The Arizona Department of Child Safety is committed to achieving safety, permanency and well-being for Arizona’s children and families. DCS is driven by this commitment, as well as a desire to be a national leader for child safety through a well-run, efficient, and effective organization based on best practices and continuous improvement.
The purpose of the strategic plan is to build the systems and structure that will support outcomes for the future while at the same time identifying challenges that have evolved over time that need to be addressed in the immediate term. The five-year strategic goals provide the long-term direction. With these strategic goals, the agency balances the priorities to ensure sustainability:
Five-Year Strategic Goals
- Improve objective decision-making at the Hotline and investigations
- Improve performance and quality of service through employee retention
- Reduce length of stay for children in out-of-home care
- Improve capacity to place children in family environments
- Reduce recurrence of maltreatment by improving service delivery
DCS FY 2017 Strategic Plan
The fiscal year 2017 strategic plan is a continuation of the accomplishments achieved in fiscal year 2016 that stabilized the incoming workload, established business operations for the new agency, and improved objective decision-making at the Child Abuse Hotline and in investigations. Fiscal year 2017 is focused on sustaining the improvements made and safely eliminating the investigations backlog so that Department resources can be redirected to support permanency efforts for children in care.
FY 2017 Strategic Objectives, Initiatives & Key Actions
The fiscal year 2017 strategic objectives are aimed at being responsive to immediate needs while continuing to work towards building systems to ensure sustainability and success over the long term:
Avoid historic 10%+ out-of-home population growth through improving safety decisions, targeted activities, and prevention work Maintain OOH population below 19,000 children by 6/30/17
FY2017 efforts will sustainably and safely eliminate the investigations backlog, permitting resource shifts to speed up the timeliness to Permanency
Maintain fiscal responsibility Operate the Department at or below appropriated budget
Reducing the time to Permanency will reverse the OOH population growth and targeted initiatives will stabilize the cost of operating the system
Improve employee retention Reduce all employee turnover from 26.7% to 25.0% by 6/30/17
These efforts, complimented by specific actions to improve on-boarding and leadership development, will improve retention
Read the DCS FY 2017 Strategic Plan here
Progress on the strategic plan is reviewed on a monthly basis at the Director’s business review using the Strategy Deployment A3 Report. Additionally, below is a report out on quarterly accomplishments. Updates on the Department’s progress will be made available after the close of the quarter. Any questions can be directed to [email protected].
Objective 1: Avoid historic 10% out-of-home population growth through improving safety decisions, targeted activities, and prevention work
|Strategic Initiative: Refine and implement Safety Model Improvement|
Improve the safety model with particular attention to practice knowledge and utilization. Partner with ACTION for Child Protection on latest science enhancements.
|Quarters 1 & 2||- The renovation to the safety model is driven by the need to: reduce additional trauma experienced by children who have been removed and then quickly returned; stabilize the number of children in out-of-home care; reduce the time children spend away from their families; and modernize decision making practices with a well-established and tested safety assessment model.|
- Ongoing assistance and consultation is being provided by Casey Family Programs and the federal Children’s Bureau Capacity Building Center for States. These partnerships help foster learning across child welfare jurisdictions and foster the implementation of best practices.
- Two Safety Policy Specialists have been hired and have been working directly with Action for Child Protection to begin the process of updating Department program policy and procedure to align with the SAFE AZ Model from investigation through permanency.
- Model office sites in Maricopa County and Pima County have been chosen to field test draft policies and are providing critical feedback to the development and fidelity of the AZ Safe Model renovation process.
- Action for Child Protection and the Safety Policy Specialists have provided informational sessions to the Child Welfare Training Institute, as well as several key internal stakeholders, including Practice Improvement, Program Development, Team Decision Making, and various field staff to continue collaboration efforts and coordinate impact in various program operations as policy and procedure are formulated.
