Collaborating for better outcomes
Kids Insight is a non-profit created in collaboration with pioneering behavioral health practitioners, dedicated foundations—and with the help of caseworkers, child welfare systems and therapists around the country.
Today, Outcome Referrals is changing the way behavioral healthcare is delivered by helping solve some of the most prevalent problems that interfere with achieving positive treatment results.
One of the Foundation’s core initiatives is the Child Welfare Strategy Group (CWSG), which provides strategic consulting and technical assistance to child welfare agencies to keep children safe, strengthen the connections between children and their families, and improve children’s long-term success. CWSG helps child welfare agencies, practitioners and policymakers do better by children and families who experience foster care.
The CWSG consultants:
- Provide intensive consulting, coaching and technical assistance so agencies are more effective in helping children heal and recover from maltreatment.
- Develop tools that agencies can use to collect quality data, as well as evaluate and update services and policies.
- Find innovative approaches to helping children and families.
As a private philanthropy based in Baltimore and working across the country, the Foundation make grants that help federal agencies, states, counties, cities and neighborhoods create more innovative, cost-effective responses to the issues that negatively affect children: poverty, unnecessary disconnection from family and communities with limited access to opportunity.
Since 1948, these efforts have translated into more informed policies and practices and yielded positive results for larger numbers of kids and families.
By expanding opportunities for vulnerable children in North Carolina and South Carolina, The Duke Endowment hopes to help them lead successful lives as they mature. The Endowment works through accredited organizations and other select nonprofit groups to help children, who are without the benefit of family support or are at risk of losing such support, reach developmental milestones and prepare for successful transitions to adulthood.
The Endowment supports early intervention, collaborative approaches, and projects that help organizations serve children and their families more effectively. It focuses on advancing evidence-based, nationally recognized practices that promote child well-being.
“We signed on to be the initial site to pilot the TOP tool because we believe it has really great potential to allow us to make better placement plans for the kids in our care, to select providers for our kids more carefully and effectively, and ultimately to allow us to see better outcomes for our kids who have to be in out-of-home care.”
Working with frontline staff, Kids Insight has customized the TOP tool to fit seamlessly into case practice, enabling caseworkers to easily collect feedback from different stakeholders — and then to make better decisions about placement and services. For example, after using TOP, a caseworker learned about a foster parent’s concern regarding violence and depression that had not surfaced during a meeting or visit. She quickly followed up with the foster parent and together they were able to identify and access appropriate services to support the placement. In another TOP case, a child revealed that she had psychotic thoughts, which had been previously unknown to her caregivers or the county — which led to placement in a higher level of care than had been indicated by earlier assessment.
By July 2014, six months after rolling out TOP, nearly all of the Cuyahoga County’s 1,720 children in custody were registered for TOP. Use of the tool has become standard practice across DCFS for key meetings and decision points, including any placement changes and case review meetings. Today, Kids Insight continues to work with Cuyahoga County to promote TOP usage with foster parents and teens.
The Children, Youth and Family Services Division (CYF), has three regional offices and a staff of fifty people who provide direct services to approximately 2,000 children every year.
Under the leadership of Director Jim Drendel, CYF has developed a national reputation as a best-practice site for differential response — serving over 90% of its children at home, with low rates of repeat maltreatment, and leading the state when it comes to keeping kids out of group care placements.
In 2013, Director Drendel learned that TOP could provide additional data on the quality and effectiveness of the services provided to children under the supervision of Larimer County. He approached Kids Insight with three objectives:
- To provide data in support of Larimer County’s Title IV-E Waiver, with the goal of improving child well-being
- To address stakeholder concerns about outcomes for children served at home
- To learn whether children are getting better or worse after child welfare intervention
In June 214, Larimer County rolled out TOP for children ages 6–18 who were entering foster care or being served at home. While Kids Insight provided training, utilization and customer service support, Larimer County’s TOP implementation has been largely self-directed by its capable staff. Today they are using the data to guide conversations during family meetings, as well as with clinicians, foster parents and partners.
Larimer County was the first Kids Insight site to use TOP for children who are served at home, and it’s changing the way we think about how the tool is discussed and used by practitioners. The County plans to start using TOP with parents in 2015 — and is beginning plans to evaluate the effectiveness of TOP for trauma screening.
It is our belief that the better we get at tracking children’s well-being over time, the smarter we will be at identifying children’s needs, matching children’s needs with providers’ strengths, and understanding whether child welfare interventions are improving child well-being.
—Tracey Field, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
“New Tool Measures Well-Being of Kids Served by Child Welfare Systems”