While the District has moved ahead with child welfare reform for more than a decade, recent events have dramatically accelerated progress. Under new leadership in 2012, CFSA and the local child-serving community developed and rallied around a strategic agenda known as the Four Pillars. It is a bold offensive to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families at every step in their involvement with District child welfare. Each pillar features a values-based foundation, a set of evidence-based strategies, and a series of specific outcome targets.
What the Pillars Mean
- Front Door: Children deserve to grow up with their families and should be removed from their birth homes only as the last resort. Child welfare gets involved only when families cannot or will not take care of children themselves. When we must remove a child for safety, we seek to place with relatives first.
- Temporary Safe Haven: Foster care is a good interim place for children to live while we work to get them back to a permanent home as quickly as possible. Planning for a safe exit begins as soon as a child enters the system.
- Well Being: Every child has a right to a nurturing environment that supports healthy growth and development, good physical and mental health, and academic achievement. Institutions don't make good parents. But when we must bring children into care for their safety, we give them excellent support.
- Exit to Permanence: Every child and youth exits foster care as quickly as possible for a safe, well-supported family environment or life-long connection. Older youth have the skills they need to succeed as adults.
Over several months in 2012, CFSA gathered input from a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders about how best to measure whether the Four Pillars strategies were making any difference to children, youth, and families. That work resulted in the Four Pillars Scorecard that reports performance quarterly.