Welcome to the Systems of Care Infrastructure Toolkits—a compilation of practical information designed to help communities plan, build, and sustain systems to improve outcomes for children and families.
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. This five-year initiative, entitled Improving Child Welfare Outcomes through Systems of Care, focused on infrastructure development to strengthen the capacity of human service agencies to 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 approaches
The Systems of Care Infrastructure Toolkits evolved from the experiences of grant communities participating in the Improving Child Welfare Outcomes through Systems of Care demonstration initiative. They were developed as in-depth extension of Improving Child Welfare Outcomes through Systems of Care: Building the Infrastructure—A Guide for Communities. The Guide was developed in response to the grant communities' needs for more elucidation of the various components of a system of care infrastructure.
The toolkits were developed for several reasons. First, it was recognized that the tools and materials can be of use to practitioners and administrators for strengthening infrastructure in many areas beyond their application in a system of care setting. Second, the toolkits draw on the experience of the Children's Bureau grant communities in the hands-on process of implementing infrastructure change, and thus bring the value of recent peer experience. Finally, development of the toolkits was prompted by a desire to make sure that potential users could go directly to the infrastructure component of interest without needing to go through the larger Guide.
Development of the toolkits was overseen by a workgroup composed of family members, community members, youth, systems of care project directors, child welfare caseworkers and supervisors, technical assistance and evaluation experts, and Children's Bureau representatives.
The Systems of Care Infrastructure Toolkits are nine easily navigable guides that address key issues and processes involved in framing an effective system of care infrastructure. Each toolkit discusses related activities, tasks, sustainability, and key partners, and provides an example from the field as well as perspectives from those who have developed and implemented these promising practices (Voices from the Field).
Most of the resources featured in the toolkits were created by the grant communities and can be considered "field tested." However, these resources reflect the specific demographic, political, socioeconomic, and other factors that characterize the demonstration initiative communities. Because every system of care is unique, use the information and resources in the toolkits as a starting point for shaping the development of a system of care infrastructure that meets the specific needs of your community.