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Category: Permanency

Infants are placed in foster care at a higher rate than children of all other ages. Nationally, infants make up approximately 22% of children entering foster care and, once in care, stay in care longer than older children. Given infants’ sizeable representation in the system, they warrant particular attention as child welfare agencies develop and implement policies and practices. This post summarizes a presentation recently delivered by Fred Wulczyn and Zach Martinez at Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child. The presentation describes from a risk perspective how infants represent a unique sub-population of children involved in the child welfare system. By bringing infants’ particular characteristics and experiences to the fore—e.g., the circumstances under which they come into contact with the child welfare system, their specific risk factors, and their trajectories toward permanency—the findings provide valuable information that can guide state efforts to improve infant well-being. To view the presentation… Read more

In this session, Data Center Director Fred Wulczyn provided a high-level overview of the proposed CFSR 3 measures, discussed the methods for setting national standards, baselines, and targets, and highlighted issues for states to consider as they prepare comments to the Children’s Bureau. Read a recap, view the webinar, and download the slides.... Read more >

In the previous Recipe, we discovered that in my sample county, the largest group of children entering foster care for the first time are infants. Because they are such a large subgroup of entrants, the next thing I really want to know is how long they spend in foster care compared to children who enter at older ages. This will tell us a lot about the extent to which my system’s resources are being devoted to infants. This Recipe will take you about 5 minutes to complete. Question: Does infants’ length of stay in foster care differ from older children’s length of stay? On the All Spells page, select the same geographic area that you analyzed in the previous Recipe. In the Spell overview section, under Admission type, select First Admission. This tells the system to only return spells of children entering foster care for the first time. Moving over to… Read more

This Recipe will show you how to work with “nicknames,” a new feature of the All Spells component of the web tool designed to help you clarify and organize your analyses. This Recipe will take you about 5 minutes to complete. What do nicknames do? Nicknames offer you the option to customize the labels of the comparison groups in your analysis, instead of using the default labels generated by the system. Because they can be tailored to each query, nicknames will help you keep track of your analyses, giving you a quick reference for remembering which of your analyses deal with which groups of children—something that will come in especially handy when you print out the PDF results from multiple queries to share with colleagues. Where does the nickname option appear on the site? You’ll find the Population nickname option in the Define output section of the All Spells page;… Read more

Length or stay is a key indicator of permanency for children in foster care. For the sake of child well-being, we strive to minimize length of stay—to get children out of foster care and into permanent homes as quickly as possible. But length of stay also as a fiscal implication. Foster care is expensive to provide. Many states are exploring ways to reduce foster care expenditures and reinvest savings into preventive and in-home services that decrease the need for out-of-home care. In the previous Recipe, I used the web tool’s Baseline Care Days and Exits Summary to answer the question of whether interventions designed to improve permanency outcomes have their intended effects. In this Recipe, I’ll show you how to use the information produced by that template to set baselines and targets for expenditures as well as outcomes. This Recipe takes about 10 minutes to complete. In addition to the web tool,… Read more

Child welfare systems are constantly implementing new policies and practices as they endeavor to improve outcomes for the children and families they serve. But how do you know if your policy and practice interventions have the effects that you intend? To get to the answer, you must start by establishing your system’s baseline performance on the outcomes that you expect your intervention will improve. In establishing baseline outcomes, you answer to the question, “Based on historical performance, how should I expect my system perform on this outcome if we do not intervene, if business proceeds as usual?” Put differently, baseline outcomes are your “before” outcomes. They provide a reference point on which you expect to improve. In this Recipe I’ll use the web tool’s Baseline Exits and Care Day Summary report to show you how to generate baseline performance on two permanency indicators: (1) proportion of children exiting to permanency… Read more

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