Principles, Language, and Shared Meaning: Toward a Common Understanding of CQI in Child Welfare
Today, public child welfare agencies are taking stock of their capacity for Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) and considering the investments they will make in order to build that capacity. How these CQI systems develop will vary from agency to agency depending on administrative structure, staffing patterns, available resources, and a host of other factors. They will all, however, be responsible for facilitating the same basic CQI process—a cycle of problem solving activities that requires the deliberate use of evidence. Given that shared responsibility, the child welfare field will benefit from a common vocabulary for describing what CQI is, the core principles on which CQI rests, and the critical role that evidence plays throughout the CQI process.
In keeping with a century-long tradition of CQI that has guided improvement efforts in other fields, Principles, Language, and Shared Meaning: Toward a Common Understanding of CQI in Child Welfare proposes such a language for the child welfare community and uses it to explore and define:
- The difference between the cross-cutting CQI process and individual CQI systems.
- The basic elements of the CQI process and the foundational principles on which the process rests.
- The meaning of the term “evidence” and the role evidence plays at each stage of the CQI process.
- Concrete examples of evidence use in action. Examples include: developing logic models for planning and implementing new interventions; generating evidence on outcomes for children in foster care; using administrative and fiscal data to plan for a Title IV-E waiver; and implementing performance-based contracts with private providers.