The pre-planning phase is marked by becoming familiar with all the existing funding streams within your child welfare agency as well as other child-serving agencies within your system of care. By doing a fiscal environmental scan, you can begin to see where there are funds that are not being leveraged to their full capacity or where there might be funding opportunities that are not currently being pursued. Another aspect of the pre-planning phase is to have the key stakeholders become familiar with the various limitations and/or restrictions of various funding streams. Many times you will hear interagency partners reveal that they had no idea that child welfare agencies could or could not do something because of Federal or State guidelines. Many interagency partners base their sense of why things were done certain ways on assumptions about child welfare agencies. By the end of this phase, there should be very little left to assumptions and much of the discussion around finances will be based on fact. This is a big step forward in building trusting working relationships among partners.
Activities, Questions to Consider
Examples of finance pre-planning activities and tasks in your community might be to:
- Establish work groups.
- Does an interagency and family-involved committee meet to address fiscal issues?
- Do contracts and requests for proposals incorporate language that reinforces systems of care principles?
- Assess interagency resources available to support the new fiscal structure.
- Has an analysis been conducted of funds spent on children in out-of-state facilities from your State/county/city/tribal nation with an eye toward bringing those funds back into your State to help build services and supports within your system of care?
- Have all available funding resources been reviewed to secure home and community-based funding for your system of care?
- Have you looked at grant opportunities to enhance your short-term funding opportunities as you reorganize your system to be more home and community based?
- Focus on efficiency and effectiveness in system reform.
- Identify duplication of effort.
- Is there duplication of effort among participating agencies in service provision and training?
- Are non-child welfare activities being done that could be modified to meet child welfare needs? For example, Multi-Systemic Therapy is an evidenced-based practice that may be focused on youth at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system. Broadening the eligibility of that program to youth in child welfare would provide a quality service without having to start another in-home intervention program within the child welfare agency.
The people who perform finance duties in your community might include:
- Interagency finance committee
- Administrative support
- Agency budget office staff
- Chief financial officer
- Governance body
- Make sure each member of your interagency governance team thoroughly understands each other’s funding mechanisms.
- Make sure that your research on possible finance strategies is broad and deep, including current system of care efforts and foundations that have focused on financing and child welfare.
- Look for financial disincentives in current policies that make it more attractive to send children away from the local community rather than serve them locally. Recommend altering those policies so the incentives are now for children to be served locally rather than out of county/State.
- The Child Welfare Information Gateway Website has a number of documents regarding financing strategies for child welfare.
Changes Needed in Federal Child Welfare Law to Better Protect Children and Ensure Them Nurturing Families
Lists Federal and State policy recommendations for financing child welfare services that address issues such as prevention, eligibility requirements, kinship and guardianship care, youth who age out of care, post-permanency, and the workforce.
Child Welfare Finance Reform Principles
Casey Family Programs (2008)
Presents five principles to help guide State and Federal policymakers on the best ways to finance America's child welfare systems.