As an internal facilitation and service design resource in the same agency where Child Protective Services (CPS) operates, I led a facilitation remotely to help more then ten employees from four different government and nonprofit organizations understand the process and systemic obstacles from separating children from their families (because of suspected abuse) and then them reuniting with quicker and with greater dignity.
Role: Lead Facilitator
Challenge: CPS, community partner organizations and other governmental bodies are involved when a child is removed from their home because of reported endangerment. These organizations wanted to improve the family reunification process. However, there was no shared understanding of the (un)connected experiences that a child, their parent/guardian and each stakeholder have in the reunification process. How could I co-produce with the project team each stakeholder’s respective service journey, systemic obstacles experienced and a prioritized list for them to address once the facilitation is done?
Strategy: The two managers, a third colleague and I, created a template for the facilitation. The managers identified each of the roles and organizations involved in the child removal and reunification process. We invited all to participate. My request for children and families to be there was unsuccessful. Our two, three-hour, facilitation sessions were followed by another hour-long session to prioritize the obstacles surfaced on the service journey map. The two managers helping to drive the project then learned of a multi-county project to work on this same issue and applied our insights to this broader effort.
Equity Considerations: Participants came from a variety of demographic backgrounds and experiences working within the CPS system. Our equity-centered design approach attempted to honor their lived experiences as well as the families who were absent regrettably.
Outputs: (1) A hybrid service design blueprint and process map. (2) A prioritized list of obstacles in the service journey.
Impact: The participants had never collectively identified and attempted to fill the gaps in their assumptions about who was helping families and how. Quick wins were identified and made. The managers found the prioritized list from the facilitation provided focus for changes. They committed to working with their teams and families to test and implement improvements iteratively.