Child Welfare Program Development

Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

Child Welfare Organizational Assessment

 

In 2015 and renewed to 2018, HZA was contracted by Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services to examine concerns it had with maltreatment reporting and assessment, process efficiency and family engagement. The analysis of laws, regulations and polices was used to specify what counts as child maltreatment, define the processes to handle cases and spell out the requirements for getting families involved in case planning. HZA employed interviews and focus groups conducted across the state to gather OCFS staff perspectives about the effectiveness and efficiency of the agency’s efforts. A case record review of a sample of cases was also completed to examine family engagement and determine which policies were being followed. HZA also listened to calls to OCFS’ central intake to obtain first-hand knowledge of how the intake process works. Lastly, HZA analyzed data from the state’s case management system, MACWIS, to measure repeat maltreatment and to determine why reports accepted by central intake were never assessed.

 

Using the findings from the study, HZA worked with OCFS to develop a work plan to implement policy and practice changes which focus on engaging families, such as ensuring fidelity to Maine’s family team meeting model, and, most importantly, changing how maltreatment is defined. HZA was then hired to conduct a workload study and redraft the state’s Intake policy, consistent with federal and state Child Welfare law as well as to provide technical assistance in developing a policy management system.

 

Pennsylvania Office of Children Youth and Families
National Youth in Transition Survey

From 2015 to the present HZA is conducting surveys of all 17-year-old Pennsylvania youth as part of the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) project. Two years after the initial round HZA began the follow-up data collection efforts with those same youth, gauging how their circumstances have changed in the two years since the baseline survey. The task involves locating the youth, interviewing them and entering data into the national database. HZA has met the required federal standards for every data collection period.

 

Iowa Department of Human Services
National Youth in Transition Database

From 2010 to 2016, HZA conducted surveys of all 17-year-old Iowa youth in foster care as part of the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) project. Two years later HZA began the follow-up data collection efforts with those same youth, gauging how their circumstances have changed in the two years since the baseline survey. The task involves locating the youth, interviewing them and entering data into the national database. HZA has met the required federal standards for every data collection period which represents reaching a specified proportion of youth despite the difficulty in finding them.

 

Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services
Child Protective Services Policy Function

From 2010 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.

 

Georgia Department of Human Services
Foster Care Needs Assessment

Required by the Kenny A. settlement decree, this project involved a multidimensional examination of both clients and the resources needed to serve children in out-of-home care in Fulton and DeKalb counties. HZA’s methodology involved both a needs analysis and a gap analysis. HZA designed the data collection instruments, developed a database, collected and analyzed the data and conducted a literature review. The resulting data provided the client with estimates of current and projected need and an identification of both current and projected gaps in resources. HZA furnished software to allow the agency both to identify better matches and to perform ongoing monitoring of the quality of matches available.

 

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Front-end Redesign

The aim of this project was to overcome the delays the agency was experiencing in moving child welfare families from investigation units to the ongoing service units. Over a three-year period, HZA worked with the Department to design and pilot different organizational models. Ultimately, the agency adopted a “paired team” model, in which specialized investigators and specialized ongoing workers reported to the same supervisor.

 

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Roe v. Staples Needs Assessment

HZA conducted this court-ordered needs assessment of child protective services to quantify the need for services to prevent placement and/or to aid in the child’s return home. Examining over 60 types of services, HZA read 1000 cases, interviewed clients in those same cases and conducted an additional 1000 interviews with county child protective caseworkers and private providers involved in those cases. The case reading data were used to document the pre-placement prevention and reunification services that were provided, while the interviews with hundreds of workers and families were conducted to identify unmet needs. While a few services were identified as in short supply, HZA determined the primary reason families failed to receive the services they needed was miscommunication between caseworkers and families.

 

Arizona Department of Human Services
Foster Care Program Redesign

To determine the extent to which children in the Child Welfare Division’s care were living in safe environments, HZA undertook a massive study of over 4,000 child records. The study addressed the Division’s effectiveness in meeting applicable state and federal mandates, the degree to which field staff comply with policies and procedures established for the child welfare program, and the consistency of state practice with nationally accepted “best practice” standards. The principals of the firm later worked with managers and supervisors in Arizona’s system to identify areas of practice change and to develop a uniform case record. They also assisted in redesigning the policy manual to simplify it and make casework practice more uniform.

 

Children’s Rights
Litigation Support

HZA assisted Children’s Rights to analyze SACWIS data and write a report in support of a class action law suit, M.D. V Perry, on behalf of children in permanent custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The law suit claimed that the state had violated the children’s constitutional rights and subjected them to harm. The plaintiffs prevailed in federal district court.