E-study | Created: 12/01/2020

The Family Support Initiative: Managing to Impact Change

Justice Christine Cahill (ret.) transplanted the FSI project from the University of Michigan Law School for implementation in King County, WA, by her organization, the Child Justice Advocacy Center (CJAC), which focuses on child welfare issues. Externally, the FSI relies on authorizers and referral partners with widely varying interests to refer cases and cooperate in addressing clients’ legal needs. Organizationally, the FSI is managed by Jennifer Clancy of the CJAC, which also employs and houses the social worker. Other project partners – the Washington Justice Center and the Parent Support Association – employ the remaining team partners and contract their services to the FSI project. Internally, the multi-disciplinary aspect of the team brings together professions not accustomed to collaboration to address and manage clients’ legal issues.

Jennifer Clancy, Project Director for the CJAC and protagonist of this case, implemented and supervises the project. As we meet Clancy, two social workers, two attorneys, and one parent ally have left the project in its short two-year history – a turnover rate of 167 percent. Upon the most recent departure, Clancy faces the decision to shut down the time-limited pilot or reengage stakeholders and modify aspects of governance and management to address deficiencies in communication and accountability that are impacting staff performance, engagement and satisfaction.

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