A Decade of Hope

How Communities Across America Are Keeping Children Safe and Families Strong

Determined people working together can do anything.

- JIM CASEY, 1947

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Determined people working together can do anything.

- JIM CASEY, 1947

scroll down

casey family programs

| SIGNATURE REPORT 2015

The long view

Bob Watt

Chair | Board of Trustees

Dear colleagues,

As determined as our nation is to create a better future for all of our children — and for the generations of children who will follow — we have no easy solutions that will fix the complex challenges we face.

On issues from the environment to education, inequality, poverty, health, housing and the other challenges our communities grapple with every day, we can envision what a more perfect tomorrow looks like. But we also know that long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight.

The long view

Bob Watt

Chair | Board of Trustees

The long view

Bob Watt

Chair | Board of Trustees

As the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America, Casey Family Programs takes the long view on what is required to achieve real and lasting progress.

Preventing child maltreatment, strengthening vulnerable families and ensuring that every child has the opportunities and support needed to succeed in life aren’t easy or simple challenges.

Jim Casey, the founder of United Parcel Service, understood that reality nearly a half-century ago. It’s what led him to create Casey Family Programs. He intended his gift to America’s at-risk children and families to be not a short-term fix, but the foundation of a sustained effort to transform the way we serve our most vulnerable citizens and foster their hope in the future. The Board of Trustees and staff of Casey Family Programs are fiercely determined to see that the gifts Jim Casey and his family made are a vital part of the effort to improve the lives of vulnerable families and the communities that surround them.

Today, Casey Family Programs works in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to influence long-lasting improvements in the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live.

We partner with child welfare systems, families, policymakers, American Indian tribes, courts and many others to safely reduce the need for foster care. We provide direct services to more than 1,100 children and families with the goal that no child in our care will age out of the foster care system without a safe, loving family of his or her own.

In this year’s signature report, we reflect on the past decade of efforts to create a better future for all children and families. As you will soon read, our nation has made tremendous progress. New ideas, new energy and new commitment are transforming America’s approach to ensuring the safety and success of every child.

Jim Casey once said, “Determined people working together can do anything.” And he proved that by leading generations of talented and hardworking people in building one of the most successful companies in America. United Parcel Service started by using bicycles to deliver packages in Seattle; today, those “determined people” serve every corner of the world.

At Casey Family Programs, we are honored to carry on Jim Casey’s legacy. Like him, we believe in the power of determined people working together to change the world. And we can see it happening in communities across America today.

We can imagine that better future. And we know that progress toward the day when every child can carry the hope of safety, the hope of a strong and loving family and the hope of a supportive community full of opportunity will take a long-lasting commitment to change.

The next decade of hope is just beginning. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Sincerely,

BOB WATT

Dear colleagues,

As determined as our nation is to create a better future for all of our children — and for the generations of children who will follow — we have no easy solutions that will fix the complex challenges we face.

On issues from the environment to education, inequality, poverty, health, housing and the other challenges our communities grapple with every day, we can envision what a more perfect tomorrow looks like. But we also know that long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight.

As the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America, Casey Family Programs takes the long view on what is required to achieve real and lasting progress.

Preventing child maltreatment, strengthening vulnerable families and ensuring that every child has the opportunities and support needed to succeed in life aren’t easy or simple challenges.

Jim Casey, the founder of United Parcel Service, understood that reality nearly a half-century ago. It’s what led him to create Casey Family Programs. He intended his gift to America’s at-risk children and families to be not a short-term fix, but the foundation of a sustained effort to transform the way we serve our most vulnerable citizens and foster their hope in the future. The Board of Trustees and staff of Casey Family Programs are fiercely determined to see that the gifts Jim Casey and his family made are a vital part of the effort to improve the lives of vulnerable families and the communities that surround them.

Today, Casey Family Programs works in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to influence long-lasting improvements in the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live.

We partner with child welfare systems, families, policymakers, American Indian tribes, courts and many others to safely reduce the need for foster care. We provide direct services to more than 1,100 children and families with the goal that no child in our care will age out of the foster care system without a safe, loving family of his or her own.

In this year’s signature report, we reflect on the past decade of efforts to create a better future for all children and families. As you will soon read, our nation has made tremendous progress. New ideas, new energy and new commitment are transforming America’s approach to ensuring the safety and success of every child.

Jim Casey once said, “Determined people working together can do anything.” And he proved that by leading generations of talented and hardworking people in building one of the most successful companies in America. United Parcel Service started by using bicycles to deliver packages in Seattle; today, those “determined people” serve every corner of the world.

At Casey Family Programs, we are honored to carry on Jim Casey’s legacy. Like him, we believe in the power of determined people working together to change the world. And we can see it happening in communities across America today.

We can imagine that better future. And we know that progress toward the day when every child can carry the hope of safety, the hope of a strong and loving family and the hope of a supportive community full of opportunity will take a long-lasting commitment to change.

The next decade of hope is just beginning. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Sincerely,

BOB WATT

Hope is an action word

Dr. William C. Bell

President and CEO

Dear friends,

People choose to interpret the word “hope” in different ways. Some see it as mere wishful thinking. For others, it is a positive but passive state of mind that allows them to avoid dealing directly with the challenging conditions they face.

At Casey Family Programs, we see hope differently. We see hope as a source of profound strength and resiliency. We see hope as an action word.

Hope is an action word

Dr. William C. Bell

President and CEO

Hope is an action word

Dr. William C. Bell

President and CEO

To hope means to recognize that every child, every family and every community possess the power to identify and overcome even the most complex challenges that stand in the way of a better and more prosperous tomorrow.

To hope is to know that, even though the challenges facing us today may seem overwhelming, we can create a better future when we choose to.

To hope is to plant a seed in every heart that we can — in fact, we must — improve the lives of every vulnerable child in every ZIP code in America.

A decade ago, Casey Family Programs set out on a journey called 2020: Building Communities of Hope, intended to influence a transformation in our nation’s approach to ensuring the safety and success of children, families and the communities in which they live.

The journey began, as hope often does, by confronting a devastating truth: If nothing were to change for our most vulnerable children, some 22,500 of them would die from child abuse and neglect, and nearly 14 million new cases of abuse and neglect would be confirmed over the next 15 years.

This look into the future convinced us that there was an urgent need to rethink our approach to keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe. We had to find better ways to provide them with the opportunities every child deserves — from education to mental health support to promising career paths — so they could reach their dreams.

It affirmed our understanding that communities should be able to reinvest the tremendous resources they already commit to responding to maltreatment toward preventing harm in the first place and improving the life outcomes for every vulnerable child.

And it reinforced our belief that, as a nation, we must reduce our reliance on the most expensive and most frequently used response to child maltreatment — foster care — and increase efforts to strengthen families.

