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«P.O. Box 6030 s/c C010-23A Douglas A. Ducey, Governor Phoenix AZ 85005-6030 Gregory McKay, Director Foreword Arizona’s present and ...»

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Arizona Department

of Child Safety

Strategic Plan

State Fiscal Year 2016

P.O. Box 6030 s/c C010-23A Douglas A. Ducey, Governor

Phoenix AZ 85005-6030 Gregory McKay, Director



Arizona’s present and future health is dependent upon the safety, strength, and resiliency of children and

families. At times, those very people become dependent upon our shared systems and need expedient and

appropriate intervention to reestablish growth and renewal. We must act to ensure all systems that touch Arizona’s child welfare system have the proper culture, processes and people to effectuate this vital mission.

The Department of Child Safety is proud to present a Strategic Plan to guide us on the correct path and launch a true Theory of Change that is desperately needed. The Department of Child Safety desires a spirit of shared accountability, recognizing multiple systems interact with children and families and more importantly, we can’t do it alone.

Within this plan, five strategic goals are described. These five goals are linked throughout our Department’s business process and each directly impacts the other. While concentrating on one of these areas we must realize the potential risks and rewards experienced by others. Without preparation, results achieved in one area could degrade the other. By thoughtfully approaching these goals as a continuum, we understand the underlying causes and true remedies to impact these challenges across the board. Achieving positive outcomes within these five strategic goals will pave the way for substantial, sustainable reform for Arizona’s child welfare system.

Gregory McKay Director Table of Contents Overview


Strategic Planning Process


External Consultation and Federal Oversight Stakeholder Engagement Vision, Mission, and Values


Strategic Goals


Goal One: Improve Objective Decision-Making at the Hotline and Investigations Goal Two: Improve performance and quality of service through employee retention Goal Three: Reduce length of stay for children in out-of-home care Goal Four: Reduce recurrence of maltreatment by improving service delivery Goal Five: Improve capacity to place children in family environments Working Initiatives Metrics




Overview The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS or the Department) is committed to becoming a national leader for child safety through a well-run, efficient, and effective organization based on best practices. DCS believes that thoughtful planning that responds to multiple timelines, addresses all levels and functions of the organization, and leverages our greatest strength – our workforce – are essential components of this commitment.

The Department’s strategic plan outlines a comprehensive and clear approach to accomplishing the critical yet highly complex work of achieving safety, permanency, and well-being for Arizona’s children. DCS recognizes that the best plan for the Department must lay out strategies to both immediately address some of the urgent issues facing the Department as well as build a strong organization for the future. It must also take into account advice, evaluation, and consultation provided by leading experts in our field. Therefore, the strategic plan includes several levels of activity that will move the Department forward over the short term and will set the Department up for long term success.

The strategic plan outlined in the following pages is ambitious yet necessary to ensure we accomplish our vision and mission. We will take a partnership approach to this strategic plan, and we as a Department look forward to working with our community partners, providers, foster families, legislators, oversight bodies, stakeholders, and the citizens of Arizona at large to ensure Arizona’s children are safe and families are strong.

Strategic Planning Process The Department, with the support of Casey Family Programs, engaged Clarus Consulting Group (Clarus) to assist in the development of an agency wide strategic plan. Clarus worked closely with representatives from DCS and Casey Family Programs to design a phased approach built around data gathered from key internal and external stakeholders in the form of interviews, focus groups, and online surveys. Additionally, DCS thoughtfully reviewed and incorporated a number of recommendations from national and local child welfare organizations. Through this process, DCS has established a solid foundation for organizational planning that can be continued and shaped into initiatives that respond to ongoing priorities and new ideas for carrying the Department into the future.

External Consultation and Federal Oversight DCS has relied on the advice, evaluation, and consultation of leading national child welfare organizations, including Casey Family Programs, Chapin Hall, and the Federal Children’s Bureau. These organizations have committed both financial and technical resources in evaluating DCS and making recommendations, and we are pleased that they will continue to provide support for our progress as a Department. Chart 1 outlines some of these stakeholder resources and recommendations the Department considered.

STRATEGIC PLAN - JULY 2015 1 Chart 1: Planning Continuum The recommendations from the Chapin Hall Independent Review were taken into consideration when developing the strategic goals, objectives, and deliverables. The report confirmed many of the same areas of

need that DCS leadership had identified. Specifically, the report outlined the following systemic risks:

investigations and entries, service array, capacity at the courts, permanency and exits, evidence-based practices, accountability, engagement, and collaboration with law enforcement. The Department had several efforts already underway to address the recommendations and those efforts were included in the response to the Chapin Hall report and in the Department’s strategic plan.

During the development of the strategic plan, the Department also referenced the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) that is conducted by the federal Children’s Bureau. As the cognizant state agency for Title IVB and Title IV-E funding, DCS must participate in the CFSR as a method of ensuring conformity and compliance with federal regulations. This review closely examines child and family outcomes, and systemic factors through a variety of methods including case reviews, and interviews with stakeholders and families.

