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Home > Practice Areas > Child Welfare Standards of Excellence > Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

A primary goal of the Child Welfare League of America is to develop and disseminate practice standards as benchmarks for high-quality services that protect children and youth and strengthen families and neighborhoods.

What is the CWLA National Blueprint?

What is the purpose of the CWLA Standards?

Why do we need Standards of Excellence?

What do the CWLA Standards describe?

How are the Standards organized?

Who uses the Standards, and how are they used?

What is the difference between CWLA Standards, accreditation, and licensing?


What is the purpose of the CWLA Standards?
  • To describe and promote best practice in child, youth, and family services

  • To guide agency administrators, program planners, practitioners, and the broader social service community-including policymakers-in their various roles as they seek to build and strengthen services to children, youth, and families.
Additional goals of the Standards:
  • To set the context for effective child welfare work by describing the historical and policy context, mission, philosophy, values, and principles for the field and the service area being addressed.

  • To set the bar-describing what policymakers, communities, agencies, and workers should strive for in providing services to children, youth, and families.

  • To improve service outcomes for children, youth, and their families.

  • To promote consistency and standardization of practice.

  • To create a common understanding among stakeholders and across jurisdictions about what constitutes best practice in child welfare and in each program area.

  • To promote cultural competence principles that focus on the continuous development of understanding and respect for the varied cultures of children, youth, and families and service providers in child welfare,

  • To bring additional resources to the field by making clear what is needed to deliver quality services.
Why do we need Standards of Excellence
  • This is challenging, difficult work. Agencies and staff must be equipped with the best possible guidance and tools.

  • Our efforts need to result in better outcomes for children and families, and we must do no harm.

  • It's a big country with diverse government structures and delivery systems. Standards provide greater consistency and standardization across states and programs.

  • There is an increased focus in human services on accountability-reduced spending, managed care, etc.

  • There is increased focus on quality and accreditation as a means of improving services and meeting funding and contract requirements.

  • The recent federal Child and Family Service Reviews in states across the country have highlighted the need for improvements. States are looking for assistance as they develop and implement their Program Improvement Plans.
What do the CWLA Standards describe?
  • The goals of child welfare services and each discrete service.

  • A definition of each service in terms of its purpose and the children and families for whom it is appropriate.

  • What is considered best for both professional and administrative practice-how agency staff and boards must perform in carrying out each agency's program.

  • Basic assumptions that underlie each service-the values, principles, and knowledge on which it is based.

  • Core elements or components of the service.

  • How the service should be connected with other services.

  • Key worker tasks and activities.

  • The resources, staffing, and organizational supports that must be in place to ensure service quality.
How are the Standards organized?
  • A core volume, CWLA Standards of Excellence for Management and Governance of Child Welfare Services, provides the organizational foundation for the 11 program-specific volumes.

  • The program volumes, in contrast, describe key components of the specific service. Although the volumes describe best practices with specific populations-for example, pregnant and parenting adolescents-they do so in a family, agency, and community context.

  • The organization of the Standards stresses the connectedness of supports and services across informal and formal systems, as well as the strengths of individuals, families, and communities.
Who uses the Standards, and how are they used?
  • Agency administrators, planners, and managers in
    • planning, organizing, and administering services;
    • developing and revising agency policies;
    • orienting staff and board members;
    • conducting preaccreditation self studies'
    • interpreting services to citizens, clients, legislators, and organizations; and
    • advocating for appropriate staffing and funding levels, and to shape policy discussions and initiatives.

  • County, state, and local public officials, legislators, budget officers, and service-planning entities in allocating funds for services.

  • Advocates in their efforts to improve caseloads and services.

  • Attorneys, court monitors, judges, and agency administrators in litigation.

  • Training staff in developing and revising training curricula for worker, supervisor, and managerial training.

  • Social work educators in developing course curriculum and content.

  • Licensing specialists in establishing state and local licensing requirements.

  • Accrediting bodies, such as the Council on Accreditation, as a foundation for their accreditation standards.

  • Federal agencies, such as the General Accounting Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as a basis for evaluating services and developing federal regulations that direct practice nationally and internationally.
What is the difference between CWLA Standards, accreditation, and licensing?
  • CWLA Standards of Excellence
    • Goals for practice-they represent those practices considered to be most desirable in providing services

    • Provide the philosophical and values base for the child welfare field and each child welfare program area

    • Intended to guide agencies in developing and improving services to children and families

    • Identify the core elements of effective child welfare services

    • Provide a tool for determining the extent to which agency performance meets what is generally accepted as best practice

    • Educational-since they are disseminated widely, they inform a large audience about best practice in each service area and in child welfare in general

  • Accreditation Standards
    • A set of requirements describing agency administration, management, and service delivery

    • Much more operational than CWLA Standards, with less scope for diverse practices or approaches

    • Rigorous but realistic descriptions of practice that a competent provider agency should be able to meet

    • Often based on CWLA Standards

    • Establish an evaluative system based on measurable criteria

  • State Licensing
    • Minimum requirements by the state or province to ensure the basic care and protection of children

    • States and provinces exercising their police power to protect children from risk against which they would have little or no capacity for self-care and protection



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