Name: Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care
Target Population: Children who are victims of, or are at risk of, child abuse and neglect.
Geographical Area: Mecklenburg, Alamance, and Bladen Counties in North Carolina
Summary: Under the grant, three counties will provide services to strengthen families within their own homes and neighborhoods. By collaborating with community agencies, these three counties will build an infrastructure to increase the safety, permanence, and well-being of all children. The county social services staff will hire coordinators who can navigate the complexity of working with such a variety of institutions and families. Families will get more of their needs met within their own homes and neighborhoods.
These counties were chosen because they have already been working with teams as part of a State child welfare reform effort called Multiple Response System (MRS). MRS uses family-centered principles to create a less adversarial relationship between social services and families where children are at risk. Most children in the child welfare system are not there because of physical abuse but because of neglect. In most cases, the parent may only need support, education, and guidance to become a better parent and provide a safe home for his or her child. MRS arranges for individualized, strength- and community-based services to be provided through partnering with families. MRS reform is a system of care in action at the agency level.
One of the strategies named in North Carolina's PIP for addressing the concerns identified through the State's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) was building upon North Carolina's system reform efforts through the application of system of care principles to child welfare practice. The intended effects of SOC principles were to: help prevent repeat maltreatment, ensure individualized services are identified and delivered in a timely way, and ensure that family input is obtained. The combination of these efforts addresses many of the underlying concerns outlined in the initial report resulting from the CFSR. The goals of the Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care grant are the same as those identified in the CFSR. Family-centered practice and system of care principles have been adopted as the foundation for social work practice in the State's Family Support and Child Welfare Services Section.
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