Hope became our impetus for overcoming the challenge of the status quo and changing the conversation about what would be possible if families, communities, leaders and institutions began to think, plan and act differently. It helped us see what would be possible if we recognized that children’s safety is directly related to the challenges that confront their families — and that the struggles facing many families in America are deeply influenced by the conditions of the communities in which they live.

Ten years later, we are seeing the fruits of that change.

Across the country, the number of children living in foster care has been safely reduced by 20 percent. Children in foster care are leaving it sooner. More of them are returning to safe, stable and supportive families, and fewer children are aging out of foster care, alone and unprepared for life’s challenges.

Within our own direct services, Casey Family Programs is making significant progress toward our goal of ensuring that none of the more than 1,100 children we serve each year will age out of foster care without a lifelong connection to a caring adult.

American Indian/Alaska Native communities are drawing on the strength of their cultures and using the power of their sovereign status to confront the historical trauma suffered by too many people — and to overcome it by creating the support, stability and opportunities that children and families need to thrive.

At the national level, the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama have launched a federal commission that will recommend critical steps that we can take now toward reducing and eventually eliminating child abuse and neglect-related deaths in America.

These are hopeful signs of progress, but they are not markers of success — yet.

Transforming the lives and safety of children and families across America is an immense task that requires a long-term commitment and vision for change. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a tragedy, communities often seek quick fixes to the problems as they perceive them. Too often, the tragedy of a child death leads to political pressure to find someone to blame. Too often, the desire for immediate solutions leads in the wrong direction.

This cycle of crisis-driven response shifts our focus away from long-term change and can erode years of meaningful progress in building stronger and more effective community responses. And if new leaders and new marching orders don’t produce change quickly enough, it even can foster the kind of cynicism that makes hope seem impossible.

That is why we choose to understand hope as an action word. To sustain and build on the progress we have seen over the past decade in America, we must confront the fact that even the highest-functioning child welfare systems are just one tragedy away from crisis and the reversal of hard-won improvements and progress. We must resist the siren call of quick fixes and keep our eyes firmly focused on what is required to achieve the long-lasting changes that children, families and communities deserve. We must recognize the interrelated nature of child welfare and the critical social issues of our time, from education to economic opportunity.

A decade ago, the question we asked about how America would change the future of its most vulnerable children ignited a conversation about hope. It is a conversation about our belief in the human capacity for change. It is a conversation that reminds us that each of us, as benefactors of the American dream, possesses the ability to confront and overcome any complex set of challenges and resolve them when we choose to.

Thank you for sharing in this hope for America’s children. Together, we must ensure that all children — no matter what ZIP code they call home, no matter who their parents are, no matter what their income is, no matter how different they look from you or from me — deserve to have the hope that drives them to achieve their dreams.

That is the promise of 2020: Building Communities of Hope.

WILLIAM C. BELL, PH.D.

Dear friends,

People choose to interpret the word “hope” in different ways. Some see it as mere wishful thinking. For others, it is a positive but passive state of mind that allows them to avoid dealing directly with the challenging conditions they face.

At Casey Family Programs, we see hope differently. We see hope as a source of profound strength and resiliency. We see hope as an action word.

To hope means to recognize that every child, every family and every community possess the power to identify and overcome even the most complex challenges that stand in the way of a better and more prosperous tomorrow.

To hope is to know that, even though the challenges facing us today may seem overwhelming, we can create a better future when we choose to.

To hope is to plant a seed in every heart that we can — in fact, we must — improve the lives of every vulnerable child in every ZIP code in America.

A decade ago, Casey Family Programs set out on a journey called 2020: Building Communities of Hope, intended to influence a transformation in our nation’s approach to ensuring the safety and success of children, families and the communities in which they live.

The journey began, as hope often does, by confronting a devastating truth: If nothing were to change for our most vulnerable children, some 22,500 of them would die from child abuse and neglect, and nearly 14 million new cases of abuse and neglect would be confirmed over the next 15 years.

This look into the future convinced us that there was an urgent need to rethink our approach to keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe. We had to find better ways to provide them with the opportunities every child deserves — from education to mental health support to promising career paths — so they could reach their dreams.

It affirmed our understanding that communities should be able to reinvest the tremendous resources they already commit to responding to maltreatment toward preventing harm in the first place and improving the life outcomes for every vulnerable child.

And it reinforced our belief that, as a nation, we must reduce our reliance on the most expensive and most frequently used response to child maltreatment — foster care — and increase efforts to strengthen families.

Hope became our impetus for overcoming the challenge of the status quo and changing the conversation about what would be possible if families, communities, leaders and institutions began to think, plan and act differently. It helped us see what would be possible if we recognized that children’s safety is directly related to the challenges that confront their families — and that the struggles facing many families in America are deeply influenced by the conditions of the communities in which they live.

Ten years later, we are seeing the fruits of that change.

Across the country, the number of children living in foster care has been safely reduced by 20 percent. Children in foster care are leaving it sooner. More of them are returning to safe, stable and supportive families, and fewer children are aging out of foster care, alone and unprepared for life’s challenges.

Within our own direct services, Casey Family Programs is making significant progress toward our goal of ensuring that none of the more than 1,100 children we serve each year will age out of foster care without a lifelong connection to a caring adult.

American Indian/Alaska Native communities are drawing on the strength of their cultures and using the power of their sovereign status to confront the historical trauma suffered by too many people — and to overcome it by creating the support, stability and opportunities that children and families need to thrive.

At the national level, the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama have launched a federal commission that will recommend critical steps that we can take now toward reducing and eventually eliminating child abuse and neglect-related deaths in America.

These are hopeful signs of progress, but they are not markers of success — yet.

Transforming the lives and safety of children and families across America is an immense task that requires a long-term commitment and vision for change. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a tragedy, communities often seek quick fixes to the problems as they perceive them. Too often, the tragedy of a child death leads to political pressure to find someone to blame. Too often, the desire for immediate solutions leads in the wrong direction.

This cycle of crisis-driven response shifts our focus away from long-term change and can erode years of meaningful progress in building stronger and more effective community responses. And if new leaders and new marching orders don’t produce change quickly enough, it even can foster the kind of cynicism that makes hope seem impossible.

That is why we choose to understand hope as an action word. To sustain and build on the progress we have seen over the past decade in America, we must confront the fact that even the highest-functioning child welfare systems are just one tragedy away from crisis and the reversal of hard-won improvements and progress. We must resist the siren call of quick fixes and keep our eyes firmly focused on what is required to achieve the long-lasting changes that children, families and communities deserve. We must recognize the interrelated nature of child welfare and the critical social issues of our time, from education to economic opportunity.

A decade ago, the question we asked about how America would change the future of its most vulnerable children ignited a conversation about hope. It is a conversation about our belief in the human capacity for change. It is a conversation that reminds us that each of us, as benefactors of the American dream, possesses the ability to confront and overcome any complex set of challenges and resolve them when we choose to.

