Cross Systems Partnerships
Principle: Cross systems partners – including courts, medical and mental health community, substance abuse and domestic violence and other key agencies – are actively engaged as key partners in ensuring timely and seamless delivery of services to children and families.
Systems of Care
The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides extensive information on systems of care. Many children and youth in the child welfare system and those at risk of abuse and neglect have a variety of physical, mental, social, emotional, educational, and developmental needs. Child welfare professionals have worked with their counterparts in other agencies for years to piece together the services available for these children and youth and their families.
Systems of care are a service delivery approach that builds partnerships to create a broad, integrated process for meeting families' multiple needs. This approach is based on the principles of interagency collaboration; individualized, strengths-based care practices; cultural competence; community-based services; and full participation of families at all levels of the system. A centralized focus of systems of care is building the infrastructure needed to result in positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.
In systems of care, State, county, and local agencies partner with families and communities to address the multiple needs of children and families involved in child welfare and other service systems. At the heart of the effort is a shared set of guiding principles that include interagency collaboration; individualized strengths-based care; cultural competence; child, youth, and family involvement; community-based services; and accountability. These principles are essential elements of any successful system of care. The implementation of these principles reflects the common goals of the agency, community, and family to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families.
Engages child- and family-serving agencies from the public, private, and faith-based sectors.
Individualized strengths-based care
Acknowledges each child’s and family's unique set of strengths and challenges and builds care plans that optimize those strengths while meeting the challenges.
Refers to a defined set of organizational values and principles, as well as behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures that enable systems to work effectively cross-culturally.
Family and youth involvement
Requires mutual respect and meaningful partnership between families and professionals at all levels.
Engaging home, school, and community-based resources as the optimal method for providing care and support to children and families.
Refers to the continual assessment of practice, organizational, and financial outcomes to determine the system of care's effectiveness in meeting the needs of children and families.
Systems of Care Curriculum and Stakeholder Involvement and Interagency Collaboration
The National Resource Center for Organizational Improvement has made available a new comprehensive system of care curriculum for child welfare: Primer Hands On-Child Welfare!
Broadly stated, system of care casework practice assumes a highly individualized case plan and tailored services that build sustainable, wrap-around solutions from the strengths and needs of the family. The new comprehensive curriculum is the result of a collaboration between the Children's Bureau, the NRCOI and the other National Resource Centers in the Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Network, the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at Georgetown University, and the Human Service Collaborative. Primer Hands On-Child Welfare includes the 10 modules listed below, each with PowerPoint slides, handouts, exercises, and case scenarios, as well as additional related materials.
Integrating Systems of Care: Improving Quality of Care for the Most Vulnerable Children and Families
Child Welfare League of America (2006)
Outlines a detailed plan for systems-culture change across systems and identifies steps to implement this service delivery approach at the national, State, and local level.
Collaboration Between System of Care Communities and the Child Welfare System: Creative Ideas for How to Make it Work
Collins & Marshall (2006)
Discusses the benefits that system of care communities can gain by collaborating with the child welfare systems, common barriers to successful collaboration, and examples of effective approaches used by seven system of care communities.
Children's Bureau Demonstration Initiative: Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care
Includes background on the initiative, resources, and descriptions of the grantees.
Systemsofcare.samhsa.gov, a website devoted to providing information about the mental health of children, youth and families. A system of care is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that are organized to meet the challenges of children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Families and youth work in partnership with public and private organizations to design mental health services and supports that are effective, build on the strengths of individuals, and address each person's cultural and linguistic needs.A system of care helps children, youth and families function better at home, in school, in the community and throughout life.
A Closer Look
A Closer Look is a series of short reports that spotlight issues addressed by public child welfare agencies and their partners in implementing systems of care approaches to improve services and outcomes for children and families. These reports draw on the experiences of nine communities participating in the Children's Bureau's Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care demonstration initiative, and summarize their challenges, promising practices, and lessons learned. Each issue of A Closer Look provides information communities nationwide can use in planning, implementing, and evaluating effective child welfare driven systems of care. Each issue is intended as a tool for administrators and policymakers leading system change initiatives.
Additional Information : System of Care Program in Oregon.
System of Care (SOC) is a strength/needs-based (SNB) approach to child welfare practice that seeks safety, permanency and well being for every child involved with child welfare in Oregon. An additional goal is the integration of SNB practice within the broader Department of Human Services reorganization efforts, so that children and their families have access to all departmental resources in order to achieve better outcomes for their lives.
In a 1995 legal settlement agreement, attorneys and child advocates from the Juvenile Rights Project (JRP), an affiliate of the National Center for Youth Law, and Oregon's child welfare system addressed issues facing children in Oregon's foster care system and children at risk of foster care placement. The agreement targeted improvements in quality and effectiveness of the services provided to children. The phase-in process of system reform began during 1995 and was fully implemented statewide in 2003. Although the agreement expired in 2008, DHS child welfare continues to apply the approach.
