photo of familySafety organized practice (SOP) implementation in California began in the northern region in 2008. Over the past decade, this partnership-based approach to engaging children and families and their networks of support has been adopted by many counties across the state, with counties currently at various stages of implementation.

In 2018, the California Department of Social Services rolled out the Integrated Core Practice Model (ICPM), which provides guidance and direction to support county child welfare, juvenile probation and behavioral health agencies and their partners in delivery of timely, effective and collaborative services to children, youth and families. ICPM incorporates the California Child Welfare Core Practice Model (CPM), Katie A. Core Practice Model, Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) and other practice approaches to provide guiding principles and standards around expected practice behaviors for child welfare, behavioral health and juvenile probation. 

At a glance, SOP and the ICPM may come across as two entirely different things that require separate or overlapping approaches for successful implementation. However, upon a closer look at their guiding principles, it's encouraging to see just how beautifully SOP aligns with ICPM.


ICPM Guiding Practice Principles

  1. Family voice and choice
  2. Team-based
  3. Natural supports
  4. Collaboration and integration
  5. Community-based
  6. Culturally respectful
  7. Individualized
  8. Strengths-based
  9. Persistence
  10. Outcomes-based


If the guiding principles of the ICPM look similar to SOP, that is because the ICPM and SOP share the same underlying philosophy that the key to improving outcomes for children and families is a collaborative, partnership-based approach with children and their networks of support. SOP inherently supports the guiding practice principles of ICPM, including family voice and choice, a team-based approach, natural supports, collaboration and integration, community-based services and supports, culturally respectful practice, and a persistent, individualized, strength-based, outcome-based, trauma-informed approach. 

In essence, ICPM describes the “what” of child welfare work in California (practice behaviors around engagement, teaming, assessment, service planning and delivery, and transition) while SOP provides the “how” (practical, on-the-ground tools and strategies to translate these behaviors to real-world practice). The ICPM leadership behaviors of engagement, inquiry/exploration, advocacy, teaming and accountability also provide a parallel process for child welfare supervisors, managers and directors to conduct themselves in ways that mirror SOP approaches with families. 

What This Means for Implementation

While the ICPM and SOP align quite naturally, it's important to recognize that neither ICPM nor SOP should be considered a "one and done" event, but rather an ongoing process of developing a collaborative and partnership-based agency culture and climate that supports: the practice; training new and existing staff; coaching for continued skill development; and supporting increased depth of practice over time.