IQCS Projects Include:

• Florida’s Statewide Accountability System for Children Residential Group Care

• Quality Improvement and Training Platform for Children’s Residential Treatment Centers

• Evaluation of Advanced Certification (AdCert) Trainings for Child Welfare Professionals.

FL State Seal

Florida’s Statewide Accountability System for Children’s Residential Group Care

Effective July 1, 2017, Florida Statute Section 409.996(25)  required the Florida Department of Children and Families (Department) to develop a statewide accountability system (SAS) for residential group care providers based on measurable quality standards. 

Efforts leading up to the Statute led by the Department, the Florida Coalition for Children, and the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, began with convening a statewide workgroup (Group Care Quality Standards Workgroup) tasked with establishing a set of research-based quality performance standards.

Through support from the Department and the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, Dr. Boel-Studt led the development and validation of the Quality Standards Assessment (QSA) to measure residential programs’ performance on quality standards across the following eight domains:

1. Assessment, Admission, and Service Planning

2. Positive, Safe Living Environment

3. Monitor and Report Problems

4. Family, Culture, and Spirituality

5. Professional and Competent Staff

6. Program Elements

7. Education, Skills, and Positive Outcomes

8. Pre-Discharge/Post Discharge Processes

Informed by research and developed in collaboration with child welfare stakeholders throughout Florida, the QSA aims to improve the quality of residential care above and beyond licensing and accreditation standards. Through a series of implementation pilots and studies, the QSA is fully developed, validated, and implemented statewide. The IQCS team continues to support the Department through data management, technical assistance, and developing and managing the reporting system.


  • 2014

Quality Standards Established

  • 2015

Draft QSA Completed

  • 2016-2017

Feasibility Pilot
Implementation Pilot

  • 2017

FL STATUTE 409.996 (25)

  • 2018-2019

Statewide Pilot

  • 2020-2021

Validation Study
Inter-rater Agreement Study

  • 2021-2022

Outcomes Development Pilot

  • 2022

Full Implementation

“The Department shall develop, in collaboration with the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, lead agencies, service providers, current and former foster children placed in residential care, and other community stakeholders, a statewide accountability system based on measurable quality standards.”  – F. S. Section 409.996(25)

Residential Group Care Accountability
System Report 2023


Boel-Studt, S., Huefner, J.C., & Huang, H. (2019)
The Group Care Quality Standards Assessment: A framework for assessment, quality improvement, and effectiveness | Children and Youth Services Review, 28

Boel-Studt, S., Huefner, J.C., Bender, Huang, H., & Abell, N. (2018)
Developing quality standards and performance measures for residential group care: Translating theory to practice. | Residential Treatment for Children and Youth, 1-22

Huefner, J.C. (2018)
Crosswalk of published quality standards for residential care for children and adolescents | Children And Youth Services Review, 88, 267–273

Quality Improvement and Training Platform for Children’s Residential Treatment Centers

Since 2021, the IQCS team has partnered with the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio (UTHCSA) and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) with the aim of enhancing the quality and effectiveness of services for children in residential treatment centers that are part of the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) Project

The team is designing a quality assessment and training platform based on the quality standards framework and the QSA. The IQSC team is collaborating with HHSC and UTHCSA to implement and training providers on the QSA and to provide supplement trainings. We partner with experienced trainers from the CFC and the Gulf Coast Trauma Institute to offer range of trainings aimed at supporting quality practice.

Project Aims:

      • Establish implementation process for collecting QSA data in RTCs.
      • Pilot QSA implementation
      • Develop QSA reporting systems that provides actionable information to meet Texas accountability, advocacy, and public policy needs.
      • Use QSA data to identify deficits in care and inform training.
      • Tie outcome data to QSA data to refine services (Continuous Quality Improvement) and application of quality standards in Texas RTCs.

Evaluation of the Advanced Certification (AdCert) Trainings for Child Welfare Professionals

The Florida Institute for Child Welfare’s GROW Center was established to support Florida’s child welfare workforce through providing academic innovation, training/technical assistance, and cultivating partnerships with child welfare stakeholders.

As part of the training/technical assistance track, the FICW is partnering with the Institute for Family Violence Studies  and the Stoops Center for Communities, Families, and Children to develop and pilot advanced certification trainings (AdCerts) aimed at building child welfare workers’ knowledge and skills. The FICW is also partnering with Dr. Boel-Studt and her team to lead the evaluation of the first three AdCerts. It is expected that AdCert trainings, in conjunction with other GROW center initiatives, will contribute to increased retention and career advancement among the child welfare professionals through enhancing worker competencies, efficacy, job satisfaction, and well-being.