Within the framework of the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (AFSA), individualized planning for every child and family receiving child protective services is the goal. Each child's case plan has individualized goals related to safety, permanency and well-being that are complementary with ASFA expectations and fit within a set of overarching values. SOC includes the following goals:
- Protect children from being abused or neglected while ensuring attachment to their family and community.
- Design services that build on the strengths of children and families while offering intervention and support for needs.
- Involve as many family supports and community resources as possible and promote a "caring community" for children and families.
- Ensure that the family has a voice in the planning and implementation of services.
- Address system barriers to allow for flexibility so that each plan is tailor-made for children and families.
- Establish a permanent and stable living situation for children as quickly as possible.
SOC has, at its core, best practice related to engaging the family in change as the means to reunification and family preservation. Caseworkers must constantly balance the principles of best practice and the philosophy of engagement with the expectations that exist for parents due to the legal relationship, if there is court involvement. To this end, SOC follows three major principles that include the following:
- Developing the family's capacity for meeting the needs of their child is the most potent factor in changes they are able to make.
- Services facilitate naturally occurring healing aspects of clients lives.
- It is the client, not the caseworker, therapist, or technique that makes a plan works.
Oregon's legislature provides flexible funding for the SOC Program so that workers can develop individualized services to meet the specific needs of children and parents. Each service is uniquely crafted for each family and child and is not limited to existing programs.
|Cross System Partners: Courts:
For the past two years Alabama has been implementing a court project in collaboration with the Administrative Office of Courts. The project has been successful in engaging the court in dialogue toward improving timeliness of permanency through the movement of dependency cases.
The model involves county teams consisting of the local Juvenile Judge, Court staff/clerk, Department attorney and County Child Welfare Supervisor. Each team is brought together with other county teams and trained facilitators to walk through the case flow process for dependency cases, from the point of court/county intake to closure and to identify and strategize around barriers/delays. A county plan for improving the process is then developed by each team and presented to the group. Months down the road, the counties return to discuss how the plan is moving forward to identify successes and some accountability for implementation of the plan. This process has been effective in many counties in building relationships, sharing information and working together to identify and implement solutions that ultimately serve to improve outcomes for children. In an effort to keep this program going Department funding supports this work. State Contact: Marie.Youngpeter@dhr.alabama.gov.
Court Improvement Programs
Resources and information about the federally funded Court Improvement Program (CIP) are available.The highest court of each participating State and territory receives a CIP grant to complete a detailed self-assessment and develop and implement recommendations to improve their court system.
The Bar-Youth Empowerment Project
In January 2008, the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law and Youth at Risk Commission, in partnership with Casey Family Programs and the Eckerd Family Foundation, started the Bar-Youth Empowerment Project. The Bar-Youth Empowerment Project aims to improve outcomes for youth currently in foster care as well as young people who have aged out of care by promoting youth participation in court cases that affect them and offering access to legal counseling and representation to youth in need of specialized legal assistance.
The Project has three primary goals:
1) Every state and territory must provide legal representation to youth in foster care;
2) Youth voices must always be effectively heard in court; and
3) Former foster youth must have access to basic legal advice.
LISTEN TO ME! Empowering Youth and Courts through Increased Youth Participation in Dependency Hearings
This Law Review Note advocates for states to pass laws ensuring that youth receive notice of their hearings and for youth to be afforded the right to attend dependency hearings. It outlines the benefits of youth participation and the reasons most often given for denying youth the opportunity to meaningfully participate. It also offers suggestions to help courts more effectively engage youth and the benefits of doing so.
Seen and Heard: Involving Children in Dependency Court
This article includes an overview of national policies addressing children's participation in court, followed by discussion of the benefits of such participation. It then offers concrete suggestions for reforming practice, policy, and systems to better engage youth in the court process.
Seen and Heard: Involving Children in Dependency Court
This PowerPoint presentation, developed by Andrea Khoury, reflects the information covered in her Child Law Practice article, Seen and Heard: Involving Children in Dependency Court. It includes policies of National Judicial and Bar Associations, information about what is happening around the country related to this issue, a discussion of benefits when youth participate in their court hearings, policy and practice considerations, tips for involving youth in court proceedings, and systemic changes to increase youth participation in court.
Hearing Your Voice: A Guide to Your Dependency Court Case
This publication by the ABA Bar Youth Empowerment Project with Florida's Children First is intended to help youth understand the dependency court system. It answers youth's most common questions about being placed into state care, describes all of the pertinent players, defines key terms and discusses the types of hearings that take place in dependency court.
