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Benefits to the Child Welfare Agency

The Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process was developed in response to section 203 of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) that was signed into law in November 1997. It mandates the development of a set of outcome measures that can be used to assess the performance of States in operating child protection and child welfare programs.

National standards were subsequently developed along with composite scores to show how a state was doing in regards to permanency, well being and safety. Any state whose performance is found to fall short of substantial conformity is given an opportunity to develop and implement a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to improve performance and avoid the withholding of federal funds. Thus far, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have failed to be in substantial conformity with the federal standards established by Health and Human Services. For many states, the ability of the child welfare agency to successfully attain substantial conformity was directly impacted by the performance of the dependency courts. States could encounter substantial financial penalties if they are unable to demonstrate progress in achieving these standards during the next round of reviews.

The data on the FCI website provide child welfare agencies with information that they can use to track their performance and identify needed systemic changes. Child welfare agencies can gain a comprehensive view of their own performance and the measures most impacted by the performance of the dependency courts and begin preparation for the next round of the CFSR reviews. Because the data on the website can be broken out by county and departmental districts, as well as by judicial circuits or districts, the agency can identify policies and practices that appear to be working well within their state and those for which additional dependency court improvement efforts should be targeted. For an additional subscription fee, FCI will also report the measures that make up the second round composite scores, also broken out by county and departmental districts.

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