Conference Program Agenda and Descriptions

Wednesday, March 23

8:30-9:00 AM

Welcome and Introductions

Presented by Dave McDowell, Shahla Craggs

9:00-10:15 AM

Opening Keynote: “Some Questions Are Almost Too Tough to Answer”

Presented by Paul DiLorenzo

Improving the quality of child welfare services ensures the best possible outcomes for kids and families, which means asking difficult questions of ourselves and our stakeholders. The answers are likely to be nuanced and might not always provide a direct path forward. For example, distinguishing between the socio-economic issues facing a family and what has traditionally been labeled neglect is a pressing issue. However, our work assuring child safety and supporting families presents many questions that require challenging conversations. Our responsibility to the families and the public we serve requires us to go a little deeper with our questions and with our ideas about how we—and the community—define quality improvement.

10:15-10:30 AM


10:30 AM-12:00 PM


Nuts and Bolts of CQI: Part 1

Presented by Lily Alpert, Wendy Wiegmann

Nuts & Bolts provides an introduction to evidence-based decision-making in the cyclical process of improvement. In Part 1, we'll review the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle and the components of an evidence-based theory of change. We'll also work to articulate the kinds of questions that drive the process of improvement. In Part 2, we'll review best practices in evidence building, namely, how to answer performance questions so that analyses result in representative evidence about child and family outcomes.

CQI and the Workforce

Presented by Anita Barbee

This workshop will provide an overview of applying CQI principles and data analytics to issues facing the workforce.

Data Visualization: 101 and Best Practices

Presented by Ann Emery

Are your takeaway findings getting lost? Bad graphs can slow down a viewer's understanding, increase cognitive load, and fail to inform decision-making processes. With intentional editing, we can design visualizations that inform and inspire. During this training with Ann K. Emery, we will walk through a step-by-step design process that you can apply to your projects. You will learn how to customize your visualization for your audience; choose the correct chart for your message; declutter your visuals to focus on the data; reinforce your branding with custom color palettes and typography; increase accessibility by ensuring that your visuals are legible for people with color vision deficiencies. Finally, you will learn to tell a story through dark colors (saturation), clear titles, and call-out boxes (annotations). Visualizing data through charts, tables, and diagrams helps you deliver bite-sized information that viewers can understand at a glance and retain for the long run. 

Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE)

Presented by Wanda Casillas

Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) is often described as a way of thinking, a stance taken or an emerging approach to evaluation that centers culture and context in all steps of an evaluation process. Though critics of CRE claim it does not follow traditional stepwise protocols, it does provide a timely and necessary foundation for critically informing best practices in evaluation design, implementation and utilization. When combined with existing practitioner toolkits and methodologies, a CRE approach can position an evaluator to create robust, thoughtful and valid evaluation designs that optimize effectiveness for evaluands and utilization of evaluation findings. In this workshop, we will engage with a core set of CRE and systems principles to anchor evaluation practice in an approach that identifies and addresses important cultural and contextual systems in which evaluations and their stakeholders are embedded.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning: The Role of the Leader

Presented by Dave McDowell, Alison Book

The interactive discussion will focus on the role of the leader in creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement by turning CQI into a management philosophy as opposed to a set of functions carried out in a specific section of an agency. Presenters will share strategies, stories, and recommendations and will create space for peer sharing and learning.

How We're Reimagining Child Welfare for Justice in Travis County, Texas

Presented by Nicole Garay, Honorable Judge Aurora Martinez Jones, Michael Martinez, Eloise Sepeda, Jennifer Rich

Travis County Child Welfare Reimagined is working toward a future where every child and family in our community gets the support they need to be safe, healthy and connected. The initiative is being driven by the Travis County Child Welfare Race Equity Collaborative (CWREC), founded in 2018 to address data, indicating that our child welfare system was disproportionately harsh on African American children and families. In this session, you will learn about CWREC's unique collaboration between professionals and the community, our plan to reimagine the child welfare system with equity at the center, and the process we are putting in place to get there. You will also learn about our partnership with TheCaseMade to design a narrative guide that will equip our collaborative members to make the most robust case for our work out in the community.

12:00-1:00 PM

Lunch Break

1:00-2:15 PM

Keynote Presentation: “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—The State’s Efforts”

Presented by Greg Rose, Marcela Ruiz

The California Department of Social Services has been working to improve its systems in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion founded in a CQI framework. This keynote will discuss CDSS’ efforts, successes, challenges and future direction.