- The Present Danger Assessment and Planning draft policy was presented to the Community Advisory Board and was well received. Feedback from internal and external stakeholders surrounding the updates to the SAFE AZ Model continue to be positive.
|Strategic Initiative: Refine and implement statewide field standardization|
Implement statewide standard for case transfers from investigations to ongoing and specialized units, including case planning. Implement management system elements: leader standard work, process adherence, visual performance management, and problem solving.
|Quarters 1 & 2||- The transfer of dependency cases from investigations to ongoing (Early Transfer Process) has been standardized in order to provide consistency across all DCS offices statewide and ensure timely transfer of cases. The Early Transfer Process has been rolled out to 12 field offices across Central, Pima, and Southwest regions. The most recent offices to roll out the process are: South Mountain, Pima Section 3, and West 101.|
- Visual management of key section-level metrics were established and tested in the Glendale office. Initial implementation of visual management has begun in the Gilbert office. Both the Glendale and Gilbert offices received problem solving training to support the newly implemented visual management and huddle board structure.
- In October 2016, leader standard work was trained to all 220+ field unit supervisors. Feedback on the leader standard work template has been collected and final drafts are in process.
|Strategic Initiative: Implement targeted permanency activities to reduce the out-of-home care population|
Specific project work that supports safely reducing duration in care thus reducing OOH Population
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- In conjunction with Practice Improvement and field leadership, criteria were outlined to guide cursory reviews of all cases with a case plan goal of reunification. The Central region is in the process of conducting a second round of case reviews. Plans are being developed to conduct reviews in the Young Adult Program, Adoption, and In-Home Units.
- Targeted permanency staffings were implemented internally, facilitated by Practice Improvement, Program Development, and field leadership staff to support case managers and supervisors by jointly reviewing cases where permanency has stalled due to a variety of complex circumstances. Through this review, sections needing support were identified and plans for contracted support have been developed to assist in targeted sections in Maricopa County through a partnership with Casey Family Programs.
- Work has begun on the Fostering Sustainable Connections initiative that helps locate family or fictive kin of children currently in out-of-home care (See: Strategic Initiative: Execute the Title IV-E waiver demonstration project).
|Strategic Initiative: Expand the Office of Prevention|
Enhance and expand preventative services that support a reduction in the number of children who enter dependency care.
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- Key projects in the Office of Prevention are: Substance Exposed Newborn Safe Environment (SENSE) expansion, The Care Portal Network expansion, Safe Sleep campaign, rollout of Baby Boxes, implementation of monthly “Did You Know?” emails to field staff, and Fast Pass project collaboration with the Department of Economic Security (DES).
- SENSE rolled out in Pima in October 2016. Discussions have begun to roll out to Pinal County, though target dates have not been established. The nursing component of the program is essential, which has necessitated an amendment to support it. An internal modification to service authorizations is underway to automate the tracking of SENSE services utilization.
- The distribution of Safe Sleep boxes is being piloted as a part of the Safe Sleep Campaign to zip code areas with high fatality rates. It will start in the following zip codes: 85719, 85705, 86442, 86409, 85301, 85041, 85008, and 85015.
- Training for field staff and the distribution of baby boxes to families needing safe sleep environments has begun. Families receiving a baby box agree to safe sleep training. To date, eight boxes have been distributed.
- Monthly “Did You Know?” emails with prevention resources have been sent on the following topics: domestic violence, safe sleep, in-home visitor programs, and resources for obtaining holiday gifts and necessary items.
- Urgent Child Care Referral was rolled out in November 2016 as part of the Fast Pass collaboration with DES. This process ensures that child care is immediately available to families in need on nights, weekends, and holidays to ensure safety, prevent removals, and prevent placement disruption.
|Objective 2: Maintain fiscal responsibility |
|Strategic Initiative: Refine and implement the budget control process|
Refine the management process to support fiscal responsibility and standardize planning, reporting, and accountability
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- Departmental budgets were rolled out in the beginning of the fiscal year and standardized monthly budget meetings have been scheduled with all areas of department administration. The content and structure of the meetings has been developed in partnership with the budget units and business owners to ensure that the information presented is useful and relevant.
