Florida Department of Children and Families Child Protection Transformation Project

TSG Managing Partner John Stephen and Lead Consultant Dr. Will Oliver led this project and served as the Secretary and Director’s “trusted advisors” and project managers. Dr. Oliver was specifically tasked by the Secretary to manage and oversee the work product of other project contractors, such as KPMG. Dr. Oliver worked along-side KPMG in defining, drafting and presenting to the Secretary the statutorily required Feasibility Study that would be submitted to the Legislature related to the specific child welfare transformation budget requests.

Project timing and duration

June 2011 through December 2011 (Phase One – developing child agency transformation strategy and developing blueprint for legislative support for agency re-design). Second phase initial project implementation December 2011 to July 2012.

Project Objectives

Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) embarked upon a major reform and transformation of its entire child welfare program and system in the summer of 2011 after a tragic death at the hands of a foster parent. The newly elected Governor had appointed a new Secretary of the DCF, David Wilkins, who had years of experience in the private sector as a high level executive of Accenture and also was involved in youth prevention and intervention programs. Secretary Wilkins sought to reform the entire child welfare system so that the state workers, as well as its numerous community providers, were well armed with the most updated information related to a child’s safety and well-being, as well as a family-centered practice that promotes safety, wellness and economic independence.

After the child tragedy, concerns were raised about job performance of DCF staff. Concerns extended to accountability, training, employee retention, proper supervision, management of DCF employees, quality of the service delivery system (including information sharing), service integration, collaboration, system compatibility, and quality of services performed by subcontractors. Concerns were also raised as to the performance, inefficiency and duplication of effort on behalf of community providers, including private sector for profits and not for profits.

These concerns led DCF leadership to launch a number of initiatives in order to improve the efficiency and process of all of its social services programs. The review included: intake, eligibility, case management, protective services, and other functions that provide important service interaction with the public and protect the health and safety of Florida’s vulnerable citizens.

In their role as Child Welfare Transformation project managers, Dr. Oliver and Mr. Stephen were tasked with refining, managing, monitoring and evaluating these critical initiatives. The Department wanted to make sure that initiatives were coordinated and on time, and performance was measured for desired outcomes. It also sought to make efficient use of Department resources, and be effective in improving services while lowering cost. Thus, DCF’s goal was to seek professional government consultants with prior experience in child welfare and public sector business process improvement, project facilitation, management and coordination. It was extremely important for the Department leadership to achieve its vision for system re-engineering and culture change in a short period of time.

Key Project Elements

Overall responsibilities of TSG Consultants Dr. Will Oliver and John Stephen were to:

  • Clarify roles, responsibilities, accountabilities for initiatives
  • Ensure that everyone agrees on scope, objectives, milestones, time tables and deliverables from their respective initiatives
  • Help the CIO and Secretary put in place (or refine) the governance structure guiding initiatives
  • Set up a regular method of integrating between initiatives with related scopes
  • Hold teams accountable for meeting their commitments
  • Provide a window into initiatives’ activities, and their accomplishments
  • Facilitate collaboration and coordination among initiatives to ensure that the best outcome is achieved using Department resources most effectively
  • Clear roadblocks so that each initiative team gains access to the resources it needs for success – Department leadership, IT resources, data, etc.
  • Build the Department’s internal capabilities to complete initiatives successfully
  • Ultimately, to extend the leadership reach of the Department leadership (CIO and Secretary) to ensure that the Department is being well-served by each initiative
  • Put another way, DCF leadership needed a trusted advisor to ensure that the many internally, and externally, staffed Departmental initiatives work together to build a more effective and efficient Department.

Furthermore, specific responsibilities of planning, facilitating and project management included:

  • Facilitating DCF vision and broader strategies into concrete, specific, and interlinked project definitions, including defining the critical success factors, systems architecture and a high level project planning roadmap for achieving DCF’s vision and objectives.
  • Defining and refining project initiatives to drive business objectives and outcomes by conducting process improvement mapping sessions, documenting Current State/As-Is and Future State/To-Be models, defining functional and technical requirements, and describing “day in the life of” of front line service delivery workers to find opportunities arising from errors, delays, systems, training, and other sources.
  • Assisting with directing teams of internal and external stakeholders to facilitate sessions that will drive broader strategies to specific actionable recommendations and initiatives, including communicating that direction to stakeholders.
  • Assisting with reviewing, defining, and refining operational performance measures and management controls and management control/reporting systems.
  • Providing project management services for complex projects and programs (i.e., projects that are interlinked together intended to achieve a larger business objective), and project management coaching services for DCF leadership and project management personnel.
  • Assisting with reviewing, defining, and refining project performance measures. Assisting with risk management and associated control/reporting systems. Provide oversight over project compliance with performance and risk management procedures.
  • Providing consulting services to assess organization, human capital, culture and organizational change management services.
  • Assisting in defining the framework and measures for realizing projected benefits from strategic initiatives. Reviewing and reporting on progress towards benefits realization risks and issues related.

Project Results

As a result of the project, DCF developed a comprehensive change program including changes to staffing, personnel development, field technology, back office technology, and the basic investigation framework. This was heralded by the stakeholder group as the biggest change in child protective services in decades.