CFT/CANS Implementation Support Toolkit

CFT/CANS Implementation: a Cross-System Collaborative

Assembly Bill 2083 requires counties to design and implement a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) framing a unified System of Care which coordinates timely, and trauma-informed services for foster children and other vulnerable youth and their caregivers.

Children in out-of-home placement are served by multiple systems and programs including the placing agency (child welfare or juvenile probation), education, county mental and/or behavioral health, and sometimes the local regional center. The challenges of navigating these various systems lead to service gaps and placement instability, and ultimately compounded trauma for the child and family. A single, uniform System of Care, when well delivered, closes these gaps and improves outcomes. The use of teaming between Behavioral Health and either Child Welfare Services or Juvenile Probation through the collaborative forum of Child and Family Teams (CFT) and gaining a shared view of the child or youth’s functioning through the Child Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool creates several benefits:

  1. Youth and families receiving services from more than one public agency will experience the use of the same language and same approach to engagement, planning and delivery of interventions.
  2. Parents, resource families and youth will experience reduced stress through the use of an integrated, coordinated service plan that reflects the reality of their life; satisfaction will increase because the plan will reflect their own goals and preferences.
  3. There will be uniform processes to assess youth or child needs, with shared understanding of available services and resources that can contribute to an integrated plan.
  4. If youth (re)enter another system subsequently, they will already know what to expect and can build on the previous experience and learning.

CFT/CANS implementation is an inter-agency effort between Child Welfare Services, Behavioral Health and Juvenile Probation. The aim is to ensure an aligned, uniform CFT engagement and planning process with assessment communicated through CANS is a cornerstone of the Integrated Core Practice Model (ICPM). Behavioral Health brings their expertise to the CANS assessment and case planning; Child Welfare and Juvenile Probation both utilize the CANS in their roles as placing agencies; the CFT is where these agencies come together.

Integrated CFT/CANS implementation ensures this inter-agency collaboration is being practiced throughout the span of a child or family’s involvement and across all partnering systems. The tools provided here help counties collaboratively plan across systems toward full implementation of CFT/CANS as a core practice of the ICPM.

Setting a Deliberate Course

Successful implementation is based on a clear plan that attends to key capacities research has shown make the difference in whether a new practice takes hold. The structure for CFT/CANS implementation planning reflects thoughtful, deliberate structures that draw a clear path from sponsorship through assessment through action planning. As an ongoing process involving multiple systems, this approach both clarifies roles and reinforces partnerships. Oversight mechanisms are built into easy-to-use tools, allowing all three participating agencies - Child Welfare Services, Juvenile Probation and Behavioral Health - to play a part in implementation plan development, progress monitoring and accountability.

There are four major areas of implementation capacity building that reflect the framework of the ICPM and its behaviors, values and principles:

  • Organization and Leadership
  • Workforce Development
  • Strengthening Partnerships for Quality Practice
  • Using Data for Understanding and Improvement

By attending to these areas, counties target key elements of their culture and environment that create the conditions for integrated CFT/CANS practice to thrive, regardless of the developmental stage of their CFT or CANS implementation.

Using this Toolkit

This toolkit is designed to help local leaders manage implementation of CFT/CANS practice at a pace and for a purpose that's meaningful to their unique environment. It contains two pages: