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


– WELCOME TO THE FINAL VIDEO
IN OUR 5-PART SERIES ON THE FRAMEWORK TO DESIGN,
TEST, SPREAD, AND SUSTAIN EFFECTIVE PRACTICE
IN CHILD WELFARE. OUR FIRST 4 VIDEOS DESCRIBED
THE 5 PHASES OF THE FRAMEWORK AND HOW THEY CAN SERVE
AS A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR BUILDING EVIDENCE
AND SPREADING EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE. – WE COVERED A LOT OF GROUND
IN THOSE PREVIOUS DISCUSSIONS, AND IN THIS VIDEO WE’LL
TIE IT ALL TOGETHER. – WE’RE GOING TO LOOK
AT ONE EXAMPLE OF A CHILD WELFARE POLICY
INTERVENTION THAT IS SPREADING, AND CONTINUES TO IMPROVE,
IN LARGE PART BECAUSE IT HAS SUCCESSFULLY CYCLED
THROUGH ALL 5 PHASES DESCRIBED IN THE FRAMEWORK. – WE’VE INVITED A COLLEAGUE
OF OURS TO TALK WITH US ABOUT THE GUARDIANSHIP
ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, OR GAP. JOAN HAS STUDIED
SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP AND HOW GAP BECAME
A NATIONAL PROGRAM WITH 33 STATE
AND TRIBAL PARTICIPANTS. WELCOME, JOAN. – THANK YOU. – I’M GUESSING THAT GAP
HAS REALLY EVOLVED OVER TIME. HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? – WELL, BACK IN 1993, A STATE’S DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN
AND FAMILIES HAD A PROBLEM. THIS STATE HAD EXPERIENCED
ENORMOUS GROWTH IN ITS NUMBER OF KIDS IN FOSTER
CARE THAT WERE BEING CARED FOR BY RELATIVES–LIKE
GRANDPARENTS, AUNTS, AND UNCLES. – THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT COULD
HAVE BEEN A POSITIVE THING. WHY WAS IT A PROBLEM? – WELL, MANY OF THESE CHILDREN WERE ALREADY LIVING
WITH RELATIVES, OFTEN AS PART OF INFORMAL
FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS, BEFORE THEY CAME
TO THE ATTENTION OF THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
AND ENTERED STATE CUSTODY. THESE SO-CALLED
“NON-REMOVAL” CASES DIDN’T QUALIFY FOR
FEDERAL REIMBURSEMENT OF RELATIVES’ COSTS FOR THINGS LIKE FOOD, CLOTHING, SHELTER,
AND TRANSPORTATION. THE STATE WAS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE
FOR THESE SUBSIDIES. IN OTHER STATES AT THAT TIME, ONLY LICENSED RELATIVE
CAREGIVERS WERE ELIGIBLE FOR FULL FOSTER CARE BENEFITS. BUT THIS STATE’S POLICY
REQUIRED THAT ALL RELATIVE CAREGIVERS
BE PAID FULL BENEFITS– THE SAME AS LICENSED
FOSTER PARENTS. BETWEEN THE GROWTH IN KINSHIP
CARE AND THESE SUBSIDY POLICIES, THE STATE SIMPLY COULDN’T
AFFORD TO PROVIDE LONG-TERM FINANCIAL SUPPORT
TO SO MANY RELATIVES, MOST OF WHOM WERE UNLICENSED. – SO, WHAT DID THE STATE DO? – THE STATE ASKED A UNIVERSITY
EVALUATION TEAM TO PARTNER WITH IT
TO EXPLORE WHY RELATIVE CARE WAS INCREASING, AND TO DEVELOP A SUSTAINABLE
KINSHIP CARE PROGRAM THAT THE STATE WOULD
BE ABLE TO AFFORD. – SO, IT SOUNDS LIKE
THE STATE HAD ALREADY IDENTIFIED THE PROBLEM
IT WANTED TO WORK ON WHEN IT BROUGHT IN
AN EVALUATION PARTNER TO HELP EXPLORE IT FURTHER. – EXACTLY. IF THE STATE
HAD CHOSEN A SOLUTION BEFORE IT HAD REALLY
STUDIED THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION PROBABLY WOULD
HAVE MISSED THE DEEPER ISSUES THAT NEEDED TO BE ADDRESSED. – SO, WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? – WELL, EARLY ON, THE EVALUATION
TEAM TRIED TO UNDERSTAND WHY THERE WAS SO MUCH GROWTH IN
THE RELATIVE CARE POPULATION. AS A RESULT OF
LOOKING MORE CLOSELY, IT LINKED THE GROWTH
IN RELATIVE CARE TO THE LACK OF SUBSIDIZED
PERMANENCY OPTIONS FOR KIN AND THE INABILITY OF RELATIVES
TO AFFORD TAKING CARE OF THEIR GRANDCHILDREN, NIECES,
AND NEPHEWS WITHOUT HELP. THE TEAM THEORIZED THAT THIS
LOSS OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT, IF THE CHILDREN
LEFT FOSTER CARE, KEPT TOO MANY KIDS
UNNECESSARILY IN THE SYSTEM. AFTER THE STATE
UNDERSTOOD THE PROBLEM AND STARTED
RESEARCHING SOLUTIONS, ONE OF THE TOUGHEST
QUESTIONS IT FACED WAS HOW TO SUPPORT
RELATIVE CARE FOR CHILDREN, WHILE ALSO TRYING TO PROMOTE
PERMANENCY FOR THESE CHILDREN– TO MOVE THEM
OUT OF FOSTER CARE. – THAT WAS A PROBLEM FOR
MANY STATES BACK THEN. IN THE 1990s, MANY CHILD
WELFARE AGENCIES FELT LIKE THEY ONLY HAD TWO OPTIONS: EITHER REUNIFY CHILDREN
WITH THEIR BIRTH PARENTS, OR KEEP CHILDREN WITH
THEIR EXTENDED FAMILIES, TREATING THIS AS A FORM
OF FAMILY REUNIFICATION. IN EITHER CASE, ALL FOSTER CARE
SUPPORT FROM THE STATE ENDED AT REUNIFICATION AND FAMILIES HAD TO TURN
TO WELFARE FOR ASSISTANCE. – AND, AT THAT TIME, ASKING
MEMBERS OF AN EXTENDED FAMILY TO ADOPT A CHILD DIDN’T
SEEM TO BE AN OPTION EITHER. IN PEOPLE’S MINDS,
ADOPTION WAS SOMETHING THAT NON-RELATIVES DID WITH BABIES. TERMINATING PARENTAL RIGHTS OF
MOTHERS SO THAT GRANDPARENTS COULD BECOME THE “MOMS” AND
“DADS” OF THEIR GRANDCHILDREN RAN AGAINST THE GRAIN
OF WHAT PEOPLE CONSIDERED THE RIGHT THING TO DO. IT TOOK A LONG TIME
FOR ATTITUDES TO CHANGE AND FOR PEOPLE TO RECOGNIZE
ADOPTION AS AN OPTION FOR OLDER KIDS
AS WELL AS FOR RELATIVES. – YOU’RE RIGHT.
AND THIS MEANT THAT A LOT OF CHILDREN IN THIS STATE
WERE IN KINSHIP CARE WITH NO EASY PATH OUT OF
THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM. THE STATE EVENTUALLY
FOUND ITS SOLUTION– IT CREATED A NEW
PROGRAM THAT DELEGATED PARTIAL DECISION-MAKING
AUTHORITY TO RELATIVES IN A GUARDIANSHIP-LIKE
ARRANGEMENT FOR KIDS. THIS SOLUTION CUT
ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS WHILE KEEPING LEGAL CUSTODY
OF CHILDREN WITH THE STATE. THIS HYBRID ARRANGEMENT ALSO
PRESERVED CHILDREN’S ELIGIBILITY FOR FEDERAL FOSTER CARE SUPPORT THAT HELPED TO OFFSET
STATE COSTS. IT TOOK TWO YEARS FOR THE STATE
TO DEVELOP, IMPLEMENT, AND CONDUCT FORMATIVE
TESTS OF THIS PROGRAM, AND EVEN THOUGH IT WAS DEVELOPED
FROM A THEORY OF CHANGE THAT WAS BUILT ON RESEARCH
EVIDENCE, IT WAS A FLOP. – I GUESS I WASN’T
EXPECTING YOU TO SAY THAT. – BUT THAT’S THE IMPORTANT
THING ABOUT DOING EARLY EVALUATION OF
AN INTERVENTION. IN THIS CASE, THE STATE REALLY
DID NEED TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT THE INTERVENTION WORKED
BEFORE INVESTING IN FULL IMPLEMENTATION. THE PROGRAM DIDN’T WORK,
BUT THE STATE AND ITS PARTNERS LEARNED A LOT AND GATHERED
IMPORTANT DATA. – THAT MUST BE WHEN THE STATE
DECIDED TO PURSUE MAKING KINSHIP CARE PLACEMENTS
LEGALLY PERMANENT. – THAT’S RIGHT.
