The Impact of Child and Family
Service Reviews on Knowledge
Pamela A. Mischen
This article uses knowledge management as a framework
to analyze the impact of the child and family review
process on child protective service agencies. Results of a
qualitative analysis of child and family service reviews and
program improvement plans indicated that the process has
led to an increase in the use of family team meetings and
risk assessment tools as ways of managing information and
Pamela A. Mischen PhD is Assistant Professor, Binghamton University, Department of
Public Administration, Binghamton, New York.
126 CHILD WELFARE • VOL. 87, #5
Child protective service (CPS) agencies derive their authority
from Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.
Until January 2000, however, the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services (USDHHS) did little to monitor state
CPS agency performance. In 2000, USDHHS established a process
to monitor state implementation of Titles IV-B and IV-E as well as
the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which clarified and
amended many sections of the Social Security Act. Part of this
process is the completion of a child and family services review
(CFSR) in which state child welfare agencies are assessed with
respect to seven outcomes related to child safety, permanency, and
well-being, as well as to seven systemic factors. States that do not
achieve substantial conformity with all 14 of these measures are required
to submit a program improvement plan (PIP) that outlines
steps the agency will take toward the performance goals.
The first round of CFSRs were conducted between 2001 and
2004. The CFSR is a product of a five-day site visit during which
reviewers from USDHHS visit three sites within each state and conduct
interviews with internal and external stakeholders, including
children and families engaged in services, and reviews of 50 randomly
selected cases. The CFSRs cover 45 performance measures in
the seven outcome and seven systemic factor categories. The PIPs
are submitted to the Administration for Children and Families
(ACF) after the CFSR is completed, and they outline the agencies’
strategies to meet performance goals over a two-year period.
No state achieved “substantial conformity” on all 14 categories. In
fact, achievement of the safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes
was appallingly low overall. As a result, all 50 states (plus
Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico) were required to submit PIPs.
Whether these efforts will result in improved outcomes is yet
to be seen. The second round of CFSRs was completed in 2007.
Address reprint requests to Pamela A. Mischen, Binghamton University, Department of
Public Administration, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000. E-mail: pmischen@
While progress toward outcomes is not quantifiable at this time,
the impact that the performance measurement process is having
on agency structure and function is discernable through the CFSRs
and PIPs. The purpose of this article is to discuss the changes
brought about by this process in terms of knowledge management.
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