Our Latest Work

The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group is involved with multiple states and projects ranging from strengthening child welfare systems to independent consulting arrangements, all with the goal of improving the lives of children and families across the United States.  

Illinois – Child and Family Team Meetings

CWG is supporting the ongoing development of Child and Family Team Meetings in Illinois. We work in partnership with the Department of Children and Family Services and the University of Illinois to strengthen the state’s capacity to have meaningful planning opportunities with families through training and coaching, which includes site visits and work with actual families.
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Los Angeles, CA

Paul Vincent, former Director of CWG, serves as chair of the Katie A. Advisory and Monitoring Panel in Los Angeles County, California. The Katie A. vs. Bonta lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County on July 18, 2002. The suit called for improved services for children and youth currently in foster care, and those at imminent risk of placement into foster care. Federal District Court Judge A. Howard Matz approved the settlement agreement, which calls for systemic improvements in case planning, mental health and supportive services, and use of congregate and shelter care for youth.

On December 2, 2011, Federal District Court Judge A. Howard Matz issued an order approving a proposed settlement of the case. The settlement agreement seeks to accomplish systemic change for a broad array of services to children and youth within the class. Mr. Vincent continues to support implementation of the agreement through regular monitoring of data and other assessment.

Official Report Available Here Read about the long term impact here

South Carolina

The Michelle H. case was filed against then Governor Nikki Haley and Susan Alford, prior Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services. The case centered on a history of South Carolina’s child welfare system’s alleged failure to provide adequate services to ensure child safety and permanency, as well as family preservation. The parties together filed a proposed settlement agreement in June, 2016, which was approved on October 4, 2016. Paul Vincent, Director of the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (CWG) AND Judith Meltzer of the Center for the Study of Social Policy were named as the independent co-monitors. The settlement will remain in place until the state has met and maintained the targeted benchmarks for one year.
Report and review at youthlaw.org Case outline at childrensrights.org Press release at childrensrights.org


A new model for practice and services launched in Pennsylvania with support from the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, and our work continues there.  Under the new model, the goal is for services to be  streamlined and integrated to provide a more unified experience for families whose members are receiving more than one service through DHS.  The model gives families greater input in the services they receive in an effort to strengthen families and maintain the family unit. This is a change from other models where children are often removed from their families.
Read the Program Improvement Guide

Miami-Dade County, FL

CWG consultants will again in 2019 provide Family Engagement/Motivational Interviewing workshop and training to newly hired workers on track to become Child Protective Investigators. The purpose of this two-day training is to support the development of the workers’ skills relative to family engagement and to demonstrate motivational interviewing techniques that strengthen the workers’ abilities to assess safety/risk, build a trust-based relationship with families, and reach safety related solutions for children and their families.

Trainees will learn to identify the stages of change and assess which stage the caregiver is experiencing. The training will demonstrate the advantages of motivational interviewing and teach social workers to incorporate change-talk language, decisional balance, and the working agreement into their practice so they can better engage, assess, intervene and plan with families around safety needs and solutions to meet needs.

Learn More - coming soon!


A sweeping assessment of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) was undertaken by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (CWG) at the request of Governor Eric Holcomb, who asked CWG to:

  • Examine the current performance of the child welfare functions of the agency and compare it  to generally accepted national practice standards and outcome measures
  • Identify prominent strengths and challenges 
  • Produce recommendations for changes in any areas needing improvement  

Assessment activities began in January 2018 around the same time Terry Stigdon, the current Director of DCS, assumed her role. 

Many of the recommendations made by CWG have been implemented or are under exploration as the state works to strengthen its child welfare system.

Statement from Director Terri Stigdon Read the Assessment Documents

Oklahoma Department of Human Services

Consultation is focused on supporting the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Services in its efforts to safely reduce the need for out of home care for children. Specific work includes analysis and interpretation of agency outcome data as a basis for focusing practice, design of leadership approaches for implementation by the agency’s executive team, and strategies for improving rates of attaining safe and timely permanent families for children in foster care.

Learn More - coming soon!

Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Broward County, FL

CWG is working with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, which handles intake and assessment of reports of child abuse and neglect in the County, to direct its efforts more effectively in engaging with families in two high-referral zip code areas. Work focuses on collaboration with community leaders and service providers to address the cultural needs of these communities which are largely communities of color, and to improve individual family engagement and assessment as a basis for safety planning to keep children safely at home or within their extended families.

Philadelphia Department of Health and Human Services

CWG was engaged in 2016 by the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia to evaluate the Improving Outcomes for Children child welfare redesign in the City’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This extensive assessment examined performance in both HHS and ten Community Umbrella Agencies contracted to provide ongoing services to families across the City. Work began in August of 2016 and continued to October 2017. The final report which details the assessment process, findings, and recommendations may be seen here:

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Iowa Department of Human Services

CWG completed a targeted review focused primarily on the intake and child protection assessment functions of the Iowa Department of Human Services. This review was completed in December 2017. An additional assessment was conducted in 2018, which focused on their Family Team Decision Making process.

The final report of the initial review may be seen here:

Read the Report


CWG, upon the request of the governor, conducted a review in 2015 of the Arkansas child welfare system and specifically the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). CWG provided information, report, and guidance to the state.  The review included research into DCFS policy and procedures, agency performance and trend data, internal studies and interviews with approximately 200 DCFS staff and external stakeholders. DCFS staff at all levels were interviewed and external stakeholders consisted of legislators, judges, other state agency representatives, other legal partners, foster and adoptive parents, service providers, former foster youth, advocates and other individuals and groups with an interest in the welfare of children. The input of those individuals was critical to the accurate analysis of the child welfare system. 

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In 2018, CWPPG continued to work with the Child Welfare Quality Assurance Division of the Alabama State Department of Human Resources toward their goal of improving the collaborative work between state staff and county staff, who are responsible for working directly with families and children.  By observing the de-briefing discussions at the conclusion of the QSR and coaching according to the desired outcomes identified in a county's Quality Service Review, CWPPG has provided guidance to the Division's Practice Specialists in partnering with counties and engaging county leaders in creating a long-term vision for their county's success.  CWPPG has recently facilitated discussions in the Division to look toward the future, in terms of readiness to address changes in both technology and the workforce in a way that will enhance their effectiveness.


During the period between 2012 and 2018, CWG assisted the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Qualitative Review Process (QSR).  CWG assisted the State in developing its own QSR protocol, train its QA staff in its use, provide coaching to the review team and introduce the process to the initial review counties.  Periodically, CWG has assisted the system with inter-rater reliability assessments and coaching. 

CWG Senior Associate Cornelius Bird presented Keynote and workshops at the 2018 MITEAM CQI Conference in Lansing.  

2014 Progress Report 2017 Progress Report


Senior Associate Cornelius Bird presented the Keynote address and workshops in December, 2018 at the Virginia Trauma-Informed Family Engagement Conference sponsored by the Virginia Department of Social Services. The Keynote and workshop opportunities featured an historical perspective on family engagement practice changes that have evolved in child welfare over the last 50 years.

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Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Florida

In 2017, CWG completed a Qualitative Service Review of a sample of ChildNet cases to assist the agency in identifying opportunities to strengthen practice and improve child and family outcomes. CWG utilized the coaching process to develop staff abilities, including mentoring and modeling best practices.


The Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services requested an independent study of the Department’s strengths and challenges to inform elected officials, stakeholders and the citizens of Louisiana of the status of child welfare in the state. CWG was asked to conduct the study, which was completed in the fall of 2015. The findings of the review featured information about improved or falling outcome trends in practice, the impact of budgetary restrictions, and the workforce environment.