Thank you for sharing in this hope for America’s children. Together, we must ensure that all children — no matter what ZIP code they call home, no matter who their parents are, no matter what their income is, no matter how different they look from you or from me — deserve to have the hope that drives them to achieve their dreams.

That is the promise of 2020: Building Communities of Hope.

WILLIAM C. BELL, PH.D.

INTRODUCTION

Why we need 2020: Building Communities of Hope

A decade ago, Casey Family Programs asked a crucial question: "What would happen if nothing in the way our nation treats vulnerable children and families changed?"

It was clear that too many children, families and communities lacked the basic human right of a safe, supportive environment. In both rural and urban communities — especially those affected by high levels of violence, incarceration, poverty or a lack of educational and economic opportunities — too many children were growing up without the support they needed to reach their full potential.

Why we need 2020: Building Communities of Hope

INTRODUCTION

Why we need 2020: Building Communities of Hope

Data reinforced these observations and suggested a staggering future impact. In 2005, we found that, if nothing in the child welfare field were to change over the next 15 years, some 22,500 children would die from child abuse and neglect, nearly 14 million new cases of abuse and neglect would be confirmed, 9 million children would experience the foster care system and 300,000 young adults would age out of foster care, unprepared for the life that awaited them.

We understood that those numbers would become our country’s future — if nothing changed.

A decade of progress

Driven by our nation’s shared commitment to safe children, strong families and supportive communities, Casey Family Programs joined with partners across America to work toward reshaping this future. In 2005, we launched 2020: Building Communities of Hope, a nationwide effort to influence improvements in the safety and success of children and their families. Our goal was to support families, child welfare systems, tribes, communities and other partners to think, plan and act in ways that produce long-term, measurable progress for America’s children.

A decade later, we are seeing important improvements: Children are safer, the use of foster care has decreased and children are moving into permanent families more quickly.

Today, we also are seeing more examples of systems working together to respond to the challenges that families face, stronger commitment from local leaders and increased engagement from the philanthropic sector. There is growing awareness of the vital role that tribal sovereignty plays in improving the safety and success of American Indian/Alaska Native children and families. And there is recognition that, in this time of unprecedented global prosperity, we must intensify our efforts until every child in this country has a safe and permanent family.

But the journey is far from complete

As we have progressed, we also have learned that the challenge of 2020: Building Communities of Hope is more complex and demanding than we understood a decade ago.

Two research insights have dramatically shaped our thinking. First, we now know that young children who are reported to a child protection agency for an allegation of child maltreatment are 2.5 times more likely to die from injuries before the age of 5 than otherwise similar children who have not been reported.1 Second, using data in new ways deepened our understanding of a child’s risk over time. Almost 9 percent of America’s 74 million children are referred to a child welfare agency each year,2 and a larger proportion — 12 percent, or one in eight children—is confirmed to be a victim of abuse or neglect over their lifetime. 3

What do these findings tell us? Quite simply, they suggest that the challenge of keeping children safe and improving their life outcomes is much bigger than we think — and that a much broader group of stakeholders must work together to find better solutions.

Informing the work ahead

No single child welfare agency has the capacity to address a challenge of this magnitude. As we look to the future, we believe that nothing short of a transformation is needed — a transformation in thinking, planning and acting by everyone who works to improve the lives of children, families and communities.

This transformation can happen only if we change the national conversation about what is required to build Communities of Hope for every child and family in America. We must understand the unique and critical role each of us plays — whether we work in the child welfare field or on other foundational elements of our society, from education or mental health to housing or employment opportunities.

Throughout this report, you’ll read about the commitment, experience and resources that communities across America are bringing to this challenge:

  • Increasing communities’ capacity to support children and families. In Hillsborough County, Florida, the strong leadership of local leaders — from judges to law enforcement agencies to child welfare organizations — is helping systems to work together, harnessing their collective strengths and increasing their effectiveness in supporting children and families.
  • Investing public resources more effectively. In Port Gamble, Washington, pioneering use of a Title IV-E waiver is enabling a Native American tribe to design and invest in programs tailored to their community’s unique needs and strengths.
  • Better leveraging of philanthropic engagement. In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, collaboration with local philanthropies and businesses is resulting in stronger, more sustainable ways to protect our children and strengthen local communities — and creating a national model for partnerships between governments and philanthropic organizations.
  • Improving life outcomes. In Louisville, Kentucky, community-wide efforts are strengthening the context in which children grow into adults by increasing safety and building community.

Across these and other communities, we are seeing the positive impact of increasingly long-range planning. Groups within and beyond the child welfare field are shifting their focus from immediate crises toward sustainable, long-term solutions — and in doing so, they are reshaping the trajectory of our children’s future.

A decade ago, Casey Family Programs asked a crucial question: "What would happen if nothing in the way our nation treats vulnerable children and families changed?"

It was clear that too many children, families and communities lacked the basic human right of a safe, supportive environment. In both rural and urban communities — especially those affected by high levels of violence, incarceration, poverty or a lack of educational and economic opportunities — too many children were growing up without the support they needed to reach their full potential.

Data reinforced these observations and suggested a staggering future impact. In 2005, we found that, if nothing in the child welfare field were to change over the next 15 years, some 22,500 children would die from child abuse and neglect, nearly 14 million new cases of abuse and neglect would be confirmed, 9 million children would experience the foster care system and 300,000 young adults would age out of foster care, unprepared for the life that awaited them.

We understood that those numbers would become our country’s future — if nothing changed.

A decade of progress

Driven by our nation’s shared commitment to safe children, strong families and supportive communities, Casey Family Programs joined with partners across America to work toward reshaping this future. In 2005, we launched 2020: Building Communities of Hope, a nationwide effort to influence improvements in the safety and success of children and their families. Our goal was to support families, child welfare systems, tribes, communities and other partners to think, plan and act in ways that produce long-term, measurable progress for America’s children.

A decade later, we are seeing important improvements: Children are safer, the use of foster care has decreased and children are moving into permanent families more quickly.

Today, we also are seeing more examples of systems working together to respond to the challenges that families face, stronger commitment from local leaders and increased engagement from the philanthropic sector. There is growing awareness of the vital role that tribal sovereignty plays in improving the safety and success of American Indian/Alaska Native children and families. And there is recognition that, in this time of unprecedented global prosperity, we must intensify our efforts until every child in this country has a safe and permanent family.

But the journey is far from complete

As we have progressed, we also have learned that the challenge of 2020: Building Communities of Hope is more complex and demanding than we understood a decade ago.

Two research insights have dramatically shaped our thinking. First, we now know that young children who are reported to a child protection agency for an allegation of child maltreatment are 2.5 times more likely to die from injuries before the age of 5 than otherwise similar children who have not been reported.1 Second, using data in new ways deepened our understanding of a child’s risk over time. Almost 9 percent of America’s 74 million children are referred to a child welfare agency each year,2 and a larger proportion — 12 percent, or one in eight children—is confirmed to be a victim of abuse or neglect over their lifetime. 3

What do these findings tell us? Quite simply, they suggest that the challenge of keeping children safe and improving their life outcomes is much bigger than we think — and that a much broader group of stakeholders must work together to find better solutions.

