Policy Priorities

Policy Priorities image of kids

Promising Approaches

There are a range of programs, strategies and system reform approaches that are intended to prevent children from being abused or neglected, to prevent children and youth from being involved in child welfare, and to help keep children who have been abused or neglected in permanent families and on a path to productive adulthood. These “promising approaches” offer children better experiences and opportunities.

Many of these promising approaches and improved outcomes assume that children already will have access to the most basic supports that they need to survive and thrive – comprehensive health and mental health care, safe and stable housing, and a quality education. In order for these promising approaches to successfully impact children and youth it is important to recognize the significance of first ensuring that basic supports are in place.

The following are promising approaches for children in, or at risk of entering, the child welfare system:

Child Welfare

  • Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
    The Triple P-Positive Parenting Program® draws on social learning, cognitive-behavioral and developmental theory, as well as research into risk and protective factors associated with the development of social and behavioral problems in children. The program's multi-level framework aims to tailor information, advice and professional support to the needs of individual families. It recognizes that parents have differing needs and desires regarding the type, intensity and mode of assistance they may require. Triple P interventions range from media messaging on positive parenting, to information resources such as tip sheets and videos, to targeted interventions for specific behavior problems, to more intensive parent training targeting broader family issues such as relationship conflict and parental depression, anger and stress.
  • Differential Response/Alternative Response
    Differential response is an approach that allows child protective service agencies to respond differently to accepted reports of child abuse and neglect, based on such factors as the type and severity of the alleged maltreatment, number and sources of previous reports, and willingness of the family to participate in services. Differential responses are characterized by an emphasis on an assessment of the needs of families and children with less emphasis on determining if the maltreatment occurred. Families and children are referred to community-based alternatives responders for services.
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
    Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a behavioral family intervention for children 2-7 years of age with disruptive behavior disorders. It has been identified as a best practice for physically abusive parents. PCIT integrates concepts from social learning theory, traditional play therapy, and attachment theory to enhance the parent-child relationship, increase children’s pro-social behaviors, and increase parents’ behavior management skills. The program is implemented in two phases: The first phase is the Child Directed Interaction phase during which parents develop child-centered interaction skills. The second phase is the Parent-Directed Interaction phase during which effective discipline skills are the focus. PCIT gives equal attention to the development of the parent-child relationship and the development of parents’ behavior management skills.
  • Tree House
    Treehouse is a non-profit agency in Seattle, Washington that serves foster children. Treehouse provides services that fill the gaps in addressing the needs and improving the lives of children in foster care in enrichment and education. In particular, Education Advocacy, a distinctive private/public partnership with the Washington State Legislature, works state-wide to protect students’ educational rights and remove barriers to school success. Educational advocates work with schools, social workers, caregivers and students to resolve difficult issues and improve school success for children in foster care. Learn more about Tree House.
  • Intensive Family Finding
    Intensive Family Finding is a set of innovative strategies to help find lifelong connections for children and youth in foster care. This technique locates and engages family and significant others for children and youth in out-of-home care. The goal is to locate long-term, caring, permanent connections and relationships for the youth. Practitioners are finding that the establishment of just one lasting connection for a youth in foster care can give hope, an increased sense of rootedness and stability, and the opportunity of a better individual outcome. Family Finding helps us rethink what is possible to improve stability and permanency for our most vulnerable youth. Learn more about Intensive Family Findings

Mental Health:

  • TeenScreen Schools and Communities Program
    TeenScreen offers voluntary mental health and suicide risk screening to teens and their families. The program is designed to facilitate the implementation of mental health checkups of youths ages 11 to 18 within school and community-based settings. TeenScreen offers participating schools and communities access to evidence-based resources to conduct screening.
  • Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
    Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a prevention and intervention program for adolescents at risk or already engaging in problem behaviors. This program is an alternative to out-of-home placement or incarceration. FFT focuses on all family members, particularly younger siblings of the referred adolescents. Treatment consists 8 to 12 one-hour sessions and is designed to motivate change and eliminate obstacles within and outside the family that may encourage negative behaviors.
  • Systems of care
    A System of Care (SOC) is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that are organized to meet the challenges of children and youths with serious mental health needs and their families. SOCs are administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Families and youths work in partnership with public and private organizations to design mental health services and supports that are effective, that build on the strengths of individuals, and that address each person’s cultural and linguistic needs.

Substance Abuse:

  • TeenScreen Schools and Communities Program
    TeenScreen offers voluntary mental health and suicide risk screening to teens and their families. The program is designed to facilitate the implementation of mental health checkups of youths ages 11 to 18 within school and community-based settings. TeenScreen offers participating schools and communities access to evidence-based resources to conduct screening.
  • CASASTART
    The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) created the program model for CASASTART. This program targets children who are at high risk for substance abuse, delinquency and academic failure. This program uses the collective power, resources and expertise of a variety of partners: schools, law enforcement, social service and healthcare agencies, funding institutions, community residents and the families of the children at risk.