In 2004, the big news in the child welfare field has been the completion of and findings from the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR). No child welfare agency passed this federal audit. Each state must now develop and implement a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to improve its performance or face loss of federal funds in the next cycle of reviews.
The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) focuses on family preservation, reunification, and fatherhood. These are also essential components of the federal standards in the CFSR. The following is a brief summary of findings from the CFSR:
- Six states met the federal standard to maintain children in their own homes whenever possible.
- Nineteen states met the standard to achieve reunification within 12 months of out-of-home placement.
- Twenty-one states met the standard to prevent re-entry of children into foster care following reunification.
- One state (New Mexico) met all three standards.
- Three states (New Mexico, Delaware, Nevada) met both the standard for reunifying children with their families and the standard for preventing re-entry into foster care.
- Very few states are involving parents, especially fathers, in case planning.
As may be inferred from these findings, child welfare agencies are addressing these issues in their Program Improvement Plans. About half of the states with completed PIPs are planning to use assessment instruments to aid in reunifying families and preventing re-entry into foster care. Over a dozen states plan to actively seek out fathers and involve them in the case plan and in their children’s lives.
How is NFPN addressing the critical issues facing child welfare agencies and providers of services for families? In 2004 NFPN:
- Revamped the Web site (www.nfpn.org) to make it easier to find and use—all of NFPN’s resources are described on the Web site.
- Sent information to every state child welfare agency regarding NFPN’s resources for family preservation, reunification, and fatherhood.
- Distributed nationwide 30 self-contained training packages of family assessment instruments for preserving and reunifying families.
- Provided 6 training and informational workshops on the assessment instruments.
- Distributed training packages on fatherhood nationwide including to three child welfare agencies that plan to do statewide training.
- Presented 10 workshops or trainings on fatherhood.
- Continued work on the grant-funded project at two child welfare agencies to motivate and equip social workers to engage and involve fathers in their children’s lives.
- Assisted in rewriting Idaho’s child welfare manual.
- Provided information and technical assistance to child welfare agencies and service providers on how to improve their systems in the areas of family preservation and reunification.
- Assisted child welfare agencies and service providers in Australia and Canada with incorporating assessment tools into their practice.
Our passion and plan is to be the strongest voice for family preservation, reunification, and fatherhood in the child welfare system. NFPN would be pleased to provide assistance to you and your agency. Let us know how we can help! Please contact Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-498-9047.
The next NFPN News Notes will describe new programs and projects that NFPN is undertaking to serve the child welfare system. Watch for it in January 2005!
Thank you for your service to children and families and for your support of NFPN.