goals of all child welfare activities are to protect children
from physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, or exploitation, and
to provide them with safe, nurturing, permanent families.
Our first choice of intervention is to
strengthen and empower a child's own family, thus assuring the
child safe and nurturant care at home. When successful, this not
only protects children from abuse and neglect, but also prevents
the traumatic and often lifelong developmental and psychological
consequences for children, and their families, of separation and
While the legal authority vested in child welfare
professionals is an essential prerequisite for child protection,
the exercise of this authority is not always the most effective
method of intervention in achieving our goals. Intrusive protective
authority is used only when family members cannot be engaged,
supported, and empowered to collaborate with the agency to assure
their children safe and nurturant care, free from maltreatment.
The model fully supports the appropriate use of authority, but
stresses the role of the caseworker as an enabler, facilitator,
When services to support and empower families
cannot assure protection of children at home, the child welfare
agency must act immediately and decisively to protect children.
This may include out-of-home placement. Placement is a legitimate
child welfare intervention, albeit an intervention of last resort,
to be utilized only when other less intrusive measures are unlikely
to assure the child's safety.
Children should remain only briefly in temporary,
impermanent placements--only as long as is necessary to develop
and implement a permanent plan. This plan may include reunification
with the child's biological family, or permanent placement with
an alternative family.
A family-centered approach to child welfare
is not restricted to a child's biological family. Supportive,
developmental, and therapeutic services must also be provided
to a child's kinship family, foster family, or adoptive family.
This creates a supportive family, neighborhood, and community
milieu in which families can access resources and services to
help them provide a safe and healthy home environment for their
This model reflects a developmental perspective
for all child welfare activities. A developmental perspective
contends that development is a continuous process, influenced
by personal, interpersonal, and environmental factors. This model
also asserts that individuals and families have inherent strengths
and capabilities, and that most people continue to grow and develop
throughout life, particularly when given the proper enabling and
supporting interventions. However, a developmental model does
not acknowledge only personal and family strengths in its assessments
and planning. Problems and limitations cannot be ignored or minimized,
particularly when these contribute to risk of maltreatment for
a child. A developmental model concurrently considers problems,
strengths, and potentials. But, while a purely deficit model might
assume that problem traits and behaviors are permanent, immutable,
and unchangeable conditions, a developmental model contends that,
with the proper enabling supports and interventions, positive
development can occur, and problem areas can be modified, compensated
for, or eliminated.
This model promotes the development of personal
and institutional cultural competence. To become culturally competent,
practitioners must first understand themselves and the effects
of their own culture on their values, perspectives, behaviors,
and judgments about others. They must use culturally relevant
information to establish mutually respectful and productive relationships
with families; to inform all case judgments and decisions; to
identify and help families access culturally relevant service
providers; and to assure cultural continuity and development of
a positive cultural identity for children.
This model promotes a collaborative,
community-based, multi-disciplinary approach to child welfare
practice. It recognizes the necessity of strong community support
and direct involvement with families, if we are to achieve our
mission. The model promotes the development of a community-based
network of formal and informal service providers and resources
that can support the child welfare agency's interventions, and
that can stabilize, support, and sustain families after the child
welfare agency is no longer involved.