How Arizona Fixed Its Broken Child Welfare System in 2 Years

“‘The journey over the last two years has been nothing short of extraordinary,’ says Shalom Jacobs, deputy director of Arizona’s relatively new Department of Child Safety.

What’s changed most, says Jacobs, is a new management system under Gov. Doug Ducey, a former businessman, that borrows from “lean” practices in the business world to speed up the way they do things. In the past, the agency relied on ad hoc groups that would study an issue for a few months and recommend solutions. Jacobs, who started with the agency as a case specialist in 1999, says that previous leadership never focused on the processes and systems that kept breaking down. Now it’s the staff themselves who diagnose problems, propose solutions and then try out their ideas.”

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