Both developing a policy agenda and the mechanisms for implementation are particularly sensitive to
the current environment or context. Listed below are some general environmental factors that may
affect the nature, timing and successful implementation of policy.
Understanding current political realities of state and local executive and legislative branches and
within the federal government
An agency’s chance for achieving major legislative action increases in proportion to child welfare
being able to link their needs to the larger goals and priorities of the governor, legislature or
county executives and boards.
Relationship child welfare enjoys with its umbrellas agency, other sister agencies, providers,
governor’s office, legislature, etc.
The chance of receiving a hearing from other stakeholders increases to the extent that an agency
has deliberately cultivated relationships and shown itself to be responsive, honest and credible in
its day-to-day dealings.
Current and long-term relationship between central and local offices under either state
administered or state supervised systems
Child welfare agencies that enjoy positive and collegial relationships with their operating
entities can generally formulate and implement policies with greater ease and buy-in. That is, the
policy agenda is not used as a tool in the struggle for power between central and field offices.
Extent and response to issues of treatment disparities and less positive outcomes for African
American children and other minorities
Agencies that proactively address issues of treatment disparities within their practice model will
more likely examine current and proposed policies for negative effects as a matter of course; that
is, they will apply such a lens routinely and with minimal difficulty.
Current clarity and consistency in use of different mechanisms used within a policy framework; e.g.
rule-making, procedures; guidance
Agencies need to be clear about which mechanisms will be used to promulgate which types of
policies. Lack of clarity about what actions and decisions are mandatory, advisory or prohibited
can result in unintended and sometimes costly variations about when, how and under what conditions
services are provided.
Level of federal, judicial (including appellate decisions) and legislative oversight and
obligations experienced by an agency
Agencies that have experienced significant and/or contradictory oversight and penalties may be
tempted to promulgate ever more stringent and mandatory policies that limit, rather than increase,
effective problem-solving when it is most needed.
Body of Work
There are two significant functions required to build and implement a policy agenda. Both require
an agency to be systemic and systematic in its approach and be able to negotiate various and
complex policy making processes. Both require an attitude that is
non-defensive, skill in building coalitions and consensus, and sound analytical ability.