NIRN Partners to Reduce Stays in Long-Term Foster Care by Building Implementation Capacity

Date Published: 
Renée Boothroyd, Karen Blase, and Will Aldridge

Renée I. Boothroyd
Senior Implementation Specialist

Karen A. Blase
Co-Director and founding member of NIRN


William A. Aldridge II
Implementation Specialist


A 5-year, $100 million Presidential Initiative, the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) supports six grantees in developing and implementing innovative intervention strategies to reduce long-term foster care stays and improve child and family outcomes. PII integrates implementation science and rigorous evaluation to build an evidence base for child welfare policy and practice. The multi-site federal demonstration project tests approaches and develops knowledge about what works to improve permanency outcomes of children in foster care.

As a member of the PII Training and Technical Assistance Project1 (PII-TTAP) team, NIRN contributes to the implementation science approach and works intensively with PII grantees in California and Kansas as they explore, install, implement and sustain innovations.  

California Partners for Permanency (CAPP)

With CAPP, NIRN supported a core Team of select state and county child welfare stakeholders and community partners to translate system assessment findings into a practice model that is teachable, doable, measurable, and repeatable.  Work has now moved to implementation and evaluation at CAPP implementation sites. Central to all the work has been meaningful partnerships with and guidance from the African American and American Indian communities.   These partnerships bring a level of accountability to the system.  Current work is focused on developing and strengthening assessments (fidelity) to ensure and describe how the practice model comes to life. CAPP’s fidelity assessment protocol is a tremendous accomplishment for regularly measuring and then taking steps to improve implementation and practice in child welfare. NIRN’s Renée Boothroyd describes recent work.

We are using NIRN’s Active Implementation Frameworks to explore and build implementation capacity within the system. This collaboration really began with listening: to take a developmental practice model that was responsive to identified needs and make it usable for training, coaching, and measuring in order to do it and maintain it. This work also involves attention to system change to reduce barriers to implementation at the practice level. Our collaborative implementation work constantly revolves around teaming and communication practices to connect and learn with staff and community partners. As we look to sustainability planning, we are exploring ways to embed the innovation and implementation supports necessary for effective delivery.”
Renée Boothroyd, the National Implementation Research Network

Kansas Intensive Permanency Project (KIPP)

NIRN has provided implementation support to a statewide partnership. The KIPP partnership includes private foster care providers in Kansas as well as the University of Kansas, School of Social Welfare, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and ISII, the purveyor of an evidence-based program, Parent Management Training – Oregon (PMTO).  The target population is children and youth, ages 3–16, who meet criteria for serious emotional disturbance (SED). The primary intervention is in-home parent management training with the families of these children in order to promote timely and successful permanency. NIRN’s Karen Blase describes important early work that was informed by implementation science.

“Because KIPP was adapting the PMTO model for use with a child welfare population, it was important to identify initial implementation challenges and test assumptions about the feasibility of using the PMTO model.  Too often, we end up evaluating programs and projects that we were unable to actually implement well in the real world.  KIPP engaged in usability testing to answer important questions related to early intervention and engagement with these families.  By using data in the early stage of work, KIPP could confirm that timely referral and engagement were effective with families, even with the requirement of video-taping sessions in the families’ homes to provide feedback to therapists.”
- Karen Blase, National Implementation Research Network

Across the board, NIRN assists partners in exploring teaming and communication practices that (1) fit with child welfare context and (2) connect with leadership for rapid problem solving and remove barriers to implementation. Project focus remains on doing what is necessary to improve the quality of implementation to support outcomes for children and families.

For more information, see:


1. JBS International, Inc., leads the PII-TTAP team in partnership with the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and the Center for the Support of Families. The federal government supports PII Grantees through two offices within the Administration for Children and Families: the Children’s Bureau (CB), which provides training and technical assistance to Grantees to strengthen their use of best practices in implementation; and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), which supports rigorous evaluations of Grantee interventions.