The results of the review are shared with DCS and any areas needing improvement require a Program Improvement Plan (PIP). The significant alignment between the strategic plan and the CFSR requirements will allow the Department to be more transparent and accountable to both the state and federal requirements and will begin a consistent dialogue about the well-being of families and children in Arizona.

Stakeholder Engagement In addition to consultation with various child welfare organizations, Clarus guided DCS through a planning process centered on broad stakeholder engagement. The data collection process leveraged the insights and

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 Child Safety and Permanency – The number one priority for the agency is achieving child safety and permanency. This drives the work of leadership, staff, partners, and providers every day.

 Prevention – Legislation creating the new agency was specific in naming prevention as an important part of DCS. Stakeholders agree establishing a functioning prevention system in the state is critical.

 DCS Workforce –Ensuring the workforce has appropriate and ongoing training and support, and recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce, are paramount.

 Communication – Strong internal and external communication will promote transparency, accountability, and trust throughout the agency and between the agency and its partners.

 Partnership – Strengthening partnership at all levels of the organization and with external partners and providers is critical to DCS success.

 Policy, Procedures, and Practices – Stakeholders identify a need for comprehensive evaluation, standardization, and communication of agency policies, procedures, and practices.

 Organizational Culture – The creation of a new agency is an opportunity to create an organizational culture marked by transparency and accountability.

 Technology – Improvements in technology and data management systems will provide much-needed support to staff, facilitate administrative processes, and generate good data to share with partners and guide DCS policy and work.

The strategic plan is representative of a true collaboration informed by the input of hundreds of internal and external stakeholders, best practices across child welfare jurisdictions, and clear vision and direction provided by DCS senior leadership. It aligns and prioritizes recommendations from national experts in a way that allows our stakeholders to be clear about our focus and progress over time and provides clear guidance to our workforce.

Vision, Mission, and Values Establishment of the new Department presented both the opportunity and challenge of building a new agency from its very foundation while continuing to carry out the daily work of keeping Arizona’s children safe. For DCS, this included developing vision and mission statements and a set of core values to communicate the agency’s fundamental purpose and focus. The vision, mission, and values set the tone and direction for the strategic plan.


The comprehensive strategic plan works toward a single vision for the agency:

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This mission clarifies DCS’s purpose and why it should be doing what it does. The focus on successful engagement of children and families communicates how and why DCS reaches and partners with Arizona’s children and families.

Values The plan acknowledges and supports a set of core values that serve as guiding principles for DCS. The following values were identified through the development of the Department’s Practice Model and confirmed

through the strategic planning process:

 Child-Centered: Children belong with families – their own when it is safe to do so and when it’s not, with a safe, permanent family who can meet their unique needs and will maintain their supporting, meaningful connections to continue positive values, beliefs and their cultural legacies.

 Family-Focused: Families have the primary responsibility for raising their children and keeping them safe. Families are the experts regarding their own strengths and needs and will have a voice and decision-making role regarding decisions that affect them and their children.

 Successful Engagement: Children, youth, and families are best served when child welfare staff respect the family, actively listen to them, and invite participation in decision-making to achieve positive outcomes.

 Partnerships and Community: The entire community shares the responsibility of keeping children safe and protected from abuse and neglect.

 Professional Environment and Workforce Excellence: Our professional competence will be demonstrated by an organization and workforce that proactively responds to the changing needs of communities and provides respectful treatment to families.

 Cultural Responsiveness: All children and families have the right to be understood within the context of their own family rules, traditions, history, beliefs, and culture.

 Accountability and Transparency: The child welfare system holds itself accountable to the highest standards of practice at all levels within the organization. We are transparent and responsive to our children, youth, and families as well as our staff, partners, and communities within the limits of confidentiality.

Each of the values listed above guides the agency in achieving its mission and outcomes. They are also the foundation to building the organizational culture. Together, the vision, mission, and values shape the

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Strategic Goals The creation of the Department of Child Safety in May of 2014 was a watershed moment for the State of Arizona. It presented an unprecedented opportunity to refocus attention and resources on the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in Arizona. Recognizing an opportunity to take proactive steps to build on the new agency’s creation, DCS leadership focused on the development of five strategic goals that

address several of the most pressing challenges facing the Department:

1. Improve objective decision-making at the Hotline and investigations

2. Improve performance and quality of service through employee retention

3. Reduce length of stay for children in out-of-home care

4. Reduce recurrence of maltreatment by improving service delivery

5. Improve capacity to place children in family environments 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. With these strategic goals, the agency balances the priorities of being responsive to immediate need while building systems to ensure sustainability and success over the long term.

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Goal One: Improve Objective Decision-Making at the Hotline and Investigations In a statewide agency with a large workforce and complex mission, clearly defined practice standards are critical to success. When calls come into the Hotline, it is important that each call is handled with accuracy and consistency in order to assure that DCS can respond timely and when appropriate. Similarly, clear safety assessment protocols are necessary when investigating allegations of abuse and neglect. As outlined in the deliverables below, DCS will establish data-informed standards, practices, and tools to improve decisionmaking, and implement team reviews of critical cases to establish a continuous quality review of practice.


1.1. Increase the accuracy of referral categorization at the Hotline

1.2. Increase the accuracy of safety and risk assessments in investigations

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