New Resources Put Equity at the Center of Research, Evaluation, and CQI Processes

National momentum is growing to identify and address the disproportionality and disparities that diverse communities along the child welfare continuum experience, from Black and Native American communities to those who are LGBTQIA, living with disabilities, and groups that have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised.

Chapin Hall is wholly committed to addressing racial inequity while using evidence-based research to improve the lives and well-being of children and youth, families, and their communities. In that vein, Dr. Krista Thomas and Yolanda Green-Rogers represented Chapin Hall in a collaboration with Casey Family Programs, the Capacity Building Center for States/ICF, James Bell Associates, and the University of South Florida convened to conceptualize and develop two resources designed to advance equity in child welfare research, evaluation, and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) efforts. This collaboration is comprised of a diverse group of researchers, evaluators, and CQI practitioners, including individuals with lived experience in the child welfare system. Applying specific strategies throughout an organization’s research, evaluation, and CQI processes can provide the focused, proactive, and sustained attention needed to identify and address racial and ethnic disparities in child welfare outcomes.

The team reviewed an existing array of powerful and robust equity-related guides and frameworks and created two new resources customized for child welfare leaders, CQI practitioners, and decision makers. The first resource, Advancing Equity Through Research and Evaluation, presents an Influence Framework that systematically walks through the research and evaluation life cycle, elevating certain strategies and the opportunities at every stage where leaders and decision makers can prioritize equity. Some examples of prioritizing equity include involving those with lived experience in the child welfare system and other diverse voices in the development of research and evaluation priorities from the outset; requiring states and counties that have tribal populations located in their jurisdictions to partner with tribes as part of meeting the requirements of requests for proposals; and engaging partners in presenting findings in written reports and presentations that describe how recommendations will support equity.

The second resource, Applying Race Equity Strategies Throughout the Continuous Quality Improvement Process, offers action steps that can be applied within each of the core functions of the CQI process as well as a set of cross-cutting strategies that support applying a race equity lens at any stage. Specific action steps include hosting family or youth listening sessions on how people perceive data and what it means in their context to inform decisions about performance measures and considering whether the members of CQI teams reflect the population and communities served. This resource is designed to serve as a reference tool when implementing a CQI program, when working on a focused CQI initiative, or when facilitating an organization’s ongoing improvement planning process.

State, county, tribal, and territory child welfare leaders, CQI practitioners, and decision makers have substantial power and influence to make immediate and measurable steps towards increased equity. These two resources offer clear strategies and suggestions toward achieving these shared goals. The project team expects to iterate these resources over time based on lessons learned and feedback from jurisdictional partners.

To work with Chapin Hall on achieving equity in research, evaluation, and CQI, please contact Dr. Krista Thomas or Yolanda Green-Rogers.