The Ventura County CFS deputy director and program managers agreed that reform efforts resulted in families and staff better partnering in the decisionmaking process, as well as opening doors to a broader array of linkages to community-based services. However, many of the above efforts were still relatively new and their effectiveness was still being assessed. Some of the client outcomes-related accomplishments have included:
- Only 5 percent of the children involved in 7,000 CPS referrals went into out-of-home placement; and
- Using data from their business object reports to track key performance indicators derived from CWS/CMS, the management team identified and targeted specific regions and units for management improvements. This tracking resulted in an increased screen-in rate, from 58 percent to 78 percent.
Since the implementation of CPS reform in Ventura County, the agency had been successful in retaining its line staff. The turnover rate of line staff has decreased to 4 percent, compared with 20 percent 2 years ago. Ventura County has accomplished a shift in organizational culture and employee satisfaction. For instance, relationships among management, line staff, and collaborative agencies have improved. Many workers indicated that they were able to express their opinions and communicate their ideas to management with the confidence that they would be heard. One example of a channel of communication was the CFS director's lunch program which was held on a weekly basis and called the "Socrates Café." The purpose of the lunch program was for interested staff to have time with the director to informally discuss issues and concerns they might have.
Line staff reported that staff supervision improved, information was more consistent, and performance accountability was measured better when data acquired from CWS/CMS was used. Workers indicated that, due to this innovation, they felt more empowered to perform the social work they were hired and trained to do.
As part of a Continuous Quality Review during the past year, management staff revised and clarified the role of the public health nurses at the CPS sites to be consistent with their professional training and functions. This change allows public health nurses to assist social workers with medical issues, help decipher and interpret medical information, and work with doctors during the CPS investigation processes. This change has resulted in the identification of previously overlooked medical problems, a decrease in the high turnover rate of nurses, and recognition of the need for additional nurses in the program.
There has also been a change associated with the Interagency Case Management Council. The ICMC was one of the pioneering efforts to coordinate the range of community services available in the county on behalf of maltreated children and their families. During recent years, however, its focus had shifted toward the identification of families and children for CPS services. The CFS director and deputy director took specific steps to reorient the council to its fundamental role of service coordination.