Press Release - May 7, 2014

Contact:  Andrea Wojcik
302-633-2501 or 985-1330 (c)

Division of Family Services Transformation Effort Recognized
Outcomes Matter initiative results in improved outcomes for children and their families

Dover -  Governor Jack Markell joined Children’s Department Secretary Jennifer Ranji and over 300 Division of Family Services (DFS) staff members to celebrate progress and early successes in a two and half year long system transformation effort .  The work done in conjunction with nearly $2M in technical assistance from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and other partners has been branded Outcomes Matter. Outcomes Matter has focused on enhancing practice to improve outcomes for children and families, while maintaining child safety. 

There were 17 different components of the initiative which have been rolled out over the two years resulting in some significant progress including:  

  • 45% reduction in all entries into foster care;
  • 40% reduction in teen entries;
  • 66% increase in being able to place teens initially with relatives;
  • All while maintaining some of the lowest recurrence of maltreatment and reentry to foster care in the country.

“None of these accomplishments would be possible without the group effort needed to examine where you were and the courage to accept the challenge to use data to guide innovation and map out a new path for yourselves,” said Governor Jack Markell, speaking at the May 7th event held at the Duncan Center. “I want to thank each of you for your dedication to the children and families of Delaware.”

“I am most proud of the fact that the staff drove the majority of system changes themselves,” said Children’s Department Secretary Jennifer Ranji. “This was not a directive that came from the administration. This was the result of staff taking ownership of a movement to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve.”

Of particular note are the reductions in the number of teens entering care, which in part was accomplished through two efforts called Team Decision Making which calls family and stakeholder meetings in an effort to head off an entry into foster care, and Differential Response, which connects families primarily dealing with parent-child conflict with appropriate resources instead of the traditional DFS investigation.  Additionally, a combination of strategies resulted in more stable placements for youth in care, reducing the number of times they move to a new home. 

“I am so proud of each and every person on my staff for the mammoth amount of work they’ve done in a relatively short time,” said DFS Director Vicky Kelly.  “Almost all states are struggling with teen foster care entries, but through Differential Response and other strategies, Delaware has truly made a dent in this issue.  And while our work is far from done, I feel we are on the right path to continue our positive outcomes.”

The celebration and recognition event also marked the end of over  two year’ s worth of technical assistance provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). Secretary Ranji and Director Kelly thanked the Foundation for its ongoing partnership with the Department.  AECF also partnered with the Agency’s Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services several years ago on improvements to the juvenile justice system which resulted in reductions in secure care populations.

AECF President and CEO Patrick McCarthy, who spoke at the event, praised Delaware for its effort and its progress.  “We at Casey have been impressed with the extraordinarily comprehensive transformation effort in child welfare that Delaware has accomplished in such short a time period – just two years. We know everyone here will continue to use these strategies to ensure that even more children are being cared for in loving families and in supportive communities.”

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov .