Interpreting variation: An essential step between identifying the problem and developing the solution
Variation across subgroups: What subgroups are in my system?
Observing variation: The first step in the CQI process
Recipe: Infants in foster care—Part 3
In Part 1 of this series of Recipes, we learned about a county where infants represent the largest proportion of children entering foster care. In Part 2, we found out that those infants stayed in care longer than children who entered care at older ages. In this Recipe, we’ll use another function of the web tool to learn more about who these infants are and what they experience while in care, and use what we learn to inform our decision making about the type of intervention they might need. This Recipe will take about 10 minutes to complete. Question: What are the demographic and case-related characteristics of the infants in my system? In what ways are the children in my system who enter as infants different from the children who enter care at older ages? Follow the steps in the previous Recipe. On the results page, scroll to the top and… Read more >
Recipe: Infants in foster care—Part 2
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 >
Recipe: Infants in foster care—Part 1
In May 2011, Chapin Hall researchers released a study that used FCDA data to produce an epidemiological and developmental snapshot of infants in foster care. The research showed that infants are a growing proportion of first-time admissions to foster care. It also showed that infants experience foster care differently from children who enter care at older ages. For example, children who enter care as infants spend a longer amount of time in foster care; are more likely to exit to adoption; and are particularly vulnerable to developmental risk factors such as physical neglect, poor health, caregiver substance abuse, and others. Meeting the needs of infants in foster care requires developmentally appropriate interventions delivered in the right dose. This Recipe is the first in a 4-part series that uses the web tool to explore infants’ experience in care and how to target opportunities for improving their outcomes. Here, in Part 1,… Read more >
Recipe: Establishing baseline performance
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 >
Recipe: How are my comparison groups similar and different?
In the previous Recipe, we found that children entering foster care for the first time stayed in care longer than children who re-entered care after a previous spell. Why might that be? This Recipe shows you how to explore demographic and case-related differences between the comparison groups in your length of stay analysis to help you get closer to the answer. Question: In my length of stay analysis, I found that first-time entrants stayed in care longer than re-entrants. Are there differences between these two groups that might account for that? Follow the steps for the length of stay analysis in the previous Recipe. In the upper right hand corner of the output page, click the button labeled Go to Demographic Comparison. On the next screen you’ll see a summary of your comparison groups. Under Report Options, select the variables that you’re interested in. To get a sense of… Read more >
Recipe: First admissions vs. re-entries
As you know, different populations of children don’t always experience foster care in the same way. That’s why it’s so important to stratify your population—to take a measure of the whole group, and then break the results down by those child- and case-related characteristics that might make a difference in the outcome. One of those characteristics is admission type—whether the spell in question is the child’s first spell in foster care, or whether that spell is a re-entry after a prior discharge. Springboarding off my earlier post on length of stay, this Recipe will show you how to break length of stay results down by admission type in order to see whether children entering care for the first time have similar lengths of stay as children returning to care. Question: Do children entering foster care for the first time stay in care as long as children re-entering care? On… Read more >