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American Public Human Services Association
American Public Human Services Association
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Parameters of the Guidance


There are four (4) parameters that serve as a foundation for all critical areas of the guidance and must be considered when using it. These parameters are:
  • Values and principles that guide the field and its work
  • The population to be served by public child welfare
  • The role of public child welfare in providing services to the target population
  • The role that disparities and disproportionality play in an agency’s ability to achieve positive outcomes for children, youth and families

Values and Principles

Value: Shared Responsibility
Principle: Supporting the well-being of children, youth and families is a shared government and community responsibility. The field of public child welfare supports well-being by promoting the safety and permanency of children and youth whose families are unwilling or unable to meet their needs or protect them. Public child welfare also serves as a catalyst in identifying the role and responsibility of the community to assist these same children, youth and families.

Value: Child Centered
Principle: Children are entitled to live in a safe and permanent home and need families to be successful.

Value: Family Focused
Principle: Families of origin have the right and the responsibility to raise their children. The field recognizes its responsibility to provide a range of preventative and/or supportive services to families having difficulty in providing a safe and permanent environment.

Value: Culturally Competent
Principle: The field has a responsibility to understand and serve children, youth and families within the context of their unique beliefs, values, race, ethnicity, history, culture, religion and language.

Value: Inclusive
Principle: The field of public child welfare recognizes value in the child, the biological family and individuals in the child's life participating in the assessment, planning and service delivery/treatment processes. These processes should be designed to optimize active participation and promote the expression of individual choices.

Value: Trustworthy
Principle: The field of public child welfare recognizes that it must be benevolent, act with integrity, perform reliably and demonstrate competence in all interactions.

Value: Accountable
Principle: The field of public child welfare recognizes its responsibility to itself and its stakeholders to assess and manage its performance, self-correct, innovate and enhance its ability to achieve positive outcomes.

Value: Collaborative
Principle: The field of public child welfare recognizes the need to work in collaboration with stakeholders and the community to promote safety, permanency and well-being for children, youth and families.

Value: Transparent
Principle: The field of public child welfare recognizes the need for all practices, service delivery, communications and behaviors to be easily understood, fully defined and explained, candid and open.

Value: Data and Evidence Informed
Principle: The field of public child welfare recognizes that the use of data and evidence informed practice is critical for effective decision-making on behalf of children, youth and families.

Target Populations Served by Public Child Welfare

The population for whom the guidance was developed is varied and must be considered as policies and practices are established. The population for whom public child welfare has primary responsibility consists of the following:
  • Children, youth and families where allegations of abuse and/or neglect have been made
  • Children, youth and families where a high risk of abuse and/or neglect has been identified
  • Children and youth who are in the custody of the public child welfare system and their families
  • Children, youth and their families who are not in the custody of the public child welfare system, but for whom the provision of services or ongoing oversight is mandated by a court
The population for whom public child welfare has a shared responsibility with the community consists of the following:
  • Children, youth and families where need is self identified or allegations have not risen to a founded case but who may still need services
  • Children and youth who were in custody of the public child welfare system and their families (refers to children and youth in adoptive homes, in kinship and guardianship, etc.)
  • Youth who are emancipated or transitioned from foster care.

Role of Public Child Welfare

The role of public child welfare in meeting the needs of children, youth and families must be clear to children, youth and families, the agency and stakeholders. It is both a primary and shared responsibility to those mentioned above. The role of public child welfare related to its primary population is:
  • To identify and prevent child abuse and neglect
  • To secure a basic level of care commensurate with the needs of the target population
  • To investigate abuse and neglect
  • To assess the overall functioning of families who come to the attention of public child welfare
  • To determine the safety, risk and permanency needs of children and youth
  • To develop, implement and monitor a service plan designed to achieve the identified outcomes for children, youth and families
  • To engage and empower children, youth and families as they navigate the public child welfare system
  • To advocate for and provide services from both the public and private sector to the targeted populations
The role of public child welfare in conjunction with stakeholders and the community in a “shared responsibility” relationship is:
  • To identify and prevent child abuse and neglect
  • To provide education and awareness of public child welfare issues
  • To protect children and youth from abuse and neglect
  • To pursue services in a variety of areas of need for emancipated or transitioned youth

Disparity and Disproportionality

Disproportionality is a pervasive issue in public child welfare. Racial disproportionality, in particular, is found in the over- and under-representation of children of color in public child welfare systems. This imbalance is caused by disparities in society and that poorly provides or inadequately addresses a family’s underlying needs. As a result, disparities typically result in the family’s inability to access quality care, resources, services or opportunities to thrive and places families at increased risk of experiencing negative child and family outcomes. Because the issue of disparity and disproportionality holds such significance for the field, its occurrence is addressed as its own critical area within the guidance, i.e. Disparity and Disproportionality is listed as a critical area along with the other thirteen (13) critical areas. Additionally, each critical area includes guidance on Disparity and Disproportionality from the perspective of that particular critical area, e.g. in the critical area of Communications, Disparity and Disproportionality is specifically addressed.