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.
Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative, Center for States
Provides publications, webinars, and learning experiences on building the capacity to increase family empowerment at all levels of child welfare and to infuse family voice at the practice, program, and policy levels.
The Family Impact Rationale: An Evidence Base for the Family Impact Lens (PDF - 3,320 KB)
Bogenschneider, Little, Ooms, Benning, & Cadigan (2012)
Family Impact Institute
Examines the use of the family impact lens to prioritize families as worthy of study, investment, partnership, and political action in policy and program development.
Parent Organizing as a Strategy for Sustainable Policy Change (PDF - 3,910 KB)
Sanchez & White (2011)
Making the Link, 6
Examines how parents can impact policy through social change strategies and evaluates parent involvement, parent engagement, and parent organizing as three ways to involve parents in key budget and policy decisions.
Stakeholder Engagement: Tools for Action (PDF - 1,630 KB)
Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (2013)
Explores how to implement stakeholder engagement objectives in strategic planning. Although intended for the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, this toolkit can be adapted for use nationwide in child welfare systems and other organizations working to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for engaging and sustaining the input of internal and external stakeholders.
Strategies to Increase Birth Parent Engagement, Partnership, and Leadership in the Child Welfare System: A Review (PDF - 438 KB)
Casey Family Programs (2012)
Explores barriers and proactive strategies to engaging birth parents with child welfare services and referrals for services, developing connections between birth and foster parents, utilizing birth parents as agency partners, and drawing on birth parent experience in an advisory capacity at the organizational level.
California Parent Leadership Team
Presents informational videos on a parent team organized to improve California prevention and treatment polices, programs, and systems to ensure better outcomes. Members have experience with family-serving systems and have successfully advocated, implemented, and evaluated programs and guided practice strategies, policy, and systems change.
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.
EPIC Ohana, Inc.
Gives information on EPIC (Effective Planning and Innovative Communication) in the State of Hawaii, which works to strengthen ohana and enhance the welfare of children and youth through transformative processes that are respectful, collaborative, and solution oriented.
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.
NC Works to Engage, Consult, and Respond to Families on a Systematic Level
North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program (2016)
Describes the creation of North Carolina's Child Welfare Family Advisory Council, which helps guide policy and practice to provide ongoing consultation around child welfare goals in the State.
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.
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.
Iowa Department of Human Services (2017)
Describes the State of Iowa's Parent Partners program, in which parents collaborate with social workers and providers to meet the needs of families, assist in policy and program development, change perceptions in communities, and facilitate trainings and learning opportunities.