Child Welfare Evaluation

Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services
Maine Enhanced Parenting Program Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation

From 2015 to 2020 HZA is evaluating Maine’s Title IV-E Waiver program which is focused on implementing a Matrix Intensive Outpatient Program model together with the Triple P parenting program to treat drug affected parents whose children are under the age of five and have been removed or are at risk of being removed from home. HZA developed a comprehensive evaluation methodology and protocols to conduct a process, outcome and cost evaluation. To assist with data collection and analysis, the firm’s programmers developed two automated tools, one being used by contracted service providers to track families served and treatments provided to measure fidelity; the second is an automated version of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) for use by casework staff to assess children and families. HZA also uses MACWIS, Maine’s SACWIS to track the outcomes of families in comparison to a matched group not receiving Waiver services. In addition, Medicaid files are being analyzed as part of the cost component of the evaluation.


West Virginia Department of Human Resources, Bureau for Children and Families
Safe at Home Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation

From 2015 to 2020 HZA is evaluating West Virginia’s Title IVE Waiver initiative, Safe at Home West Virginia. BCF serves children who are involved in the juvenile justice system, have been abused or neglected, and/or who have a behavioral health diagnosis. Safe at Home West Virginia is designed to reduce the number of children in congregate care and bring them back to their home communities by working intensively with both the youth and family following the Wrap Around model. The focus is 12 to 17 year old, including those at risk of placement. To measure the success of the program, HZA has developed a rigorous evaluation methodology as well as the qualitative and quantitative data collection tools. HZA is using data from FACTS, West Virginia’s SACWIS, to track client cohorts and measure the outcomes the agency in achieving. The firm created matched historical comparison groups using propensity score matching to ensure group comparability. Then, using prospective (entry cohort) analysis, each treatment and comparison group member is followed to determine whether the youth was returned from an out-of-state placement, moved from a congregate care setting to a foster home, returned home or was abused or neglected, among other outcomes. HZA uses statistical tests to determine whether the outcomes achieved for the treatment group are significantly different than those of the matched historical comparison group.


Arkansas Department of Human Services
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.


Executive Board of the Nebraska Legislative Council
Follow-up Evaluation of Child Welfare Privatization

In 2014 the Nebraska State Legislature specifically sought out HZA to conduct an assessment of the State’s child welfare privatization initiative. This assessment was a follow-up to an initial study conducted in 2012 by HZA and a partner agency, the Center for the Support of Families. The goal of the initial study was to evaluate DHHS and the Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC) to determine which agency, if either, was better suited to handle case management services in the state. The follow-up assessment aimed to answer a more fundamental question: Does privatization work in Nebraska? Specifically, are the outcomes better for children and families and are the costs of privatization more or less than if the State assumed all responsibility? To conduct this assessment, HZA compared DHHS and NFC on four domains of child welfare case management: compliance with laws and policy, family engagement, outcomes and cost. Ultimately, HZA concluded that the outcomes achieved for children and families by NFC were no better or worse than those produced by DHHS. When one did well, so did the other and vice versa. That is because each agency operates under the same policy requirements and budget, leaving little room for variation.


West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
Evaluation of Jacob’s Law Implementation

In 2011, HZA was contracted to evaluate the effectiveness of House Bill 4164, commonly known as “Jacob’s Law.” The intent of the legislation is to reduce the number of moves from one foster care setting to another of children four to ten years of age, as well as of their siblings. That outcome is to be achieved through the use of timely assessments, enhanced specialized foster homes and emergency interventions when a placement is about to disrupt. HZA’s report indicated that the statute was not having the intended effect, in part because of difficulties in recruiting enhanced specialized home


Connecticut Governor’s Task Force on Justice for Abused Children
Statewide Assessment of Systems and Services Pertaining to the Sexual and Physical Abuse of Children

The purpose of this statewide assessment, conducted in 2009, was to determine whether children and the families of children who have been sexually or seriously physically abused have prompt access to comprehensive, specialized and culturally competent services, regardless of where they live. The Governor’s Task Force also wanted to ensure that the investigation and treatment process minimized the trauma experienced by the child and his or her family. Through case record reviews, analysis of administrative datasets, interviews with multi-disciplinary team members and community stakeholders as well as surveys, HZA examined four factors: system administration, capacity and evaluation; specialized investigative practices and services, including specialized forensic interviews and medical evaluations; victim support and advocacy; and mental health treatment. HZA recommended that the State clarify the difference in the functions of Child Advocacy Centers and Multi-disciplinary Teams, establish minimum performance standards for MDTs and ensure the statewide availability of extended forensic evaluations.


Oklahoma House of Representatives
Performance Audit of the Department of Human Services

This 2009 project focused primarily, although not exclusively, on child welfare services within the Department of Human Services. It involved assessing the outcomes DHS achieved for its clients; evaluating how well policies and programs were implemented; evaluating the supply, training and retention of foster care providers; assessing the department’s organizational structure and management and controls; and evaluating its personnel policies, staff training, retention and turnover. The Oklahoma Legislature passed 25 of HZA’s 26 policy recommendations into law, including several dealing with the way children were brought into foster care. Within several months, the previously overcrowded shelters in Oklahoma City and Tulsa were operating well below capacity, as HZA intended.


Oregon Department of Human Services
Focus 90s Initiative Evaluation

HZA performed a comprehensive evaluation of a broad-based reform initiative of the Children’s Services Division which was designed to make the Division more family-focused in its approach to clients while preserving the safety, permanency and well-being of children. The triangulated evaluation found increased satisfaction among clients and community partners as well as improved client outcomes.


South Carolina Department of Social Services
Evaluation of Child Protective Services Program

HZA conducted an evaluation of South Carolina’s child protective and preventive services programs, identifying the programs’ strengths and weaknesses with a special emphasis placed on evaluating the risk assessment system, the “Model for Casework Practice.”