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

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Journal of Policy Practice


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.



Published Citation

Alvarez, A. (2016). Policy implementation under class action-based reform of state child welfare agencies: The cases of Washington State and New Jersey. Journal of Policy Practice, 15(3), 162-187.