THE STATE DECIDED TO EXPERIMENT WITH TRANSFERRING FULL LEGAL
AUTHORITY TO KINSHIP CAREGIVERS, EITHER THROUGH LEGAL ADOPTION
OR GUARDIANSHIP. FORTUNATELY, IN 1995,
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS ALSO INTERESTED IN TESTING
SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP. IT WANTED TO SEE
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF A CHILD’S CUSTODY
OR LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP WAS TRANSFERRED TO RELATIVES AND
THE CHILD RETAINED ELIGIBILITY FOR FEDERAL SUPPORT THROUGH A
GUARDIANSHIP ASSISTANCE SUBSIDY. THE STATE TOOK ADVANTAGE
OF A SPECIAL “WAIVER” OFFERED BY THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT TO DEVELOP AND TEST A NEW SUBSIDIZED
GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAM, THIS TIME TRANSFERRING
LEGAL CUSTODY FROM THE STATE TO
THE RELATIVE CAREGIVERS. THE STATE HOPED
THE PROGRAM WOULD BE LESS BURDENSOME AND COSTLY
THAN KEEPING CHILDREN IN LONG-TERM FOSTER CARE. – SO, THE STATE WENT THROUGH
ANOTHER ROUND OF DEVELOPMENT AND
FORMATIVE TESTING AND THEN MOVED INTO
THE “COMPARE AND LEARN” PHASE. – OF COURSE, IT WASN’T
CONSCIOUS OF FOLLOWING THE 5 PHASES OF THE FRAMEWORK. BUT THE WAIVER PROVIDED A
PERFECT COMPARISON OPPORTUNITY, BECAUSE THE STATE AND A FEW
OTHERS WERE ABLE TO CONDUCT RIGOROUS EVALUATIONS OF THEIR
GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAMS, TO SEE IF THEY WOULD INCREASE
RATES OF PERMANENCY FOR CHILDREN OVERALL, WITHOUT
ADVERSELY AFFECTING RATES OF REUNIFICATION AND ADOPTION. THEY ALSO HOPED
TO SEE REDUCTIONS IN THE LENGTH OF TIME CHILDREN
AND YOUTH WERE IN FOSTER CARE. AT THE END OF
THE 5-YEAR EVALUATION, RESULTS SUGGESTED
THAT THE STATE’S SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAM
WAS ABLE TO INCREASE PERMANENCY, MAINTAIN REUNIFICATION RATES, AND SAVE THE STATE MILLIONS
AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. – THE COMPARISON VERIFIED
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PROGRAM’S
CORE COMPONENTS AND THE STATE’S
THEORY OF CHANGE. – IN THE SECOND ROUND OF
FEDERAL WAIVER APPLICATIONS, A NUMBER OF STATES
ATTEMPTED TO REPLICATE THE SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP
PROGRAM AND ITS RESULTS. TWO OF THOSE STATES WERE
ABLE TO REFINE THE PROGRAM AND BOOST PERMANENCY
RATES EVEN HIGHER. THIS EVIDENCE MADE
A CONVINCING CASE THAT SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP
COULD ACHIEVE POSITIVE RESULTS AND BE EFFECTIVE WHEN
SPREAD TO OTHER STATES. – IN 2008, THE CONGRESSIONAL
BUDGET OFFICE SCORED THE PROGRAM
AS A COST-SAVER, AND THE FOSTERING
CONNECTIONS ACT ESTABLISHED THE GUARDIANSHIP
ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. AS OF JULY 2013, 30 STATES,
WASHINGTON, D.C., AND TWO TRIBES
HAD BEEN APPROVED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
FOR GAP FUNDING. – IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT
FOR CHILD WELFARE SYSTEMS THAT ARE INTERESTED
IN IMPLEMENTING GAP, IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS TAKING
ANOTHER STATE’S PROGRAM AND STARTING TO PRACTICE IT
IN THE SAME WAY. – AS WE’VE DISCUSSED
IN PREVIOUS VIDEOS, A LOT OF DIFFERENT
FACTORS INFLUENCE WHAT INTERVENTION OR SOLUTION
