In 2001, the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) implemented the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) to increase states' accountability. The CFSR uses states' data profiles and statewide assessments, as well as interviews and an on-site case review, to measure state performance on 14 outcomes and systemic factors, including child well-being and the provision of caseworker training. The CFSR also requires progress on a program improvement plan (PIP); otherwise ACF may apply financial penalties. This report examines (1) ACF's and the states' experiences preparing for and conducting the statewide assessments and on-site reviews; (2) ACF's and the states' experiences developing, funding, and implementing items in PIPs; and (3) any additional efforts that ACF has taken beyond the CFSR to help ensure that all states meet federal goals related to children's safety, permanency, and well-being.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Health and Human Services||1. To ensure that ACF uses the best available data in measuring state performance, the Secretary of HHS should expand the use of additional data states may provide in their statewide assessments and consider alternative data sources when available, such as longitudinal data that track children's placements over time, before making final CFSR determinations.|
|Department of Health and Human Services||2. In addition, to ensure that ACF regional offices and states fully understand the PIP development, approval, and monitoring processes, and that regional offices fully understand ACF's prioritization of the CFSR as the primary mechanism for child welfare oversight, the Secretary of HHS should take the following two actions: (1) issue clarifying guidance on the PIP process and evaluate states' and regional offices' adherence to this instruction and (2) provide guidance to regional offices explaining how to better integrate the many training and technical assistance activities for which they are responsible, such as participation in state planning meetings and the provision of counsel to states on various topics, with their new CFSR responsibilities.|