FSU Pilot Study Assesses Residential Group Home Standards
On July 1, 2017, Florida Statute 409.996 (22) was amended to require the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to develop a statewide accountability system for residential group homes based on measurable quality standards. Funded by the Florida Institute for Child Welfare and DCF, a research team led by FSU College of Social Work faculty member Dr. Shamra Boel-Studt is developing and validating the Group Care Quality Standards Assessment (GCQSA) to measure group home performance based on the Group Care Quality Standards. The Quality Standards were established by a network of service providers, consumers and researchers to represent research-based, best practice standards for residential group homes for children and youths.
The GCQSA is an adaptable quality measurement system, designed for implementation in both small and large service systems. The initiative draws upon research and empirically-driven frameworks to transform residential services through the integration of research-informed practice standards, on-going assessment and continuous quality improvement. This GCQSA will serve as the core measure for Florida’s statewide accountability system for residential group homes.
Dr. Boel-Studt sees this collaboration as a major step toward addressing longstanding service deficits for the subset of youth in the foster care system who have more challenging needs. “Previous policies and initiatives emphasized efforts to divert these youth into lower level care settings. So, that’s where the investment has been,” she explained. “For some youths, that just doesn’t work and there is a lot of data to support that.
This project represents a long overdue investment in determining what works for some of our hardest to serve youth in the foster care system, and to ensure that they are receiving services that are specified to their needs and in nurturing, high-quality care settings.
Through two previous studies, the GCQSA was successfully piloted statewide in 2018-2019. To date, the project was awarded $588,446, with an additional $109,191 of funding to complete an on-going validation study and two supplemental studies, which includes the recently funded outcomes development pilot study for residential group homes.
The outcomes development pilot study will assess a set of youth and program outcome measures for use in residential group homes that will be used in conjunction with the GCQSA as a part of Florida’s statewide accountability system. The study will include a random sample of 50 residential group homes whose staff will receive training on a validated assessment measuring dimensions of youth safety, permanency, and well-being. Data will be collected for all youth placed in the sample of residential programs at admission and discharge. The research team is working with DCF to select the assessment(s) for the pilot.
The DCF will use results of this study to identify potential measures that can be used to monitor outcomes of youth in residential group homes as a part of Florida’s Accountability System for Residential Group Homes. The research team will examine correlations between elements of quality care measured using the GCQSA and youth outcomes with the aim of pinpointing core elements of effective residential group care.
“These findings can be used to inform a system for facilitating high quality and effective care for higher risk youth in the foster care and related systems,” Dr. Boel-Studt concluded.
To contact Dr. Shamra Boel-Studt about the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.