The Strategy Measurement Plan, and its corresponding quarterly status report, is where the State outlines the goals and strategies of its Program Improvement Plan (PIP). Each primary strategy must include measurable action steps that the State can take toward improvement, and not simply suggest further study of issues identified through the CFSR. These action steps are specific activities that will be undertaken to accomplish the strategy, and each action step should be designed to generate specific program improvements.
Along with all of the other required information, States should use the Strategy Measurement Plan to detail the specific documents, reports, or other items of confirmation that can be used to provide the Children’s Bureau Regional Office with evidence of progress and evidence of completion. For example, for the benchmark: Convene work group comprising families that receive services, front-line child welfare staff, and other key partners to guide development of the plan, the evidence of completion might be: Copy of meeting minutes and list of work group participants.
The PIP document must also include a reasonable time frame for the completion of each action step, as well as the technical assistance (TA) required to support each step. The PIP should also identify the individual or individuals responsible for undertaking each action step, as well as the geographic area or areas of the State in which each action step will be undertaken. While these are not regulatory requirements, they should be included in the document whenever possible to ensure that all of the components required for successful program improvement are deployed as planned throughout the State.
Benchmarks are measurable indicators used by the State and Children’s Bureau to monitor progress in completing action steps. Because PIP evaluation and monitoring must occur throughout the process, and not simply at the end of the implementation period, States should establish realistic, measurable benchmarks for each action step to serve as interim, periodic measures of progress. These benchmarks can be quantitative (number-oriented) or qualitative (process-oriented) in nature, and are designed to help measure incremental progress toward completing the strategies which, in turn, lead toward achieving the final improvement goals.
States should use their quarterly status reports to enter and report information regarding each action step or benchmark that is due during each quarter, and note any evidence of completion. The Children’s Bureau Regional Office will determine, based on its review of a State’s report, whether the action step or benchmark has been completed satisfactorily or is incomplete. If an action step is past due, the State should explain the reason in the plan with a revised completion date. The Children’s Bureau will then review the explanation and revised date and either accept the extended due date or flag the action step for renegotiation.