The study examines the services available to children and families in the child welfare system. Higher-level staff in 31 organizations in a large, urban Midwestern county were interviewed (84 % response rate). The questions were: (1) what is the organizational context of the services? (2) Who are the clients? (3) What are the interventions provided by the organizations, and who delivers the services? (4) To what extent are the organizations collecting outcome data, and to what extent are they held accountable for outcomes? and (5) What are the interviewees' recommendations for improving the child welfare system in the county? Although a wide variety of services are provided, there were inadequate resources in the community. The organizations are undergoing many changes; although a third had significant losses in the past year, a majority were implementing new programs or expanding existing ones. Their challenges include funding, families with increasingly greater needs, and finding qualified staff. African Americans and Native Americans are overrepresented in the clientele, and other racial/ethnic groups are underrepresented. Drop-out rates are generally quite high. A variety of interventions are used, including both evidence- and non-evidence-based, and fidelity is not monitored closely. Many of the organizations are collecting outcome data, but the quality of these data varies widely, and funding is based on outcomes for only half of them. Frequently mentioned recommendations included improving the practices of Child Protective Services workers' practices, enhancing communication between caseworkers and the organizations and between child welfare and other governmental sectors.
- Child welfare
- Evidence-based practices
- Service delivery
- Service system infrastructure