Transforming child welfare in the 21st Century

 Later this month, a group of child welfare leaders from around the nation will meet in Arlington, Va., to discuss a vision for the 21st Century Child Welfare System. I am very excited to have received an invite to that, as well as a pre-meeting with a smaller, more select group where we will discuss implementing safety science principles in the child welfare field to create a safety culture.

Casey Family Programs, headquartered in Seattle, is hosting the meetings. Casey, founded in 1966, works throughout the county to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live. I have been an active participant in many Casey efforts throughout my career and I appreciate their commitment to improving child welfare.

This is Casey’s third convening of leaders committed to transforming child welfare. Participants include leaders from state and county child protection, public health, and other human services agencies, the US Department of Health and Human Services – Children’s Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal agencies, judges, state legislators and legislative staff, constituent consultants, national advocacy organizations, philanthropy, and other innovators and thought leaders.

Participants are expected to commit to a 21st Century vision for a transformed child welfare system with a public health-based prevention approach.

In the pre-meeting, we will discuss the creation of a Safety Science collaborative. Safety science is an effort to identify the full range of system forces at work when disaster occurs. This has been employed in health care, but also in fields such as aviation and nuclear power. Safety science principles include:

  • Enhanced surveillance (event reporting, accident analysis, safety culture survey)
  • Better communication (teamwork, professionalism, child/family engagement)
  • Reliable systems (bundles, predictive modeling, staffing models)

We also have worked for several years here to create safety culture where values, attitudes, and behaviors support a safe, engaged workforce and reliable service delivery. We are committed to establishing the culture, prioritizing communication and teamwork, taking a non-punitive approach to event reporting, analyzing data to understand behavior and help with decision making, and becoming a learning organization where caseworkers can learn from their mistakes.

These upcoming meetings will not only be a chance to validate the work we are doing, but to learn new ideas from some of the top people in the field. I am grateful to Casey for pulling this all together, and I am honored to have this opportunity. I will keep you updated on what I learn and any new ideas we implement locally. 

by Jane Prendergast

Filed Under: From the Director, News

Tagged: casey family, child abuse, Child Welfare, Children's Services, hamilton county department of job and family services, hamilton county job and family services, moira weir, neglect