The Data Center’s Accountability Framework is a methodologically-sound performance measurement system that provides stakeholders with valid and reliable evidence about the performance of their child welfare system. Although its relevance is not limited to states operating under a consent decree, the Accountability Framework does provide the credible evidence needed to document improvements in their systems performance.
The key components of the Data Center’s approach to accountability are:
- Rigorous use of longitudinal data to understand all aspects of the child welfare system, including but not limited to families, children, workers, foster parents, and private agencies.
- Close examination of variation in performance across time and geographic areas.
- Support for the development of a coherent Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) framework, including a strategic case review process.
These components are organized around these four core domains of system measurement:
- How have outcomes for children in foster care changed over time?
- How well do child welfare staff align their work to required processes?
- How has the quality of care for children in foster care changed over time?
- How has the child welfare system’s capacity for out-of-home care (i.e., number of beds) changed over time?
Learn more about how the Data Center puts the Accountability Framework to work in the field:
The Tennessee Accountability Center
The independent Tennessee Accountability Center, housed at the Center for State Child Welfare Data at Chapin Hall, was established under the terms of the Settlement Agreement in the Brian A. vs. Haslam class action lawsuit. The mission of the Tennessee Accountability Center (AC) is two-fold. First, the AC will provide evidence needed by stakeholders to understand what happens to children when they are placed in foster care in Tennessee. In turn, stakeholders will understand how the Department of Children’s Services’ efforts to serve children can be reinforced. Second, the AC, through its work with the Department, will strengthen the systems the Department uses to monitor its performance going forward, beyond the 18-month term of the AC.
Initially, the AC was charged with issuing three public reports on the Department’s maintenance of program, policy and practice improvements achieved under the Settlement Agreement. The focus of each of the first three reports was negotiated by the parties to the Brian A. lawsuit, and each report was organized around the outcome, process, quality, and capacity measures needed to make informed judgments about whether the Department was fulfilling its mandates. The first report was published on December 12, 2017, the second report was published on May 31, 2018, and the third report was published on December 19, 2018.
The AC’s collaboration with the Department has continued since the publication of the third report and the closure of the Brian A. lawsuit, with an agreement to issue four additional reports over two years—two “targeted” reports focused on areas of interest to the Department and the AC, and two “comprehensive” reports including the most critical measures of outcomes, process, quality, and capacity included in earlier AC reports. Report 4—the first of the targeted reports—is focused on the growing population of foster children in Tennessee in recent years and unpacking the reasons for it. Each report is posted below.
Download the fourth Tennessee Accountability Center report HERE.
Download the third Tennessee Accountability Center report HERE.
Download the second Tennessee Accountability Center report HERE.
Download the first Tennessee Accountability Center report HERE.