Unintended Consequences of the Push for Accountability
The Case of National Child Welfare Performance Standards
This article was published in, and the following abstract copied from, Children and Youth Services Review.
The ongoing push at the federal level to monitor performance of social programs calls for continuing attention to the lessons that can be learned from the implementation of the resulting monitoring efforts. In this paper, we critique the national standards used in the relatively new Child and Family Service Reviews being conducted by the federal government to assess state child welfare programs. We provide a historical perspective on current federal policy and a description of the new performance measurement system. We then point out the conceptual limitations of the current national standards and use empirical evidence to illustrate some of these limitations. We conclude with recommendations for new standards and additional efforts that will be necessary to ensure that state performance can improve.