Informing the work ahead

No single child welfare agency has the capacity to address a challenge of this magnitude. As we look to the future, we believe that nothing short of a transformation is needed — a transformation in thinking, planning and acting by everyone who works to improve the lives of children, families and communities.

This transformation can happen only if we change the national conversation about what is required to build Communities of Hope for every child and family in America. We must understand the unique and critical role each of us plays — whether we work in the child welfare field or on other foundational elements of our society, from education or mental health to housing or employment opportunities.

Throughout this report, you’ll read about the commitment, experience and resources that communities across America are bringing to this challenge:

  • Increasing communities’ capacity to support children and families. In Hillsborough County, Florida, the strong leadership of local leaders — from judges to law enforcement agencies to child welfare organizations — is helping systems to work together, harnessing their collective strengths and increasing their effectiveness in supporting children and families.
  • Investing public resources more effectively. In Port Gamble, Washington, pioneering use of a Title IV-E waiver is enabling a Native American tribe to design and invest in programs tailored to their community’s unique needs and strengths.
  • Better leveraging of philanthropic engagement. In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, collaboration with local philanthropies and businesses is resulting in stronger, more sustainable ways to protect our children and strengthen local communities — and creating a national model for partnerships between governments and philanthropic organizations.
  • Improving life outcomes. In Louisville, Kentucky, community-wide efforts are strengthening the context in which children grow into adults by increasing safety and building community.

Across these and other communities, we are seeing the positive impact of increasingly long-range planning. Groups within and beyond the child welfare field are shifting their focus from immediate crises toward sustainable, long-term solutions — and in doing so, they are reshaping the trajectory of our children’s future.

Four elements of Communities of Hope

  • Supportive communities

  • Effective investments

  • Aligned giving

  • Improved life outcomes

Our vision is a nation where supportive communities nurture the safety, success and hope of every child.

Four elements of Communities of Hope

Four elements of Communities of Hope

Our vision is a nation where supportive communities nurture the safety, success and hope of every child.

  • Supportive Communities
  • Supportive Communities
  • Supportive Communities
  • Supportive Communities

Supportive communities

Effective investments

Aligned giving

Improved life outcomes

Our vision is a nation where supportive communities nurture the safety, success and hope of every child.

  • Supportive Communities
  • Supportive Communities
  • Supportive Communities
  • Supportive Communities

Casey Family Programs works to build Communities of Hope across America. The communities profiled on the following pages reflect many of the elements needed to bring this hope alive, including:

Supportive communities: When schools, businesses, law enforcement agencies, judges, faith-based institutions and others work together, they can increase their collective ability to improve the safety and success of every child.

Effective investments: Given new insights, it’s time to reevaluate how we maximize the return on investments in child welfare that federal, state, local and tribal governments are making today.

Aligned giving: Partners in the philanthropic and corporate sectors can strategically increase the capacity of mature but often-constrained child welfare systems.

Improved life outcomes: More than the absence of harm, successful life outcomes rely on the cultural, educational and economic opportunities that thriving communities provide to their children and families.

Casey Family Programs works to build Communities of Hope across America. The communities profiled on the following pages reflect many of the elements needed to bring this hope alive, including:

  • Supportive communities: When schools, businesses, law enforcement agencies, judges, faith-based institutions and others work together, they can increase their collective ability to improve the safety and success of every child.
  • Effective investments: Given new insights, it’s time to reevaluate how we maximize the return on investments in child welfare that federal, state, local and tribal governments are making today.
  • Aligned giving: Partners in the philanthropic and corporate sectors can strategically increase the capacity of mature but often-constrained child welfare systems.
  • Improved life outcomes: More than the absence of harm, successful life outcomes rely on the cultural, educational and economic opportunities that thriving communities provide to their children and families.

The stars aligned

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY | FLORIDA

Supportive communities

Effective
investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

Building connections across systems, agencies and expertise can help communities foster the safety and success of every child.

SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITIES

The stars aligned

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY | FLORIDA

Building connections across systems, agencies and expertise can help communities foster the safety and success of every child.

Supportive
communities

Supportive Communities

Effective
investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

Supportive Communities

Camille Baa was tired. Bone tired. She’d just left her morning job in Tampa, Florida, and had only a few minutes to see her two children before heading out for a second shift. Before she left their tiny Temple Heights apartment, she learned that her 6-year-old daughter was in trouble at school — again.

Her daughter’s behavioral issues had become increasingly common, especially since the girl’s father had stopped visiting and paying child support. When Camille took a second job to make ends meet, her daughter acted out even more.

Camille scolded her daughter. The girl sassed back. Camille yelled. The little girl wouldn’t listen. And then her 3-year-old brother started crying. Under pressure from bills, from months of solo parenting, from feeling like her life was unraveling, Camille reached for an extension cord. Then she turned toward her daughter.

“I just snapped,” she said, looking down at her hands. “I was so stressed.”

Hillsborough County’s dependency court sits on the third floor of the six-story George E. Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa.

Judge Katherine Essrig’s office is adjacent to the chamber where she has heard child dependency cases for 15 of her 24 years on the bench. But on this particular cool January day, Judge Essrig wasn’t hearing dependency cases. Instead, she was meeting with 18 other child welfare professionals, the same group of people she has seen once a month for two years now. And despite the meeting’s unassuming format — the polite exchanges, the steady progression through agenda items, the leftover bagels and pastries heaped on a side table — this meeting was part of something extraordinary.

Called the Safe Reduction Workgroup, the monthly gathering of leaders from every facet of the state and local child welfare system — including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office child protection managers, Florida Department of Children and Families, community-based care providers, parents’ attorneys, children’s attorneys, judges and general magistrates, foster parents, therapeutic providers and sometimes local universities — has helped overhaul Hillsborough County’s approach to child welfare.

This isn’t a tweak prompted by a political fad or passing whim. It’s not a modification that tinkers at the edges. It’s a fundamental rebuilding of the way a community protects children in danger.

And it is a declaration that the events that spurred reform — the maltreatment-related deaths of nine children in less than three years — should never happen again.

“Much of this started with the child deaths,” Judge Essrig said. “It was tragic. But it forced everyone to take a look at the way the system wasn’t working and set aside jurisdictional differences and begin to make changes.”

The changes in Hillsborough County are nothing short of transformational. A breakthrough in the way local agencies assess risk, a full replacement of the social service agency that serves families, an overhauled and expanded data analysis effort and a historic collaboration among the court system, social services, law enforcement, philanthropy and local government have turned a county reeling from tragedy into a national example of what long-term thinking, planning and acting can produce.

And as Judge Essrig notes, they are not done yet.

Which is very good news for Camille Baa.

