Fostering Accountability Inside the Foster System

Dr. Candice Matthews

September 21, 2022


Fostering accountability is a practical guide for administrators to use evidence to design, implement, and monitor policies and practices. It also explores the impact of lawsuits and data collection. It provides a comprehensive view of developing and applying policies to improve the foster care system. It focuses on developing policies based on data collected from agencies.

Impact evaluation

Fostering accountability inside the foster system through impact measurement is crucial to improving the quality of care for children in foster care. This is especially important in cases where foster care is a long-term solution. There are numerous challenges facing the child welfare system, but a consistent theme is the lack of accountability. This problem can be addressed at a case or systemic level.

To succeed, an impact evaluation must look at the foster care process, not just a specific intervention. It must also identify key factors, such as child well-being and safety. Unfortunately, most foster care agencies focus on specific intervention components and do not link them to child outcomes. Without a rigorous evaluation, they may continue focusing on components that have no negative impact on child safety.


One way to improve the foster system is to introduce standards for foster care homes. These standards will help ensure the safety of foster children. Some of these standards will include having a carbon monoxide detector, having safe drinking water, not smoking, and keeping up with immunizations. Others will focus on the fitness of foster parents. For example, they may require them to disclose any substance abuse.

While foster parents are not considered the legal guardians of a child, they are responsible for the child’s daily care and supervision. Courts have recognized this fact. For example, in a recent case in Connecticut, a judge ruled that foster parents can be held legally responsible for their foster children’s actions.

Process evaluation

Fostering accountability inside the foster system requires a holistic approach. This means considering the child’s needs, family, and environment. This includes providing food, housing, and medical care. It also involves the child’s participation in religious activities, interaction with people outside the foster system, and preparation for adulthood. Process evaluation is one way to do this.

The goal of foster care is to protect children from the dangers of abuse and neglect in their families. In addition, the goal is to provide safe, nurturing environments that help children heal and grow. However, despite the laudable goals of foster care, too often, this system fails to meet those goals. This is reflected in the dozens of active class action lawsuits against state child welfare systems for failing to provide even the basic standards of safety and care for children.

Data collection

Developing high-quality data linkages between K-12 and foster care systems is complex. To ensure that data collection is effective, states must meet evolving information needs and maintain data collection systems. High-quality data linkages allow states to identify students from multiple systems and follow their development over time. In addition, these data must be accessible, comparable, and usable.

Data collection must include information about foster students’ academic progress and the performance of the education systems. Data must be secure and protected and adhere to federal and state regulations. To ensure data quality, agencies must have clear roles and responsibilities.

Evaluation of foster care

The evaluation of foster care can improve the system and help identify problems. It should be ongoing and integrated into the quality assurance processes of local and state agencies. It should assess system-wide performance as well as the needs of individual children and whether changes are necessary in the child’s case plan or environment.

Although the number of children in the foster care system is falling, it does not necessarily mean that the system delivers better outcomes for the children. This is especially true if the system fails to address the children’s needs. The federal policy offers a variety of guidelines and supports to help the foster care system improve child outcomes.

An evaluation of foster care can focus on three key components: child safety, foster parent fitness, and the environment of the foster home. It should also evaluate the effectiveness of foster care interventions and their impact on child outcomes. Unfortunately, while most agencies focus on process evaluations, few focus on child outcomes. As a result, they may continue to focus their efforts on components that do not positively affect child safety.