2020 has been a challenging year for North Carolina. COVID-19 brought unprecedented barriers and loss to every community in our state. We have also been reminded of the injustices of systemic racism and experienced natural disasters, including Hurricane Isaias and the largest earthquake our state has seen in 100 years. It's been a tough year.
But it's also a promising time, because our state has a vision and a plan to bring significant and much needed change to our child welfare system. Despite this year's challenges, the process of child welfare transformation in North Carolina is well underway.
The ultimate goal of child welfare transformation is to ensure positive outcomes for the children, youth, and families. Transformation will create a sustainable, accountable, statewide child welfare system where children and families experience consistent, culturally-competent, trauma-informed, family-centered, and safety-focused practices that improve critical outcomes and performance indicators related to child safety, permanency, and well-being.
Accomplishing this will require a complex journey with many steps and stages. In one of the first steps, North Carolina will adopt a practice model to help it continuously improve the way the child welfare system works with families. We will also implement the Family First Prevention Services Act, which will give us new tools--such as more access to evidence-based programs and practices--to better support and serve families and prevent the need for foster care.
Just as the child welfare system in North Carolina is changing, so too is Children's Services Practice Notes. For the past 25 years, this publication has focused on helping our state's child welfare workers, supervisors, and agency leaders use information from research to improve their practice with children and families.
Starting with this issue, Practice Notes is expanding its audience to include additional child welfare stakeholders. If you are with North Carolina's court system, a mental or behavioral health agency, a community child protection team, or another child welfare system stakeholder or partner organization, or if you've ever been served in any way by the child welfare system, we would like to welcome you to our readership. To make the changes needed in our system, it will take all of us moving forward in the same direction. For that to occur, we need a common understanding of where we are headed.
In this issue and in the coming year, Practice Notes will describe child welfare transformation in North Carolina--what it is, how it will unfold, and how it will affect you and those you care about.
Contents of this Issue