Foster Care Reentry and Placement Stability Outcomes:
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Study contributors

Foster Care Reentry and Placement Stability Outcomes: Understanding California’s Performance and Practices to Improve Outcomes The Leadership Symposia on Evidence-Based Practice in Human ServicesJanuary 30, 2009San Diego, California Kathy Lemon Osterling Ph.D., MSWAssistant Professor Amy D’Andrade, Ph.D., MSWAssistant ProfessorAlice M. Hines, Ph.D., MSWDirector & ProfessorSchool of Social WorkSan Jose State University


Study contributors

Study Contributors

CDSS: Linda Hockman, Glenn Freitas, Greg Rose & Linne Stout

CalSWEC: Barrett Johnson, Director Child Welfare In-Service Training Project

SJSU School of Social Work Research Team: Dr. Alice Hines (P.I.), Dr. Kathy Lemon Osterling, Dr. Amy D’Andrade, and graduate research assistants Emily Glickman and Laura Raymond

A special thank you to Barbara Needell and her research team at CSSR for their assistance with interpretation of performance indicator data


Purpose of workshop

Purpose of Workshop

  • To review the literature on factors related to foster care reentry and placement stability and promising practices to address these outcomes.

  • To present information from Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) and System Improvement Plans (SIPs) on practices and policies implemented in states and counties to address these outcomes.

  • To present findings from interviews with counties in California implementing strategies to improve performance on these outcomes, and to identify implementation issues and perceived effectiveness of these strategies.

  • To discuss implications of findings for evidence-based/evidence-informed practice.


Background child and family service review cfsr

Background: Child and Family Service Review (CFSR)

  • First mandated in 1994 in amendments to the Social Security Act which allowed HHS to review states’ child and family services to assess conformity with requirements of Title IV-B and IV-E.

  • Began implementation in 2001

  • Each state review includes:

    • Administrative data on certain performance indicators

    • On-site review of 50 cases in 3 counties

    • If state is out of compliance on any outcome, a Program Improvement Plan is required


Background cfsr assessment of 7 outcomes in 3 domains safety permanency well being

Background: CFSR Assessment of 7 Outcomes in 3 domains (safety, permanency & well-being)

  • Safety Outcome 1: Children are, first and foremost, protected from abuse and Neglect

  • Safety Outcome 2: Children are safely maintained in their homes whenever possible and appropriate

  • Permanency Outcome 1: Children have permanency and stability in their living situations

  • Permanency Outcome 2: The continuity of family relationships and connections is preserved for children

  • Child and Family Well-Being Outcome 1: Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs

  • Child and Family Well-Being Outcome 2: Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs

  • Child and Family Well-Being Outcome 3: Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs


Permanency outcome 1 children have permanency stability in their living situations

Permanency Outcome 1: Children have permanency & stability in their living situations

  • Foster care reentry and placement stability are important performance indicators within permanency outcome 1.


Foster care reentry placement instability are harmful to children s well being

Foster Care Reentry & Placement Instability are Harmful to Children’s Well-being

  • Reentering foster care after reunification suggests that:

    • Improvements in family problems were not sustained after reunification

    • Children and youth are experiencing disruptions in consistent care-giving and the trauma of a second removal

  • Numerous placement changes are associated with:

    • Problems in children’s ability to form relationships

    • Externalizing & internalizing behavior problems

    • Trauma symptoms

    • Academic problems

    • Juvenile justice system (for males)

    • Increased chances of reentering foster care after reunification


Literature review

Literature Review

  • Literature Review Questions:

    • What factors are related to foster care reentry and placement instability?

    • What practices may improve performance on foster care reentry and placement stability outcomes?

  • Process of conducting the literature review included:

    • Structured literature review methods used for searching academic databases and selecting studies

    • Identification of practices through The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC)

  • Criteria for selection of practice in literature review

  • 1) The Scientific Rating Scale developed by the CEBC was used and

  • practices that met criteria for a 1 (well-supported by research evidence), 2

  • (supported by research evidence), or 3 (promising research evidence).

  • 2) For practices identified through the CEBC, the scientific rating scale

  • assigned by CEBC was used. For practices identified in our review, the

  • CEBC scientific rating scale was applied


Study contributors

Literature Review: Factors Related to Foster Care Reentry


Literature review on reentry practices

Literature Review on Reentry Practices

Three types of practices were identified:

1) Assessment & Decision-Making (when child first enters care and at the decision to reunify)

  • Family Reunification Services

    3) Aftercare Services


Literature review on reentry practices assessment decision making

Literature Review on Reentry Practices: Assessment & Decision-Making

  • Team Decision Making (TDM) or Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) Collaborative model of assessment and decision making


Literature review on reentry practices family reunification services

Literature Review on Reentry Practices: Family Reunification Services

Substance abuse (motivational interviewing, contingency management, 12-step support groups, family treatment drug court)

Mental health (trauma recovery focused counseling for child and parent)

Domestic violence (psycho-educational groups for batterers, support & advocacy, specialized counseling)

Parenting (parent-child interaction therapy, psycho-educational curriculums)

