Improving care. Changing lives.


Breakthrough Series Collaborative

The New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors (NEACWCD), and Casey Family Programs spent over two years planning and running a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) on Safety and Risk Assessments.  The BSC was an innovative regional project to improve safety and risk assessments in the public child welfare systems of the six New England states.   The 29 month-long partnership  began in April 2008 and concluded in September 2010.  

Participating teams came from NEACWCD members agencies. There were 22 in all , with at  least two teams from each of the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont .  Each BSC team was composed of representatives from multiple constituencies in the realm of child welfare including administrators, supervisors, line staff, youth, parents and community representatives.  Participants in this effort planned, field tested, evaluated and then rapidly deployed new strategies and tools aimed at transforming child welfare practices.  

The BSC employs a quality improvement process originated by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement which has been used extensively in the health care field to create practice change; the methodology was later adapted by Casey Family Programs for use in the child welfare field.  It is centered around small-scale, rapid tests of change that are measured and monitored closely — in almost “real time”.  This means that successes can be expanded quickly, and that failures or underperforming efforts can be learned from but not replicated.

Through an open and collaborative process among the teams, the “best of the best” practices, the most successful, measurable and easily implemented were rapidly introduced throughout a team’s organization and across the states.  Since the conclusion of the BSC, many of the practice innovations devised and tested by teams have been integrated into statewide practice not only in the originating state but in some instances in neighboring states.  Although the project has officially concluded, the Association and Casey Family Programs continue to support the spread and implementation of these practices to ensure their long-term sustainability.  These exciting practice improvements are reflective of NEACWCD’s mission to develop effective services for children and families by sharing information, discussing mutual issues and concerns, and learning from each other's experience with past and current policy and practice implementation.  

For more information about this BSC, please contact the Project Director, Gail Medeiros, at or for more information about other BSCs, please visit the website of Casey Family Programs.