Memo for fiscal year 2019, updated 2018-03-29

[Archived] Question #23: The proposed budget reflects CSA match savings as a result of lower foster care caseloads. How has this reduction in caseload impacts staffing levels?


The proposed budget reflects CSA match savings as a result of lower foster care caseloads. How has this reduction in caseload impacted staffing levels?


The CSA match savings are the result of a decrease in the level of services for two youth in foster care who were in congregate care settings. There has been no decrease in foster care caseloads in recent years. The table below shows the number of children and youth in Foster Care in Alexandria on June 30th of the stated fiscal year.

BMQ - 23 - Foster Care Caseloads

Twenty children have entered care since January 1, 2018 and currently there are 101 children and youth in care. It is likely that there will be 85-100 children and youth in Foster Care for the foreseeable future. While there has been a decrease in the number of children in care since 2008, the requirements of staff have increased, as have the needs of these families and children. Currently, there are nine full-time Family Services Specialists II (Foster Care and Adoption) with an average caseload of 11 children and youth in Foster Care.

Child Welfare Services (CWS) involved families present with complex and multiple challenges including substance use disorders, mental health concerns, and domestic violence. These challenges are exacerbated by underemployment, unemployment, limited affordable housing options, immigration issues, and poverty. The children and youth in foster care have experienced significant trauma and often have behavioral and mental health challenges. Some children also face substance use issues, and many are multi-system involved (Child Behavioral Health and/or Court Services).

The 2007 launch of Virginia’s Children’s Services System Transformation Initiative centered on family-focused, child-centered and community-based care. Actions included an increase in relative foster homes and the implementation of rigorous outcome measures to ensure quality

and enhance accountability. With this initiative, there were significant changes in agency practice and an increase in the demands of staff. These changes included the development and implementation of Family Engagement practices (including Family Partnership Meetings at key decision points, “family finding” and father engagement), increased collaboration with system partners, high expectations around service planning and documentation, shortened court timelines, and increased accountability with established State and Federal outcome measures.

Adding to the demands on staff are the practical case management challenges of having the majority of our children in foster care placed outside of the City of Alexandria, some more than 90 miles away. Staff is tasked with monthly face-to-face visits and facilitating visits between children and their families. Staff must also keep children connected to their communities, which may include their home school. All of the challenges above result in increased case management time and resources.

The current staffing model enables CWS the ability to increase safety, permanency, and well-being for children involved with child welfare. It would be appropriate to examine staffing levels in the future if there is a significant change in caseload size or a reduction in the requirements of staff.

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