2:15-2:30 PM


2:30-4:00 PM


Data Visualization: A Deep Dive on How Data Visualization and Graphic Design Can Be Applied to Reports

Presented by Ann Emery

Are you tired of lengthy reports with statistical jargon? What if we used fewer paragraphs and more graphs? When our audiences can understand the information, it is more likely to inform decision-making. In this training with Ann K. Emery, we will walk through the Report Redesign Pyramid. You will learn to follow the 30-3-1 approach; design a one-pager with eight ingredients; add a 20-minute cover; visually chunk the content with color-coded dividers; add 15+ different styles of visuals using our checklist. Dusty Shelf Reports are not inevitable, and reports are not supposed to feel daunting.

Data Sources: How and When to Use Them

Presented by Bill James, Wendy Wiegmann

California is fortunate to have access to many data sources. This workshop will provide an overview of SafeMeasures, CFSR case review data, the State Center for Child Welfare Data web tool, and the UC Berkeley California Child Welfare Indicators (CCWIP) data. We will review how to use these data sources to inform your CQI processes. User tips will be provided!

Recommendations from a Data Workgroup to Measure Substance Use as a Complicating Factor in Child Welfare Involvement

Presented by Daniel Webster, Charles Robbins, Howard Himes

Professionals have long felt that substance use as a complicating factor for children and families' involvement with the child welfare system is pervasive yet often underreported. Research has shown that substance use problems affect anywhere from one-half to more than two out of three child welfare-involved families—however, California routinely reports estimates that are understood to be significant undercounts. These low estimates stem from difficulty in collecting and extracting substance use-related data from California's administrative data system. Many substance use data fields within CWS/CMS are not mandatory and are thus undercounted. Without reliable data, child welfare staff cannot realistically implement strategies that positively impact substance use. This workshop will discuss ongoing efforts and draft recommendations of child welfare professionals from 13 counties, CDSS, Evident Change, UC Berkeley, and other stakeholders to draw on existing data that will better identify and monitor substance use as a complicating factor at different points along the child welfare continuum.

A Frontier County Experience: Qualitative Data Mining, Continuous Quality Improvement and Excel Dashboard Creation

Presented by Willie Green, Ph.D., MSUS, GIS

Frontier counties and their isolated communities often lack the writings, resources or data of evidence-based/informed practices for many organizational projects. Action and applied research assisted Trinity County's Child Welfare Services (CWS) and Probation Department practitioners with data and knowledge to efficiently, effectively, and equitably prevent and intervene in child abuse and neglect. Attendees will learn how a qualitative data mining (QDM) project was implemented to support CFSR Case Review (C-CFSR), organize practitioners' "stories from the field," provide data for system improvement plans (SIP), and develop policies and procedures for continuous quality improvement (CQI) and quality assurance (QA). Also, attendees will learn to conduct a low-level QDM project and create an Excel dashboard with tips, limitations, heartaches, recommendations, and lessons learned from this mountain community. A discussion of organizational behavior (OB), CQI, QA, management, leadership, and administrative data systems (ADS) will follow in this presentation of a recently appointed Staff Services Analyst's CWS team experiences with CQI and QDM.

Transformative Power of Coaching to Support a Culture of CQI Improvement

Presented by Naveen Sangwan, Alma Duarte, Tracy Bowers

This workshop will share the transformative power of coaching in bringing a paradigm shift in the belief system and its role in creating and embedding a continuous quality improvement culture within an organization. The workshop will also share the coaching framework, tools and methodology to accomplish the same.

Racial Equity Lens and CQI in Practice

Presented by Amber Joiner-Hill

This session will share findings from exploratory research conducted to assess the application of a racial equity lens to child welfare data collection, analysis, and dissemination. Current characteristics of publicly available datasets will be detailed and the data indicators that child welfare experts, researchers, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice experts would like colleagues to consider when working with children and families. Recommendations and their feasibility will also be discussed. Session attendees will be allowed to share their best practices and lessons learned as they have attempted to apply racial equity to their work.

Making the Most of Online Monitoring System (OMS) Reports

Presented by CDSS, Deborah Bresnick

All CFSR Case Review Quality Assurance staff throughout the state have access to a number of data and management reports through the OMS. This session will walk-through how to access and interpret a number of reports, export data from OMS and highlight some of the potential uses of the data in county CQI processes.

