KVC Health Systems Drives Dramatic Improvements in D.C. Child Welfare System

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After a two-year consulting arrangement in which national child welfare leader KVC Health Systems shared best practices and hands-on training with Washington, D.C.'s Child and Family Services Agency, KVC is pleased to announce the results: 47% fewer children removed from their homes each month, 78% shorter stays in foster care, relative care up by one-third, and more.

KVC Executive Vice President Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez

“KVC didn’t just bring tools or ideas,” said Gasca-Gonzalez. “We built an entirely new infrastructure that helps teams share information quickly, think critically and make the best decisions with children and families."

After a two-year consulting arrangement in which national child welfare and behavioral healthcare leader KVC Health Systems shared best practices and hands-on training with the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), KVC is pleased to announce the following results:

(1)    Reduced the number of children removed from their homes each month by 47%
Decreased the average monthly number of children taken into the District’s care by keeping children safely at home, from 45 to just 24 (that’s 47% fewer children)

(2)    Shortened the time children spend in foster care by up to 78%
Reduced the average length of time children who are reunifying with their birth families are in foster care, from 48-60 months to just 13 months

(3)    Increased the number of children staying with relatives by one-third
Increased the number of children staying with relatives from 16% to 24%. Studies show that “kinship” care is better for children and families.

(4)    Kept more children close to home
Increased the number of children being supported by a D.C. foster family (versus foster families in other states) so they remain close to their birth family and community, from a monthly average of 43% staying¬ in D.C.to 65%

(5)    Improved stability during foster care, which improves child wellbeing
Reduced by two-thirds the number of children changing foster homes by strengthening foster families’ ability to meet their needs

(6)    Trained thousands of staff and caregivers to better support children
Provided Trauma Systems Training (TST) related training, an approach developed by Dr. Glenn Saxe of New York University’s Langone Medical Center, to more than 2,000 people, equipping staff, parents and other caregivers to support children who have experienced trauma such as physical or sexual abuse and neglect

Achieving these remarkable improvements in just two years required stationing KVC experts on-site in Washington, D.C. The consulting was led by KVC Vice President Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez who has served as Deputy Director of CFSA.

“KVC didn’t just bring tools or ideas,” said Gasca-Gonzalez. “We built an entirely new infrastructure that helps teams share information quickly, think critically and make the best decisions with children and families. Culture shifts are never easy or popular, but to create real change, more effective strategies had to become integral to the daily lives of everyone at the agency.”

KVC supported CFSA’s sense of urgency on behalf of children in many ways, such as training crisis counselors who can be at a home within one hour. KVC also focused on creating the best possible foster care experience for children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

“When Washington, D.C. called on KVC, they were removing children from their homes at the highest rate in the nation as compared to any other state,” said B. Wayne Sims, President and CEO of KVC Health Systems “Now there are 47% fewer children coming into care each month. We are so proud of Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez’s leadership in working with Child Protective Services (CPS) to narrow the front door and safely reduce the number of children coming into the system. KVC also helped create a trauma-informed culture to better serve children who have experienced abuse and neglect. These various research-supported best practices have transformed D.C.’s child welfare system.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has endorsed KVC as one of only four national best practice organizations in child welfare. The organization built its positive reputation by driving similar improvements in the state of Kansas’ child welfare system. In the 18 years KVC has been providing child welfare services on behalf of the state of Kansas – which is longer than any other private provider of foster care case management services in the U.S. – KVC helped the state successfully exit a child welfare lawsuit and significantly improved the quality of services delivered to children and families. KVC’s positive track record in Kansas and other locations has led 7 U.S. states and one foreign government, Singapore, to request consulting from KVC in the past year alone.

While the District of Columbia has not yet exited the lawsuit under which it operates, it has made significant progress in achieving required improvements by introducing KVC’s innovative strategies. One federal judge who is monitoring the District’s improvement congratulated CFSA recently, saying “It’s clear that (the best practices introduced by KVC) have revolutionized the child welfare practice at CFSA.”

CFSA Director Brenda Donald has likewise been complimentary of KVC for the practice improvements made. “Our hard work and dedication to improving the lives of children in the District have made a difference,” Donald said. “Thanks to KVC for bringing a new perspective, lessons learned from other states and research-based tools and strategies for improvement.”

By training thousands of people in TST; enacting reforms to foster parent recruitment, licensing, and training; and introducing other aspects of the unique KVC model, KVC has raised the bar for children in our nation’s capital.

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About KVC Health Systems, Inc.
KVC Health Systems, headquartered in the greater Kansas City area, is a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization committed to enriching and enhancing the lives of children and families by providing medical and behavioral healthcare, social services, and education. KVC’s diverse continuum of services includes foster care, adoption, in-home family therapy, behavioral healthcare, and children’s psychiatric hospitals. In its 44-year history, KVC has grown since from a single Kansas home for boys to a national organization serving tens of thousands of children in five states. Due to KVC’s leadership in the use of evidence-based research to achieve better outcomes and advance child welfare, the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently endorsed KVC as a best-practice organization. Learn more at http://www.kvc.org.

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Jenny Kutz
@KVCkids
since: 06/2010
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