Seeing the welts on her daughter’s body, Camille knew immediately that her family life was going to change for the worse. The crushing guilt from harming her daughter was layered with fear that someone in authority would find out.

She kept her daughter out of school so the teachers wouldn’t ask about the red marks. But someone in authority found out anyway. When the child protection investigators and law enforcement officials arrived to arrest Camille, she learned it had been her mother who had turned her in.

“They took me straight to jail,” Camille said recently, tearing up. “Then they took my kids.”

But Camille, in a sense, was lucky — as were her children. The system intervened before her explosive anger and frustration deepened, before her pattern led to a permanent, tragic outcome.

And because Hillsborough County had changed, Camille now had a new opportunity to change with it.

Florida converted to community-based care in 2006. This meant that thousands of child welfare cases, which had been managed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, were sent to a system of local, community-based providers.

Florida has 67 counties and 20 judicial circuits, and each circuit contracts with a community-based care provider. While most judicial circuits include more than one county, Hillsborough County has just one: the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Judge Essrig was on the bench when the conversion to community-based care happened. She said it wasn’t necessarily a smooth transition.

Over an unprecedented period that began in 2009, nine children in the county were killed. Particularly troubling to local leaders was the fact that, in each of those nine deaths, the county’s child welfare system had been in some form of contact with the child or the child’s family.

“Our child protection system touched all nine children [before the deaths],” Judge Essrig said. “They were known to us.”

In July 2012, the county selected a new local care provider, Eckerd Community Alternatives. Immediately, Eckerd began reviewing open cases with an eye toward safety, poring over the county’s previous child-endangerment cases, paying particular attention to the deaths.

Casey Family Programs also began looking for ways to support the county.

“The timing could not have been better,” Judge Essrig said. The state was moving to a new child-danger assessment system, and Mike Carroll, managing director for the Department of Children and Families region that includes the 13th Circuit, asked Eckerd to design a real-time quality-assurance program that targeted the highest-risk cases. Eckerd was taking over in Hillsborough County, and Casey Family Programs had offered to facilitate discussions to promote more collaborative leadership in child welfare.

“The stars aligned,” she said.

Eckerd pored over every one of the county’s 1,500 child welfare cases.

“We took a look at the child fatalities that occurred, not just in the county but in the region,” said Bryan Lindert, Eckerd’s director of quality management. “We asked what the characteristics in that system were.”

The data analysts found 200 distinct safety practice concerns that were ripe for change. Then, they boiled these down to a checklist of practice indicators that included safety planning, supervisor review and sufficiency of home visits and background checks.

When the analysts examined the child deaths, they also noticed that the fatality cases shared several family characteristics, including the involvement of a child under 3 years old, a single mother with a boyfriend living in the house, and previous contact with the system for drugs or domestic violence.

Eckerd then created a list of family factors recognized to increase the likelihood of a child injury or death. With the support of Carroll, now secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, analysts created the Eckerd Rapid Safety Feedback Model.

“When a certain number of criteria are met, intervention is immediate and intensive,” Lindert explained. “Seasoned case workers are assigned. We have weekly meetings and frequent case oversight.”

The result?

While it’s difficult to precisely determine the correlation between the new safety tool, the Safe Reduction Workgroup and impact at this stage, the trends are encouraging. A county that had nine child homicides from 2009 through 2011 had zero from 2012 through 2014. From 2013 to 2014, Hillsborough County has seen a reduction in the rate of entry into the child welfare system (while the statewide entry rate increased) and an 8 percent reduction in the number of children who re-enter out-of-home care within 12 months of reunification with their families.

In addition, the state allowed Eckerd to simplify and prioritize the individual case surveys from more than 100 questions — the federal standard — to just a handful that focus on outcomes.

“If you’re a case manager and you have 165 things you’re supposed to do, how do you determine which is the most important and where to start?” Lindert asked.

This insight didn’t stay within Hillsborough County. Armed with Eckerd’s findings, the Safe Reduction Workgroup, with support from Casey Family Programs, began refining the work and spreading the information locally and statewide.

“We’re just very fortunate,” Judge Essrig said. “We have people in positions of authority in each facet of our child welfare system who understand that change isn’t something that is a personal affront or an attack when we question things or when we just ask for them to sit at the table.”

The possibilities are profound, child welfare experts say, when the whole system is at the table regularly. Ideas, for example, take root as action items.

Several states are now planning to implement the Rapid Safety Feedback Model with Eckerd’s support. Other ideas, such as increasing the mandatory information provided to case workers and color-coding the folders for high-risk cases — to alert judges about the nature of the case in front of them — currently are being discussed.

While no single idea or program is a panacea, the Rapid Safety Feedback Model is an example of data-informed approaches that are gaining momentum nationally. It is the kind of thinking that builds and cements a much-needed alignment of policy with data.

Before the Safe Reduction Workgroup, the county attorneys who work in the system — representing the children, the parents and the state — had never before met as a group. Now, they meet monthly, as do all 13th Circuit judges and magistrates.

“The Safe Reduction Workgroup isn’t revolutionary as an idea, but it is as a practice,” said Stephanie Bergen, an attorney with the Florida Attorney General’s Office. “It’s changed the way the system operates, top to bottom.

“Rapid intervention is just one thing,” she said.

For Camille Baa, rapid intervention was everything.

For the first three months after her arrest, Camille wasn’t allowed to see her children. This is the hardest part for her to talk about.

Due to the arrest, she also lost her government-subsidized housing. She had to sleep on her brother’s couch. Her children were sent to an uncle’s house.

Initially, she blamed the system, blamed the cops, blamed her ex-boyfriend for her situation. “I nearly gave up,” she said. “I was so sad.”

Then in July 2014, she turned a corner. Working intensively with her Eckerd case worker, Debrah Grudzinski, and attending parenting and anger management classes, Camille began to see her own role in her situation.

She credits the scrutiny and detailed plan she received in Hillsborough County. “The judge don’t play. Eckerd don’t play,” she said with a laugh.

Gradually, she began supervised visits with her kids. Those evolved into unsupervised visits. In November 2014, she completed her initial work with Eckerd, found a suitable apartment and was reunited with her children. Eckerd continues to support her progress.

She knows she has a long road in front of her. The difference is that now she has a map.

“I was so happy Debbie told me I was ready,” Camille said. “I know I have work to do, and it is a struggle. But my children have a chance now. Someone had to break this chain.”

When February’s Safe Reduction Workgroup meeting concluded, Judge Essrig paused to reflect on how the group hadn’t seemed remarkable to her until she started talking with people in other child welfare systems.

“They would ask me, ‘How do you get all of these people at the table?’” she said. “And I’d answer them, ‘I just email them.’”

Judge Essrig laughed. She said the workgroup is one of the most rewarding developments in her career. She said it’s vital that people see child welfare as a cohesive community system, not a department. The only way that change in perspective happens is when the barriers between departments, jurisdictions, regions and responsibilities fade into a larger awareness of their collective responsibility.

