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Ensuring a fair, timely, and impartial appeal process for a state child welfare agency

As directed by the state legislature, The Ripples Group evaluated the adequacy of the appeal process for a child welfare agency and formulated concrete recommendations, leading to immediate state funding for operational enhancements and program improvements.

Urged by advocacy groups to instill transparency and accountability within the state child welfare agency, the state legislature mandated the evaluation of the timeliness, fairness, and independence of the appeal process at the agency. The Ripples Group was charged with conducting a detailed operational assessment. 

Within six months, The Ripples Group ran a diagnostic that incorporated findings from appeals system data for the past ten years, direct input from recent appellants and their representatives through a detailed online survey, insights from current agency employees who are intimately familiar with the process, observations from actual hearings, hearing recordings, and redacted written decisions, and an analysis of the underlying regulations benchmarked against other comparable states.  This assignment required the synthesis of multiple and, at times, conflicting perspectives. 

The Ripples Group worked collaboratively with multiple parties including advocacy groups to ensure comprehensive engagement and to produce a set of actionable recommendations agreed upon by all stakeholders.  This diagnostic and the ensuing recommendations are publicly available at the following link: Fair Hearing Evaluation.

Notable accomplishments include:

  • Preparation of multi-dimensional organizational assessment and synthesis of findings

  • Preparation, fielding and analysis of anonymous online appellant survey

  • Formulation of detailed operational and regulatory recommendations, leading to the securing of additional funding for the state agency

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