Supporting Families With Funding Streams to Prevent Child Welfare Involvement

Posted February 14, 2022, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The image depicts a colorful illustration of families with young children enjoying a day at the park. A Black mother walks with her two children—one of whom is on a bicycle—and a white couple walks with their two children and dog. In the forefront, there is a pond with two white ducks floating on the surface.

How can financ­ing strate­gies help child wel­fare lead­ers make sure that fam­i­lies are sup­port­ed, con­nect­ed and safe? In a series of inter­views, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion learned about six juris­dic­tions across the coun­try using the Fam­i­ly First Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Act and oth­er strate­gies to sup­port fam­i­ly strengths and well-being before chil­dren are brought into the child wel­fare system.

Read About Six Strate­gies for Sup­port­ing Families

High­lights of these inter­views are cap­tured in two new tools for the field: a snap­shot of key fund­ing streams to sup­port fam­i­lies and a look at com­mon fund­ing strate­gies child wel­fare lead­ers are pur­su­ing to expand access to a con­tin­u­um of sup­port, includ­ing evi­dence-based pro­grams and ser­vices. The briefs detail a wide range of fed­er­al, state and local fund­ing sources that can help fam­i­lies meet basic needs like food, med­i­cine and hous­ing; con­nect to net­works of friends, fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty that help nur­ture their chil­dren; and access men­tal health, sub­stance abuse and oth­er ser­vices read­i­ly available.

Read About Key Fund­ing Streams to Pre­vent Child Abuse

Child wel­fare lead­ers are look­ing for the best solu­tions to pro­vide fam­i­lies with ser­vices and com­mu­ni­ty con­nec­tions that pro­mote child well-being,” says Ilene Berman, a senior asso­ciate with the Foundation’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group. These new tools aim to help lead­ers achieve this goal by show­cas­ing how peers across the coun­try are max­i­miz­ing pub­lic and pri­vate fund­ing streams to sup­port strong com­mu­ni­ty part­ner­ships and facil­i­tate high-qual­i­ty imple­men­ta­tion of evi­dence-based programs.”

Most reports to child wel­fare agen­cies are relat­ed to neglect, and these neglect reports often stem from fam­i­lies’ strug­gles to meet basic needs. An impor­tant foun­da­tion for sup­port­ing fam­i­ly well-being and lim­it­ing involve­ment with the child wel­fare sys­tem, espe­cial­ly for fam­i­lies of col­or, is to ensure access to oppor­tu­ni­ties, resources and ser­vices that sup­port fam­i­lies in meet­ing their basic needs for income, hous­ing, food, child care and health care. Part­ner­ships with state social ser­vice agen­cies, state Med­ic­aid agen­cies, local hous­ing author­i­ties and eco­nom­ic and com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment depart­ments can expand resources for fam­i­lies and pre­vent more fam­i­lies from ever becom­ing involved with child welfare.

Col­orado and Nebras­ka, both part of Thriv­ing Fam­i­lies, Safer Chil­dren, a 22-juris­dic­tion effort to reimag­ine child wel­fare, have devel­oped pol­i­cy, infra­struc­ture and part­ner­ships with­in the com­mu­ni­ty to bring togeth­er fund­ing that sup­ports a broad­er array of ser­vices for families.

Pool­ing Funds and Cre­at­ing Resource Cen­ters in Colorado

The Col­orado Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices (DHS) sup­ports a net­work of 35 fam­i­ly resource cen­ters that pro­vide the local infra­struc­ture through which the state imple­ments its broad-based fam­i­ly sup­port efforts. DHS pro­vides grants to local fam­i­ly resource cen­ters, as well as the statewide Fam­i­ly Resource Cen­ter Asso­ci­a­tion that sup­ports statewide evaluation.

