About the Child Welfare Playbook


**Looking for an evaluation of your state's foster parent licensing process? The Child Welfare Playbook is offering recommendations at no cost to interested states.

Our goal is to create a public, actionable playbook of promising practices that can be easily replicated and scaled by others.

The Child Welfare Playbook is a collection of promising practices in service of the following five goals:

  1. No child enters foster care when prevention services could keep them safe instead. The federal government estimates up to 60% of children are in foster care because they are poor. These children should never be removed.
  2. If a child must enter foster care for safety reasons, they should immediately be placed with an adult they already know and trust. That placement should also be supported financially (and otherwise) to keep that child either permanently, or until they can return home safely. A plan must be made and adhered to for keeping that child connected with their entire original support network (of family, friends, or teachers) during their time in foster care.
  3. If a child must enter foster care for safety reasons, and they do not have any adult connections, they should immediately be placed with an adult who fully meets their needs. This means an adult who speaks the same language, lives in the same school district, and is willing to be a long-term placement. The child should be able to stay with this placement until they can return home or, if reunification is truly not possible, with whom they can stay forever.
  4. No child should ever live in a group home. While inpatient hospitalization may be necessary for short-term treatment, every child should live with a family. This is possible even for the highest-needs children with the right wraparound and financial support, which is still less expensive than group homes.
  5. A child’s demographics should not impact their likelihood of being removed. Race, ethnicity, and/or socioeconomic status should not impact a child’s likelihood of being removed into foster care, or of achieving permanency if they must be removed.

The Playbook is the result of a collaboration between states at the cutting edge of this work and New America’s New Practice Lab team, in partnership with Foster America and Think of Us.

This work would not be possible without the support of the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, Aviv Foundation, Ballmer Group, Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation, Greenbridge Family Foundation, Schmidt Futures, Stand Together Trust, and North Forty Group.

Send your updates or new plays to updates@childwelfareplaybook.com.


Any state, county (in county-administered systems), or private agency is welcome to join us. We also welcome input from any individuals or organizations with expertise and promising practices to share.

There is absolutely no cost to participate and the commitment is just two hours a month.

How it Works

  • Every month, we focus on a specific topic area (e.g. home inspections, foster parent training, increasing kin licensing). We will schedule a one-hour “interview” with your subject matter expert(s) for the topic to gather information.
  • Everyone joins a one-hour webinar where we share key findings and promising practices from existing pilots and national experts, and suggest cross-state projects.
  • You will receive a personalized follow-up with recommendations for your specific processes.
  • Optionally, we can also hold a 1:1 follow-up call to go over more in-depth recommendations for your team, and to provide any implementation help you may need.
  • Promising practices and positive results will be captured here in the online Child Welfare Playbook, including actionable collateral like example checklists and contracts.

Benefits of Membership

  • Promising practices for improving your processes, in an actionable format (e.g. sample contracts, checklists, policy language, etc.)
  • Data about how current practices compare with other states (shared in a respectful manner with no shaming or ranking)
  • Opportunities to participate in cross-state improvement projects
  • Positive media coverage related to participation (always with your advance approval)
  • Implementation assistance for adapting promising practices

To join, email marina@marinanitze.com

Current Members

Current Progress Dashboard Member Map

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California (State of California, along with San Bernardino and San Diego Counties)
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland (State of Maryland, along with Anne Arundel, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties)
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota (State of Minnesota, along with Washington County)
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia (State of Virginia, along with Fairfax County)
  • Washington DC
  • Washington State

Free Licensing Evaluation

Is your child welfare system struggling with foster parent licensing backlogs, and/or looking to license/approve more relatives? We'd love to help! You can request a no-cost evaluation of your licensing process.

This evaluation can be as in-depth as you like. To start, we suggest a two-hour meeting with a licensing expert or team or experts within your state to walk us through your current process. We'll also review associated forms, policies, and practice guides. Within a few weeks, we'll send you back a matrix of recommendations based on promising practices from other child welfare systems for areas where you can remove steps, streamline approvals, improve data quality, or all three! Each recommendation will include collateral such as sample language from another state to make it as easy as possible to adapt and adopt the practice in your system.

From there, we can provide additional assistance (also at no cost), such as reviewing specific forms for improvements, and/or conducting user research with real families in your area to identify remaining barriers/challenges and ways to overcome them.

To request an evaluation, email updates-at-childwelfareplaybook.com

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