The Continuing Evolution of Our Nation's Child Welfare System
Federal and state governments are seeking to improve the child welfare system by increasing oversight and making agencies more accountable for outcomes. Installation of new information systems increases accountability. New initiatives, such as alternative response systems, structured decision making, and family group decision making, are efforts to respond to ongoing concerns about the quality of the child welfare system. Some states report increased staff allocations, but most cite difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff. Front-line caseworkers report new, added responsibilities, with more emphasis on documentation and clerical work, less decision making authority, and less time to spend with children and families.