Be Sure and Read the Parts that are Highlighed in BOLD it will scare the hell out of you.
Region IV Child Welfare Collaboration Initiative (CWCI)
Second Annual Meeting
December 5-7, 2006
Advance Preparation Guide
The purpose of this guide is to assist States in preparing for the December 5-7, 2006 CWCI meeting. This annual meeting will provide an opportunity for CBCAP, CFSR/PIP, CIP, CRP, PSSF, and SLO staff, facilitated by ACF and National Resource Centers, to continue their efforts in improving collaboration. Participants will begin with breakout sessions by program area for examination of challenges as well as successes in collaboration, followed by a large group discussion. The remainder of the three days will include presentations and discussions of information related to outcomes, data/technology, and braided funding. Participants will also meet in planning groups by state and then report on the plans resulting from those sessions.
Prior to the meeting and in collaboration with your state partners, please complete one report for your state containing the following information related to the current year. Identify below partners represented in the advanced preparation.
CBCAP: Vicki Cooper-Robinson, Division Director, Alabama Children’s Trust Fund (CTF)
CFSR/PIP: Betti Ziri, Deputy Director, Family Services Division, Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR)
CIP: Bob Maddox, Staff Attorney, Alabama Administrative Office of Courts
CRP (State Quality Assurance Committees): Glenda Peters, Program Manager, Office of Quality Assurance Alabama DHR
PSSF: Eddie Flowers, State Facilitator, Family Preservation and Support, Alabama DHR
SLO: Shirley Scanlan, Program Manager, Child Protective Services, Alabama DHR
1. How has your State collaborated and planned priorities for CBCAP, Prevention Month, PSSF, CAPTA, CIP, and CRP?
*State stakeholders participated in focus groups concerning CFSR.
* During Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, CBCAP staff led, and Alabama DHR representatives were involved in, several activities such as distribution of community resource packets to the county agencies; participation in a photo together with Governor Bob Riley as he signed the proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month; and collaboration on several activities such as blue ribbon campaigns with the family resource centers (which provide child abuse prevention services) throughout the state.
*CBCAP staff led, and Alabama DHR representatives attended, meetings to assist in revising the Alabama State Plan.
*Alabama DHR staff and CBCAP representatives collaborated in the Annual Progress and Services Report.
*Some members of the above groups are members of, or are involved with, the State DHR Quality Assurance (QA) Committee at the Alabama DHR, which is the equivalent to citizen review panels. This Committee meets at least every quarter.
*CBCAP staff and Alabama DHR staff have discussed working together on a definition of a “continuum of prevention.”
*Alabama CIP staff and the State Liaison Officer (SLO) representative for the CAPTA requirements have worked together to ensure that guardians ad litem in Alabama have been trained and certified pursuant to CAPTA.
*The Alabama DHR person who administers the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program and CBCAP staff have worked together on the peer review process. The collaborative efforts would facilitate joint peer review evaluations on agencies to which CBCAP and PSSF provide funding. The details of this effort are not yet complete.
2. How is your State collaboratively planning or conducting the CFSR/Statewide Assessment/PIP?
*Alabama DHR representatives held an in-service training session at the CBCAP agency to educate the staff on the CFSR process and its upcoming review and also identified ways to help with this process. They also conducted a workshop at the Alabama Children’s Trust Fund annual grantee training to CBCAP grantees about the CFSR.
*An Alabama DHR representative attended the Alabama CIP Advisory Committee meeting in October to inform the multidisciplinary group about the CFSR process and the upcoming review.
*Alabama DHR representatives are planning to include all of the above groups in focus groups related to the upcoming CFSR.
*Alabama DHR representatives will collaborate with Alabama CIP staff to set up a meeting with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama and federal representatives. This will be a part of the Statewide Assessment which will take place early in 2007.
3. How has your State used the information in and findings from the IV-E and CFSR reviews and PIPs, Child and Family Services Plans, CIP Strategic Plan, Citizen Review Reports and CBCAP reports to impact planning for services to children and families? How have you collaborated in using these data?
