By Nina Williams-Mbengue

A partnership involving NCSL to coordinate foster care across three branches of government is featured in a recent online commentary by Governing magazine.

"Coordinating Foster Care Across the Three Branches of Government" examines the partnership between NCSL, the National Governors Association, Casey Family Programs, the National Center for State Courts, and the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. 

kids in foster care stock photoIn 2011 and 2012 the Three Branch Institute partners worked with five states—Colorado, Delaware, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin—on strategies to enhance permanency for older adolescents in foster care. 

The current 2013-2014 Three Branch Institute—Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin—focuses on the social and emotional well-being of children in foster care. Each Three Branch Institute consists of representatives from the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government working in teams to develop and implement coordinated, comprehensive strategic plans. Teams participate in a national strategic planning meeting  where they interact with national experts, foster youth, state administrators and their colleagues in other states to develop plans, exchange ideas, and discuss barriers and potential solutions.

They receive ongoing technical assistance and participate in educational webinars. Tennessee developed a Three Branch Institute on its own, following the NGA/NCSL format, to strategically plan and implement initiatives to improve outcomes for children and families.

Nina Williams-Mbengue is the program director of NCSL 's Children and Families program.

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