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Child and Family Services Review (CFSR)

Getting Ready for the Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR)

On site at CFSA: June 27 - July 1, 2016

CFSA and Partners:

In June 2016, District child welfare will have our third federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). Throughout the first half of CY2016, the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) is taking the lead in preparing, which will culminate in the review scheduled for June 27-July 1. We want to let you know the review is coming, provide some background, and ask for help from some of you, which will be critical to our success.

What is this review?

As the primary administrator of federal funding for child welfare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is mandated by law to conduct periodic reviews of child welfare systems in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Jurisdictions must comply with federal requirements and standards in order to continue receiving federal funds. The CFSR rates child welfare performance against seven national standards and seven systemic factors.

What should we expect?

The review will focus on a random sample of 65 child welfare cases (40 out-of-home cases, 20 in-home cases, and five family assessments) open at any time between April 2015 and June 2016. We’ll know which cases are in the sample by the end of April. CFSA’s Office of Planning, Policy & Program Support (OPPPS) has already begun to guide the local child-serving community in preparing for the review. That will include seeking assistance from some social workers and others.

Social workers, if your case is selected as part of the sample, you will need to do the following.

  • Prepare the hardcopy and electronic (FACES) case files. Ensure all pertinent documentation about the child and family is present in the case record, along with evidence of ongoing safety assessments and safety plans (written and verbal). You’ll need to complete this case preparation in May. The CFSA OPPPS CFSR team will provide detailed guidance to help you.
  • Notify families (birth and foster) that they may be tapped for interviews as part of the review. The CFSA OPPPS CFSR team will provide guidelines to help you describe the interviews to families.
  • Ensure families are on site at CFSA for their review (last week of June). Provide transportation for them if necessary. (In some circumstances, reviewers may meet with families in their homes.)

Local reviewers include 45 individuals from CFSA and stakeholder organizations who will serve on two-person teams with federal representatives to review cases in the random sample. Local reviewers, you know who you are because CFSA has already notified you. Thank you for agreeing to participate. Please plan on a time commitment of two days for training (June 15-16, 2016) and five days for the review (June 27-July 1, 2016).

Professionals, such as attorneys, counselors, and other providers, involved in cases in the random sample may also be interviewed as part of the review.  If the ACF reviewers want to talk to you, you’ll receive a request in advance for an interview during the week of June 27-July 1.

What’s in it for us?

While District child welfare is mandated to have this review, the CFSR gives us some significant opportunities.

  • Showcase our capability. Federal oversight authorities are important stakeholders for us. It’s in our best interest to demonstrate our best performance.
  • Find out how we’re performing on a national scale. The District has been pursuing serious child welfare reform for 14 years. Your hard work is part of that drive for excellence. This review will provide insights into how well we’re performing compared to other jurisdictions.
  • Keep all our federal funding. The better we do on the CFSR, the less risk the District faces of having to pay a penalty. Federal penalties are expensive and would come out of funding we need to serve children and families.

With all this at stake, it’s essential that we take the review seriously and participate to our advantage.

Are we poised to do well?

CFSA made the District proud on the last CFSR. We met all seven systemic factors and were performing in the top half on all national measures of positive outcomes for child welfare clients. With your support, there’s no reason why we can’t do equally well—or better—on this review.

For a quick overview, take a look at the attached fact sheet. For more information, feel free to contact Bev-Freda Jackson, program manager, CFSA Office of Planning, Policy & Program Support, [email protected] or 202-724-7320. We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to a positive review.