For 70 years, CWLA’s Standards have played a unique national role in shaping quality child welfare practice. They have been a foundation tool for improving the national child welfare system, guiding policymakers, practitioners, advocates, and the broader public. The Standards are widely accepted as the foundation for sound U.S. child welfare practice, providing goals for the continuing improvement of services to children and their families.
CWLA develops new standards and regularly revises existing standards through a rigorous, inclusive process that challenges child welfare agency representatives and a diverse group of national experts to address both persistent and emerging issues, debate current controversies and concerns, review research findings, and develop a shared vision that reflects the best current theory and practice. The products of this process promote nationwide consistency and standardization of practice. They also serve as a resource for people in other fields who are concerned with the care and protection of children – legislators, judges, attorneys, educators, health and mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, opinion shapers in the media, child advocates, and the general public.
CWLA standards of excellence, and the commitment to quality they represent, are particularly important in an environment where agencies face limited resources and escalating challenges. While the news features tragic stories of missing children and families stressed to the breaking point, agencies can point to the Standards as an example of how things should be done. They can focus on embracing and integrating the best practices described in the Standards. Agencies and other advocates for children and youth can also use the Standards to provide the basis for accreditation and licensing systems nationwide, promoting continuous quality improvement and demonstrating accountability to the public.