
YOUR AGENCY TO IMPLEMENT, BUT IT ALSO MIGHT NOT. THERE’S MORE WORK TO DO
BEFORE YOU CHOOSE ANY PARTICULAR SOLUTION. – WELL, LET’S IMAGINE
THAT WE LEARN FROM OUR TEAM’S ASSESSMENT
OF THE PROBLEM THAT MOST REPEAT
REFERRALS FOR NEGLECT WERE FOR SINGLE-PARENT,
IMMIGRANT FAMILIES IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE EXPERIENCING
HIGH RATES OF POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS. THIS WOULD BE OUR
TARGET POPULATION. – OK, NOW THAT WE HAVE A BETTER
UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM AND WHO WE INTEND TO TARGET
FOR THE INTERVENTION, THE NEXT STEP IS TO DEVELOP
A THEORY OF CHANGE. – NOW WE ARE IN MY WHEELHOUSE–I
CAN EXPLAIN A THEORY OF CHANGE. ONCE WE UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM,
THE TARGET POPULATION, AND THE NEEDS OF
THE TARGET POPULATION, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ARTICULATE
OUR ASSUMPTIONS. BY “ASSUMPTIONS,” I MEAN
THE SERIES OF ACTIONS THAT WE BELIEVE WILL
RESULT IN OUR DESIRED SHORT- AND
LONG-TERM OUTCOMES. WHAT OUTCOMES DO YOU WANT TO
RESULT FROM YOUR INTERVENTION? – THE OUTCOME WE WANT IS
IMPROVED SAFETY FOR KIDS WHO ARE EXPERIENCING
CHRONIC NEGLECT. IF WE ARE ABLE TO KEEP
THESE CHILDREN SAFE AFTER COMING INTO CONTACT
WITH OUR AGENCY THE FIRST TIME, THEN MY AGENCY MIGHT HAVE A
LOWER RATE OF REPEAT REFERRALS, AND FEWER INVESTIGATIONS. – GREAT. AND WHAT TYPE OF
SERVICES WOULD BE NEEDED IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE
THOSE OUTCOMES? – THESE PARENTS ARE DEALING
WITH SO MANY ISSUES, BUT IF WE FOUND THAT
POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS SEEMED TO BE THE GREATEST
THREAT TO THESE FAMILIES, WE’D PROBABLY NEED TO WORK
WITH OTHER AGENCIES TO MAKE CONCRETE SERVICES
AND RESOURCES MORE ACCESSIBLE, LIKE INCOME SUPPORT
AND STABLE HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT, AND CHILD CARE. – OK. A THEORY OF CHANGE
ARTICULATES OUR IDEAS ABOUT HOW THE INTERVENTION
WILL CHANGE THE OUTCOMES FOR OUR TARGET POPULATION. SO IN YOUR EXAMPLE,
YOU MIGHT SAY THAT IF CASE MANAGEMENT
AND CONCRETE SERVICES ARE MORE ACCESSIBLE TO HELP
IMMIGRANT PARENTS IDENTIFY AND NAVIGATE AVAILABLE
RESOURCES, FIND STABLE HOUSING, AND PAY FOR CHILD CARE,
THEN, CHILDREN’S BASIC NEEDS FOR THINGS LIKE GOOD NUTRITION
AND PREVENTIVE MEDICAL CARE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE MET; MORE CHILDREN WILL HAVE A SAFE
AND SECURE PLACE TO LIVE; AND MORE YOUNG CHILDREN
WILL RECEIVE NECESSARY CARE AND SUPERVISION
WHILE THEIR PARENTS ARE AT WORK OR OUT SEEKING EMPLOYMENT. WHILE MANY FAMILIES CERTAINLY
FACE ADDITIONAL CHALLENGES, LIKE SUBSTANCE ABUSE,
MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, OR POOR PARENTING SKILLS, MEETING THESE CHRONIC NEEDS
MIGHT SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE THE MOST FREQUENT
AND PERVASIVE REASONS IDENTIFIED BY YOUR AGENCY’S
REVIEW OF INVESTIGATIONS AND REFERRALS FOR NEGLECT. BY ADDRESSING THESE
FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES, YOU WOULD EXPECT THE SAFETY
OUTCOMES FOR THIS TARGET POPULATION TO IMPROVE. – RIGHT, AND ONCE YOU HAVE
A STRONG THEORY OF CHANGE, IT WILL HELP TO
NARROW YOUR SEARCH FOR POSSIBLE INTERVENTIONS. THE INTERVENTION MUST
ADDRESS THE PROBLEM AND ALSO BE APPROPRIATE FOR
THE CHARACTERISTICS AND NEEDS OF THE TARGET POPULATION. IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU ALSO
CHOOSE AN INTERVENTION THAT FITS FOR YOUR AGENCY’S
CAPACITY, BUDGET, AND POLITICAL CONTEXT. – YES, THIS PART
REALLY WORRIES ME. IF, AFTER THIS RESEARCH,
I FIND THAT THE COMMISSIONER’S INTERVENTION
ISN’T THE BEST FIT, I THINK IT’S GOING
TO BE VERY DIFFICULT TO CONVINCE HER OTHERWISE. – THAT’S ONE REASON WHY
IDENTIFY AND EXPLORE IS SO HELPFUL. IF WE TAKE THE TIME TO IDENTIFY
THE PROBLEM, UNDERSTAND IT, RESEARCH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS,
AND THEN CHOOSE A GOOD SOLUTION THAT FITS,
WE’LL HAVE A STRONG RATIONALE FOR OUR DECISION TO SHARE
WITH OUR STAKEHOLDERS. WE’LL BE ABLE TO CLEARLY EXPLAIN
WHY A PARTICULAR INTERVENTION MAY OR MAY NOT BE THE BEST
CHOICE TO ADDRESS OUR PROBLEM. – WE’LL HAVE MORE THAN THAT. WE’LL HAVE MADE CHOICES
THAT INCREASE THE CHANCES THAT OUR INTERVENTION
WILL SUCCESSFULLY ADDRESS THE PROBLEM. WE’LL ALSO HAVE
AN IMPORTANT BASIS FOR DESIGNING OUR EVALUATION. WE’LL BE ABLE TO ASK EVALUATION
QUESTIONS THAT GAUGE WHETHER OUR INTERVENTION
IS WORKING AS EXPECTED, AND WHETHER THE ASSUMPTIONS IN
OUR THEORY OF CHANGE ARE TRUE. WE’LL BE IN A BETTER
POSITION TO LEARN. – DO YOU MEAN
THAT IF WE PROVIDE COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT
AND CASE MANAGEMENT, SECURE RESOURCES, AND PROVIDE
CONCRETE SERVICES, BUT OUR RATES OF REFERRAL
AND INVESTIGATIONS OF NEGLECT STILL INCREASE, THEN WE’LL
KNOW THAT OTHER FACTORS THAT WE HAVEN’T CONSIDERED COULD
BE CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEM? – THAT’S CERTAINLY
ONE POSSIBILITY. – BUT WE’RE GETTING A LITTLE
AHEAD OF OURSELVES. – I GET IT.
NEXT VIDEO, RIGHT? – EXACTLY.
IN THE NEXT VIDEO, WE WILL TAKE A STEP FURTHER
INTO THE FRAMEWORK AND DISCUSS “DEVELOP AND TEST,”
AND “COMPARE AND LEARN.”

Daniel Yohans

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