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North Carolina’s Multiple Response System and the Role of the GAL. North Carolina Division of Social Services Child Welfare Services Section Charisse S. Johnson, Chief R. Patrick Betancourt, Policy Program Administrator. Learning Objectives . Understand the definition and history of MRS

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north carolina s multiple response system and the role of the gal

North Carolina’s Multiple Response System and the Role of the GAL

North Carolina Division of Social Services

Child Welfare Services Section

Charisse S. Johnson, Chief

R. Patrick Betancourt, Policy Program Administrator

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the definition and history of MRS
  • Be able to discuss and explain Family Centered Practice
  • Receive answers to MRS FAQs
  • How can the GAL support D.S.S. locally
  • Understand the commitment of D.S.S. and the GAL to achieve better outcomes for children and families
what is mrs what does it all mean
What is MRS? What does it all mean?
  • Comprehensive system reform
  • Practice model defined by Family Centered Practice (6 Principles of Partnership & 6 System of Care Values)
  • Framework of seven strategies to deliver Family Centered Practice throughout child welfare
mrs schematic
MRS Schematic

Everyone Desires Respect

Everyone Needs to be Heard

Work First & Child Welfare Collaboration

Strengths Based Structured Intake

Use of Shared Parenting Meetings during Out of Home Placements

The Safety, Permanence, and Well-Being of Children and the Self-Sufficiency of Their Families

Family or Investigative Assessment Approach to CPS Reports

Use of Child & Family Team Meetings during In-Home Services

Law Enforcement & CPS Collaboration

Everyone has Strengths

Re-Design of CPS In-Home Services

Partnership is a Process

Judgments can Wait

Partners Share Power

what is mrs cont d
What is MRS? (cont’d.)
  • Collaboration among various agencies to ease the burdens of families
  • Making processes and services more transparent, fluid, and seamless for families
  • Holding perpetrators of more egregious acts of abuse accountable for their actions
  • Family engagement

Top 10 FAQs About MRS

…because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know

1 why the change
1. Why the change?
  • Logical step following systemic initiatives
  • Feedback from Federal quality assurance reviews (2001 and 2007)
  • “One size does not fit all”
  • More effective and efficient use of D.S.S. resources to serve families
  • Improve consistency across all 100 counties
  • Child welfare had become “incident focused”
2 what are possible outcomes of family centered practice
2. What are possible outcomes of Family Centered Practice?
  • Effective, efficient, and relevant family engagement in problem solving
  • Families and children are more likely to disclose needs and challenges
  • Child welfare is solution vs. incident focused
  • Families are more likely to follow through with service plans they help develop
  • Communities and families begin to come together to help solve crises
3 what about child safety
3. What about child safety?
  • Child safety will always be the top priority for child welfare workers
  • D.S.S. retains all statutory authority to intervene in families’ lives when needed
  • Court access is not diminished
  • Safety can be enhanced by more open and honest discussions; mistrust breeds dishonesty
4 how do we know that children will be kept safe
4. How do we know that children will be kept safe?
  • “MRS has not adversely affected the level of child safety based on official records of child maltreatment and substantiations.” (June 2006, Duke University)
  • “FAR (Family Assessment Response) families continue to have fewer subsequent child maltreatment reports.” (November 2006, Institute of Applied Research)
5 which type of cases can be family assessments
5. Which type of cases can be Family Assessments?
  • Reports of child dependency or neglect (N.C.G.S. § 7B-101) except for “special” neglect reports
  • Most appropriate for families struggling with issues of child supervision; educational neglect; inappropriate discipline; unmet basic needs; substance abuse
  • Child safety must not be jeopardized by Family Assessment approach
6 can family assessments still end up in court
6. Can Family Assessments still end up in court?
  • D.S.S. maintains responsibility to follow all laws and mandates outlined in NC General Statute and Administrative Code
  • The court maintains exclusive, original jurisdiction over all cases of child abuse, neglect, and dependency under N.C.G.S. § 7B-200
  • This authority may be invoked by D.S.S. if needed and is not diminished by FA cases
7 are fewer cases coming to court are cases more severe what is impact on court
7. Are fewer cases coming to court? Are cases more severe? What is impact on court?
  • The full impact of MRS on the court system is not be known but evaluation continues
  • Optimal outcome is better engaged families and only more serious cases come to court
  • Docket is free to focus on families unwilling to be engaged
  • Permanency may be achieved more timely as families begin to recognize their strength or their limitations
8 is d s s just being nicer to families
8. Is D.S.S. just being “nicer” to families?
  • Family Centered vs. Family Friendly
  • Accountability
  • All resources available prior to Family Centered Practice remain available
  • Improved coordination with law enforcement to hold abusers more accountable
  • The process is more transparent and engages families more to insure child safety
9 what are cft meetings and can gal participate
9. What are CFT Meetings and can GAL participate?
  • A type of team decision making designed to engage families and community supports
  • Addresses the families strengths and needs to achieve safety, permanence, and well-being
  • Intended to follow and evolve with the family throughout the child welfare case
  • Ultimately, the family decides who may attend this meeting but families are challenged to include ALL supports
10 can the gal participate in shared parenting meetings
10. Can the GAL participate in Shared Parenting meetings?
  • Meetings (face-to-face preferred) between the social worker, the birth family and the foster family / care provider
  • Designed for birth families and substitute care providers to share information about the best care for the child
  • Foster family / care providers can become a support for birth families
  • Plans are made about visitation, appointments, transportation, etc.
bonus faq has mrs caused fewer positive case findings
Bonus FAQ…Has MRS caused fewer positive case findings?
  • Nationally, the number of children maltreated declined between FY 2006 and 2007
  • With MRS neglect or dependency cases that were once “substantiated” may have different findings now
  • States using an MRS-like model have seen a decrease in number of children with positive findings
vision of mrs
Vision of MRS
  • Shift in both philosophy and practice of how D.S.S. interacts with families
  • Improving child welfare practice along the entire continuum of services (from prevention through permanence)
  • More engaged families providing safer and more stable homes for children
  • Communities collaborating to shoulder the burden of child and family welfare
parallel process
Parallel Process
  • Workers and volunteers need to be engaged, respected, and recognized for their expertise just as families should be
  • Communities and the courts should support and hold workers and volunteers accountable as they do with families
  • Respect must exist on all levels in order for partnerships to flourish
gal support overview
GAL Support Overview
  • Recognize and utilize the expertise of families to determine how to help meet their needs
  • Communication between GAL and D.S.S. is critical and can constantly be improved
  • Recognize that families may never be perfect, safe and stable may be enough
  • Adhere to local court rules to move cases expeditiously
community support overview
Community Support Overview
  • Support families in crisis by making their needs known to D.S.S.
  • Help to hold families accountable by being honest and open about their challenges
  • Collaborate with community agencies and decision makers to bring prevention services to families in need
  • Keep meetings and discussions about families transparent (services with, not to families)

Questions? or (919) 334-1086 or (919) 334-1104