The child welfare system has primarily focused on the safety of children even though the goals of the system are to improve safety, well-being, and permanency. Through an innovative use of strengths-based leadership and the restructuring of service delivery, the Neighborhoods for Kids program has demonstrated how to effectively achieve all three goals for children in the child welfare system. The unique infusion of strengths-based leadership into the child welfare system allowed staff to creatively meet the outcomes without any additional funding needed. The goal was to strengthen the leadership in East Region and increase staff engagement, which would in turn lead to improved performance as a child welfare system. By including staff in the process of developing a new model of child welfare service delivery, Neighborhoods for Kids meets or exceeds many State and Federal outcomes for child welfare services.

Key Take Away Points

  • Strengths-based leadership can be effectively utilized in the child welfare system
  • Organizational restructuring can significantly improve outcomes in the areas of safety, well-being and permanency
  • Staff engagement is key to a successful child welfare system

Author Biography

Ms. Giardina received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from the University of San Diego. She attended San Diego State University and obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work through the Title IV-E program. Ms. Giardina began working for the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency Child Welfare Services in July, 2000. She has worked or supervised almost all of the programs in Child Welfare, including Emergency Response, Court Intervention, Continuing Services, Voluntary Services, Placement, Quality Assurance, and Family Preservation. She helped re-design child welfare service delivery in East Region with the development of Neighborhoods for Kids. Ms. Giardina currently co-manages Child Welfare Services in East Region.

Responses to this Article:

June C. Lloyd, Commentary on "Using Strengths-Based Leadership to Improve the Child Welfare System" (December 2013)