Office of Children’s Services completes program improvements
By Natalie Powers
Social Services Program Administrator
November 30, 2011 marks the completion of OCS’s two-year, federally required Program Improvement Plan (PIP). The PIP incorporated key strategies and action steps designed to address areas needing improvement in Alaska’s child welfare system as identified during a 2008 federal Child and Family Services Review conducted by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. The on-site review included an analysis of Alaska’s child welfare data; a Statewide Assessment developed by OCS; on-site reviews of 65 cases (from Anchorage, Juneau and Bethel); and interviews with local and state stakeholders. The PIP entailed working with stakeholders and staff at all levels of the agency in order to accomplish numerous initiatives and strategies aimed at enhancing nine specific outcome areas related to safety, permanency and well-being of children in the child welfare system. OCS is demonstrating steady improvement in all nine areas as a result of these efforts.
Some specific target areas and accomplished PIP strategies include:
Increased timeliness and enhanced quality of investigations (initial assessments)
Increased frequency and quality of caseworker visits
Continued implementation efforts around the practice model
Working with tribes to reduce the disproportionate number of Alaska Native children in care
The development of an innovative in-home service model with tribes
The development of a variety of quality assurance tools and systems for monitoring outcomes
The development of strategies to support field supervision.
The development of a Resource Family Advisory board
The development of a Foster Care Recruitment Plan
OCS is pleased with the progress made, but recognizes the work that was initiated during the PIP will need to be monitored and sustained. To support these efforts, key strategies have been incorporated into the OCS’s 2010–2014 Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP). The CFSP is a five-year strategic plan that sets forth the vision and goals for the agency. OCS has identified the completion of the CFSP and the sustained progress and successes achieved through the PIP as a key priority.