*Information from the IV-E review in 2003 (which contained mostly errors arising from improper language in permanency hearing orders) was used to develop a PIP, which consisted of the following activities:
*Collaborative regional training sessions were held around the State in early 2004 to address court order language with Alabama DHR staff, juvenile and family court judges, and GALs;
*Sample court orders (copies of which are available) were drafted with the proper language and were distributed to the juvenile and family court judges and others at the training sessions; they were also distributed to those judges not attending the training sessions; these sample orders were also placed on both the AOC and DHR automated systems for access by judges and DHR staff;
*Quarterly reports for each county in the State were developed in the Alabama DHR office to show “error” cases in each Title IV-E eligibility category and to show how much money potentially could be lost as a result of the errors. These reports were sent to the county DHR offices and to the juvenile and family court judges;
*During 2004 and 2005, on-site meetings were held between the juvenile and family court judges, referees (if applicable), Alabama and county DHR staff, and Alabama CIP staff to discuss problems with language in court orders; and
*Additional training for DHR attorneys around the State was conducted with one of the topics being required court order language.
As a result of the activities above, the State of Alabama passed the Title IV-E review in 2006.
Other collaborative activities as recommended by local Quality Assurance Committees:
*Services for sexually-acting out children
*Therapeutic Foster Care – stakeholder meetings
*Multi-Assessment Tool (MAT) for levels of service
*Studies of utilization of Family Options by the PSSF staff
Also, monies have been used in the following activities:
*CAPTA – Drug Court Program in Calhoun County
*Money to support services
**A safety plan policy (excerpts of which are available) was revised effective November 1, 2006, after being reviewed by a Policy Subcommittee of the State DHR QA Committee, chaired by an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. Several juvenile and family court judges serve on the Subcommittee which reviews Alabama DHR policies prior to dissemination.
**Alabama CIP staff attended safety training in August 2005 for DHR social workers.
**A Quarterly Permanency Profile Report (a copy of which is available) for each county was developed by a joint Committee of Alabama DHR staff and Alabama CIP staff (called the ASFA Implementation Task Force) using data from ACWIS.
**A Social Worker Guide for Working with the Courts document (a copy of which is available) was developed by the Policy Subcommittee and became effective November 1, 2006. This Guide was developed to assist Alabama courts and DHR staff reduce or eliminate barriers to achieving permanency for children in foster care, including but not limited to, the location of missing parents and the determination of relatives and fathers early in cases. The purpose of the document is to have some guidelines for Alabama DHR social workers to follow in all stages of the dependency case so they are familiar with the legal parts of the process and so that the working relationship between Alabama DHR social workers, court officials, and court employees will be more efficient.
**In the Summer of 2006, a Second Annual Permanency Conference was conducted by Alabama DHR staff for supervisors and caseworkers. At the Conference, one of the segments included training on the then-proposed Social Worker Guide.
**The emphasis of Guardian Ad Litem Recertification Training during Calendar Year 2006 concerned permanency and termination of parental rights issues.**The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama and the Alabama DHR Commissioner formed a committee composed mostly of Alabama DHR staff and juvenile and family court judges to study ways to reduce delays in termination of parental rights cases. As a result of this Committee, two court rules were amended to provide that termination of parental
rights cases shall be given priority in calendaring over all other nonjury cases and that findings by docket entries or written orders from termination of parental rights trials must be issued within 30 days after the trials.
**A Subcommittee of the Alabama CIP to address delays on appeals of dependency, termination of parental rights, and adoption cases was formed and chaired by an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama; the result of this Subcommittee has been the creation of internal policies in both the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Supreme Court of Alabama to place priority on these cases.
**A Subcommittee of the Alabama CIP to address delays and other issues in adoption cases was formed consisting of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, five juvenile court judges, five probate court judges, and a representative of the Alabama DHR Office of Adoption. The major focus of the Subcommittee is information sharing and better communications between the probate courts and juvenile courts.Another meeting of this Subcommittee was held in August 2006. At this meeting, two sample forms were approved by the members present: A Petition for Adoption and a Child Custody Affidavit. On these sample forms, persons completing the forms must indicate if there are any past or pending actions in probate or other in-State courts, or out-of-State courts or tribunals, so that the respective probate courts or juvenile courts will be advised if there are any pending actions involving the same children or families. Hopefully, this information given to the courts upfront will avoid the issuance of conflicting orders between in-State juvenile and probate courts or between in-State and out-of-State courts or tribunals.
