Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP)

Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP)

The Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP) develops sustainable best practices utilized by child welfare agencies across Texas to connect children to their birth families, regardless of their permanency outcome. TXPOP is a project of the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies, in collaboration with the federal Children’s Bureau, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and the Children’s Commission.

This project is creating a new practice model to help child welfare agencies engage birth families in planning and decision-making, build partnerships between birth families and foster families, and increase foster children’s sense of belonging. By implementing innovative strategies that put children’s voices at the heart of the work, TXPOP will build empathy and understanding between birth families, foster families, and child welfare practitioners.

TXPOP will provide agencies with tools and support to reduce the amount of time children spend in foster care, establish permanency plans that take into consideration the wishes of children and families, and ensure all caregivers involved feel respected throughout the process.

Calling on child placing agencies serving DFPS Regions 2, 6, and/or the border area of 11! We want to see your proposals.

TXPOP Promotional Document for Proposals

As of October 2019, we are requesting proposals for implementation of the Texas Permanency Outcomes Project! Specifically, the TXPOP grant is seeking partnerships with child placing agencies providing services in DFPS Regions 2, 6, and/or the border area of 11. All completed proposal forms must be sent to jolynne.batchelor@austin.utexas.edu. Proposals are due by December 4th, 2019 by 5pm CST.

To learn more, click here.

TXPOP request for proposal cover image
TXPOP Application first image
TXPOP Request for Proposal

The Request for Proposal explains TXPOP in more detail, including whom to contact with questions and details about our informational webinars. Two optional informational webinars will be held. Interested parties will only need to attend one webinar. To read the Request for Proposal, click here.

TXPOP Application Form

Proposals must be submitted using this application form. To read the Proposal Application, click here. The form is downloadable. A PDF reader is required to complete the form. Adobe Reader can be downloaded for free here: get.adobe.com/reader/. Once downloaded, you may save the application on your computer and/or print it like you would a regular document.

After completing the form, please submit the form to jolynne.batchelor@austin.utexas.edu.




Frequently Asked Questions for the TXPOP Application

Here you’ll find a list of questions that the TXPOP team has received in the initial application process. Please check back regularly, as additions will be made on an ongoing basis.

Q: I understand questions about the RFP are due 11/11/2019 by noon, but can the FAQs be viewed before this date, or do we need to wait until the date they are due to view them on the website?

A: You’ll see content posted on the FAQs as we receive questions from child placing agencies through 11/11/2019. Each question will be posted with a response on the FAQs within 3 business days of the time we receive it. All answers will be posted no later than 11/14/2019. We will also post responses to questions that are asked during the webinars. All answers to questions asked during webinars will be posted no later than 11/27/19.

Q: My child placing agency serves a small number of children (under 25). I wanted to see if we could be considered for the project.

A: The three selected agencies or consortiums should serve enough children combined to have an impact on federal Child and Family Services Review outcomes. Therefore, there is some flexibility in the number of children each agency must serve, and, for that reason, we haven’t set a minimum. However, each agency/consortium needs to serve enough children to effectively implement and evaluate the practice model. Any agency that serves a relatively small number of children could join a consortium with other child placing agencies to increase the number of children served and co-submit an application to join the project.

Q: What is TXPOP’s model?  Will the agency be able to create the model that will be utilized within this region and then eventually statewide or will TXPOP create the model?  If TXPOP is creating the model when can an agency view it to ensure it is something that can be done with the agency in the specific location?

A: TXPOP aims to shift the narrative from foster families as substitute parents to foster families as a support to birth families. For a more theoretical understanding, you can view Children’s Bureau Commissioner Jerry Milner’s remarks on the subject here.

The TXPOP team is creating the practice model based on best social work practices for achieving permanency and wellbeing. The model draws primarily from family systems, solution-focused, and social justice work. Child placing agency case managers and foster families will be trained with tools and strategies to engage birth families beyond visitation, create partnerships between birth families and foster families, and establish sustainable safety and support networks for children – all while keeping children’s voices at the center of the work. All work will be conducted in partnership with the Department of Family and Protective Services and the judicial system. The model also includes parallel strategies for coaching, supervision, leadership, and organizational alignment, which are all critical elements for ensuring successful implementation and sustainability of the practice model.

Specifics of the model are still being developed at this time and will be operationalized into the unique business processes of each selected child placing agency.

Q: What is the timeline of how this model will be implemented?  Will there be phases of when goals/ values proposed are being launched within 2020-2023?

A: Pre-implementation activities will begin upon the award of the contract and continue through September 30, 2020. These pre-implementation activities include an agency readiness assessment, capacity building efforts, and operationalization of the practice model (meaning fitting the practice model into the business processes of the agency), and ensuring implementation drivers are in place to support and sustain the practice model. Usability testing, which is a smaller sized “practice run,” will begin in October of 2020, with adjustments occurring through December of 2020. The model will launch in each agency with full evaluation efforts starting in January of 2021 and continuing through September 30, 2023. The Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies will provide ongoing, hands-on support of all aspects of implementation throughout the project period.

Q: On page 3, the term “concerted efforts” is used multiple times, what is TXPOP’s definition of this term means? 

