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Evolving Roles of Public and Private Agencies in Privatized Child Welfare Systems

Publication Date
Feb 29, 2008

In 2006, ASPE funded the Child Welfare Privatization Initiatives Project to provide information to state and local child welfare administrators who are considering or implementing privatization reforms. The project will produce six papers on a range of topics providing insights about factors that should be considered when approaching or improving upon privatization efforts. This third paper focuses on transitioning case management functions from public to private agencies as well as on how roles and responsibilities are shared and divided once privatization occurs. The paper is divided into four sections. The first section describes the history and complexity of defining privatization in child welfare services. The second section describes how some states have prepared their workforce for these new roles and responsibilities. The third section provides specific examples of how jurisdictions in seven states are dividing key case management activities for their out-of-home care population including initial case assessments, roles in dependency hearings, and ongoing case decision making. The final section describes the experience of a group of states that use private agencies to deliver foster care case management and have operational State Automated Child Welfare Information Systems. It presents some of the challenges faced by public and private agencies with their new information systems and offers examples of how states have facilitated the transition.

Child Welfare