STATE REVIEW OF COUNTY'S CHILD WELFARE EFFORTS
LOOKS FOR CONSISTENCY IN PRACTICE
CHARLOTTE, NC - Reviewers from North Carolina's Department of Social Services on Thursday announced results from their quarterly review of Mecklenburg County's child welfare practices and identified areas of strengths and areas in need of attention.
Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services (DSS) was found to be in substantial conformity in two out of seven performance outcomes. Reviewers suggested that more consistency throughout practices would result in a higher conformity in future reviews.
The seven outcomes or performance indicators concern safety, permanency and well-being.
The three-day review of 18 randomly selected cases handled by the DSS Youth and Family Services Division (YFS) began on Monday, May 24, and ended Wednesday, May 26. On Thursday morning, reviewers shared the preliminary results of the quarterly Child and Family Services Review.
Preliminary results show strengths in the following areas:
· Assessing educational needs
· Scheduling visitation with family members and siblings
· Finding appropriate and stable placement matches
· Consideration of relatives for placement
· An improvement in case transfer
Areas identified as needing improvement include:
· Case records should reflect meaningful contact
· Documentation of diligent efforts to attempt to contact and access children and families
· Maintain sufficient contact with children and parents during an open case
The random selections of active case records were chosen from the period of July 2003 to December 2003. The process included reviewing 20 screen outs and 18 case records (representing less than 1percent of active case loads) involving interviews with YFS social workers, supervisors, family members and community providers. The 18 case records represented six cases from the Family Intervention unit, six cases from the Permanency Planning unit, and six cases from the Investigation unit.
In 1997, the United States Congress passed the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). This legislation increased accountability for public child welfare systems. Under ASFA, the federal government monitors states around three key outcomes of safety, permanency and well-being. The federal government is expected to return to North Carolina in late 2004 or early 2005 to complete another review. North Carolina's first federal review was in March 2001. Mecklenburg County will participate in all of the state's child welfare reviews conducted by the federal government because it is the state's highest populated urban county.
The next quarterly review is set for August.
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