In September of 2018, the Children’s Bureau Administration for Children and Families completed their review of key areas of Washington’s child welfare programs and practice. This is their third review, with prior rounds occurring in 2003 and 2010.
The purpose of the review was to ensure substantial conformity with federal standards, understand what is happening to children and families engaged in child welfare services, and assist in enhancing the agency’s capacity to help achieve positives outcome by identifying strengths and areas needing improvement.
The review entailed analysis of Washington’s data, the Statewide Assessment (SWA), review of 130 cases, and interviews with stakeholders and partners.
The CFSR Final Report 2018 is now available. The agency was found to be in substantial conformity in three of the seven systemic factors (see bold text below under Systemic Factors) and in none of the seven performance outcomes.
Performance Improvement Plan
The agency is working with the Children’s Bureau to develop a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). A proposal is due to our federal partners in May of 2019. As many states have taken several years to negotiate their plans, it is difficult to anticipate when the PIP will be finalized. Once finalized, the agency will have two years to implement the identified improvements. Failure to meet targets may result in a fine of approximately 2.5 million dollars.
The following are the Children’s Bureau’s observations about cross-cutting issues and Washington’s overall performance:
"The Washington CFSR demonstrates that the state’s child welfare system has a number of strengths and challenges that affect positive outcomes for children and families. The CFSR identified several areas of strength in Washington’s child welfare system, including functioning quality assurance (QA) and foster care licensing systems, strong community engagement, coordination of services with federal agencies, and training that meets the needs of licensed foster parents. The Children’s Bureau also observed strong casework practice that ensures children’s educational needs are met and the state’s concerted efforts to place siblings together in foster care when possible.
The CFSR findings indicate that agency caseworkers routinely make face-to-face contact with children subject to child maltreatment reports in a timely manner during the investigation stage of service delivery. High-quality caseworker contacts with children in foster care ensure that important permanency connections and educational needs are routinely met. However, the CFSR findings show that high-quality caseworker contacts with children and parents do not routinely occur during all stages of child welfare service delivery across the state and may be a key driving factor that affects the achievement of safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes. The frequency and quality of caseworker contacts do not routinely meet the needs of parents in foster care and in-home cases and the children receiving in-home services. The quality of caseworker contacts with children and parents drives the casework practice concerns associated with the accuracy and comprehensiveness of risk, safety, and well-being assessments; family engagement; case plan development; and achievement of timely permanency for children in foster care.
The CFSR found that the quality of assessments of risk, safety, and well-being is uneven across the state. In many of the cases reviewed, the underlying risk and safety concerns were not routinely identified or addressed through the provision of appropriate safety services or in safety planning. In the foster care and in-home stages of service delivery, ongoing assessments of well-being did not routinely address the key reasons associated with the agency’s involvement with the family. However, the CFSR found that the use of Family Team Decision Making meetings in some of the foster care cases reviewed appeared to promote comprehensive assessments and ongoing monitoring of service provision.
Both case review findings and stakeholders indicated that the provision of individualized services to meet the needs of parents and children does not routinely occur. Barriers to timely service provision are associated with waitlists for the limited number of providers that can offer critical services such as mental health, substance abuse treatment, transportation, support for parent-child visits, independent living, and dental care for children. Overall, accessing services to address the physical health, including dental needs, of children is a challenge―particularly for in-home cases. In addition, services are not routinely provided to support relatives providing foster care to children.
The achievement of timely permanency for children in the state’s foster care system is a particular concern. The review found that the agency and court did not consistently make concerted efforts to achieve permanency. In many cases, permanency goals of reunification were maintained too long. In some cases, delays in filing timely petitions to terminate parental rights (TPR) were found to be barriers to timely permanency for children. In addition, timely permanency hearings do not routinely occur in all parts of the state. The Children’s Bureau suggests the state conduct further analysis with stakeholders, such as judicial partners, birth parents, and foster and adoptive parents, to determine areas of focus related to improving permanency outcomes to address in the state’s Program Improvement Plan.
While the CFSR findings indicate that the training foster and adoptive parents receive is meeting their needs, stakeholders said that new caseworkers and supervisors require additional training to perform their job duties. Stakeholders identified clinical supervision training as a critical training need for supervisors and said that improvements are underway to strengthen the training requirements for new caseworkers. While staff training alone will not change casework practice, skill-based training for caseworkers and supervisors can support critical workforce development initiatives aimed at achieving positive outcomes for children and families.
The Children’s Bureau encourages the state to leverage its strengths in establishing partnerships with an array of agencies and stakeholders―particularly parents, youth, state judiciary and court personnel, mental health and substance abuse service providers, and field staff as Washington moves forward in its efforts to develop and implement strategies to promote positive outcomes for children and families. The state’s QA system is functioning well and can help the state monitor its progress toward achieving measurable program improvement goals."
Safety Outcome 1: Children Are Protected from Abuse, Neglect - 86%
Item 1. Timeliness of Initiating Investigations
Safety Outcome 2: Children Safely Maintained in their Homes - 64%
Item 2. Services to Family to Protect Child in the Home, Prevent Removal/Re-entry - 68%
Item 3. Risk & Safety Assessment & Management - 65%
Permanency Outcome 1: Children Have Permanency, Stability in their Living Situations - 17%
Item 4. Stability of Placement - 68%
Item 5. Permanency Goal for Child - 60%
Item 6. Achieving Reunification, Guardianship, Adoption or Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangement - 23%
Permanency Outcome 2: Continuity of Family Relationships, Connection is Preserved - 68%
Item 7. Placement w/Siblings - 85%
Item 8. Visiting w/Parents, Siblings in Care - 64%
Item 9. Preserving Connections - 82%
Item 10. Relative Placement - 81%
Item 11. Relationship w/Parents - 67%
Well-Being Outcome 1: Families Have Enhanced Capacity to Provide for Children’s Needs - 47%
Item 12. Needs, Services of Children, Parents, Foster Parents - 50%
Item 13. Child, Family Involvement in Case Planning - 62%
Item 14. Caseworker Visits w/Child - 80%
Item 15. Caseworker Visits w/Parents - 53%
Well-Being Outcome 2: Children Receive Appropriate Services to Meet Educational Needs - 94%
Item 16. Education Needs of Child
Well-Being Outcome 3: Children receive adequate services to meet their physical, mental health needs - 54%
Item 17. Physical Health - 59%
Item 18. Mental/Behavioral Health - 60%
Statewide Information System
Item 19. Statewide Information System
Case Review System
Item 20. Written Case Plan
Item 21. Periodic Reviews
Item 22. Permanency Hearings
Item 23. Termination of Parental Rights
Item 24. Notice of Hearings, Reviews to Caregivers
Quality Assurance System
Item 25. Quality Assurance System
Staff, Provider Training
Item 26. Initial Staff Training
Item 27. Ongoing Staff Training
Item 28. Foster, Adoptive Parent Training
Service Array, Resource Development
Item 29. Array of Services
Item 30. Individualized Services
Agency Responsiveness to the Community
Item 31. State Engagement, Consultation w/Stakeholders
Item 32. Coordination of Services w/Federal Programs
Foster, Adoptive Parent Licensing, Recruitment, Retention
Item 33. Standards Applied Equally
Item 34. Requirements for Criminal Background Checks
Item 35. Diligent Recruitment of Foster, Adoptive Homes
Item 36. Cross-Jurisdictional Resources for Permanent Placements
Child and Family Services Plan Stakeholder Webinar
Thursday, June 6, 2019
6:01 pm | Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco, GMT-07:00)
Play recording (1 hr 14 min)
Recording password: pP3skvkT