A State DHR representative was also present at the August 2006 meeting, at which several issues concerning timely provision and sharing of information between the State DHR and the probate courts and other matters were discussed.
**A group consisting of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama; a retired family court judge (and Chair of the Alabama CIP Advisory Committee), a current juvenile court judge, an Alabama DHR representative, and an Alabama CIP representative attended the Summit on Protection of Children held in Minneapolis, MN in September 2005. An Action Plan was developed from this Summit, the major points of which are available.
*The Alabama CIP staff added as members to its CIP Advisory Committee (which is also the task force for the new Alabama CIP training grant) representatives of the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and the Alabama Department of Health to better address mental health and health issues of children in foster care.
*Flex funding is used in each county to individualize services and to address the individual needs of children and families.
4. What strategies have you found to be successful in promoting collaboration across these programs?
• Cross training sessions between the Alabama DHR and the Alabama CTF; cross training sessions between the Alabama DHR and the Alabama AOC.
• ACF conference calls encouraging collaboration within the state.
• Periodic meetings among representatives of the above groups concerning different issues.
5. What are areas where needs have been (or could be) successfully met through greater collaboration?
*Have been met – Collaboration probably was a key in the passage of the 2006 Title IV-E review.
*Have been met – Collaboration probably was a key in an improved safety plan policy; in rule changes, policy changes, and other initiatives to improve permanency for children.
*Could be met – Better communication between juvenile/probate courts, especially concerning adoption matters.
*Could be met – CTF and its relationship with CIP and PSSF staff could be stronger.
*Could be met – More creative/efficient use of funding each group receives.
6. What specific collaborations is your state planning or implementing in sharing outcomes, data/technology, and braided funding? If there is none currently, what ideas do you have that you would like to pursue?
*Through the Peer Review Process, collaborating on sharing data access information, and on the continuum of prevention.
*The Alabama CIP staff substantially utilized the matrix developed by the Alabama DHR staff in the latter’s reporting on CFSR matters to the federal DHHS office.
*An initial meeting was held between Alabama DHR staff and Alabama CIP staff on October 19, 2005, to discuss ways to share data between the offices. In January 2007, the Alabama DHR vendor awarded a contract to upgrade the SACWIS system begins work.
*An Alabama DHR representative is a member of the Juvenile Technology Committee at the Alabama AOC, which is the Committee designated as the Task Force for the new Alabama CIP data collection and analysis grant.
7. With what other organizations/entities are your programs collaborating? What gaps exist in these collaborations?
*Indian tribes (new needs/opportunities are emerging; follow-up collaboration is being arranged)
*Alabama Medicaid Agency (good)
*Alabama Department of Health (exploring other opportunities for additional collaboration)
*Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs (good)
*Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (good)
*Alabama Children’s Justice Task Force (to administer the Children’s Justice Act grant – collaborative activities are working on updating the GAL Manual; updating a book called the Child Welfare Laws of Alabama; and legal training) (good)
*Alabama Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (good)
*Alabama Multiple Needs Child Office (exploring other opportunities for additional collaboration)
*Alabama Department of Education (exploring other opportunities for additional collaboration)
*Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (good)
*Alabama Department of Public Safety (background checks) (good)
*Department of Rehabilitation Services (Children’s Division) (good)
*Nonprofit agencies, especially Child Protect and Domestic Violence groups (good).
8. Based on the results you have described above, what do you see as the top five greatest areas of need or improvement in terms of mutual planning and collaboration to strengthen prevention and intervention efforts and improve outcomes for children and families in your State?
1. Braided funding.
2. Strengthen data collection processes as it relates to prevention.
3. Collaborating on legislative issues.
4. Sustaining/expanding funds.
5. Work on a definition of “continuum of prevention.”