Youth Villages has launched a capacity-building and support initiative called New Allies to help child welfare leaders navigate long-term system reform and break the cycle of crisis-driven management. New Allies is designed to provide public child welfare agencies with the in-depth assessment, planning, and implementation support they need to build system capacity and drive better outcomes for children and families. The business plan presented here is the result of an intensive, five-month planning process supported by The Bridgespan Group, and engaging both experienced Youth Villages staff and a range of child welfare leaders, advisors, and funders.
We have identified five areas that contribute to a high-functioning child welfare system that achieves positive outcomes for children and families: agency capacity, service quality, financing and policy, service providers, and performance measurement. We will work with child welfare agencies to identify which of these components are the greatest levers for improvement for children and families in their state, and we will committed to going beyond strategic planning—we will support states in the hard work of actually implementing reform efforts.
The New Allies approach has been designed to create sustained change in child welfare systems. Specifically, New Allies’ support is long-term (we will help leaders implement change over a minimum of five years); strategic (we will help systems identify and prioritize high-impact opportunities), coordinated (we will align stakeholders and resources under a shared vision); and tailored (we will help leaders find solutions rooted in their unique goals). New Allies will work with state child welfare systems over three stages: assessment (gaining a deep understanding of the state’s child welfare system); planning (developing a vision and strategy for reform); and implementation (working with the state to put its plan for reform into action).
New Allies will be spearheaded by Youth Villages, a national nonprofit provider of services to children and families, and incorporate a partnership with Bridgespan, a strategic advisor to nonprofits, NGOs, philanthropists, and investors. Together, Youth Villages and Bridgespan bring over fifty years of experience driving change, with expertise in provider services, strategic planning, and change management. Britany Binkowski, mostly recently from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, leads New Allies as its Director. Because child welfare systems are complex—no single expert or entity has the breadth of experience necessary to generate innovative solutions to all system challenges—New Allies will also bring in other partners with relevant content area expertise as needed.