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Child & Family Services Review (CFSR) 

Federal and State CFSRs

The Child Welfare System Improvement as it is known in the State of California today is the result of not only the federal Child & Family Services Review process but a number of other contributing and complimentary factors such as the Child Welfare Stakeholders Group, and California Assembly Bill 636.

The 1994 Amendments to the Social Security Act authorized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to review State child and family service programs in order to assure compliance with the State plan requirements in titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, which are the primary sources of federal child welfare funding to states. The reviews cover child protective services, foster care, adoption, family preservation, family support, and independent living. They are designed to help States improve child welfare services and the outcomes for families and children who receive services by identifying strengths and needs within State programs, as well as areas where technical assistance can lead to program improvements.

In 2000, the California Legislature created a statewide Child Welfare Stakeholders Group to review the state’s child welfare system and make recommendations for improvement and change. Over a three-year period, the stakeholders group forged a blueprint for overhauling the system, concluding its work in 2003. Its final report is referred to as the Child Welfare Services Redesign, and state and county efforts have shifted to implementing key elements. Principal efforts are focused on developing a statewide safety assessment system (Structured Decisionmaking or SDM) to ensure that all counties use consistent procedures to determine if a child is being abused or neglected, improving the child abuse hotline response system to better enable social workers to screen and refer families for community services (Differential Response), and promoting permanent connections for youth and improved transitions to adulthood (for example, implementation of family meetings like Team Decisionmaking or TDM). In fact, Tehama County was one of 11 California counties to pilot the CWS Redesign efforts, becoming early implementers of SDM, Differential Response, and TDM (as part of the Family to Family Initiative).

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 636 in 2001 and the three-year cycle for implementation began in January 2004. Briefly, this bill:

  • Requires data to be provided to counties on a quarterly basis to assist them in assessing their outcomes (UC Berkeley Quarterly Reports). This initiated the tracking of outcomes of children in foster care by child welfare, which up to this point has been a system that was process focused.
  • Requires counties to publicly share results/outcomes and collaborate with community partners.
  • Supports state, county and local partnerships.
  • Requires all counties to submit a specific System Improvement Plan (SIP) after having completed a thorough County Self-Assessment (CSA).This process will be repeated every three years to assess current performance and the county’s Board of Supervisors must approve SIPs.
  • Encourages interagency coordination and shared responsibility for outcomes - Peer Quality Case Reveiws (PQCR) to be completed by counties.

For more information on the CFSR please visit:

For more information on Child Welfare System Improvements please visit, click here.

For more CWS data, as compiled by U.C. Berkeley, please visit the UCB Dynamic Reporting site.