Each State must work collaboratively with the Children’s Bureau to prepare its Program Improvement Plan (PIP). For each outcome, systemic factor, and national standard that is not in substantial conformity (as identified in the Final Report), the State must work in conjunction with the Children’s Bureau to specify the broad, measurable goals of improvement that it will use to address those areas in which it failed to achieve substantial conformity.
Some examples of overarching goals that States have used in their PIP documents include the following:
- Conduct child risk and safety assessments throughout the life of the case
- Expedite permanency for children
- Promote family engagement
- Recruit and retain foster homes
- Increase access to service delivery systems for children and/or youth
In determining the specific issues to address, the State must give first priority, in both level of effort and time frame, to those items and outcome areas that affect child safety. Second priority goes to the remaining areas that were the furthest from achieving substantial conformity. However, all items and outcomes that were determined by the onsite review to be out of conformity with Federal requirements must be addressed in the State’s PIP.
With broad goals in place, the PIP document must then address the primary strategies that will be used to achieve those goals as well as the action steps required to implement each strategy. It must also identify any technical assistance (TA) that will be required to achieve each strategy. Furthermore, the PIP must address issues of measurement – specifically how the agency will measure benchmarks of progress toward completing the action steps and the measurement goals, or percentage improvement, that will be used to evaluate the impact of each strategy.
When complete, the PIP document will consist of four main components that provide sufficient detail and context to ensure that the Children’s Bureau and State agency staff have a clear understanding of issues and steps and can work in partnership throughout the PIP process:
- A general information section with key contact information.
- A recommended Program Improvement Plan Strategy Summary and TA Plan that provides information on the primary strategies and TA that the State intends to use to support improvement achievement.
- An agreement form indicating approval of the PIP by the Children’s Bureau and the State that establishes the PIP’s implementation date.
- A work plan that includes the Strategy, National Standards, and Item-Specific and Quantitative Measurement Plans, which describes action steps for each primary strategy and the benchmarks to be used to track their progress, specifies the safety and permanency national standards baseline performance and percentage of improvement, and identifies the item-specific measurement baseline performance and goals.
The PIP will also include a schedule for submitting regular progress reports to the Children’s Bureau as part of the PIP’s implementation.
The Children's Bureau has developed a suggested format, the PIP Matrix, which States can use to organize their PIP content. The PIP Matrix is available for download on the Children’s Bureau Web site at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/pip_instruct.pdf. It is also available in the PIP Resources section of this module.