Change Management

Overview

Public child welfare agencies need a clear, well-understood and action-oriented plan and related methods for improving the lives of the children, youth, and families they serve. They must know how to develop such a plan, make it happen, and condition their agency to work on a range of improvements every day, at all levels, and in all functions. They must link all priorities for change and improvement to their desired practice model, reinforcing that model at every turn. They must avoid having major obstacles and points of chronic resistance stall their progress, resolve related debates and tensions, avoid reactive or limited responses to the challenges they face, and instill a sense of hope and forward progress among the staff.

 

While there are always differences between what an agency aspires to do and what it actually does at a particular point in its development, effective plans and efforts to change and improve approach current limits in budgets, technology, programs, policies and research as a “two way street.” Agencies must be both working within their current environmental limits as well as influencing these limits to move in a positive, evolutionary direction over time.Agencies that are evolving in this way will experience a pattern of change that over time resembles an “upward spiral,” moving from more reform-oriented change and improvement to more innovative and progressive change, at times interrupted or delayed by temporary setbacks, disruptions and plateaus:

 

  • Incremental progress forward, meeting basic expectations such as mandates, non-negotiable expectations and limited budgetary  requirements
  • Initial feedback from the environment, connected to direct experiences with agency services
  • Rallying of support, commitment and participation from staff and stakeholders through related communication and relationship-building  efforts
  • Renewed or improved resources and decisions to provide a greater level of empowerment to the agency based on its growing credibility
  • Further incremental progress, often through redesigning or revamping programs and processes to either streamline them or eliminate low value-added activities
  • Further confidence within the environment that the agency uses resources wisely and a growing desire to listen to the agency’s ideas and recommendations
  • Further incremental steps forward, often through integrating programs and processes to be more child youth and family- centric, meeting more strategic environmental needs that move closer and closer to realizing desired outcomes for those served
  • Broader environmental influence; being regarded as a vital political “player” even in regards to somewhat non-related environmental  priorities
  • Further incremental steps forward, at times even serving field-wide needs and objectives by creatively resolving general tensions within the field that typically result in “false choices”

 






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