Practice Model

Practice Model

The purpose of an effective practice model is to define how the public child welfare agency engages families, youth and the community in developing and delivering a continuously evolving array of services that meets the unique needs of those served by the agency and leads the agency to achieve desired outcomes. The practice model defines standards of practice and identifies ways in which evidence-informed strategies can help the field understand and ameliorate the root causes of maltreatment. The practice model defines how the outcomes will be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively.


The objective of the practice model is to promote practice that is evidence-informed and guided by values and principles and therefore increases the likelihood of positive outcomes for children, youth, families and the community. It is the experience of public child welfare agencies that have developed practice models that they have significantly benefited from the direction and consistency provided.


This Guidance Provides Answers to These and Other Questions

  • What are the key components, values, principles and outcomes of an effective practice model?
  • What is the service array of an effective practice model? What is the basic or minimum level of care that a practice model must deliver? What is the work required and what are the standards, e.g., service protocols, process and quality of care issues and service array?
  • What are the critical tools, guides, materials and templates that support the practice model and what are the standards for them?
  • How often and for what reasons should a practice model be updated?
  • Who are the critical stakeholders in the practice model and what do they need and value, e.g., parents, judges? 
  • What are the roles and responsibilities for staff at all levels in the agency related to the practice model including what decisions are made by whom and under what conditions?
  • Where and with whom should responsibility be vested for the implementation, monitoring and continuous improvement of a practice model?
  • When and in what ways should the practice model be communicated to staff and other critical stakeholders?
  • What factors may enhance or hinder the effort to implement, monitor and continuously improve the practice model and howshould these be handled?

Why Is This Critical Area Important to the Field of Public Child Welfare?
  • An effective practice model will consider all of its values, principles and guidance in building and supporting the vital relationship between staff and children, youth and families.
  • The purpose of an effective practice model is to define how the public child welfare agency engages families, youth and the community in developing and delivering a services array that meets the unique needs of those served by the agency and leads the agency to achieve desired outcomes.
  • The practice model guidance is anchored in the basic belief that people can and do change. This “theory of change” is carried out when all staff in the agency are committed to the belief that families are in the best position to identify their own needs and, when fully engaged in the identific tion of the supports and services to best meet these needs, the end result will be change and improvement in their lives.
How Will Outcomes Be Achieved For and With Children, Youth and Families?
  • A well-developed practice model will expose the resources and performance capacity needed to create quality outcomes for an agency.
  • The practice model provides for the development of quality assurance processes and information flow that produces the feedback from the environment necessary for continuous improvement.
  • All work that is done when creating a practice model is completed with an eye toward the improvement of outcomes of those involved with the public child welfare system.
  • When leadership thinks critically, reflecting on the agency as a system and identifies desired outcomes as part of practice model development, current gaps become obvious. Opportunities then present to address defici s in resources (work force,finance, technology and office space), tasks, key processes, policy, data collection and outputs.

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