Housing assistance


Literature review on reentry practices aftercare services

Literature Review on Reentry Practices: Aftercare Services

  • May include similar services as those offered in family reunification

  • Differential Response may also be utilized as an aftercare strategy


Study contributors

Literature Review: Factors Related to Placement Instability


Literature review on placement stability practices

Literature Review on Placement Stability Practices

Four types of practices were identified

  • Assessment of child’s placement needs and caregiver’s ability to meet those needs

  • Recruitment and outreach to increase the number of available foster parents, or family finding efforts to increase the number of kin caregivers

  • Support and training for foster parent and kin care providers

  • Intensive support and behavioral interventions for youth with who cannot have their needs met in a lower level of care


Literature review on placement stability practices assessment decision making

Literature Review on Placement Stability Practices: Assessment & Decision Making

Team Decision Making (TDM) or Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM)

Standardized assessments of foster parents (Casey Foster Parent Inventory, Foster Parent Attitudes Questionnaire)


Study contributors

No evidence-based practices were identified related to foster parent recruitment, however

There is evidence that foster parents who learn of the need for foster parents from religious organizations remain foster parents for longer periods of time than those who were informed through the media

Literature Review on Placement Stability Practices: Recruitment of Foster Parents


Study contributors

Parent training for foster parents

Neighbor to Neighbor professionalizes the work of foster parents through a salary and benefits, and aims to keep sibling groups together

Court Appointed Special Advocates Trained volunteers who advocate for and mentor foster children and youth

Literature Review on Placement Stability Practices: Support & Training


Literature review on placement stability practices intensive interventions for youth

Literature Review on Placement Stability Practices: Intensive Interventions for Youth

Multidimensional treatment foster care: Intensive support and monitoring for youth and foster parents to maintain youth in a foster family home rather than a higher level of care

Wraparound services: Collaborative model of services with integrated case plans among all service providers with intensive, strength-based services


Community context

Community Context

  • Geographic context: Rural, Urban, Suburban/Mixed, large county, small county, etc.

  • Demographic context: Poverty rate, crime rate, racial/ethnic composition of county, etc.

  • Geographic and demographic contexts influence:

    • The characteristics of families coming into contact with the child welfare system

    • The relative availability of services and resources


Organizational context

Organizational Context

  • Components of organizational context that may influence service effectiveness include:

    • Organizational structure (role specialization, decentralization)

    • Work conditions (e.g. leadership, workload, professional development, compensation, social support)

    • Worker characteristics (demographics & attributes)

    • Worker responses (job satisfaction, burnout/stress, commitment)

    • Contingency factors (environment, technology, size & age)


Main points of literature findings

Main Points of Literature Findings

Placement Stability:

Risk factors

Children with health and/or mental health problems

Non-kin placements

A lack of resources for foster and kin caregivers

Some evidence for:

TDM or FGDM

Standardized assessments of foster parents

Foster parent training

CASAs

Wraparound

Treatment Foster Care

Reentry:

Risk factors

Significant problems Short initial stays in foster care and

more placement change

Some evidence for

TDM or FGDM

Specific FR services

Differential response


Purpose of study

Purpose of Study

What states and counties are attempting to improve performance on reentry and placement stability according to the most recent Program Improvement Plan (PIP) or System Improvement Plan (SIP) documents?

What are the strategies or practices states and counties implemented to improve performance on these outcomes?

Among counties targeting these issues, and improving performance, what issues arose in the implementation of these strategies?

Among these counties, what is the perceived effectiveness of the strategies?


Only ca counties used in this analysis

Only CA Counties Used in this Analysis

Federal definitions of measures for PS and RE changed between R1 and R2

Comparisons can’t be made between time periods due to these differences

CSSR calculates performance of CA and CA counties using the new federal measures back to 1998, so can examine performance over time


Different measure of placement stablity used

Different Measure of Placement Stablity Used

Federal measure groups together children with different amounts of time in care

Can distort understanding of PS

CSSR calculates a measure of PS that counts number of placements for all children in care 1,2,3,4,5,6 years, at that point in time. No grouping together of children with different amounts of time in care.


Study contributors

PS Federal Measure

PS CSSR Measure


Measures are inter related

Measures are Inter-related


County indicator data ps improving

County Indicator Data: PS Improving


County indicator data re improving

County Indicator Data: RE Improving


Pip and sip foster care reentry strategies

Top 4 State Strategies (n=29 states)

Improve assessment processes (34%)

Family conferencing or team decision-making (28%)

After-care services (24%)

Improve data entry and reporting (21%)

Top 4 County Strategies (n=28 counties)

Team decision-making (43%)

Improve assessment processes (39%)

Improve use of available services (32%)

After-care services (25%)

PIP and SIP Foster Care Reentry Strategies


Pip and sip foster care ps strategies

Top 4 State Strategies (n=29 states)

Improve supports for foster parents (79%)

Expand recruitment of foster parents(72%)

Improve assessment/ placement matching (69%)

Provide technical assistance to social workers/other staff (38%)

Top 4 County Strategies (n=19 counties)

Improve supports for foster parents (53%)