Thursday, March 24

8:30-9:00 AM


Presented by Susan Brooks

9:00-10:00 AM

Keynote Presentation: Early Lessons Learned in Moving Child Welfare Upstream, Family First Prevention Services, Kansas

Presented by Kaela Byers, Ph.D., M.S.W., Jared Barton, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Family First Prevention Services launched in Kansas in 2019, signaling a new federal focus and statewide commitment to prevention. Following two years of implementation and evaluation, Drs. Kaela Byers and Jared Barton will share the story and lessons of this program from the evaluation and data use perspective. Specifically, they will discuss the story of how Family First came to be, preview early outcomes and successes, and share lessons learned along the journey. This session will highlight the vision of the Kansas Family First implementation and the practical implications of this critical shift toward prevention that centers on a community-based, collective impact framework.

10:00-10:15 AM


10:15-11:45 AM


Nuts and Bolts of CQI, Part 2

Presented by Wendy Wiegmann, Lily Alpert

Nuts & Bolts provides an introduction to evidence-based decision-making in the cyclical process of improvement. In Part 1, we'll review the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle and the components of an evidence-based theory of change. We'll also work to articulate the kinds of questions that drive the process of improvement. In Part 2, we'll review best practices in evidence building, namely, how to answer performance questions so that analyses result in representative evidence about child and family outcomes.

How the Kansas Family First Initiative Brings Together Data for CQI

Presented by Jared Barton, Kaela Byers

In this breakout session, presenters will build upon the keynote address regarding the early implementation and CQI processes of the Kansas Family First Prevention Services (FFPSA) initiative. Specifically, presenters will detail how they planned, executed, and compiled complex datasets across multiple sources into a centralized and interactive reporting tool for partners at all levels of implementation. Data sources included client-level service and assessment data from community-based prevention service providers and state agency child welfare administrative data. The session will demonstrate how the centralized data tool, Results-Oriented Management Reports (ROM Reports), was tailored to accommodate reports for prevention services and the unique needs of the Kansas FFPSA initiative. Finally, members of the FFPSA evaluation team from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare will expand on utilizing data pulled from ROM Reports to engage community partners and ensure data quality.

Family Matters! How a Focus on Family Can Expedite Permanency and Improve Well-Being, and How to Engage Staff in Advancing this Work through CQI and Creating a Culture of Best Practitioners

Presented by Nicole Garay, Amy Zimmermann, Matt Claps

This presentation will highlight Casey's Child and Family Services (CFS) recent evaluation findings, The Data-to-Practice Series, a series that highlights how youth in foster care are connected to family, will increase the likelihood of exiting to permanency, regardless of the youth's level of need. A variety of data will be shared in this workshop, including CFS's use of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment and other indicators and outcomes of practice. In addition to presenting findings, this workshop will highlight how Casey engages our staff in our ongoing continuous quality improvement (CQI) processes to create a culture of best practitioners. We believe those closest to the challenges of direct services, our frontline staff, typically already know the answers to the most vexing practice questions, and it is our role as leaders to establish a process to learn from and share their unique insights.

Mapping Community Indicators and the Opportunities They Present

Presented by Kirk O'Brien, Catherine Roller White, Dana Blackwell, Katie Fidrych, Rachel Vaca-Lubischer, Bill Stanton

The Community Opportunity Map (COM) developed by Casey Family Programs is an interactive tool that highlights the aspects of communities that are associated with safe children and strong families. This interactive, research-based framework is composed of select community indicators and is available for any community in the nation to use. The Nebraska Community Opportunity Map (NE COM) is an interactive tool that was developed by NE partners and tailored to mee local needs. This workshop will provide a deeper dive into both tools and illustrate how they can be used by various audiences (direct services staff, data/research staff, administration, etc.). We will present both tools and provide participants an opportunity to look at data in their communities and engage in conversation about how the tool can be utilized.

From Detection-Correction to Prevention: High-Quality Service Delivery in a Multi-EBP Environment

Presented by Khush Cooper

Not only should we be thinking about the prevention of harm for families as we implement Families First-funded services, but the same also applies to thinking about our internal processes that ensure quality now and in the future. Many IV-E Agencies will opt into FFPSA and implement its associated evidence-based practices to prevent entries to foster care. This workshop will provide practices and tactics beneficial to implement and maintain a multi-EBP program, providing the proper outcomes for suitable families and the right cost.

Creative Ways to Connect the Dots: County Strategies for Finding and Utilizing Substance Use Data

Presented by Najeeb Kamil, Casey Coneway, Lillian Chang

Understanding the degree to which substance abuse impacts our families is essential for case management and ongoing CQI efforts. In this session, presenters from two counties will describe their efforts to track and monitor the prevalence of substance use and the utilization of contracted services such as drug treatment. One county will also present preliminary data connecting substance use to child welfare outcomes such as reunification.