A: The term “concerted efforts” comes from the federal Child and Family Services Review. The Children’s Bureau generally defines concerted efforts as an exercise of diligence and care (similar to “diligent efforts”). For more information on how the Children’s Bureau evaluates casework practice, you can view their Onsite Review Instrument used during the Child and Family Services Review here.

Q: In the Minimum Qualification section, it lists the TXPOP coordinator will have a small caseload; what does this caseload consist of? Is it children, birth families, foster families, etc.? What does TXPOP consider small?

A: The TXPOP coordinator will most likely carry a caseload of 2 to 3 foster families, with the expectation they are doing work with the children and birth families with whom the foster families are also working, and/or supporting the foster families to do that work. We want the coordinator to have a caseload so that he/she can fully understand the practice model and provide informed support to other workers.

Q: TXPOP has specific questions on the application. Are those referring to the agency as a whole or the agency in the specific region we are applying for?

A: We’re specifically looking for information about the region for which the agency is applying. However, if the infrastructure of the agency as a whole would support implementation of the practice model in the region, then please speak to that in your application as well.

Q: Can TXPOP provide a sample contract that lets us an agency know what we are minimally agreeing to for the next 3 1/2year(s)? Or is the RFP the minimal contract?

A: We do not have a sample contract. The contract will be between The University of Texas at Austin and your agency. The specific terms will align with what you see in the RFP. Submission of an application is not a binding contract. Sites can withdraw prior to signing a contract.

Q: In the outcomes portion, what is the selected agency responsible for versus the Department of Family and Protective Services?

A: The TXPOP team works collaboratively with the Department of Family and Protective Services, which serves on the project in an advisory capacity. Once child placing agencies are selected, the Department will be further engaged in the project at the local level. However, the Department is not responsible for implementing TXPOP.

It is expected that child placing agency case managers will work closely with the Department of Family and Protective Services caseworkers to ensure that efforts are aligned. In some situations, joint work will occur (e.g., the child placing agency case manager and Department of Family and Protective Services caseworker might co-facilitate a family meeting).

This is a pilot project. The evaluation will measure the practice of the child placing agencies and will also take into account other influences on short and long term outcomes. Evaluation work includes ongoing continuous quality improvement, and the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Center for Child and Family Studies will provide timely, rigorous support to selected child placing agencies to meet project goals and objectives.

Ultimately, TXPOP is seeking strong partners who believe in this work.  In good faith, we will work together to improve outcomes and will share responsibility for the work.

Q: In the “collaborative case reviews” section, will agencies need to adhere to both working towards “learning and development” and other compliance entities, such as minimum standards, etc.?  How does TXPOP view this, and/or how does TXPOP align with the other compliance factors to foster care and child welfare?

A: The collaborative case reviews will be aligned with the Onsite Review Instrument from the federal Child and Family Services Review and other case practices that support improved permanency and wellbeing outcomes for children. The Onsite Review Instrument can be found at here. In many cases, these processes can be overlaid with existing business processes within the agency.

Q: The RFP mentioned that TXPOP is aware that each agency will have their strengths and barriers. A question on the application asks how the agency will overcome these barriers, but would TXPOP also provide training, recommendations, etc. to help improve the barriers for selected agency before the initial roll out in March 2020?

A: Yes, absolutely!  The pre-implementation (March 2020 through September 30, 2020) and ongoing work completed by the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies in partnership with each child placing agency is designed to improve the agency’s capacity for implementation.

Q: The RFP references several times that the implementation model will be sustainable after the funding ends.  Does this mean the model will be sustained after the 3 year funding ends and/or the onsite coordinator position will be sustained after the 3 year funding ends?  Is the understanding that effective sustainability can only be attained if the onsite coordinator position continues and therefore this is the expectation for the CPA?

A: The work over the course of the project duration will be to embed the practice model into the child placing agency so that it can be sustained by the child placing agency after the project ends. We will closely follow implementation science to ensure this happens. The onsite coordinator may not be necessary at the end of the project as many tasks are project specific (for example, the evaluation), and by that point, other people in the child placing agency should be able to assume some of the clinical and oversight tasks. So the short answer is no, effective sustainability is not viewed as contingent upon continuation of the coordinator position. If the child placing agency chooses to continue the position post-project period, they would need to secure the funding for it.

Q: How will the $100,000 per year be disbursed each year? A lump sum, monthly, quarterly, after the agency bills for expenses…?

A: UT will pay a quarterly fixed amount. Agencies will be asked to submit an invoice for billing purposes.

Q: On page 6 of the RFP, there is a reference to a full-time site coordinator. Just for clarification, is the full-time site coordinator expected to be funded 100% by TXPOP program funds? Or can the coordinator position be funded by a mix of agency and TXPOP grant funds? 

A: The full-time site coordinator position can be funded by a mix of child placing agency and TXPOP funds as long as the remaining funds support other TXPOP related needs. Alternately, child placing agencies might also repurpose an existing position within the agency as the site coordinator and use all of the funds granted by TXPOP to support other TXPOP related needs. Just include how you intend to budget the funds in your proposal.

