Child Protection And Oversight Evaluation (C.P.O.E.):
The following is an example of another agency self-evaluation strategy. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services uses state-wide child welfare data to provide information to county agencies related to each agencys performance in relation to several variables and in relation to other counties. When LCCS receives that information, an Executive Summary is prepared and shared with staff and other stakeholders to keep them informed about agency performance. The summary also then becomes input for the agencys continuous quality improvement process. The following excerpt is an example of C.P.O.E. data and what the data mean. (If you want to know more about the C.P.O.E. process and reports, feel free to contact SueNowlin@ChildrenServices.org.)
Outcome data received from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services covers six-month intervals. The State has chosen several indicators to track based upon data fed into the FACSIS (Family & Children Services Information System), and pulls reports for the county agencies twice yearly. It shares data about the individual county, a compilation of counties in a similar population bracket, and a compilation of all counties in the state. This way we are able to establish benchmarks for our outcomes. Data provided ranges back to 1992.
It is important to note that state or county cohort averages can be skewed high or low due to unusual outcomes of just a few agencies. Also, doing significantly better than the average in one outcome area could create a fallout effect for less than average performance in another. The data should not simply be taken at face value. In addition to a review of the data, it is important to discuss what the data means to us. We must examine which factors and/or practices contributed to our outcomes so that we can planfully continue practices leading to good outcomes, change ineffective practices, and decide which outcomes/factors/practices require further examination.
Data contained in Figure 5.2 is a summary of selected indicators from the state report. Only LCCS data and the aggregate State data are shown here.
Indicator 1: Percent of investigations of abuse/neglect that were completed within: (a) 30 days of receipt of the report; and (b) 45 days of receipt.
Indicator 2: Incidents rated “Emergency” that had an investigation initiated within one hour of acceptance of the report.
Indicator 3: Percent of children with an abuse/neglect investigation disposition for the first time during the reporting period, who had a subsequent abuse/neglect disposition within 6 or 12 months after the initial disposition.
Indicator 4: Median number of days a child remained in temporary custody (excluding Long Term Foster Care status), and percent of children still in custody after 12 months. Median shows that half the children were in custody longer and half for shorter periods of time.
Indicator 5: Number of days (mean and median) that a child remains in out-of-home placement, and percent remaining in placement after 12 months. This includes those in adoptive placement before the adoption is finalized.
Indicator 6: Number of moves a child experiences in an out-of-home placement episode. This demonstrates a breakdown of the number of moves children experience by looking at all children who entered a placement during the given time period. This does not take into account that some moves may be to a more desired and less restrictive setting, or to an adoptive home. These are still counted as moves, including a change of status from foster to adoptive, while still at the same address.
Indicator 7: Number of times a child has been removed from his own home, based upon the experience of each child entering placement during the period.
Indicator 8: Percent of all placed children, in custody, who are in court-ordered Long Term Foster Care (now PPLA) status at any time during the reporting period.
As you can see, the data, although useful for self-evaluation purposes, is not particularly timely. The agency needs the ability to combine this data with “real time” data so a picture of the “current state” of agency activities is continuously available for decision making and program and services adjustment. The next section discusses strategies to move LCCS farther in that direction.