There’s so much that child welfare agencies are getting right. Yet there’s also significant potential to improve. How can we empower child welfare staff to achieve outcomes that truly matter? And how might “preventive medicine” change our fundamental approach to supporting vulnerable families? Learn more at

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There is a lot that Child Services is getting right across the country. It gets it right in leadership. There’s a lot of great leadership across the country.

Strong commitment to the work

It gets it right in the commitment of the people who do the work – the caseworkers and the supervisors and the local offices in every county in the country.

They come to work every day and put their shoulder to the wheel on the toughest stuff that’s happening to kids and families in the country.

Are we making the right impact?

The part that we’re not getting right is that I’m not sure those people are really getting what they came for.

They are surely having a significant impact on the individual families and children that they touch, but it’s not having a net effect.

Let’s achieve significantly greater safety, permanence

We haven’t seen, as a result, a significantly greater instance of safety and well-being and permanence for children across the country as a result of hundreds of years of child welfare work.

And I think that closing the gap on that matters – that those people who have dedicated their lives to this pursuit, in addition to the kids and families who are struggling, deserve to get what they came for.

From rescue to prevention

And I think child welfare can get that if we can discipline ourselves to refrain from waiting to come in and rescue and commit ourselves to leaping into action at the earliest sign of struggle – which we have accomplished in many other fields.

Let’s make catastrophic interventions RARE

Think: We get people to go to the doctor regularly instead of just waiting to have to go to the E.R.

It’s the same principle.

And I think child welfare – I feel like that’s the future it needs to head for [is]: How could we decide to go about our work in a wildly different way, so that the need for the kind of catastrophic interventions we offer now would be rare?

Learn more at

Molly Tierney

Managing Director – Public Service, Child Welfare, North America

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