“We are all here for the kids,” she said. “We just need to build a system that recognizes that.”

The stars aligned

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY | FLORIDA

Camille Baa was tired. Bone tired. She’d just left her morning job in Tampa, Florida, and had only a few minutes to see her two children before heading out for a second shift. Before she left their tiny Temple Heights apartment, she learned that her 6-year-old daughter was in trouble at school — again.

Her daughter’s behavioral issues had become increasingly common, especially since the girl’s father had stopped visiting and paying child support. When Camille took a second job to make ends meet, her daughter acted out even more.

Camille scolded her daughter. The girl sassed back. Camille yelled. The little girl wouldn’t listen. And then her 3-year-old brother started crying. Under pressure from bills, from months of solo parenting, from feeling like her life was unraveling, Camille reached for an extension cord. Then she turned toward her daughter.

“I just snapped,” she said, looking down at her hands. “I was so stressed.”

Hillsborough County’s dependency court sits on the third floor of the six-story George E. Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa.

Judge Katherine Essrig’s office is adjacent to the chamber where she has heard child dependency cases for 15 of her 24 years on the bench. But on this particular cool January day, Judge Essrig wasn’t hearing dependency cases. Instead, she was meeting with 18 other child welfare professionals, the same group of people she has seen once a month for two years now. And despite the meeting’s unassuming format — the polite exchanges, the steady progression through agenda items, the leftover bagels and pastries heaped on a side table — this meeting was part of something extraordinary.

Called the Safe Reduction Workgroup, the monthly gathering of leaders from every facet of the state and local child welfare system — including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office child protection managers, Florida Department of Children and Families, community-based care providers, parents’ attorneys, children’s attorneys, judges and general magistrates, foster parents, therapeutic providers and sometimes local universities — has helped overhaul Hillsborough County’s approach to child welfare.

This isn’t a tweak prompted by a political fad or passing whim. It’s not a modification that tinkers at the edges. It’s a fundamental rebuilding of the way a community protects children in danger.

And it is a declaration that the events that spurred reform — the maltreatment-related deaths of nine children in less than three years — should never happen again.

“Much of this started with the child deaths,” Judge Essrig said. “It was tragic. But it forced everyone to take a look at the way the system wasn’t working and set aside jurisdictional differences and begin to make changes.”

The changes in Hillsborough County are nothing short of transformational. A breakthrough in the way local agencies assess risk, a full replacement of the social service agency that serves families, an overhauled and expanded data analysis effort and a historic collaboration among the court system, social services, law enforcement, philanthropy and local government have turned a county reeling from tragedy into a national example of what long-term thinking, planning and acting can produce.

And as Judge Essrig notes, they are not done yet.

Which is very good news for Camille Baa.

Seeing the welts on her daughter’s body, Camille knew immediately that her family life was going to change for the worse. The crushing guilt from harming her daughter was layered with fear that someone in authority would find out.

She kept her daughter out of school so the teachers wouldn’t ask about the red marks. But someone in authority found out anyway. When the child protection investigators and law enforcement officials arrived to arrest Camille, she learned it had been her mother who had turned her in.

“They took me straight to jail,” Camille said recently, tearing up. “Then they took my kids.”

But Camille, in a sense, was lucky — as were her children. The system intervened before her explosive anger and frustration deepened, before her pattern led to a permanent, tragic outcome.

And because Hillsborough County had changed, Camille now had a new opportunity to change with it.

Florida converted to community-based care in 2006. This meant that thousands of child welfare cases, which had been managed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, were sent to a system of local, community-based providers.

Florida has 67 counties and 20 judicial circuits, and each circuit contracts with a community-based care provider. While most judicial circuits include more than one county, Hillsborough County has just one: the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Judge Essrig was on the bench when the conversion to community-based care happened. She said it wasn’t necessarily a smooth transition.

Over an unprecedented period that began in 2009, nine children in the county were killed. Particularly troubling to local leaders was the fact that, in each of those nine deaths, the county’s child welfare system had been in some form of contact with the child or the child’s family.

“Our child protection system touched all nine children [before the deaths],” Judge Essrig said. “They were known to us.”

In July 2012, the county selected a new local care provider, Eckerd Community Alternatives. Immediately, Eckerd began reviewing open cases with an eye toward safety, poring over the county’s previous child-endangerment cases, paying particular attention to the deaths.

Casey Family Programs also began looking for ways to support the county.

“The timing could not have been better,” Judge Essrig said. The state was moving to a new child-danger assessment system, and Mike Carroll, managing director for the Department of Children and Families region that includes the 13th Circuit, asked Eckerd to design a real-time quality-assurance program that targeted the highest-risk cases. Eckerd was taking over in Hillsborough County, and Casey Family Programs had offered to facilitate discussions to promote more collaborative leadership in child welfare.

“The stars aligned,” she said.

Eckerd pored over every one of the county’s 1,500 child welfare cases.

“We took a look at the child fatalities that occurred, not just in the county but in the region,” said Bryan Lindert, Eckerd’s director of quality management. “We asked what the characteristics in that system were.”

The data analysts found 200 distinct safety practice concerns that were ripe for change. Then, they boiled these down to a checklist of practice indicators that included safety planning, supervisor review and sufficiency of home visits and background checks.

When the analysts examined the child deaths, they also noticed that the fatality cases shared several family characteristics, including the involvement of a child under 3 years old, a single mother with a boyfriend living in the house, and previous contact with the system for drugs or domestic violence.

Eckerd then created a list of family factors recognized to increase the likelihood of a child injury or death. With the support of Carroll, now secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, analysts created the Eckerd Rapid Safety Feedback Model.

“When a certain number of criteria are met, intervention is immediate and intensive,” Lindert explained. “Seasoned case workers are assigned. We have weekly meetings and frequent case oversight.”

The result?

While it’s difficult to precisely determine the correlation between the new safety tool, the Safe Reduction Workgroup and impact at this stage, the trends are encouraging. A county that had nine child homicides from 2009 through 2011 had zero from 2012 through 2014. From 2013 to 2014, Hillsborough County has seen a reduction in the rate of entry into the child welfare system (while the statewide entry rate increased) and an 8 percent reduction in the number of children who re-enter out-of-home care within 12 months of reunification with their families.

In addition, the state allowed Eckerd to simplify and prioritize the individual case surveys from more than 100 questions — the federal standard — to just a handful that focus on outcomes.

“If you’re a case manager and you have 165 things you’re supposed to do, how do you determine which is the most important and where to start?” Lindert asked.

This insight didn’t stay within Hillsborough County. Armed with Eckerd’s findings, the Safe Reduction Workgroup, with support from Casey Family Programs, began refining the work and spreading the information locally and statewide.

“We’re just very fortunate,” Judge Essrig said. “We have people in positions of authority in each facet of our child welfare system who understand that change isn’t something that is a personal affront or an attack when we question things or when we just ask for them to sit at the table.”

