Engaging Families in System Reform
Obtaining the perspectives of families by involving them in evaluating child welfare services and programs is a critical first step in identifying how services are affecting families. Empowering families to take leadership roles and contribute to decision-making and program planning is key to ensuring that child welfare system reform efforts will ultimately improve outcomes for the children and families being served. The following resources provide information on engaging families in systems change and strategies for promoting shared leadership, including State and local examples.
Family Involvement in Public Child Welfare Driven Systems of Care
National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (2008)
Reviews challenges and strategies for involving families and discusses what leaders can do to support family-agency partnerships for system transformation.
The Other Side of the Desk: Honoring Diverse Voices and Restoring Effective Practice in Child Welfare and Family Services (PDF - 335 KB)
FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs (2006)
Describes a process for parent engagement that emphasizes mutual understanding about family experiences within the child welfare system, the perspective of child welfare professionals, and the influence of each party on the other. Also outlines the logistics of meetings between family members, child welfare workers, and representatives of public agencies that serve families.
Pathways to Meaningful Shared Leadership
Parents Anonymous® Inc. (2005)
Helps staff within public or private programs and large systems to incorporate shared leadership strategies into their work with families and to assist parents in taking on leadership roles within their communities, schools, social service programs, and other settings.
Effective Methods for Involving Consumers in Planning and Decision-Making: Lessons Learned From the Family Preservation and Family Support (FP/FS) Services Implementation Study
Administration for Children and Families (2001)
Study of effective programs and recommendations for facilitating consumer involvement in planning and decision-making.
Engaging Families as Experts: Collaborative Family Program Development (PDF - 168 KB)
Family Process, 45(2), 2006
Describes 10 steps to engage families in the development and implementation of community-based programs, including a discussion of family contributions to program development and an illustration of a program developed with family engagement.
Family-Centered Community Building (PDF - 380 KB)
National Human Services Assembly (2005)
Explores a process of engaging family members and other stakeholders in sustained collaborative efforts to strengthen and improve conditions for families with children in an identified geographic area.
Family Engagement in Evaluation: Lessons Learned (PDF - 63 KB)
Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health (2004)
Discusses the benefits of family participation in the evaluation of social services, common objections, and lessons learned from including families in program evaluation.
"Nothing About Me": Leading the Way to Collaborative Relationships With Families
O'Connor, Morgenstern, Gibson, & Nakashian
Child Welfare, 84(2), 2005
Discusses an evidence-based, community-driven intervention program for children and families in the child welfare system whose lives have been adversely affected by substance abuse.
Putting Parent Engagement Into Action: A Practical Guide (PDF - 15 KB)
Describes strategies used to involve families in decision-making in community-based and neighborhood programs, as well as within statewide and national systems and organizations.
Resident Engagement and Leadership to Improve Results for Children and Youth, Families and Communities: An International Toolkit (PDF - 6799 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation, Center for the Study of Social Policy &International Initiative for Children, Youth, and Families (2004)
Effective practices in community engagement from initiatives around the world.
Shared Leadership in Action Newsletter
Parents Anonymous® Inc. & the Stuart Foundation
Published from 2002 to 2004, this newsletter provides information and strategies for implementing child welfare system reform through meaningful parent leadership and shared leadership.
Terms of Engagement: Aligning Youth, Adults, and Organizations Toward Social Change (PDF - 86 KB)
Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 12, 2006
Identifies five elements of youth-serving agencies that contribute to successful youth engagement that organizations should consider including in their strategic plans to increase youth involvement at an operational level.
Voices: Families as Partners in System Reform: Summit Report (PDF - 373 KB)
Children's Behavioral Health Summit (2004)
Presents recommendations to improve family partnerships and involvement in five areas: respite care, family center neighborhood-based services, youth transition services, funding policy decisions, and program evaluation.
Who Wants to Know?: Tips for Involving Stakeholders in Your Program Evaluation (PDF - 172 KB)
Lists key questions that need to be asked to better involve stakeholders in program evaluations and discusses strategies for directly involving stakeholders in designing the evaluation.
Youth-Adult Partnerships in Public Action: Principles, Organizational Culture, and Outcomes (PDF - 376 KB)
Zeldin, Petrokubi, & Camino (2008)
Explores principles of youth engagement from the vantage point of youth and adults involved in community organizing and advocacy. The report also explores how organizations create a culture of partnership to sustain those principles over time and the range of positive outcomes that result.
State and local examples
California Child Welfare Services Stakeholder Group
Examines current processes and outcomes of the public child welfare services program in California and determines the desired directions and goals for the program. Members represent a wide variety of interested parties and a culturally diverse population.
Child Welfare Organizing Project
A parent/professional partnership dedicated to public child welfare reform in New York City through increased, meaningful parent involvement in service and policy planning.
Idaho Governor's Task Force on Children at Risk
A nonpartisan, broadly representative organization with concerns related to children at risk in Idaho, dedicated to providing informed recommendations to the Governor regarding child abuse and neglect.
Oregon Child Welfare Advisory Committee
A legislatively mandated committee that counsels the Oregon Department of Human Services on the development and administration of policies, programs, and practices. Members include recipients of assistance or service.
Parent Engagement in State Policy and Planning: A Directory of Opportunities for Parents to Get Involved in State Policy and Planning (PDF - 145 KB)
Rhode Island Kids Count (2004)
An inventory of State agency efforts to involve parents in the design, implementation, evaluation, and oversight of policy and programs that affect children and families in Rhode Island.
Parents as Assets in the Community: How Community Leaders Can Reap Parent Involvement (PDF - 56 KB)
Connecticut Commission on Children (2006)
Lists basic steps agencies can take to foster parent involvement and leadership in the community.