Becoming a Family-Focused System
Agency Culture and Climate Can Help or Hurt Your Success
A healthy, innovative agency culture that is aligned with agency climate can play a significant role in the success of partnerships and change initiatives designed to meet the needs of families, youth, and children.
Becoming a Family-Focused System is a collection of user-friendly resources designed to help teams assess and amplify positive agency culture and climate, identify areas that need attention, and implement strategies to bring about meaningful and sustainable improvements. Agencies can use these resources to:
- Assess their current culture and climate
- Find strategies for improvement
- Engage staff, partners, and stakeholders with podcasts and animated videos
- Enhance existing training programs
Use these resources to build foundational knowledge about culture and climate, see examples of real-life strategies, and spark conversation with staff and stakeholders. For a quick overview of culture and climate in child welfare agencies, read the Children’s Bureau Express article Sustainable Change is Built on a Foundation of Well-Aligned Culture and Climate.
Do You Want to Gauge Your Agency's Current Culture and Climate?
- Assessing Culture and Climate
Provides foundational information and step-by-step guidance for assessing how agency culture and climate support family engagement, continuity of relationships, and collaborative development of services to meet families’ needs. Managers can use this brief to learn about basic concepts, form a team, choose or develop assessment tools, conduct an assessment, and analyze the results.
Do You Need Tips and Strategies for Improvement?
- Strategies for Building a Culture for Service Collaboration
Presents strategies to establish, support, and reinforce culture and climate for collaborative development of a service array that is responsive to families and youth. Managers can adapt strategies and examples from this publication to improve specific areas of culture influencing service array identified in the assessment.
- Strategies for Building a Culture to Partner With Families
Offers strategies to establish, support, and reinforce agency culture and climate supportive of family engagement and the continuity of relationships of children in care. Managers can adapt strategies and examples from this publication to improve specific areas of culture influencing family engagement and continuity of relationships identified in the assessment.
Do You Want to See What Changing Culture and Climate Looks Like in Practice?
- Becoming a Family-Focused System: One Agency’s Story
Follows the experience of child welfare staff, stakeholders, and family leaders as they implement strategies to shift the culture and climate around family engagement and continuity of relationships. Five animated videos tell the story of one agency's journey as it moves from a compliance-oriented, defensive culture toward a more constructive organizational culture that emphasizes performance, support, and innovation.
- Developing a Collaborative Service Array to Support a Family-Centered Approach
Offers strategies for building a systemwide organizational culture that promotes working collaboratively to improve service array. In this archived webinar, partners in New York’s Tompkins County Family Treatment Court discuss their journey working with Children and Family Futures to improve service collaboration and institute and sustain a family-focused culture and climate. Use the discussion questions provided to facilitate team discussions and improve practice.
- Partnering With Families and Youth to Shift System Culture
Explores strategies for building an agency culture and climate to support family and youth engagement at all levels of child welfare. In this archived webinar, leaders from the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services discuss how integration of family and youth voice has impacted the culture and climate of the agency. Use the discussion questions provided to facilitate team discussions and improve practice.
- How We Partner With the Community to Improve Service Options
Presents real stories from the field in a podcast series about how agencies are changing organizational culture towards the collaborative development of a service array that is responsive to families and youth. Staff and stakeholders will identify with the challenges and barriers these agencies face, be inspired by their successes, and can reference the accompanying infographic as they listen to the podcast series.
The Center for States has identified additional resources to complement Becoming a Family-Focused System. (Reference to any specific process or approach does not constitute its endorsement by the Children's Bureau.) Select the category below to access the resources that best fit your needs.
Foundational resources for implementing organizational culture change:
- A Guide to Five Dimensions of Organizational Capacity
Describes a framework for and key concepts of building organizational capacity as part of planning for agency and program improvement initiatives. This guide also provides resources on different aspects of organizational capacity.
- Dimension: Organizational Culture and Climate
Presents foundational information, definitions, and resource links for understanding organizational culture and climate. This is one dimension of the framework presented in A Guide to Five Dimensions of Organizational Capacity.
- Change and Implementation in Practice Series
Includes research-informed and user-friendly resources with step-by-step guidance that can help agencies successfully implement strategies for system-level changes in culture and climate.
Resources for creating a culture supportive of family engagement and collaborative service array development:
- Family Empowerment Leadership Academy Resources (Register through CapLEARN to access e-learning.)
Provides training and implementation resources to involve family leaders at all levels of agency child welfare administration and practice.
- Parent Partner Program Navigator
Presents tools and resources for agencies to use to improve existing parent partner programs or design and implement new ones. Parent partner programs can have a profound influence on agency culture and climate, changing the ways staff perceive and relate to families.
- Systems of Care Action Briefs
Shares lessons learned by systems-of-care grant communities and outlines key steps for initiative leaders to advance systems and organizational change.
- A Data-Driven Approach to Service Array
Offers step-by-step guidance to help child welfare agency staff build capacity to work collaboratively with stakeholders to use data in ensuring the availability, accessibility, and effectiveness of services to meet the needs of children and families being served.
- Becoming a Community for Strengthening Families: The Words We Use
Considers how words commonly used in child welfare work reflect inherent values, and how choosing different words can be a powerful vehicle for creating and sustaining the mind shift necessary to reshape child welfare in the United States.
- Buzzwords: Moving to Behavioral Descriptors
Provides a short, animated video, tip-sheet, and exercises to help child welfare staff and stakeholders learn to recognize negative, subjective language used in child welfare reporting and intervene with more objective information.
E-learning tools for applying adaptive leadership:
- National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) Leadership Academy for Middle Managers
Prepares mid-level managers to implement sustainable system change effectively.
- NCWWI Adaptive Leadership
Explains the difference between adaptive challenges and technical work and provides opportunities to practice applying these concepts. This course also covers the practical application of adaptive leadership, including the major behaviors that will help agencies address and manage change successfully.
Tools for assessing workforce:
- Overview of the Comprehensive Organizational Health Assessment (COHA)
Summarizes how the instrument can help agencies identify workforce strengths and gaps impacting overall organizational functioning and can be used before and after implementation to assess changes in organizational health resulting from targeted interventions.
- Comprehensive Organizational Health Assessment Instrument Summary
Explains the instrument subscales that measure the many different areas of workforce health and gives examples of the questions targeting each area.
- Organizational Social Context Measure Overview
Describes the Organizational Social Context Measure (OSC), a nationally normed instrument that measures the culture and climate of child welfare and mental health organizations.
- Workforce Development Planning and Assessment Tool Kit
Applies the Workforce Development Framework to an agency setting and offers a comprehensive and integrated approach for creating a workforce development roadmap, including examination of organizational culture and climate.
Examples of assessment tools used by states:
- Comprehensive Organizational Health Assessment (COHA) in Wyoming
Explains the purpose, methods, and application of COHA in Wyoming.
- Organizational Culture and Climate in Ohio's Office of Families and Children
Explains Ohio's use of the OSC assessment.