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2004 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 9, No. 3
April 2004

MRS and Collaboration between Work First and Child Welfare

It is not hard to see why collaboration between Work First and child welfare programs is a key strategy of the Multiple Response System (MRS), North Carolina’s effort to enhance its child welfare system. Especially when used in combination with other MRS strategies, Work First/child welfare collaboration can make an agency’s response to families more family-centered and effective. For example:

  • Family Assessment Response. Work First/child welfare collaboration fits naturally with MRS’s second strategy, the family assessment response. This strategy gives MRS counties the opportunity to respond to some child maltreatment reports with a less adversarial approach, one that looks at the family holistically. As part of this response, agencies often try to front-load a wide range of services to families to meet their needs, reduce their stress, and increase child safety. A closer working relationship with economic services programs is a key element to this effort.

  • Child and Family Team Meetings (CFTs). Kara Allen-Eckard, a trainer with NC State University’s Family-Centered Meetings Project, says including Work First staff in CFTs benefits everyone: “It helps get rid of infighting and makes paperwork better for Work First, the family, and child welfare case managers. It also creates cross-pollination and education between programs.

    She advises: “Invite Work First to CFTs as often as possible so they experience it as the powerfully collaborative, joint process it can be.”

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