"...the essence of community is a cognitive and emotional attitude towards others that shapes behavior toward them... the enduring need for communitarian ways of thinking are rooted in human necessity. To both survive and thrive, we need to trust one another." (Boyes-Watson, 2005, p. 372)
Each of the systems of care principles has individual importance and relational value. Together, they are building blocks that form the infrastructure upon which each community's individualized system of care is built. The keystone to that infrastructure and the system of care itself is a community-based approach. This principle secures the others and allows the infrastructure to stand. Realizing that youth thrive in the context of their homes and communities, child welfare agencies and their partners can support a common or integrated case plan that is culturally appropriate, engages and involves the youth and family, is built upon the strengths of that family, and draws upon the assets of the community.
If services and supports are provided outside the youth's community, the engagement of other persons, agencies, and entities necessary to fulfill other systems of care principles is more challenging. Much of the success of child welfare and partner interventions depends on the community's ability to maintain the support and momentum once the family meets its goals and the public agencies formally withdraw. Thus, maintaining children or youth with their family or in their community with a relevant continuum of services and supports is an essential platform on which all systems of care principles are operationalized and goals met.
Table of Contents
- Elements of a Community-based Approach
- Defining Community-based Approaches
- Community-based Approaches in Child Welfare Driven Systems of Care
- Challenges and Strategies in Following a Community-based Approach
- Implications for Administrators and Stakeholders
- Demonstration Sites and References
Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care
In 2003, the Children's Bureau funded nine demonstration grants to test the efficacy of a system of care approach to improving outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system and to address policy, practice, and cross-system collaboration issues raised by the Child and Family Services Reviews. Specifically, this approach is designed to improve the capacity of human service agencies to strengthen and support families involved in public child welfare through a set of six guiding principles:
- Interagency collaboration;
- Individualized strengths-based care;
- Cultural and linguistic competence;
- Child, youth, and family involvement;
- Community-based services, and;
A Closer Look is a series of short reports that spotlight issues addressed by public child welfare agencies and their partners in implementing systems of care approaches to improve services and outcomes for the children and families they serve. These reports draw on the experiences of nine communities participating in the Children's Bureau's Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care demonstration initiative, and summarize their challenges, promising practices, and lessons learned. The reports provide information communities nationwide can use in planning, implementing, and evaluating effective child welfare driven systems of care.
* The National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center wishes to thank the following family leaders and agency practitioners for their contributions to the development of this resource: Patrick Melius, Sharri Black, and Maryrose McCarthy. back