Building a Practice Model

Working with local child welfare agencies to create a road map to successful outcomes

A Practice Model is an organizing framework that describes an agency’s approach and strategic direction. Practice Models within child welfare agencies can be powerful mechanisms for translating values and principles into discrete practice behaviors and strategies for the child welfare workforce.

Why a Practice Model is Beneficial

  • Reinforces the strategic plan
  • Provides clear guidance and expectations for the workforce around evidence-based casework practice activities, such as child and family team meetings, and parent-child visitation
  • Promotes consistency in how staff engage, assess, and intervene with families
  • Guides the content of policy
  • Informs the purpose of training
  • Shapes continuous quality improvement efforts
  • Provides an opportunity for children, families, referral agents, and community stakeholders to monitor and inform efforts
  • Informs job postings, interviewing tools, and performance evaluations

Implementing Practice Models requires intentional efforts across many different elements of the child welfare system. Chapin Hall guides the review, assessment, and enhancement of child welfare policies, training curricula, coaching activities, job postings and performance evaluations, to ensure seamless integration of the Practice Model. In addition, Chapin Hall experts collaborate with agency Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) leadership and staff to embed the Practice Model into on-going CQI practices that determine whether outcomes for children and families are improving. We are designing and implementing Practice Models in collaboration with our partners Nexus Youth and Family Solutions, Maryland Department of Human Resources, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

Yet, creating Practice Models is only the first step in achieving meaningful systems change. Once Practice Models are developed, Chapin Hall experts work with our partners on meaningful implementation and sustainability, weaving the Practice Model into the fabric of how the child welfare agency functions and guides its workforce. Chapin Hall has published a white paper that describes how our staff help agencies create and implement individually tailored practice models.

Chapin Hall’s Implementation Collaborative partners with child welfare agencies to design and implement Practice Models that operationalize their vision, mission, values, and principles in day-to-day work. Our experts go one step further to ensure the Practice Models we co-create include casework practice activities found to be most predictive of improved outcomes for children and families.

This work at Chapin Hall is led by Policy Fellows Jennifer O’Brien, Larry Small, and Krista Thomas. This team brings a rich mix of federal, state and local experience in policy and practice, and a commitment to helping agencies achieve the best results for the families they serve. For more information about Chapin Hall’s work on developing and implementing Practice Models, reach out to Jennifer O’Brien, Larry Small or Krista Thomas.