From 2010 to 2016, HZA provided staff for the central office Child Protective Services (CPS) functions for the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). One of its primary functions was developing changes in policy and procedures for DCFS while also assisting with the implementation of various initiatives. The CPS unit was instrumental in the development, design, and implementation of Arkansas’ Differential Response (DR) program in 2013, which is still operating. The unit also led the job of defining and clarifying definitions of child maltreatment allegations which were subsequently incorporated into DCFS policy and the law. The CPS Unit also coordinated with the State’s training unit and the Crimes Against Children Division of the State Police to help in identifying training needs of field staff who conducted maltreatment investigations and Differential Response assessments.
Foster Care and Adoption Matching Software
HZA developed an ASP.Net web application for use by case workers in finding the most appropriate foster homes for children. The tool uses state and federal standards to measure the degree of match between the characteristics of a child to be placed in foster care and those of available homes in order to identify the best possible match. The agency was so pleased with the result that it requested a similar web-based tool be developed to match children seeking permanency with prospective adoptive homes; both systems are now operating throughout the state.
Quality Assurance Unit
HZA’s Quality Assurance Unit, located within the Division since 1997 and operating to the present, produces periodic outcome and performance reports, both for the Legislature and for the administration; monitors the degree to which various service providers comply with their contracts; conducts studies of issues of particular concern to the Division’s administrators; and performs ad hoc data analyses to respond to queries from both within and without the agency. Most of the analyses utilize the state’s SACWIS data, although the contract monitoring function and some of the special studies supplement those analyses with interviews and case readings.
Service Quality and Practice Improvement Unit
From July 2009 to the present, HZA has been operating the Service Quality and Practice Improvement Unit, a private-public partnership located within the state agency. The unit is responsible for conducting case reviews around the state using a modified version of the federal Child and Family Services Review tool. It produces reports for each of Arkansas’ ten areas and performs activities in conjunction with the periodic Child and Family Services Reviews.
Structured Decision-making Training
For more than two years ending in 2015, HZA was contracted to train every child abuse investigator, caseworker, supervisor and manager on making structured decisions in child welfare. The training covers such topics as identifying imminent danger, identifying the difference between safety and risk, conducting safety assessments that are more than checklists, gathering sufficient information during an investigation to make informed decisions, fostering consistency in decision-making among staff regardless of the views of outside parties and knowing when milestones have been reached which warrant changes in a case plan. Training is based on actual scenarios and due to its positive reception has been repeated to cover virtually all child welfare field staff across the State.
Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation
HZA is responsible for the multi-year process, outcome and cost evaluations of Arkansas’ Title IVE waiver. Arkansas has six initiatives, making for a complex study: Differential Response; Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths; Nurturing Parent Program; Team Decision Making; Targeted Foster Family Recruitment; and Permanency Roundtables. HZA is using a mixed method approach which includes SACWIS data analysis, reviews of case records, interviews, and a parent survey. Both a pre-post and quasi-experimental design is being employed to measure effectiveness. The evaluation covers process, outcome and cost analyses and runs from 2013 to 2018.