The Office for Research and Evaluation (ORE) in partnership with Regional Foster Care Units and the Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families (CAFAF) is conducting the first statewide foster care quality and satisfaction survey of foster children and their foster parents. The survey is being conducted across all foster care including kinship, therapeutic and non-relative homes as an important way to meet one of the ten performance expectations set by Commissioner Joette Katz for 2014. This performance expectation is improving the quality and satisfaction rate of foster home placements towards achieving the goal of improving permanency outcomes for children in placement.
The survey examines the levels of quality and satisfaction among foster children age 8 years and older and their foster parents through face-to-face interviews. The survey also examines quality of life indicators that include pro-social and risky behaviors through a self-administered supplemental questionnaire targeted specifically for youth age 13 years and older in an effort to inform DCF better about services and other interventions for foster youth and their caregivers. Questions in the supplemental questionnaire were taken from the Department of Public Health annual survey administered to students in middle and high school.
CAFAF liaisons are partnering with ORE staff to conduct the face-to-face interviews of foster children and youth and their caregivers. Interviews are scheduled based on the availability of foster children and youth and their foster parents. Concerted efforts are made to schedule foster children and youth and their foster parents' interviews on the same date and time but, they conducted separately by two different staff members. The interview takes about 30 minutes and the self-administered supplemental questionnaire another 20 to 30 minutes.
As a first step, ORE is conducting a pilot to ensure that the questions are understandable to foster children and youth, to identify and address any unanticipated difficulties, and will use the results as preliminary findings. Foster children and youth and their caregivers are selected at random to participate in the pilot or study so foster children and youth and their caregivers have an equal chance of being selected. Participation is completely voluntary. The assigned DCF staff as the legal guardian for children and youth age 8 to 17 years gives written permission for them to participate in the pilot or study. Youth age 18 years and older and foster parents also give written consent and children and youth age 8 to 17 years give written assent to participate in the pilot or study.
All individual responses to questions are being kept strictly confidential; i.e., no DCF or CAFAF employee will identify which child and youth or caregiver gave which answers. The sincere hope is that foster children and youth and their caregivers, as the experts, will honestly share their beliefs, opinions and experiences with ORE in its effort to determine levels of quality and satisfaction or dissatisfaction with services provided by DCF and other service providers. DCF is committed to sharing aggregated results.
CAFAF has conducted an annual satisfaction survey for many years for DCF. This year is the first time that DCF will conduct a study to measure levels of quality and satisfaction of foster home placements statewide and devote resources to data collection, analysis and reporting. DCF continues to applaud its caregivers and reiterates its support for children and youth living in foster home placements. Stay tuned for more on this special and ground-breaking project!
The Office for Research and Evaluation (ORE) ORE contributes to the development and use of knowledge at DCF by shaping, supporting and conducting research, evaluation and analytic inquiry. This includes improving the analytic data environment; initiating, facilitating and conducting data analysis, research and evaluation; and identifying and nurturing strategic analytic opportunities and partnerships. ORE oversees the following processes:
Provider Information Exchange (PIE)
Formerly PSDCRS, PIE is DCF's web-based system for collecting and analyzing client-level data on services by contracted providers. It includes both Behavioral Health and Child Welfare programs. For many programs, it reports on clients who are not involved with DCF as well as those who are. DCF uses the system to monitor services and outcomes, and to manage program contracts. PIE was implemented on July 1, 2009.
Exit Plan responsibilities include reporting out and the completion of quarterly case reviews as described in the Juan F. Exit Plan to determine the extent to which the agency is meeting its performance mandates related to the 22 outcome measures. Areas of strength and those needing improvement are identified and utilized to help govern the agency’s practices and resource allocations. This includes collaborative efforts and liaison work with the Court Monitor's Office in the measurement and assessment in the key areas of treatment planning and needs met for our children and families.
Child and Family Services Review (CFSR)
CFSR Reviews (CFSRs) are conducted by the Children's Bureau, within Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The CFSRs are designed to help States improve safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children and families who receive services through State child welfare systems. The CFSR consists of a review of a state's data, the submission of a statewide self-assessment and an on-site review of 40 foster care and 25 in-home services cases. In September 2008, the Connecticut child welfare system underwent its second CFSR.
Lynette C. Warner
Office For Research & Evaluation
Department of Children and Families
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06106