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G: Agency-focused <<>> Network-focused <<>> Variable Resource-focused

At the basic practice level, the programs to which children are assigned and the services arranged for each child are agency focused. For internally delivered services, the agency retains responsibility. If services are external, the external entity providing those services is responsible for both the services and the aspect of the child related to those services.

For example, if a child is placed in an external setting, responsibility for the care, well-being, and safety of the child shifts to the external agency. Services and responsibility thus become fragmented and diffused.

At the intermediate practice level, focus expands from the agency to a network of agencies, programs, and services including the agency and its programs and services. The participants and services in the network are relatively fixed and stable. For example, health services to child protection clients are typically delivered through a fairly static network of agencies, programs, and providers.

Each community funds and develops an array of services and resources specifically for children. Among these are schools, faith-based programs, health services, recreation facilities, mental health and substance abuse programs, police agencies, daycare services, public child protection agencies, and many others. Collectively, these programs and services represent the community’s commitment to the well-being and long-term success of its children. This array of services and programs in each community may be thought of as the children’s safety net. On the one hand, the children’s safety net provides services and resources to meet the individual needs of children and to resolve their unique problems. On the other hand, it compensates for the special vulnerabilities of children by standing as a guardian in harm’s way. In turn, there are normally divisions or sub-nets within the children’s safety net. For example, there is usually a sub-net for health care, one for education, one for recreation, and so on.

Practice expands at the advanced practice level to incorporate a Variable Resource focus. Within an agency or network focus, services and resources are often too static and pre-defined to exactly fit the needs of specific children and families. The expanded focus incorporates strategies and arrangements whereby resources may be mixed, reconfigured, shifted, and created on an individualized, just-in-time basis. This includes access to specific programs, using specific services, and the full range of resources required by a child or family at any particular time.

How it works:

Child protection practice is initially agency focused. Programs and services are organized and implemented from an agency-centric perspective. Practice expands to incorporate a network perspective extending beyond the agency to the children’s safety net and its sub-nets within the community. The network perspective expands to incorporate a variable resource perspective where programs and services are flexible and able to blend and reform to exactly fit the needs and interests of individual children and families.

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