11:45 AM-12:45 PM

Lunch Break

12:45-1:45 PM

Keynote Presentation: How to Create a More Efficient and Data-Driven Environment for Human Services - Allegheny County

Presented by Erin Dalton

For nearly two decades of operation, Allegheny County—the second largest county in Pennsylvania and home to the Pittsburgh metropolitan area–has benefited from an innovative technology infrastructure intended to create a more efficient and data-driven environment for the delivery of human services. Known as the Data Warehouse, this tool brings together dozens of data sources to aid in improving service to Allegheny County’s Department of Human Service (DHS) clients, enhances the ability of caseworkers to perform their jobs, enriches the capacity of individuals to manage and administer DHS programs and services, and evaluates the effectiveness and quality of DHS policies and operations. This keynote address will explore how the Data Warehouse is used for continuous quality improvement.

1:45-2:00 PM


2:00-3:30 PM


Deeper Dive with Allegany County

Presented by Erin Dalton

Description coming soon

Using Geographic Data to Explore the Community Context for Racial Disparities

Presented by Wendy Wiegmann

Exploring racial disparity within specific communities can often reveal the unique ways that children of color enter and exit the child welfare system. By using community demographic data as a background, this presentation will demonstrate how to explore racial disproportionality within community contexts, with thought-provoking questions to further our discussion.

RADD Data at the Heart: Building a Data Literacy Learning Program

Presented by Patricia Willers, Jacquelyn Alvarez

"In CDSS, data and information belong to everyone. In this CFSD CQI Statewide Conference Workshop, participants will introduce Data at the Heart, a CDSS data literacy initiative. Presenters will explain the how and why of the initiative since its inception in late 2020. We will look at valuable resources and applied examples, including brief activities related to data comprehension, implementation of a critical equity lens, collaboration and team-building skills and more.

Alameda County's Equity and Inclusion Fellowship: Deconstructing Structural Racism in Child Welfare

Presented by Lamont Thomas, Greyson Coyopa Wright, Marya Wright, Brittany Walker Pettigrew

Alameda County tried several strategies to address the over-representation of BIPOC families in child welfare with some success. However, our results were still not where we needed them to be. The hope for implementing Safety Organized Practice (SOP) was to build on our progress after implementing Structured Decision Making. However, we found our implementation of SOP tools hampered by the lack of awareness of how structural racism impacted our day-to-day work with families. A diverse team of managers, supervisors, child welfare workers, Regional Training Academy members, a parent advocate, and a youth advocate came together to develop an 8-module Fellowship that compels participants to examine the ways white supremacy culture manifests in child welfare and discover how to implement the antidotes in order to engage the community in more just and inclusive ways.

DEI and the Workforce

Presented by Anita Barbee

This workshop will provide an overview of race equity principles and how those can be applied to recruitment, hiring, onboarding, mentoring, supervising, promoting and supporting a diverse staff so that they want to come to your agency, will feel included in the agency and will want to stay at your agency.

Tools, Tools, Tools: What Are Fidelity Tools and Why Do We Need Them?

Presented by Julia Hernandez, David Plassman, Andreanna Riley, Wuijai Golly, Tami McCalip

This workshop will provide an overview of fidelity tools and their importance in CQI and social work practice. A panel will present three key fidelity projects/tools for current social work practice, including Safety Organized Practice, Core Practice Model, and Diversity and Equity.

Continuous Quality Improvement in Social Services (CalWORKs Outcomes and Accountability Review – Cal-OAR)

Presented by Shannon Rohall, Tyler Green, Joseph Sapp

Cal-OAR is a local, data-driven program management system that facilitates continuous improvement of county CalWORKs programs by collecting, analyzing and disseminating outcomes and best practices. Cal-OAR consists of three core components: performance indicators, a county CalWORKs self-assessment (Cal-CSA), and a CalWORKs system improvement plan (Cal-SIP).

The creation and structure of Cal-OAR was informed by the Child Welfare Services own CQI process, including the three-phase reporting process and 5-year cycle length. Cal-OAR also includes 26 performance measures through which counties may evaluate their CalWORKs program performance and quantify improvement efforts over time. In that CalWORKs and the Child Welfare Service program may share clients, many measures, especially social and demographic performance measure data, may be complimentary to the Child Welfare Service CQI efforts.

Making the Most of Online Monitoring System (OMS) Reports

Presented by CDSS, Deborah Bresnick

All CFSR Case Review Quality Assurance staff throughout the state have access to a number of data and management reports through the OMS. This session will walk-through how to access and interpret a number of reports, export data from OMS, and highlight some of the potential uses of the data in county CQI processes.

3:30-4:00 PM

Closing Session