From Quality Assurance to Continuous Quality Improvement

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From Quality Assurance to Continuous Quality Improvement

Elaine Higgs, County of San Diego Child Welfare Services Data Unit

In 2012, San Diego County Child Welfare Services, with the assistance of the NCCD Children’s Research Center (CRC), began a redesign effort to move from quality assurance (QA) to a more robust continuous quality improvement (CQI) system.

Our CQI staff are dedicated to turning data into information that can be broadly shared and understood by staff and stakeholders. Our goal is to always assess, engage, and improve our CQI system by asking “What can we learn from this?”

Part of the new vision was the increased training and use of NCCD's SafeMeasures® for caseworkers, supervisors, and managers to track progress on key measures and to target strategies for improvement. SafeMeasures was used as the backbone of the CQI Key Data Report with monthly and quarterly measures that are used to identify and monitor practice trends and to remedy a lack of uniformity in tracking, reporting, and analyzing data and review findings.

San Diego has now developed a foundational administrative structure that includes dedicated CQI policy analysts and CQI teams in regional offices, a centralized CQI unit, supervisor and manager learning circles, a standardized CQI manual, and a quality case review process with consistent procedures and processes for sharing results. 

Elaine Higgs is a senior analyst and supervisor for the County of San Diego Child Welfare Services (CWS) Data Unit. She has been with CWS for 15 years, beginning as a protective services worker. She joined the Data Unit at its inception in 2004. In addition to producing regular and ad hoc reports for county executives, CWS managers, regional staff, and outside agencies, she is the research liaison for CWS and has been a  part of the agency’s move from quality assurance to continuous quality improvement since 2006.

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