An assessment of placement stability via the child and family services review


December 2023

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The federal government has enacted several policies to support the stable placement of children in the child welfare system. From mandating that substitute care providers are “adequately prepared” to enacting a nationwide child welfare monitoring system, the need to ensure the proper care of children in the child welfare system is apparent. The Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) was created to monitor state compliance with federal child welfare mandates and improve state child welfare systems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the CFSR data to identify improvements in state child welfare systems in areas critical to placement stability. A mixed-methods approach was utilized to assess the data from 41 states (n = 41). A profile analysis was run to analyze changes in the percentage of placement stability, educational needs, physical health, and mental health cases rated as a strength across CFSR rounds. A directive content analysis was then conducted to identify themes in state program improvement plans (n = 15) when placement stability was rated as an area of concern. Placement stability and related variables overall did not improve across CFSR rounds. Themes emerged from the data that showed states focus on developing state compliance strategies, improving pre-service placement selection, increasing staff and provider preparation when looking to improve placement stability. Implications of the study focus on how future research should further define federal policy on adequate substitute care provider preparation and the overall implementation of the CFSR. Policy and practice implications highlight the importance of policy in serving as a means to impact family level outcomes and the necessity of utilizing child welfare staff to facilitate this process



Child and Family Services Review, Child welfare system