The overall Program Improvement Plan (PIP) process consists of three general phases:
- PIP Development and Approval. During this phase, the State and Children’s Bureau work together to develop the content of the State’s PIP and the State submits it to the Children’s Bureau for approval. This phase can begin as early as the Statewide Assessment; the State must submit the PIP within 90 days of receiving its courtesy copy of the Final Report of review findings from its onsite CFSR review. This courtesy copy is generally delivered to the State within 30 days of the statewide exit conference that officially completes the onsite review.
- PIP Implementation. In this phase, the State implements all activities contained in its PIP, including its goals, primary strategies, action steps, benchmarks, and the measurement plan. During this time the State is required to submit to the Regional Office quarterly reports outlining the benchmarks and action steps completed and the evidence of completion for each as identified in the PIP. The State also uses quarterly reports to identify measurement plan activities that have been completed, and provides updated results as identified in the measurement plan. Also during this time, the State may receive technical assistance (TA) as necessary and may enter into discussions with the Children’s Bureau concerning the renegotiation of certain components of the PIP. The PIP implementation period is 2 years.
- PIP Evaluation and Final Determination of Conformity. The focus of PIP evaluation is to ensure that the State has completed all action steps and benchmarks, and has achieved the approved amount of improvement in all National Standard and item-specific measures specified in its approved PIP. Once the PIP is evaluated and confirmed as completed by the Children’s Bureau, the State will receive official notification that its PIP has been closed out. During the subsequent CFSR process, the State will once again be evaluated for conformity with the CFSR outcomes and systemic factors.
While the PIP process “officially” begins after completion of the onsite review, the PIP process itself is not isolated and linear, but rather follows the cyclical CFSR process where each step informs and leads to the next.
In this cyclical process, the Statewide Assessment is the precursor to the onsite review. The onsite review culminates in the statewide exit conference, where preliminary findings for the review are presented. Although each State is encouraged to begin developing its PIP during or after completing its Statewide Assessment, it is not until after the release of the Final Report that the PIP can be finalized, approved for implementation, and then evaluated for a final determination of conformity. Upon completion of its PIP, the State is then ready to begin the process anew with another Statewide Assessment and the next round of the CFSRs.