Funded by Casey Family Programs and sponsored by the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors, this 23-month project sought to improve practices by which child welfare agencies and local communities assess child safety and determine what risk factors may lead to their abuse or neglect.
This 200-page report describes the project's process and results.
The project involved teams from six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The teams came from multiple target sites in each state. A small planning team and faculty from across New England guided participants in making iterative changes in seven key areas of practice, ranging from cultural responsiveness to constituent involvement, use of assessment tools, and decision-making.
Roughly 200 participants on 22 teams shared ideas, practices, measures, and documents on a secure website, in monthly conference calls, and at two-day meetings convened every five or six months. Each state bundled complementary practices from its target sites, integrated them with the goals of larger agency initiatives and, ultimately, spread them to offices statewide. Each state began to spread between two and four comprehensive practices based on the improvements made by its teams. Areas of improvement included:
- Engaging families and youth in safety and risk assessments
- Improving safety and risk assessment information gathering and decision-making
- Documenting and communicating about safety and risk assessments and decisions
- Respecting and responding to race, ethnicity and culture
- Engaging and collaborating with community partners
- Identifying and engaging natural support
- Improving administrative protocols and procedures
- Sustaining and spreading the improvement methods learned during the project
About the Breakthrough Series Collaborative Methodology The Breakthrough Series Collaborative was developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and introduced to child welfare as a practice improvement methodology by Casey Family Programs. To learn more about the methodology, read the Breakthrough Series Collaborative overview.