- The budget unit has developed a process and cadence for reforecasting client line expenditures to monitor allocations and identify areas where supplemental needs may exist. This process assists in identifying the most current trends and impacts based on caseload fluctuations.
|Strategic Initiative: Refine and implement the placement improvement process|
Improve the foster care experience including management of existing and new foster families, and the placement of children
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- An internal “beds manager” position was hired and is in the process of identifying the DCS bed capacity and bed statuses. In addition to identifying capacity, a process will be developed to assist in ongoing monitoring of availability to facilitate timelier and appropriately matched placements.
- The duration of MTTL for group homes remains under 3 months.
- A process improvement event “kaizen event” was held with provider agencies with the purpose being to shorten the time to licensure for persons wishing to become licensed foster parents. Action items were identified through this event and are currently being worked. Specific focus is on implementing a process that assesses foster parent readiness that can be supported and evaluated through PS MAPP (the required licensed foster care training).
|Strategic Initiative: Refine and implement service array standards and application|
Develop improved process standards for services that improves outcomes and ensures accountability through improved contracting process and fidelity monitoring
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- The three areas of focus for service array standards are: supervised visitation best practices and capacity, the redesign of the parent aide and supervised visitation contract, and contracted parent aide and supervised visitation fidelity monitoring.
- In late August 2016, 18 case aide positions were hired to take on a portion of supervised visitation in three sections in the Pima region (Broadway, Wetmore, and Country Club). The intent of the project is to develop best practices on the use of visitation, increase the quality of visitation documentation, facilitate better dialogue between visitation aides and case managers, and recommend the right level of visitation that is appropriate to keep in the section. A workshop on “visitation and parenting time” best practices is planned for April/May 2017 for all three initial implementation sites.
- The framework for quality assurance and service fidelity monitoring has been completed. The schedule of site visits and consultations has been developed and is on target to begin in late January 2017. The site visits will provide ongoing technical assistance and coaching for the following programs: in-home, Arizona Families FIRST, parent aide, supervised visitation, Healthy Families (home visitor), and Team Decision Making (TDM).
- The Parent Aide scope of work is in its final draft and is in the process of being reviewed and approved. It is anticipated that the solicitation will go out in January 2017. As part of the writing of the new scope of work, the DCS Program Development team held several focus groups with providers to get feedback.
|Strategic Initiative: Achieve operations cost targets|
Execute specific process improvements and targeted projects to reduce operating expenses
|Quarters 1 & 2||- Monthly cost reports have been developed and implemented to track contracted labor and POV reimbursement costs by region/section/staff. Reporting at the section and staff levels allows the Department to clearly identify areas of over/under utilization. The impacts of the new reporting structure has resulted in reduced POV reimbursements by 60% year-over-year. Additionally, a new process has been developed that requires detailed justification for any additional contracted labor.|
- Facility usage is being monitored and options for office consolidation is being considered for all leases that will be ending in the coming months. The DCS facilities unit is taking careful consideration of office locations to maintain priority one report response timeliness. To date, the Gilbert office has been consolidated with the Tempe office space and leases with vacant space have been ended.
|Strategic Initiative: Execute the Title IV-E waiver demonstration project|
Execute the IV-E waiver demonstration projects including the redeployment of any potential savings
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- The Department is implementing the federal Title IV-E waiver and demonstration project. The purpose of the waiver is to allow states flexibility in program design that supports better outcomes for children and families. DCS has developed the Fostering Sustainable Connections program that combines the Team Decision Making (TDM) process with family/fictive kin searches and engagement strategies to help move children from congregate care settings to family-like placements.
- On July 1, 2016 implementation began in two offices in Maricopa County (Avondale and Tempe), with two Family Engagement Specialists. As of December 2016, a total of 29 children have been served, four have been placed with relatives, two placed in foster homes, and five are pending placement with relatives (three through ICPC).
- On October 11, 2016, implementation began in one office in Pima County (YAP unit), with one Family Engagement Specialist. A total of 11 children are currently being served; with a goal to be at capacity to work with 15 children by end of December 2016. A total of 41 children have been served: five were placed with a relative, and nine children have a family-like placement identified and pending approval.
