April 9, 2024

State Releases Meaningful Family Engagement Tool Kit

The state Department of Human Services Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) has released a collection of resources to strengthen engagement in child welfare. 

The Pennsylvania Meaningful Family Engagement Toolkit is a web-based resource that was developed through statewide quality improvement efforts. It was designed to improve safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children, youth, and families served by the state’s child welfare system. The toolkit includes resources for a variety of topics.

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Meaningful engagement in child welfare, as defined by OCYF, is an active, ongoing, and genuine curiosity about an individual’s history, perspectives, challenges, and accomplishments. It involves the proactive partnership between caseworkers and families to increase safety for children by using inquiry to identify service needs and available supports and to work together to define achievable goals.

The objective is to develop family plans, address challenges, achieve goals, form new connections, and strengthen existing supports. This involves ensuring that families have an active role by empowering them to make joint decisions to ensure a child’s safety, permanency, and well-being.

Topics covered in the toolkit include:

  • Cultural awareness and responsiveness
  • Engagement models and strategies
  • Engagement of incarcerated parents
  • Engagement of out-of-state parents
  • Engaging youth
  • Father engagement
  • Leadership
  • Legal
  • Parenting resources
  • Teaming with extended family and kin

The toolkit’s development was guided by data and information gathered through the state’s Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) efforts. These were designed to evaluate and improve how the state’s Child Welfare Practice Model is demonstrated at the system level and through daily practice behaviors and skills of professionals.

The OCYF said data provided evidence of the benefits of strong engagement behaviors and skills. However, it also drew attention to populations needing additional support for engagement, such as fathers and incarcerated or out-of-state parents.

Explore the Pennsylvania Meaningful Family Engagement Toolkit online.