Additional Resources: Handbooks for Birth Families
For birth parents whose children have entered the foster care system, the intricacies of the foster care and legal systems can be overwhelming. In response to this, some states have created handbooks for birth parents to help guide them through the process. Below are some handbooks that are available on-line:
Alaska: A Handbook for Parents and Guardians in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
Designed for Alaskan parents or guardians who are involved in child abuse and neglect cases, this handbook outlines the court processes involved in these types of cases. Information is provided on the rights and responsibilities of parents, the role of the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS), and different types of hearings and conferences, including: the termination of parental rights hearing; the permanency court hearing; the permanency planning conference at DFYS; the temporary custody court hearing; the pre-trial conference page; the adjudication hearing; the disposition hearing page; and the Family and Children 6 Month Review/Conference. DFYS procedures when involved with a Native child are explained, as well as the roles of social workers and family attorneys in helping children and families. Contact information is provided for local DFYS offices and State offices
California: Dependency Court
California provides two booklets for parents involved in the dependency system: "Juvenile Court Information for Parents (Dependency)" and "The Dependency Court: How it Works." Both are available online.
These resources are from the Florida courts:
A Parent's Guide to Juvenile Dependency Court - booklet
A Family Guide to Dependency Court - video
Hawaii: Guide to Child Welfare Services
The Hawaii Department of Human Services has separate guides for the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu.
Illinois: Substitute Care and Your Child
This handbook from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is available for download in both English and Spanish.
Iowa: Parent's Juvenile Court Handbook
This handbook focuses specifically on court processes. It is designed to help parents understand what is going on with their case, what to expect in the future with hearings, and what their rights and responsibilities are in a "child in need of assistance" case. Also available in Spanish.
Kansas: Children and Family Services Family Handbook
This Handbook was written by Family Partners of the Family Centered Systems of Care – Family Advisory Council in partnership with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, Children and Family Services. Family Partners are birth parents, relative and kinship caregivers, resource and adoptive parents and former youth, who have experience with the Kansas child welfare system.
Michigan: A Parent's Guide to Children's Protective Services
Montana: What Happens Next
This handbook is a guide to the Child and Family Services Division, Child Protective Services.
Nebraska: Guide for Parents: Walking Your Way Through the Nebraska Juvenile Court Child Protection Process
A Parent's Guide to Child Protective Services
Guía para los Padres sobre los Servicios de Protección Infantil
New Mexico: Handbook for Parents and Guardians in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
What parents need to know about the court process and the people helping them with their case.
New York City Administration for Children's Services
The Parents' Handbook: A Guide for Parents with Children in Foster Care
This handbook was written for birth parents who have questions and concerns about foster care; it answers questions in a sensitive and respectful tone. Parents who previously had children in foster care contributed to the writing of the handbook.
New York City: The Survival Guide to the NYC Child Welfare System: A Workbook for Parents by Parents
This workbook was written by parents who have had first hand dealings with the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS), in partnership with lawyers and social workers working in Family Court and its related systems. It explains ACS child welfare processes, the rights of parents, and strategies for working with ACS to ensure children are kept at home, brought back home as fast as possible, or receive the best care and support possible if they cannot be home. Also available in Spanish
Pennsylvania: Allegheny County: A Parent's Handbook
This book approaches a birth parent as a partner in helping to solve problems and improve family life. The handbook provides information about the rights and responsibilities of the birth parents, the child, the agency, and the legal system.
South Dakota: What I Should Know About My Child Living in Foster Care
Basics about child protective services and foster care for birth parents in South Dakota, including information on Indian child welfare.
Tennessee: Clients' Rights: What Happens When A Child and Family Are Involved with DCS?: We Want to Help You Understand
This guide spells out how the DCS process works in Tennessee and describes what happens when DCS gets called.
Vermont: A Guide for Parents with Children in DCF Custody
This guide answers the questions of parents whose children have been placed in the care of the State. It was prepared with the help of families who have been through the process.
Child Protective Services, A Guide to Family Assessment
Designed for parents who have been contacted by child protective services, this guide discusses the definition of child abuse and neglect in Virginia, why someone would make a report of child abuse, what happens after a report is made, and the family assessment process.
Child Protective Services, A Guide to Investigative Procedures
Designed for parents who have been contacted by child protective services in Virginia, this guide discusses child abuse investigative procedures.
Child Protective Services: Appeals and Fair Hearings
This guide explains the right of parents to appeal a finding of child abuse or neglect in Virginia.
Washington: Parent's Guide to Child Protective Services (CPS)
|Cross Systems Partners: Substance Abuse and Child Welfare Programs
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare
This Center is an initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services and jointly funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Children Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN).
The Center develops and implements a comprehensive program of information gathering and dissemination and knowledge development and application and provide technical assistance to promote practice, organizational, and systems change at the local, state, and national levels.
The NCSACW activities include:
- Creating widely recognized expertise on substance abuse, child welfare, tribal, and family judicial systems
- Gathering and developing specialized knowledge to improve collaboration among the substance abuse, child welfare, tribal, and family judicial systems
- Developing web-based and other technological means of collecting and disseminating current knowledge
Child Welfare Information Gateway Resources on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare for Professionals
Designed for child welfare, substance abuse, and other related professionals working with children, youth, and families affected by substance abuse. This section of the Child Welfare Information Gateway provides an overview of the impact of substance abuse on child welfare, resources for families, and information on the following topics: prevention; assessment; casework practice; treatment services; cross-system collaboration; and drugs of particular concern.