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National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care.
Individualized, Strengths-Based Approaches in a Child Welfare Driven System of Care
An individualized, strengths-based approach to working with families embodies important principles of child welfare practice promoted by the Children's Bureau Child and Family Services Review process. The Child and Family Services Reviews were designed to support key practice principles, including tailoring interventions to meet the specific needs of children and families; offering children and families opportunities to provide input into the identification of their strengths, needs, and goals; and promoting parents' strengths by emphasizing partnership with service providers. These principles are designed to support improved outcomes for children and families.
The Child and Family Services Review process also focuses on two other systems of care principles that are closely related to individualized, strengths-based approaches: family involvement and cultural competency. An individualized, strengths-based approach depends on collaboration between the service provider and client, in which individuals and families are viewed as equal partners in the change process. (See also A Closer Look: Family Involvement in Public Child Welfare Driven Systems of Care). Cultural competency is a prerequisite for implementing an individualized, strengths-based approach because individuals from different cultural backgrounds may hold different values and make different judgments about how strengths are defined and the types of interactions that communicate respect. Issues of culture, gender, age, religious background, and class are addressed in individualized, strengths-based case plans.
"[Individualized, strengths-based practice] was another thing that we had to get used to. But we've come a long way. Everything from doing risk assessments to our plans with the families. We really try to focus on and try to pull any little strength out that we can and work on it."
- Child Welfare Supervisor