QPI is a systems change process rather than a set of predetermined strategies or activities. QPI4Kids values and principles are the basis for each QPI-CT’s “brand statement,” a vision of what parenting should be. The three QPI principles are detailed below.
QPI is based on the belief that every child needs to grow up in a caring family. Thus, the primary goal of foster care must be to ensure that children and youth in the system receive excellent parenting every single day through committed, developmentally informed relationships with the adults caring for them. This need for relationships cannot be put on hold while a family recovers from a crisis or until an adoption can be finalized.
Too often, foster parent selection is based on physical requirements – a fire extinguisher in the home, no criminal record, and enough room for an additional bed or crib – rather than the quality of care a family can provide. In contrast, QPI focuses on foster parent approval on the ability to care for children and develop policies that empower foster parents to treat a child in their care as their own.
Unless caregivers are treated as key members of the team and their relationships with the children in their care are supported, child welfare agencies cannot attract the families who can and will provide excellent parenting in safe, secure, and supportive homes. In QPI-CT, birth families, relative caregivers, foster families, and young people in care work together to ensure that these relationships are given the highest priority.
Research shows that all children placed in out-of-home care need high-quality parenting and positive relationships to thrive and recover from abuse, neglect, and other trauma. QPI4Kids nationally incorporates attachment theory and developmental and neurological research into its approach to child welfare. QPI-CT works with experts in these fields to educate staff and caregivers on the impact of this research on daily practice.
Each QPI-CT regional determines for itself how to put the first two principles into practice. While support from our foster care agency leaders who acknowledge the need for change is critical, the basic ideas and direction come from those who are most involved in and affected by the system. Each QPI-CT region regularly convenes a broad group of stakeholders to define and outline what excellent foster and kinship care means for their community, including birth parents, foster parents, youth, caseworkers, attorneys, court personnel, and representatives from schools, health departments, faith communities, and other sectors of the community. Together, this group develops expectations for providing and supporting excellent parenting for children living away from their birth parents and in out-of-home placements.
In 2021, QPI-CT developed a brand statement as a part of its official launch in March:
Connecticut’s foster care system works to support families and is not a substitute for parents.
QPI-CT stakeholders work together to identify barriers and solutions to improve our foster care system. While the system should have expectations for caregivers, it must also ensure that they have the support and respect they need to provide excellent care. Currently, our regions are working to identify the policy and practice changes needed to make the brand a reality. Starting with the changes that are easiest to accomplish, this QPI-CT steering committee engages in a long-term process of change that will make our vision a reality.