In 2021, Col­orado passed leg­is­la­tion to lever­age Fam­i­ly First fund­ing to sup­port its statewide pre­ven­tion infra­struc­ture and local pre­ven­tion ser­vices. The leg­is­la­tion requires that reim­burse­ments from Title IV‑E through the Fam­i­ly First Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Act be pooled in a new sub-account of the Col­orado Child Abuse Pre­ven­tion Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will make grants to fur­ther build out their state and local pre­ven­tion capac­i­ty to imple­ment Fam­i­ly First pre­ven­tion ser­vices list­ed on the Title IV‑E Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Clear­ing­house and help ensure equi­table access to ser­vices across the state.

There is so much inno­va­tion and will­ing­ness to push toward more pre­ven­tion,” says Kendra Dunn, direc­tor of the Divi­sion of Com­mu­ni­ty and Fam­i­ly Sup­port in the Office of Ear­ly Child­hood at Colorado’s DHS. Our chal­lenge isn’t about doing new or more or dif­fer­ent. It’s align­ing all the things and con­nect­ing all the dots so that they are lever­ag­ing one another.”

Sup­port­ing Fam­i­lies Through Local Part­ner­ships in Nebraska

As the statewide inter­me­di­ary in Nebras­ka, the Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion (NCFF) brings togeth­er mul­ti­ple fund­ing streams for fam­i­ly sup­port, includ­ing CBCAP, Pro­mot­ing Safe and Sta­ble Fam­i­lies Pro­gram, Tem­po­rary Assis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies, Social Ser­vices Block Grants, John H. Chafee Fos­ter Care Inde­pen­dence Pro­gram, Youth Home­less­ness Demon­stra­tion Project, Office of Vic­tims of Crime funds, Ele­men­tary and Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion Emer­gency Relief funds and state gen­er­al rev­enue funds. NCFF — which also serves as site lead for the Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive® in Nebras­ka and is a part­ner in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Poten­tial™ ini­tia­tive — leads a statewide col­lec­tive-impact pre­ven­tion effort called the Nebras­ka Statewide Child Abuse Pre­ven­tion Part­ner­ship. This col­lab­o­ra­tion brings togeth­er a diverse group of pub­lic and pri­vate sys­tem lead­ers to improve the array of pre­ven­tive ser­vices and reduce dis­pro­por­tion­al­i­ty in outcomes. 

In 2008, the part­ners began to pilot com­mu­ni­ty well-being col­lab­o­ra­tives to imple­ment pre­ven­tion meth­ods on a local lev­el and are now expand­ing these col­lab­o­ra­tives across the state through a net­work called Bring Up Nebras­ka. These local part­ner­ships work to meet fam­i­ly needs while NCFF deter­mines how to reim­burse against the dif­fer­ent fund­ing sources. Work­ing with more than 75 Nebras­ka coun­ties, the ini­tia­tive served more than 4,300 par­ents and 9,000 chil­dren and young adults in 2020.

NCFF also works to iden­ti­fy pri­vate fund­ing to fill fund­ing gaps, such as the pri­vate fund­ing that was used to start the evi­dence-based pro­gram Par­ent-Child Inter­ac­tion Ther­a­py. The pro­gram, which helps par­ents improve their rela­tion­ship with their chil­dren and learn how to iden­ti­fy and deal with dif­fer­ent kinds of behav­ior, is now fund­ed by Medicaid.

It is crit­i­cal to Invest in a part­ner­ship either with an inter­me­di­ary or part­ners out­side of the child wel­fare depart­ment who can engage with­out the stig­ma of what child wel­fare does,” says Jen­ny Skala, senior vice pres­i­dent at NCFF. Child wel­fare lead­ers should look to find part­ners who do what child wel­fare lead­ers can’t do alone, and make sure lead­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty aren’t see­ing pre­ven­tion work as only child abuse and neglect pre­ven­tion — it is for all fam­i­lies to achieve well-being.”

Learn more about key fund­ing streams for sup­port­ing families

Down­load a tool kit for Fam­i­ly First fis­cal planning

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