The possibilities are profound, child welfare experts say, when the whole system is at the table regularly. Ideas, for example, take root as action items.

Several states are now planning to implement the Rapid Safety Feedback Model with Eckerd’s support. Other ideas, such as increasing the mandatory information provided to case workers and color-coding the folders for high-risk cases — to alert judges about the nature of the case in front of them — currently are being discussed.

While no single idea or program is a panacea, the Rapid Safety Feedback Model is an example of data-informed approaches that are gaining momentum nationally. It is the kind of thinking that builds and cements a much-needed alignment of policy with data.

Before the Safe Reduction Workgroup, the county attorneys who work in the system — representing the children, the parents and the state — had never before met as a group. Now, they meet monthly, as do all 13th Circuit judges and magistrates.

“The Safe Reduction Workgroup isn’t revolutionary as an idea, but it is as a practice,” said Stephanie Bergen, an attorney with the Florida Attorney General’s Office. “It’s changed the way the system operates, top to bottom.

“Rapid intervention is just one thing,” she said.

For Camille Baa, rapid intervention was everything.

For the first three months after her arrest, Camille wasn’t allowed to see her children. This is the hardest part for her to talk about.

Due to the arrest, she also lost her government-subsidized housing. She had to sleep on her brother’s couch. Her children were sent to an uncle’s house.

Initially, she blamed the system, blamed the cops, blamed her ex-boyfriend for her situation. “I nearly gave up,” she said. “I was so sad.”

Then in July 2014, she turned a corner. Working intensively with her Eckerd case worker, Debrah Grudzinski, and attending parenting and anger management classes, Camille began to see her own role in her situation.

She credits the scrutiny and detailed plan she received in Hillsborough County. “The judge don’t play. Eckerd don’t play,” she said with a laugh.

Gradually, she began supervised visits with her kids. Those evolved into unsupervised visits. In November 2014, she completed her initial work with Eckerd, found a suitable apartment and was reunited with her children. Eckerd continues to support her progress.

She knows she has a long road in front of her. The difference is that now she has a map.

“I was so happy Debbie told me I was ready,” Camille said. “I know I have work to do, and it is a struggle. But my children have a chance now. Someone had to break this chain.”

When February’s Safe Reduction Workgroup meeting concluded, Judge Essrig paused to reflect on how the group hadn’t seemed remarkable to her until she started talking with people in other child welfare systems.

“They would ask me, ‘How do you get all of these people at the table?’” she said. “And I’d answer them, ‘I just email them.’”

Judge Essrig laughed. She said the workgroup is one of the most rewarding developments in her career. She said it’s vital that people see child welfare as a cohesive community system, not a department. The only way that change in perspective happens is when the barriers between departments, jurisdictions, regions and responsibilities fade into a larger awareness of their collective responsibility.

“We are all here for the kids,” she said. “We just need to build a system that recognizes that.”

The tribe is always about moving forward

PORT GAMBLE S’KLALLAM TRIBE | WASHINGTON

Supportive
communities

Effective investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

New experiences with Title IV-E waiver programs suggest that it’s time to reevaluate the way we way invest — and reinvest — in improving children’s lives.

EFFECTIVE INVESTMENTS

The tribe is always about moving forward

PORT GAMBLE S’KLALLAM TRIBE | WASHINGTON

New experiences with Title IV-E waiver programs suggest that it’s time to reevaluate the way we way invest — and reinvest — in improving children’s lives.

Supportive
communities

Effective
investments

Supportive Communities

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

Supportive Communities

Across North America, Native American tribes are looking beyond the historical trauma they’ve endured for generations. And a new narrative is emerging — one in which tribes are redefining what it means to take charge of their own future.

In a heavily forested pocket of Washington state, the 1,200-member Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is one of the pioneers of this change. For decades, they have worked steadily to reestablish their authority over the tribe’s economic development and cultural traditions, including the way they protect and care for their children.

Years of tenacious negotiations paid off in 2014, when the tribe was granted a Child Welfare Demonstration Project waiver that gave it full authority over its own child welfare system under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. The change, nearly 30 years in the making, allows the tribe to receive federal child welfare funding and to use it to manage child welfare in a way that fits the tribal culture.

In becoming the nation’s first tribe to achieve the waiver, Port Gamble S’Klallam became an example of what is possible for other tribes, as it cemented its leaders’ belief that remembering the past should not inhibit looking ahead.

“The tribe is always about moving forward,” said Andrea Smith, the tribe’s child and family services attorney, “although at times it was difficult to measure progress.”

The tribe’s effort to run its own child welfare system began back in the 1980s, well before the Title IV-E waiver existed. At that time, the tribe was rewriting its internal governing code. Tribal leaders wanted to reclaim autonomy over child welfare — a longstanding concern of many of the nation’s tribes, which endured decades of having the U.S. government decide what was best for Native American children. They wanted to ensure that the tribe’s child welfare program reflected their authentic values, culture and tradition.

The new code wasn’t only an effort to codify internal procedures; it was an attempt to explain to other governments (local, state and federal) how the tribe wanted to handle child welfare in the future. “It was an effort to explain our values for outsiders,” Smith said.

But rewriting the code revealed gaps between the way the tribe saw child welfare and the way the state wanted it managed. Take, for example, state standards about the number of foster children in a house. When the tribe was working on licensing standards, state and federal regulators wanted children to have a set amount of square footage or their own rooms when in licensed foster homes. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe insisted on making sure sibling groups were able to be together, even in smaller homes.

“The state decided that if you had a certain number of children in a house, it was not safe to add more. But historically, we had lots of people living together,” Smith explained, noting that extended family members traditionally had shared living space in longhouses.

And so began the process of reaching an intergovernmental agreement that allowed the tribe to run its own foster care homes and, by 2004, to license its own foster homes.

But the real breakthrough occurred in 2008, when Congress approved the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. Among other changes, the act allowed tribes to work directly with the federal government for the first time and receive Title IV-E funding to administer their own child welfare programs.

“The day after it came out, I was already doing the analysis on how we could establish that funding,” Smith said.

Casey Family Programs was there to provide support and technical assistance.

There were challenges along the way. First, the federal Children’s Bureau initially was ill-equipped to begin direct negotiations with the tribes. “They passed the act but, really, the federal government wasn’t ready to implement it,” Smith said.

The biggest problems, however, were revealed by gaps in the language — and trust — between both sides. A language barrier proved to be the most persistent negotiating problem between the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and the U.S. government.

“There was a core mistrust of the federal language,” Smith said. “This isn’t ancient history for us when you have family members, grandparents, who can tell you about the gap between federal language and federal action.”

For example, federal negotiators insisted on including legal terms such as “aggravated circumstances” to guide decisions about when a child should be removed from a home. There was nothing similar in the tribal code about “aggravated circumstances.” And the federal definition was uncomfortably vague. Tribal elders remembered how the federal agencies had once used legal language such as “in the best interest of the child” to make broad decisions about removing children from tribal families.

