Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System. 2.1 Service Delivery


Administrators discussed service delivery arrangements in their states. The responses indicate a trend toward the use of private contractors to deliver direct services to clients. In no state are all reunification services provided by the public agency. The majority of state administrators (56%) reported using both public and private providers to deliver reunification services to families in their state.

There are many different types of public and private service delivery arrangements. In public-private shared arrangements, it is common for states to maintain investigation and case management services for children in state custody, while private contractors provide direct treatment services to children and families. While some public agencies may share in providing direct services to clients, others may contract with private agencies to deliver all direct treatment services to clients. In a couple of states, administrators reported that private contracts were primarily used for high-cost foster care services such as therapeutic, residential, or group home services for children but not for other foster care services.

Nine administrators (36%) reported that child welfare services were primarily privatized or planned to be so within a short time. In other words, the state or local division of the public agency provided oversight on cases, but services to clients were contracted to private agencies. Two administrators responded that all services were provided solely by the public agency, although both of those administrators discussed exceptions in individual counties where private providers are also used. Overall, it is clear that most all of the states are using private agencies to provide some portion of services to clients.