Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

NRCOI Publishes Child Welfare Practice Model Guide

To help families achieve positive outcomes, child welfare systems throughout the country are strengthening their approaches to practice. Many States choose to do this using a new or renewed child welfare practice model. Simply stated, practice models are the basic principles and approaches that guide an agency’s work and provide a framework for an organization’s overall approach to child welfare work—from vision through outcomes—and the specifics in between.

The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement's Guide for Developing and Implementing Child Welfare Practice Models offers an overall framework for developing, implementing, and/or strengthening a child welfare practice model; cites specific examples from the field; and provides additional information to help child welfare agencies and their partners make informed choices in selecting their approaches to this important work. It provides guidance on developing a practice model, and details steps to take through each stage of implementation, including a discussion of 14 specific implementation drivers. The Guide includes worksheets to help agencies articulate practice model principles, identify frontline practice skills, and assess readiness, and lists resources for ongoing support.

"A practice model really defines how you do business every day; it defines core values that inform how you interact with children and families. It also gives you a common and accepted set of principles and goals as you work with providers and other outside partners." - Cheryl Williams, Foster Care Program Manager, Richmond, Virginia, Department of Social Services

Download the Guide here!

Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

Connect With Us