Foundation Announces New Human Services Frontline Practice Strategy

Posted June 26, 2012, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation announced today that it will discontinue providing direct services through Casey Family Services in order to shift to a grantmaking strategy that will help hundreds of foster care and other nonprofit human services agencies adopt innovative, proven approaches to improve child welfare practices.

By redeploying these resources to invest in improving the practice of a diverse set of nonprofit providers instead of its own agency, the Foundation will have the potential to impact thousands of children and families, far beyond those currently served, and help to advance stronger practices across the field in general.

Founded in 1976, Casey Family Services (CFS), headquartered in New Haven, Conn., provided high quality foster care services to children under state contracts in Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. CFS helped stimulate the emergence of many other quality providers and helped build the Foundation’s knowledge about how to support effective frontline practices for the most fragile families. CFS has been a leader in the field’s movement toward finding permanent families for youth in foster care. The agency has also excelled in serving older youth and high-needs children through effective recruitment of stable, nurturing foster families, by providing intensive counseling and other supports, and through careful planning to transition these youth to adulthood. The Foundation’s new strategy will help take these lessons to a broader scale and spread the kinds of best practices that CFS has demonstrated and championed for 36 years.

Throughout this transition, the Foundation is committed to working with states to meet their service needs and ensure the stability of the children and families in its care. We will transition the majority of these children and their foster families to other providers with capacity by December 31, 2012, but the agency will remain open until June 30, 2013 with a small staff to support any cases that need additional time to transition. We are providing the 280 employees affected by this decision with resources and support as they pursue new employment, further education or retirement.

The Foundation plans to execute its new frontline human services strategy through partnerships with premier free-standing provider agencies, with the goal of helping them to develop and/or scale up proven models. We will also help increase adoption of effective practice by building awareness, providing education and technical assistance, and supporting efforts to ensure public funding supports these practices at the federal and state level. Additional grants will go toward developing hands-on, user friendly materials and tools that leverage the accumulated knowledge of direct service providers and the expertise of Foundation staff. While these partnerships will begin with child welfare providers, the Foundation plans to expand to providers in other human service fields such as juvenile justice, mental health, community change, substance abuse and workforce development.

This new approach to practice reform complements the Foundation’s existing strategies to work with state and local governments to improve systems and policies that support at-risk families. The Foundation’s work includes strategic consulting with states, advancing the use of evidence based practices in public systems, developing information technology to improve case management and data analysis, and policy advocacy to institutionalize and scale what works. The combination of improvements at the system and provider level has the potential to yield significant benefits to a greater number of families.

“The decision to change our strategy to focus on helping nonprofit human services agencies improve their service to families instead of operating our own foster care agency is a significant milestone in our organization’s history,” said Patrick T. McCarthy, trustee and president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “As the human services environment changes, we see an opportunity to help strengthen the work of frontline staff who often make life and death decisions on behalf of vulnerable children and families. We are proud of the contributions Casey Family Services has made in supporting families, working with foster parents, collaborating with public agencies and providing outstanding care to children. This success is due to a skilled and dedicated staff and we deeply regret the impact this transition will have on them. We will honor the legacy of CFS and its people by continuing to work diligently to build better futures for children and families across the country.”

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