The Orphanage Evolves: Providers Shift to Put More Kids in Families

Posted May 19, 2015
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog theorphanageevolves 2015

Children’s Vil­lage in New York and Stan­ford Youth Solu­tions in Sacra­men­to, Cal­i­for­nia, opened their doors more than a cen­tu­ry ago as tra­di­tion­al orphan­ages. Today, they are lead­ing exam­ples of a shift among pri­vate providers to serv­ing more young peo­ple in fam­i­lies. Because of this move to pro­vid­ing more com­mu­ni­ty- and home-based ser­vices, more chil­dren and teens who, in the past, would most often be liv­ing in group place­ments and insti­tu­tions, are able to grow up in fam­i­lies and receive the sup­port, ser­vices and resources they need to thrive. 

Stan­ford Youth Solu­tions, found­ed as the Stan­ford Home for Chil­dren, began its trans­for­ma­tion when board mem­bers start­ed to real­ize that the chil­dren they served in res­i­den­tial beds weren’t doing near­ly as well as those receiv­ing ser­vices with fam­i­lies in the com­mu­ni­ty, says Lau­ra Heintz, CEO of Stan­ford Youth Solu­tions. The kids in res­i­den­tial didn’t feel the same lev­el of sup­port or con­tact as the kids liv­ing in the com­mu­ni­ty,” Heintz says. Stan­ford even­tu­al­ly changed its name, added a wide array of ser­vices and tools that enabled chil­dren to remain liv­ing in fam­i­lies, and elim­i­nat­ed its res­i­den­tial beds.

Dur­ing the past decade, Children’s Vil­lage, with oper­a­tions in New York City and Dobbs Fer­ry, New York, has increased the num­ber of fos­ter fam­i­lies it works with from 60 to 400, includ­ing fos­ter fam­i­lies pre­pared to take on old­er teens receiv­ing treat­ment in the facility’s res­i­den­tial cot­tages. Jere­my Kohom­ban, CEO of Children’s Vil­lage, sees high-qual­i­ty res­i­den­tial treat­ment as a vital part of the sys­tem — but he empha­sizes that res­i­den­tial care is an inter­ven­tion, not a destination. 

Our com­mu­ni­ty work is all con­nect­ed to this one idea that we can work togeth­er to keep kids safe and fam­i­lies togeth­er,” he says.

Read more about these providers and oth­er ways child wel­fare sys­tems are con­nect­ing chil­dren with fam­i­lies in the Every Kid Needs a Fam­i­ly KIDS COUNT pol­i­cy report.

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