As a reform strategy, many State and local public child welfare agencies have privatized—contracted with private agencies—some of their services. Some child welfare systems have implemented performance contracting, in which contracted agencies are paid based on their achievements of agreed-to outcomes. The following resources address privatization efforts in the child welfare system, including State and local examples.
National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services
Children's Bureau, University of Kentucky College of Social Work, & Planning and Learning Technologies, Inc. (Pal-Tech)
Provides information on the goals of the Quality Improvement Center (QIC) and the needs assessment performed by the QIC to identify the current state of child welfare and privatization.
Child Welfare Privatization Initiatives Project
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (HHS)
Offers a series of topical papers that draw from the experience of child welfare and other social services programs that have privatized services, and provides insights about factors that should be considered when approaching or improving privatization efforts.
Child Welfare and Privatization: Trends and Considerations
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (2004)
Examines the privatization of child welfare services, including how States use title IV-E waivers.
Dollars and Sense: A Guide to Achieving Adoptions Through Public-Private Contracting (PDF - 763 KB)
The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids (2007)
Provides public and private adoption agency program managers, supervisors, and contract managers with information about how to facilitate the purchase of interjurisdictional adoption services.
How Privatization Thinks
Discusses different analyses used to determine whether privatization is an appropriate option for State and local agencies.
Literature Review on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (PDF - 249 KB)
University of Kentucky College of Social Work & Planning and Learning Technologies, Inc. (2006)
Presents information on how the child welfare field defines privatization, the history of privatization efforts, and why States are exploring this reform and in what capacity. The report highlights lessons learned and recommendations.
Outsourcing the Delivery of Human Services
Issue Notes, 7(12), 2003
Provides an overview of the privatization of publicly funded services and discusses how States and localities can ensure fair and competitive contracting processes, provide equal access to services, and offer outsourcing opportunities to faith- and community-based organizations.
Privatization of Child Welfare Services: Lessons Learned from Experienced States
Flaherty, Collins-Camargo, & Lee
Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 11(1), 2008
Reports lessons learned by public agency administrators, private providers, and community stakeholders regarding public/private partnerships, the necessity for high levels of open communication between partners, and the complexity of establishing contract monitoring and quality assurance systems.
Privatizing Functions of State Government (PDF - 297 KB)
Richardson & Valentine (2005)
Considers ways to optimize the success of privatization efforts and helps States evaluate whether and how a service should be privatized.
Summit on Public/Private Partnership: Partnering to Protect and Strengthen Families in Our Communities (PDF - 977 KB)
National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (2007)
Summarizes presentations and discussions held at the Summit on Public/Private Partnership. Topics addressed include current trends, performance-based contracting, quality improvement and quality assurance, and building trusting relationships within a public/private partnership.
State and local examples
Achieving Desired Outcomes by Privatizing Child Welfare Service Delivery: Lessons Learned Through the Kansas Experience
Ensign & Metzenthin
Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 10(2), 2007
Describes child welfare reform activities that led to the privatization of the child welfare services delivery system in Kansas, and shares lessons to help inform other, similar efforts and introduce performance measurement.
Child Welfare Privatization (PDF - 652 KB)
Arizona Department of Economic Security & McCullough and Associates, Inc. (2005)
Assesses Arizona's readiness to launch a successful privatized case management initiative, and recommends next steps and a framework for decision-makers to use as a technical resource guide.
Community-Based Care White Paper for State Fiscal Year 2005-2006 (PDF - 791 KB)
Vargo, Armstrong, Jordan, Kershaw, Pedraza, & Romney et al. (2006)
Presents the strengths and challenges of the privatization of Florida's child welfare system by examining the organization of lead agencies and their provider networks, the involvement of community members in lead agency governance and resource development, and safety and permanency outcomes and indicators of quality.
Drawing the Line Between Public and Private Responsibility in Child Welfare: The Texas Debate (PDF - 1660 KB)
Center for Public Policy Priorities (2008)
Examines privatized systems in Kansas and Florida, explores the division of public and private responsibilities in child welfare, and makes recommendations for Texas's child welfare system.
Florida's Experiment With Privatizing Child Welfare Services (PDF - 2970 KB)
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (2004)
Describes Florida's plan to privatize child welfare services, summarizes the results of the State's efforts, and suggests strategies for improving the child welfare system such as interagency coordination, community needs assessments, and funding increases.
Improving Outcomes for Children and Families Served by DSHS Children's Administration Through Savings and Reinvestment of Services (PDF - 231 KB)
Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 (2010)
Summarizes workload concerns in Washington State, reviews national child welfare privatization efforts, and recommends a business model to improve how the State tracks contracts with providers.
Privatization of Case Management, Adoption, Family Foster Care and Family Preservation in West Virginia (PDF - 170 KB)
Foster Family-Based Treatment Association (2007)
Describes four privatization models, highlights models used in other States, and suggests guiding principles and outcomes to privatize West Virginia's child welfare services.
States' Efforts in Ongoing Communication between Public and Private Partners (PDF - 121 KB)
National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (2008)
Discusses current structures and strategies States use to promote ongoing communication between public and private agencies.