On March 20, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau released Technical Bulletin #7, which announced the third round of Child and Family Services Reviews. The announcement was proceeded by Technical Bulletin #6, released on Feb. 4, 2013, instructing states to “…disregard any projected years for Round Three Child Family Service Reports listed in previous documents or guidance that we provided.”
North Carolina is in the first year of the review schedule for the Children’s Bureau, accordingly was reviewed in 2015. The previous review rounds for North Carolina were conducted in 2001 and 2007. The Children’s Bureau has consistently provided technical assistance to the state since the issuance of Technical Bulletin #7.
The third round of the report addressed some of the concerns and criticisms expressed following the completion of the first two rounds of reviews. Since the report process has been significantly modified, comparisons between rounds is not a valid performance measurement. The Children’s Bureau communicates the various aspects and updates of the report process at https://training.cfsrportal.org
The report’s purpose is to:
- Ensure conformity with federal child welfare requirements
- Determine what is actually happening to children and families as they are engaged in child welfare services
- Assist states in enhancing their capacity to help children and families achieve positive outcomes
North Carolina was approved for the option to conduct “state led reviews” using the federally developed case review instrument and protocol known as the On-Site Review Instrument. This option was requested in close partnership with 10 counties where capacity to learn the necessary protocols to implement the in review instrument by county staff. These 10 counties are Buncombe, Craven, Cumberland, Durham, Hoke, Mecklenburg, Pitt, Scotland, Wake and Wilson. The commitment from these county directors included the on-going use of the review instrument at the same volume of cases or greater.
The attached Program Improvement Plan was developed in close partnership with the Children’s Bureau. The plan’s goals and strategies are designed to be achieved within the prescribed two year period, which began Jan. 1, 2017. The goals and strategies are designed to address the findings articulated in the North Carolina 2015 Child and Family Services Review Final Report.
As the provision of Child Welfare Services is an extremely complex set of programs, services and administrative requirements, no single assessment of the complex functioning could be complete. Although highly informative, the report does not address all performance aspects, and improvements that need to be made to reach the desirable state of affairs, whereby all children grow up in safe, stable nurturing families and communities. The limitations of the report have been recognized by the Children’s Bureau through the issuance of the Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-12-07 regarding establishing and maintaining continuous quality improvement systems in state child welfare agencies. In furthering the assessment of the North Carolina Child Welfare system, the General Assembly commissioned an independent study of the Child Protective Services system in 2015. The evaluator, Public Consulting Group, released their findings March 1, 2016.