Involving communities in child welfare services and programs is a crucial first step in strengthening families. Engaging community members to take leadership roles and contribute to decision-making and program planning is vital to ensuring that child welfare system reform efforts will improve outcomes for the children and families being served. The following resources provide information on engaging communities in systems change and strategies for promoting shared leadership, including State and local examples.
A Guide to Comprehensive Child Welfare Reform
National Urban League Policy Institute (NULPI) (2013)
Explains an effort by NULPI and Casey Family Programs to advocate for comprehensive child welfare reform at the State and Federal levels to create a system that focuses resources on children in foster care and looks to the family and community to secure safe, permanent homes for youth.
Child Welfare Policy Primer: A Guide for Advocates, Policymakers, and Others Interested in Child Welfare Policy Reform (PDF - 511 KB)
State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (2017)
Focuses on child welfare reform across the child welfare system as a whole, including the role community institutions such as schools, doctors, hospitals, churches, youth organizations, and others may play in reform.
Community-Based Family Support: Exemplars With Implementation and Evaluation Strategies (PDF - 1,360 KB)
Casey Family Programs (2016)
Focuses on the need for community-based initiatives, lessons learned regarding design and implementation, and promising evaluation strategies. This brief also includes recommendations around governance, collaboration, decision-making, sustainability, and community engagement.
Community Partnerships for the Protection of Children
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2017)
Describes community partnerships as an effort to change the way communities think about how to protect children and to reform our nation's child welfare system. Uses four key strategies including individualized practice; a neighborhood network; policy, practice, and culture change; and shared decision-making.
The Child and Family Practice Model Packet (PDF - 1,510 KB)
Child & Family Policy Institute of California (2016)
Describes a model being used in California that was developed as part of the Federal Permanency Innovations Initiative, which has formed pathways for partnering with the community in developing and supporting a culturally responsive approach to systems-level change in child welfare.
One Step Back: The Delayed Dream of Community Partnerships (PDF - 1,390 KB)
Child Welfare Watch, 21
Explores community-centered strategies used in New York City neighborhoods and discusses successes, recommendations for improvement, and more.
Community Partnerships for Protecting Children
Iowa Community Partners (2012)
Explores a community-based approach to child welfare in Iowa where partnerships work to develop and implement local programs, services, and policies that positively impact families.
If Not Now, When? A Call to Action for Systematic Child Welfare Reform in Massachusetts (PDF - 1,650 KB)
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Examines the child welfare system in the State of Massachusetts and provides recommendations for change, including a recommended focus on creating an integrated, aligned system that relies on input from communities and families.
Local Leaders Must Lead: Community Leaders Should Think, Plan and Act Collectively to Improve the Long-Term Safety and Success of Children and Their Families
Casey Family Programs (2014)
Explains problems faced in Paintsville, Kentucky, and how working together as a community with the regional manager of the child welfare system brought change.
North Carolina Collaborative for Children, Youth and Families
Provides a forum for collaboration, advocacy, and action among families, family-serving agencies, and community partners that work to develop recommendations for coordination of services and to produce better outcomes for children in the State of North Carolina.
Transforming the Culture of Philadelphia's Child Welfare System: The Power of Community Collaboration to Improve Outcomes for Children
Evans & Lydic (2013)
Social Innovations Journal, 15
Provides an overview of the recent transition of the child welfare system in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, through the Department of Human Services and describes a new way of thinking within child welfare circles that emphasizes a the need to utilize the child’s natural community as a tool to increase provider accountability, decrease costs for services, and improve child welfare outcomes.