Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation sponsored a series of cases that examine a variety of attempts at reform of children and family services, using state, county, and city level examples, and involving the relationships between governmental institutions, non-profits, business groups, and community activities. In addition to examining social service issues, the cases in this series generate lessons about organizational and policy change, policy analysis and development, creating politically realistic strategies, and about reforming complex service delivery systems.

These cases have been successfully used in executive and masters level programs.

In the mid-1980’s, many of Missouri's children were in trouble—for a whole host of complex social, economic, educational, and health-related reasons. One of every four high school students was dropping out before graduation. Missouri ranked in the lowest third of all states in measures such as infant mortality, child death rates, single parent families, and children living in poverty. It was clear to officials and child welfare advocates alike that drastic changes in the scope and structure of children and family services were needed.

This three part case chronicles a philosophical and practical shift in services to children and families at the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), and the resulting collaborative process for change across distinct human service jurisdictions. Instructors may use the Iowa experience to present a broad overview of service delivery reform, and to evaluate the policy behind the shift.

Teaching/Usage Note

This is an excellent case to illustrate the use of training as a leverage point to reform a service delivery system. Students also learn that training is a tool to change a service delivery system, not necessarily a catalyst for change. Training can support, but does not often drive, reform, so it would also be useful to address the bigger picture of what other leverage points might be available to achieve new service delivery goals.