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Improve Outcomes Through CWLA's Benchmarking Project

CWLA's member agencies have asked us to help them improve their outcomes performance. The research on this topic is clear: The way to improve outcomes is through improved employee engagement. Accordingly, CWLA has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin to use their employee engagement survey, the results of which can be used to improve organizational performance--both with positively engaging staff and achieving outcomes.

CWLA is offering the opportunity for both public and private agencies that provide direct services to children and families involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems as part of their client population to participate in this survey. Participating agencies will receive compiled data, allowing for comparisons with the rest of the field, and state-level data will be available with enough participation. The surveys take place each spring and fall. For more detailed information, download the information packet at www.cwla.org/benchmarking/OrgExcellenceinfopacket2011.doc. Project Director Jeff Bormaster (jbormaster@cwla.org) can answer further questions.

For Your Bookshelf

CWLA marked the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with publication of a special issue of Child Welfare on the treaty. The United States and Somalia have yet to ratify the CRC, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1989 and has since become the most universally accepted human rights treaty in history. The articles of the special issue, many of which come from a 20th anniversary conference in 2009, review the CRC's approaches to children's health and mental health, juvenile justice, education, child rights, and other topics, and many make a strong case for U.S. signature and ratification. Full CWLA members are subscribed to Child Welfare as part of membership and should receive a copy in the mail, but to order the issue (item #J895) click here.

Convening with CWLA

On December 8, Child and Family Resources, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona, hosted a convening on Staying Viable: Moving Towards the Future, which fellow CWLA members and other community providers attended. This was one of the first in a series of convenings that will take place across the country. There was a presentation on some of the latest research along with a facilitated discussion by Julie Collins, Director of Practice Excellence at CWLA. For more upcoming events, keep an eye out for the members-only newsletter Member Connect, delivered to your inbox the first and third Tuesday of every month.

CWLA's Cassaundra Rainey and Administration for Children Youth, and Families Commissioner Bryan Samuels with Richard Buery, CEO of The Children's Aid Society (NY), a CWLA founding member.

CWLA, in collaboration with the Philadelphia School System and Department of Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), hosted a forum on Improving Educational Outcomes for Children in the Child Welfare System in Philadelphia on January 31. Public and private providers from both the child welfare and education systems at the state and local levels convened to discuss innovative strategies and challenges discovered while striving to ensure positive educational outcomes for youth in the foster care system. Administration officials, advocates, and foundation representatives were also represented.

Commissioner Bryan Samuels from the HHS Admin-istration on Children, Youth, and Families; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; and CWLA's President and CEO Christine James-Brown each gave welcoming remarks. Anne Marie Ambrose, Commissioner of Philadephia's Department of Human Services; Tomas Hanna, Assistant Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District; Liza M. Rodriguez, Director of Philadelphia's Education Support Center; and Mary Cagle, Children's Legal Services Director at Florida's Department of Children and Families, described their respective roles creating and implementing strategies for systems collaboration. Audience members gave input based on their own situations and experiences. With the identification of promising practices and continued barriers to collaboration, the meeting concluded by discussing action steps, to be shared in a forthcoming summary report.

News From the Hill

CWLA's full Legislative Agenda will be released at the national conference, March 27-30, but as the 112th Con-gress convened and began business in early January, CWLA offered up a legislative wish list for vulnerable children and families. "Children are not a political or partisan issue. They are a national priority. As the new Congress starts, finding ways to work together is imperative to helping vulnerable children succeed," said CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown in a press release. "That's why we present our wish list as a roadmap for the President and Congress to follow that puts children at the forefront. Wise decisions today will have long-term impacts on children, families, and our nation's future." The four items on the wish list are:

  • Continue the momentum for child welfare reform. The 2008 Fostering Connections Act passed two years ago with broad bipartisan support. Strong support for reform remains and is still desperately needed. CWLA urges the President and Congress to use their power to take the next step in reforming the child welfare system.
  • Invest in children. Services and supports for the most vulnerable children face growing pressures both from recent increases in abuse and neglect and state and local budget cuts. CWLA encourages the President and Congress to support strong federal investments in critical child welfare interventions.
  • Implement improvements in children's health services and coverage as enacted in the Affordable Care Act. Children's health will be improved significantly by the advancements enacted last year. CWLA encourages a continued push for implementing the full array of improvements called for in the bill.
  • Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth, a long-overdue means to convene a national discourse on the topic of vulnerable children and make recommendations to improve outcomes. Now is the time to reestablish this conference and put the nation on a path to making children and families a national priority. CWLA encourages the President to give his support and lead this conference.

For more, visit http://bit.ly/legislativewishlist.

To comment on this article, e-mail voice@cwla.org.

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