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Highlights

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 testimony is based on our April 2004 report and addresses (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 improve state performance. For the April 2004 report, we surveyed all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding their experiences throughout the CFSR process, visited 5 states to obtain first-hand information, and conducted a content analysis of all 31 available PIPs as of January 1, 2004. We also interviewed HHS officials--including those in all 10 regional offices--and key child welfare experts.

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