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DHS News September 2012

Quality Service Review

For the past three years, the DHS Office of Data Analysis, Research and Evaluation (DARE) — in partnership with the state Office of Children, Youth and Families and the University of Pittsburgh, Child Welfare Resource Center — has facilitated a Quality Service Review (QSR) process on behalf of the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF). The QSR is part of the state’s Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process designed to find ways to improve services and outcomes for children and families. Using an in-depth case review method and practice appraisal process, it assesses how well DHS services are working for children and families. It also serves as a measure of PA’s practice model and of standards for child welfare practice.

During the QSR process, which is conducted over a six-day period, trained reviewers look at 20 randomly selected CYF cases, evaluating the child and parent/caregiver relationship and the agency’s practice performance for each case. This year, the selected cases included eight in-home cases and 12 placement cases - one of which was a “shared case” between CYF and the Juvenile Probation Office. Each case is assigned to two reviewers who examine the case files and interview those associated with the case (including the child and parents, caseworkers, service providers, attorneys, and teachers) to find out how children and their families are benefitting from services. For the 2012 QSR, 235 interviews were conducted, with an average of 12 interviews per case.

Reviewers use the information gathered to assign and rate “status indicators” and “performance indicators.” Status Indicators measure the safety, well-being and functioning of the child and the parents or caregivers and rate those measurements in categories including stability, risk to self or others, and living arrangement. Performance indicators measure how best-practices are applied by members of the team serving the family and youth/child. These include engagement efforts, cultural awareness and responsiveness, assessment and understanding, long-term view, and planning for transition and life adjustments.

The QSR also measures both the community needs and effectiveness of DHS services through focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders. This year’s focus group was conducted with fathers served by CYF and other systems’ partners. Its goal was to learn how well the systems are working with them and to understand what improvements can be made to help families achieve better outcomes. DHS caseworkers and supervisors were also interviewed to gather information on child welfare practices, workloads, turnover and organizational climate.

Findings from the 2012 QSR have been compiled into a report that will be used to develop a County Improvement Plan to help forward the improvement priority areas of teaming, permanency and father engagement.

The 2012 Quality Service Report and County Improvement Plan 

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