Q: In our experience, CPS tightly manages bio family information and visitation. Does the TXPOP model or the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing have a plan to facilitate greater interaction? 

A: We anticipate challenges with implementation, as much of this work is new for both private and public agencies. Our intent is to work closely with regional partners to address those challenges. Currently, we are working with many state level leaders who serve as executive advisors to the project. Our advisors are well-versed in the project, and we have received their support.

Q: Can we use the funding to fund more than one position?

A: The agency can decide how they want to use the funding as long as the funding goes toward TXPOP expenses. Just include your plans to use the funds in your budget.

Q: What’s the background of the people who serve as the TXPOP core team?

A: TXPOP team members from both the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services all have direct experience with the Texas foster care system.  Unlike some research institutes, the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing hires researchers with significant direct practice experience. Likewise, the team from the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services has direct practice experience. Beyond the core team, TXPOP is drawing on the expertise of staff from public and private child welfare agencies, birth families, former foster youth, and foster families.

Q: What is the expectation of our agency for participating in the evaluation and providing data to the evaluation team?

A: The evaluation team with the Texas Institute of Child & Family Wellbeing believes in minimizing the burden on child placing agencies in data collection efforts. This means the team will work with each site to understand existing case management systems, practices, and data collection efforts to integrate the evaluation into existing systems as much as possible. The team also plans to create data collection tools that fit into the practice model in a way that is meaningful and useful for sites. It is expected that sites participate in interviews and focus groups to inform the development of these tools, as well as to document the process of adapting the model to each site for fidelity. The evaluation team will work directly with the site coordinators and implementation teams at each site for scheduling, gathering feedback from sites, and improving practices to meet the needs of each agency.

Q: How will my agency sustain the work after the pilot ends?

A: The TXPOP team will closely follow implementation science to ensure sustainability.  Implementation science is a blueprint for ensuring new behaviors are sustained in an organization. Many public and private child welfare agencies are using this blueprint to implement practice models. Implementation drivers are the activities that embed the new behaviors in the infrastructure of the agency and are different from simply training practitioners in new skills and hoping for the best (a list of drivers can be found in the RFP). What we hope to build is a highly participatory model where everyone has a voice in the planning and decision-making, including birth families and foster families, and the business processes of the agency have to be highly participatory and strengths-based as well to accomplish this.  There has to be a parallel process whereby all the wheels are turning in the direction of inclusion. Each agency will develop an implementation plan with the TXPOP team that is specific to the agency and builds the agency’s capacity to carry on the model on its own over time.

Agencies will still have access to the online learning community that will be developed as part of TXPOP. The Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services will also support sustainability in each agency.

Q: How customizable is the practice model?

A: Core components have evidence behind them and are less negotiable; however, the operationalization of the practice in selected agencies (meaning how the activities fit into the agency’s business process) are adaptable. We will take advantage of existing business processes as much as possible.

Q: What are the core beliefs of the model?

A: Relationships are at the heart of this model. We realize that relationships are critical, and we will put relationships at the forefront of our work with the child placing agencies selected. Good partnership is something that will be a focus of this project from the top down, from the TXPOP team, leaders within the agency, front line workers and ultimately with birth families, foster families, and children.

Q:  How will this change what my case managers will be doing with families?

A: Case managers will support foster families to develop good partnerships with the birth families whose children they are caring for. This includes developing good communication and co-parenting relationships with birth families, whereby birth families have the opportunity to stay engaged with their children in a real way while the children are in foster care. This of course is going to require some direct contact with birth families and is part of a larger strategy for developing safety and support networks around children and families (both birth and foster families) to support them whether the permanency plan is reunification or not. Case managers will also work with children to elicit their input and bring it to the Department/courts for planning and decision-making. Workers will be supported with training, coaching, and consultation in new strategies and tools to make these things happen.

Q: Will case managers have time to do all of this?

A: We recognize that there are many things case managers have to do already. Some of the work of TXPOP will replace what case managers are doing now rather than adding to what they do. We will work closely with you through a process whereby we analyze the existing business process and determine what activities can be enhanced or combined with the new practice model. Moreover, we believe much of this work is preventative in nature. For example, many of the strategies and tools we will introduce will support placement stability, thereby minimizing the amount of crisis management that may be happening now.

Q: How will our agency be working with the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services?

A: We will work in close partnership with selected child placing agencies. We understand you bring a vast amount of knowledge expertise, and we want to tap into that expertise! We understand this project will have challenges, and we will work side by side with you to address those challenges.  During the project period, a high degree of support will be provided by the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services to help support the agency through each stage of implementation.

Q: Can the project include both kinship and non-kinship families?

A: Yes! The model we intend to implement is relevant for both.

Q: What are the duties of the site coordinator?

A: We envision the site coordinator will support training, coaching, case audits, collection and tracking of data, and helping to facilitate the local advisory group in addition to carrying a caseload of two or three foster families and being the primary liaison to the TXPOP team. If it makes sense for other positions in the agency to absorb one or more of these duties, then we would adjust how much time is spent on the tasks listed accordingly.