Policy Implementation Under Class Action-Based Reform of State Child Welfare Agencies: The Cases of Washington State and New Jersey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using a case study method, the policy formation and implementation of litigation based system-wide reform of the Washington State and New Jersey child welfare agencies was examined within the context of the policy instruments component of Hasenfeld and Brock’s (1991) political-economy model. Primary findings and recommendations for improving the implementation process include: (a) clarifying weak and ambiguous authority structures by creating a policy agenda linking authority structures to specific plan components; (b) mitigating misalignment and under-resourcing of policy components by stipulating resource requirements within the litigated settlement agreement provisions; (c) strengthening the implementation process by aligning policy action steps and outcome measurements with available data sources and capabilities; and (d) structuring incremental change into the program design for policy reform to increase flexibility to respond to changing agency needs or unpredictable events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-187
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Policy Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016



  • Case study analysis
  • child welfare agency
  • child welfare reform
  • class action lawsuit
  • litigated reform
  • litigation
  • performance
  • policy implementation
  • public administration
  • public policy

Cite this