IS CHOSEN BY AN AGENCY. – FOR EXAMPLE, THE PROGRAM
MODELS THAT HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED AND RIGOROUSLY
TESTED BY STATES PROBABLY WEREN’T DEVELOPED WITH TRIBAL CULTURE
AND CONTEXT IN MIND. A TRIBE (OR ANOTHER STATE
FOR THAT MATTER) MAY NEED TO ADAPT ONE OR MORE
ASPECTS OF THE PROGRAM TO MAKE IT FIT FOR ITS
POPULATION AND SYSTEM. – SO, WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS THAT
SOMETIMES WHEN WE’RE ADAPTING AN EXISTING EVIDENCE-SUPPORTED
PRACTICE, POLICY, OR PROGRAM, WE MAY BE ABLE TO IMPLEMENT IT
WITHOUT MUCH ADAPTATION, BUT SOMETIMES WE MAY NEED
TO MAKE SOME MAJOR CHANGES. – YES, AND IF MAJOR CHANGES
TO A PROVEN MODEL ARE NEEDED, THIS MEANS THAT A STATE OR TRIBE
SHOULD GO THROUGH THE “DEVELOP AND TEST” PHASE
TO DEFINE ITS CORE COMPONENTS AND THEN TO “COMPARE AND LEARN”
TO RIGOROUSLY EVALUATE WHETHER THE ADAPTED PROGRAM
IMPROVES PERMANENCY OUTCOMES IN COMPARISON TO
THE ALTERNATIVE. – AFTER A STATE OR TRIBE HAS
FULLY IMPLEMENTED A PROVEN MODEL AND INTEGRATED IT INTO
ITS ROUTINE PRACTICE, THEN ITS FOCUS SHIFTS TO
MONITORING THE PRACTICE OF SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP
IN THE AGENCY AND IMPROVING ITS IMPLEMENTATION
TO SUSTAIN PERMANENCY OUTCOMES. – THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE
THE STATE IN OUR EXAMPLE CURRENTLY IS WITH GAP. IT ROUTINELY COLLECTS
AND ANALYZES DATA ABOUT ITS SUBSIDIZED
GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAM, USES DATA TO IMPROVE
AGENCY PRACTICES, COMMUNICATES FINDINGS
FROM DATA TO INCREASE AGENCY-WIDE UNDERSTANDING
ABOUT THE POLICY’S EFFECTS, AND INVESTIGATES WHO BENEFITS OR
DOESN’T BENEFIT FROM THE PROGRAM AND UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES. – COINCIDENTALLY, THIS
PROCESS OF COLLECTING AND ROUTINELY REVIEWING
ADMINISTRATIVE AND PROGRAM DATA TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE
AND MONITOR OUTCOMES WAS PROBABLY WHAT THE STATE
WAS DOING BACK IN 1993 WHEN IT IDENTIFIED
SUCH LARGE INCREASES IN ITS RELATIVE CARE
POPULATION OF CHILDREN. AND, THE PROCESS OF CONTINUING TO IMPROVE ON
SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP MAY LEAD IT TO ANOTHER
PROBLEM-SOLVING EFFORT IN THE FUTURE. – THIS STORY REALLY REINFORCES
THE IMPORTANCE OF PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN CHILD WELFARE
ADMINISTRATORS, FUNDERS, AND EVALUATORS. AND IT SHOWED HOW
SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIP AND THE EVOLUTION
OF GAP MIRRORED THE MAJOR STEPS
IN THE FRAMEWORK. EVERY DAY, CHILD WELFARE SYSTEMS
RELY ON PRACTICES, PROGRAMS, AND
POLICIES TO IMPROVE THE SAFETY, PERMANENCY, AND WELL-BEING OF
OUR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES. BUT ALL TOO OFTEN,
WE DON’T KNOW WHETHER AND HOW
THESE INTERVENTIONS ARE REALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE. WE’RE MISSING IMPORTANT
OPPORTUNITIES TO EVALUATE, TO PARTNER, TO LEARN, AND TO
MAKE MORE INFORMED DECISIONS. – THE FRAMEWORK TO DESIGN,
TEST, SPREAD, AND SUSTAIN EFFECTIVE PRACTICE IN
CHILD WELFARE WAS DEVELOPED TO HELP US TAKE
MORE DELIBERATE STEPS TO TACKLE THIS
CHALLENGE TOGETHER.

Daniel Yohans

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