Social Work in Action (May 2014)

The University of North Carolina School of Social Work and the Children’s Home Society of America sponsored the fourth in a series of symposia titled “Wicked Problems: Meeting the Grand Challenges of Child Welfare.”

Representatives from private and public child-serving agencies, think tanks, national organizations and foundations, and schools of social work, as well as state and federal officials, attended the meeting, held March 27 and 28.

The meeting promoted the value of creating agency-university research partnerships to test interventions and to gather, analyze and use data to improve child and family outcomes. The focus was specifically on three of the eight priorities that had been developed through the earlier meetings:

  • Attracting private investments and using performance contracts to improve child and family services;
  • Harnessing the natural motivations of parents and kinship caregivers; and
  • Sustaining family continuity after legal permanence.Presentations spotlighted private and public agency innovations directed toward addressing one or more of these three priority areas.

They discussed strategies for implementation of evidence-based practices, and highlighted “A framework to design, test, spread and sustain effective practice in child welfare,” a new resource developed by the Children’s Bureau.

Considerations for national policy improvements to more fully address the well-being of children who come in contact with the child welfare system, were also discussed at the meeting.

NASW Social Work Policy Institute Director Joan Levy Zlotnik provided an action brief to attendees called “Creating and Sustaining Effective and Outcome-Oriented Child Welfare University Agency Research Partnerships.”

The meeting’s two host entities announced that they are launching a Child Welfare Practice-Based Research Network to help inform and improve local, state and national policies around child welfare and well-being.

For more information, visit Wicked Problems of Child Welfare and A Framework to Design, Test, Spread, and Sustain Effective Practice in Child Welfare (PDF)