NM Piñon Project
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What is the New Mexico Piñon Project?
The purpose of the project is to define a framework of how our agency engages and works together with children, youth, families, and stakeholders to create an environment that focuses on the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and their families. The project has been underway since November 2009 and it involves the entire Protective Services leadership team along with regional and field staff, foster parents, parents, children, youth, tribes, courts, providers and other stakeholders.
Why are we doing this?
Protective Services has a history of improvement initiatives. We are constantly focused on changes to improve practice and respond to new state and federal requirements and, may be suffering from “change fatigue.” Our efforts were often fragmented; they were not organized in terms of an overall approach to implement a clearly articulated and coherent practice model and framework; and we sometimes don’t seem to stop long enough to examine if our efforts are working. This is complicated by the fact that, although administration of the child welfare program is centralized, direct services are offered through county offices. The population and resources in the counties vary significantly, and often approaches to practice vary as well. We needed an approach to sustain system and organizational change. This initiative is directed to the development of such a coherent framework.
The practice model and framework has several outcomes. It:
- Articulates vision, mission, values, and operating principles in a manner that inspires, empowers, and engages staff and partners; creates commitment, and provides clarity and direction to our work
- Improves our organizational culture and climate, policies, structure, and practices
- Promotes achievement of safety, permanence, and well-being outcomes
- Engages all stakeholders: staff, children and youth, families, foster parents and adoptive parents, behavioral and physical health and other partners, the legal community, child advocates, and others
- Employs a strengths based approach in developing the model, building on what is working
- Incorporates the principles and practices of System of Care: child focused, family centered, trauma informed, strengths based, community based, and culturally competent array of services and supports
- Creates a strategy for change management that is data driven and data tracked, allowing for ongoing evaluation of the change process as well as tracking of targeted outcomes.
The time is right! The Administration for Children and Families, established five regional Implementation Centers to expand the federal government’s Training &Technical Assistance Network's ability to provide in-depth and long-term consultation and support to States and Tribes. The Mountains and Plains Child Welfare Implementation Center (MPCWIC) is the Implementation Center for New Mexico. We applied for and received a grant to work with MPCWIC over a three-year period. Receipt of this grant has provided the funding for this project during a time of reduced State budget. This project provides an opportunity to develop a system framework which will support and ensure the sustainability of critical improvements, as well as prepare PSD for the next round of the CFSR.
Is what we were doing wrong?
No. One of the project’s goals is to build on what is working. We are not throwing out everything and starting over. We are making some changes to policy and procedure, but the majority of the changes are focused on creating consistency of practice – best practice – across the state. We worked to identify those promising and best practices that were occurring in our agency and are striving to make them standard practice. We are focused on the Mission, Vision, Values and Principles identified in the Practice Model (Attachment A) that was developed during the initial phase of this project.
What is an Implementation Zone?
The Implementation Zones are the six pilot sites identified for this project. Implementation will begin with Intake (SCI) and Investigations in five sites in the State. The Implementation zones are: SCI, Grant County, San Juan County, Chaves County, San Miguel County, and Bernalillo East Investigations. Implementation will begin in February 2012 for Grant County and March for SCI, San Juan, San Miguel, Chaves and Bernalillo East.
What are the expected outcomes?
Since we are starting with Intake (SCI) and Investigations, the expected outcomes are currently limited to those areas. The expected outcomes for permanency and placement will be developed over the coming months. First and foremost, the expected outcomes will be that we perform our work based on the mission, vision and values identified in the Practice Model and CFSR Outcomes will continue to guide our work.