Expand recruitment of foster parents(47%)

Conduct research or needs assessments (37%)

Team decision making (32%)

PIP and SIP Foster Care PS Strategies


Methods for interviews sampling procedures

Methods for Interviews: Sampling Procedures

Construction of the sample was based on two criteria:

1) the county targeted placement stability or foster care reentry as an overall improvement goal in their first and/or second System Improvement Plan (SIP)

2) county performance on reentry or placement stability indicated improvement in the prior 10 years

5 counties were identified that experienced improved performance on placement stability

9 counties were identified that experienced improved performance on foster care reentry

In order to increase the sample size, counties that described comprehensive or innovative strategies were also selected (4 for placement stability and 2 for foster care reentry)

Final sample for placement stability: 9 responses (8 telephone interviews and 1 written response)

Final Sample for foster care reentry: 9 responses (2 counties declined)


Methods for interviews data collection data analysis reliability validity

Methods for Interviews: Data Collection, Data Analysis, Reliability & Validity

Data Collection: Semi-structured interview guide

Data Analysis: General analytic approach was to review and categorize responses, identifying any general themes that emerged through an iterative review process

Reliability & Validity: Each co-investigator conducted an in-depth review of one indicator and then reviewed one another’s analyses as a reliability check. Reviews were then discussed and themes clarified


Interview results

Interview Results

  • Foster care reentry:

    • 17 types of practices were identified

  • Placement stability:

    • 14 types of practices were identified

  • Practices were grouped into three categories:

    • Well Utilized Strategies

    • Less Utilized Strategies

    • Strategies used by few Counties with Little Detail on Content or Effectiveness


  • Study contributors

    Team decision-making prior to reunification

    Collaborative case planning between families, service providers and social workers

    After care services

    Contracted services with CBOs to provide services after child welfare case is closed

    Structured Decision Making or Comprehensive Assessment Tool

    Implementation involved training and monitoring of workers in use of tools

    Reentry: Well Utilized Strategies


    Study contributors

    Dependency drug court

    Collaborative and intensive services for parents with a substance abuse problem with increased monitoring through court appearances

    Wraparound

    Contracted services with CBOs to provide collaborative and intensive services to youth & families

    Research and planning

    In-depth analysis of cases that reentered

    Development of collaborative work groups that identified best practice areas

    Reentry: Less Utilized Strategies


    Placement stability well utilized strategies

    Placement Stability: Well Utilized Strategies

    Improving supports to caregivers

    Activities to improve outreach to foster parents and provide training & support

    Increasing successful placements with relatives

    Activities such as Family finding efforts, streamlining process for approval of relative placements

    Team Decision-Making for placement changes

    Collaborative meetings to plan placement changes or identify placement resources


    Placement stability less utilized strategies

    Improve the assessment process

    Various activities to improve assessment of children’s needs and caregiver skills

    Improve/increase caregiver recruitment efforts

    Various activities to build connections with communities and recruit foster parents

    Creation of a centralized placement finding process

    Placement finding activities are centralized with one or two workers, or a new unit

    Placement Stability: Less Utilized Strategies


    Cross indicator analysis of implementation issues

    Cross-indicator Analysis of Implementation Issues

    Common challenges in implementation:

    • Insufficient funding and/or impending budget cuts

    • Organizational culture influences how quickly new practices are adopted

      Common facilitators in implementation:

    • Strong collaboration and/or pre-existing partnerships between service providers

    • Well-planned implementation process


    Cross indicator analysis of effectiveness

    Cross-indicator Analysis of Effectiveness

    • Difficult for respondents to answer questions about effectiveness of the strategy

    • No county had implemented an evaluation plan that had yet provided results on the effectiveness of the strategy

    • Respondents reported examining performance indicator data and tracking changes in the outcomes, but there was not a link to the strategy


    Discussion

    Discussion

    • Counties are simultaneously implementing numerous strategies & their influence on reentry & placement stability is largely unknown

    • Rationale for how the strategy would influence the outcome was not often clear

    • Although the influence of insufficient funding is a significant implementation barrier, the challenges & facilitators in implementation of strategies are not solely budgetary

    • Strategies may influence interrelated indicators in unanticipated ways


    Discussion questions

    Discussion Questions

    Are there other promising practices not discussed yet today that you are aware of that may improve performance on these outcomes?

    What are the most important influences on foster care reentry and placement stability in your county?

    What do you see as the main obstacles to improved performance on these indicators? What are your recommendations to address these challenges


    Recommendations for policy makers administrators

    Recommendations for Policy Makers & Administrators

    • Structures to facilitate collaborative partnerships, such as:

      • Subsidized projects between universities and child welfare agencies to conduct evaluations of strategies on reentry and placement stability outcomes

      • Incorporate SIP strategy evaluations as a CalSWEC funded research project


    Recommendations for training education

    Recommendations for Training & Education

    Training for managers and analysts on logic-model planning processes and program evaluation

    Training on how to identify evidence-based practices


    Recommendations for future research

    Recommendations for Future Research

    Rigorous evaluations of the strategies currently in use on reentry and placement stability outcomes


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