System-Centered Principles

 The following system-centered principles complement the Shared Principles for Child Welfare Fiscal, Policy, and Practice Alignment of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, the American Public Human Services Association, and the National Organization of the State Associations for Children.

System-Centered Principles Principles

6. Public systems effectively promote and improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families. System effectiveness is increased when guided by standards that set expectations for the quality of services, supports, and experiences. The ultimate measure of any system’s effectiveness is achievement of established child and family outcomes for safety, permanency, and well-being.

7. Responsive systems of care deliver appropriate, integrated, comprehensive, home- and community-based services and supports. These systems are resourced to respond to the underlying and presenting needs of children and families through evidence-informed screening, assessment and treatment.

Systems are equipped to assess and address the stressors that correlate to higher levels of risk, which include, but are not limited to: childhood trauma, behavioral health challenges, substance use, family violence, community violence, high poverty, and housing instability.

8. Multiple sectors work together to achieve outcomes within a strengths-based, multi-disciplinary framework. Achieving safety, permanency, and well-being is not the Child Welfare System’s responsibility alone. An effective child welfare system of services collaborates, coordinates, and connects agencies, programs, and financing streams, and shares information across related systems. An appropriate, integrated system of care views families—birth, foster, and kinship—peers and professionals as partners and shares a unifying focus on generating positive outcomes for children and their families. When this happens, systems are able to more fully leverage opportunities to develop, implement, and sustain quality services and supports that prevent crises, stabilize children and families after crises occur and provide them with the resources and skills to effectively address future crisis situations. Sectors that intersect with the Child Welfare System include housing; public health; employment; child care; pre K-12 education; juvenile justice; and physical, mental, and behavioral health.

9. Public and private agencies operate within a continuous quality improvement (CQI) framework and share the responsibility of providing evidence on the effectiveness and efficiency of programs. The federal monitoring system promotes the utilization of state CQI frameworks and supports and encourages innovation and transformation. Performance-based, quality assurance and quality improvement efforts are fundamental to CQI which comprise a continual cycle of identifying areas of need, outlining strategies for improvement and testing and monitoring interventions to measure success toward achieving goals and improving outcomes. Public and private agency staff receive the levels of training and support necessary to secure the skills, information and tools needed to do what’s best for children and families. Under a realigned federal financing structure enables states to target investments to programs and practices that have demonstrated quality as attested to by evaluation, research, or other evidence-producing processes.

10. The court system helps facilitate each child’s safety, permanency, and well-being as its paramount concerns. Court practices are trauma-informed, child- and family-centered, and age-appropriate. Federal funding supports projects to improve practice, such as the Court Improvement Program, and builds the competency and consistency of practice among practitioners, specialists, attorneys and judges.

Download the complete shared principles as a PDF.

Contact the Alliance Public Policy Office with questions or for more information.

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