- The goal is to begin expanding to other offices in Maricopa County at the beginning of January 2017, by onboarding more Family Engagement Specialists through Arizona Children’s Association. A meeting is scheduled with the DCS Program Development Unit and Central and Southwest region leadership to identify the next sites for initial implementation.
|Objective 3: Improve employee retention |
|Strategic Initiative: Execute investigations backlog reduction project|
Continue specific project work to eliminate investigations backlog statewide and establish sustainment of performance
|Quarters 1 & 2||- As of December 2016, the Department had 9,281 total open reports, which was below the set target of 10,600.|
- The Department continues to utilize the contracted Southwest Human Development teams in the following targeted sections in Maricopa County: Peoria, South Mountain, North Central, Tempe, and the Foster Home/Group Home unit
- Stipend teams in the Pima region will conclude no later than December 2016 and the resources will shift to Central region to assist in backlog efforts where needed. Backlog teams are forecasted to conclude in the Southwest region by the end of December 2016.
|Strategic Initiative: Define and implement case management job family and compensation structure|
Implement specific actions to realign the pay structure and job classification for the Child Safety Specialist series
|Quarters 1 & 2||- The Child Safety Specialist (CSS) series is comprised of the field case managers that perform in-take, investigations, ongoing case management, and in-home case management. The old structure consisted of three levels and has been streamlined into only one level. The new structure will allow employees to reach the max salary after 1 year and 22 weeks, instead of 2 years, as follows :|
DCS Specialist Trainee new hire - $33,312.45
Promotion to DCS Specialist after 22 weeks - $36,824.52 (must meet expectations in MAP)
After one year as a DCS Specialist - $40,641.32 (must meet expectations in MAP)
- This modification to the structure was completed in July 2016.
|Strategic Initiative: Refine and implement "onboarding" experience|
Improve employee onboarding, training, and coaching for case-carrying staff and supervisors
|Quarters 1 & 2|
- Over the years, modifications have been made to CORE training, the training newly hired case managers receive. It has been consistently communicated that new case managers are coming out of CORE without the proper readiness to complete their responsibilities successfully. A four-day process improvement event was held in November 2016, which identified that the curriculum within CORE does not need to be modified, but the way it is trained and the amount of time focused on each topic needs to be re-assessed.
- The CORE curriculum is being updated to incorporate adult learning techniques, training topics will be re-ordered, and the content will dictate length of CORE training. Additionally, CORE will include “breaks” so that case managers have time to gain field experience to apply classroom training.
- An Imagineering committee has been established and consists of representation from the Child Welfare Training Institute (CWTI), the Arizona State University Center for Child Wellbeing, and other subject matter experts as applicable. The committee meets each Friday to review materials developed and report out on the project status. The project in its entirety is estimated to roll out in spring 2017.
- As an extension of the renovations to CORE training, CWTI will be adding in “DCS 101: Welcome and Onboarding” to promote improved onboarding process for all newly hired DCS employees. The curriculum is scheduled to be finalized in January 2017, at which point the curriculum will be piloted with new employees starting with DCS, some employees who recently came onboard without this training, and several supervisors from the field and business operations. Feedback will be collected and modifications to the curriculum will be made as necessary. The pilot for DCS 101 is planned for February 2017.
|Strategic Initiative: Define and implement a leadership development program for all people leaders|
Implement a leadership program for supervisors and managers to develop general management and leadership skillsets
|Quarters 1 & 2||- Supervisor CORE is the main training used to prepare field supervisors for their role. Similar challenges exist with the current delivery of the training as were addressed in the redesign of CORE training. To ensure proper alignment between the training curriculum and adult learning methods that are being revised in CORE training, this strategic initiative is on hold until May 2017.|
- The Department is exploring the redesign of the Field Training Officer (FTO) positions within the Department. The goal is to have the FTO available to mentor and coach supervisors and case managers in the field, as requested and as needs are identified through the Office of Quality Improvement. Strategies for deployment are being developed.