UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

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Child Welfare; Massachusetts; Government Agencies; Organizational Innovation


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


The Massachusetts Department of Social Services (MA/DSS) has 29 area offices organized in 6 regions; 74,651 consumers (39,913 are children < 18 years of age); 10,863 children and youth in placement; and 3,400 employees (FY2005; 2nd quarter).

A comprehensive system transformation initiative is underway, to shift from the traditional “adversarial” child protective model, and translate the core values of “child-driven,” “family-centered,” “community-focused,” “strength-based,” “committed to diversity/ cultural competence,” and committed to continuous learning” into an active child welfare agenda. The “learning organization” is the guiding framework.

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is an interactive, iterative, participatory process that reflects change in organizational values, and catalyzes and guides improvements in policy and practice. Data drive CQI, obtained as framed by federal performance benchmarks, and in response to criteria or questions generated by the organization, and the field. CQI embraces both learning and accountability.

To elaborate a coherent child welfare system the new core values must be reflected reflected in selecting and measuring benchmarks, obtaining data from multiple perspectives, and providing feedback to inform improvements and to promote the “new” way of doing business at the clinical, managerial, and system levels.

The Child Welfare Institute (CWI), a public-academic partnership between MA/DSS, Salem State College, and the UMMS, is aimed at transforming the system through professional development. The Staff, Family, and Provider Development Centers will offer competency-based workshops, seminars, conferences, and certificate programs. Areas for training and development are emerging via the CQI process.

Presented at the 19th Annual Research Conference. A System of Care for Children’s Mental Health: Expanding the Research Base. Tampa, Florida, February 2006.


Child Welfare, professional development, system transformation initiative

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19th Annual Research Conference, 2006