“It was a real sticking point for us,” Smith said. “It was really frustrating.”

In weekly meetings held over 30 months, federal and tribal negotiators parsed the language until both sides agreed that their words had the same meaning and the same intent.

In November 2011, Smith received a surprise call. The federal government had approved direct funding of Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s child welfare programs. The tribe finally had full control of its own child welfare system.

“I think there was some dancing in the hallway,” Smith said. “And I’m pretty sure it was me.”

The tribe is always about moving forward

PORT GAMBLE S’KLALLAM TRIBE | WASHINGTON

Across North America, Native American tribes are looking beyond the historical trauma they’ve endured for generations. And a new narrative is emerging — one in which tribes are redefining what it means to take charge of their own future.

In a heavily forested pocket of Washington state, the 1,200-member Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is one of the pioneers of this change. For decades, they have worked steadily to reestablish their authority over the tribe’s economic development and cultural traditions, including the way they protect and care for their children.

Years of tenacious negotiations paid off in 2014, when the tribe was granted a Child Welfare Demonstration Project waiver that gave it full authority over its own child welfare system under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. The change, nearly 30 years in the making, allows the tribe to receive federal child welfare funding and to use it to manage child welfare in a way that fits the tribal culture.

In becoming the nation’s first tribe to achieve the waiver, Port Gamble S’Klallam became an example of what is possible for other tribes, as it cemented its leaders’ belief that remembering the past should not inhibit looking ahead.

“The tribe is always about moving forward,” said Andrea Smith, the tribe’s child and family services attorney, “although at times it was difficult to measure progress.”

The tribe’s effort to run its own child welfare system began back in the 1980s, well before the Title IV-E waiver existed. At that time, the tribe was rewriting its internal governing code. Tribal leaders wanted to reclaim autonomy over child welfare — a longstanding concern of many of the nation’s tribes, which endured decades of having the U.S. government decide what was best for Native American children. They wanted to ensure that the tribe’s child welfare program reflected their authentic values, culture and tradition.

The new code wasn’t only an effort to codify internal procedures; it was an attempt to explain to other governments (local, state and federal) how the tribe wanted to handle child welfare in the future. “It was an effort to explain our values for outsiders,” Smith said.

But rewriting the code revealed gaps between the way the tribe saw child welfare and the way the state wanted it managed. Take, for example, state standards about the number of foster children in a house. When the tribe was working on licensing standards, state and federal regulators wanted children to have a set amount of square footage or their own rooms when in licensed foster homes. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe insisted on making sure sibling groups were able to be together, even in smaller homes.

“The state decided that if you had a certain number of children in a house, it was not safe to add more. But historically, we had lots of people living together,” Smith explained, noting that extended family members traditionally had shared living space in longhouses.

And so began the process of reaching an intergovernmental agreement that allowed the tribe to run its own foster care homes and, by 2004, to license its own foster homes.

But the real breakthrough occurred in 2008, when Congress approved the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. Among other changes, the act allowed tribes to work directly with the federal government for the first time and receive Title IV-E funding to administer their own child welfare programs.

“The day after it came out, I was already doing the analysis on how we could establish that funding,” Smith said.

Casey Family Programs was there to provide support and technical assistance.

There were challenges along the way. First, the federal Children’s Bureau initially was ill-equipped to begin direct negotiations with the tribes. “They passed the act but, really, the federal government wasn’t ready to implement it,” Smith said.

The biggest problems, however, were revealed by gaps in the language — and trust — between both sides. A language barrier proved to be the most persistent negotiating problem between the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and the U.S. government.

“There was a core mistrust of the federal language,” Smith said. “This isn’t ancient history for us when you have family members, grandparents, who can tell you about the gap between federal language and federal action.”

For example, federal negotiators insisted on including legal terms such as “aggravated circumstances” to guide decisions about when a child should be removed from a home. There was nothing similar in the tribal code about “aggravated circumstances.” And the federal definition was uncomfortably vague. Tribal elders remembered how the federal agencies had once used legal language such as “in the best interest of the child” to make broad decisions about removing children from tribal families.

“It was a real sticking point for us,” Smith said. “It was really frustrating.”

In weekly meetings held over 30 months, federal and tribal negotiators parsed the language until both sides agreed that their words had the same meaning and the same intent.

In November 2011, Smith received a surprise call. The federal government had approved direct funding of Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s child welfare programs. The tribe finally had full control of its own child welfare system.

“I think there was some dancing in the hallway,” Smith said. “And I’m pretty sure it was me.”

Finance Reform: A game-changing opportunity

Supportive
communities

Effective investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

EFFECTIVE INVESTMENTS

Finance Reform: A game-changing opportunity

In the past half-century, advances in technologies and tools that improve our lives have progressed in leaps and bounds. From cell phones to genome sequencing to new cancer treatments, it’s hard to fathom life without these resources or imagine going back to what we had before.

And yet one critical area has not evolved since its origin in the 1960s: our collective investment in keeping vulnerable children safe from harm.

Authorized under the Social Security Act, Title IV-E funds are the largest source of federal dedicated child welfare funding — $7.3 billion — in America. The majority of these funds can be used only for one intervention: foster care. This one-size-fits-all response prevents states from using their federal foster care dollars to intervene in a more effective way to improve outcomes for these children.

It’s time to restructure this critical funding stream to better meet the needs of children and families and to bring it into the 21st century.

As 28 states, the District of Columbia and one Native American tribe are demonstrating, there are better ways to help families prevent abuse and neglect and to ensure that more children return to safe, permanent families. These communities are participating in the federal Child Welfare Demonstration Projects that waive the requirement that states spend Title IV-E funds on foster care. Instead, they can use the funds to address the needs of at-risk children and families — for example, with programs that intervene before harm occurs.

While Title IV-E funds are the largest federal source of child welfare resources, they are the least flexible. As the demonstration projects suggest, allowing states to invest Title IV-E funds in interventions that are tailored to their needs can result in better outcomes.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restructure this program. Allowing states and tribes to spend federal money flexibly will help improve the life outcomes for millions of vulnerable children and struggling families in America.

Conversely, the financial and human costs of continuing our outdated approach are high. When the impact on multiple human service systems is considered, the national economic burden from one year of child maltreatment cases is approximately $124 billion.4 And the trauma stemming from child maltreatment and removal from the home can cause devastating, lifelong consequences, including an increased likelihood that youth will drop out of school, become homeless or go to prison.

We all agree that every child needs and deserves a caring, permanent family. Now the federal government has a game-changing opportunity to shift the investment, and the conversation, to a focus on preventing abuse and neglect and securing loving, permanent homes for our most vulnerable children.

It's time for funding to catch up

Finance Reform: A game-changing opportunity

In the past half-century, advances in technologies and tools that improve our lives have progressed in leaps and bounds. From cell phones to genome sequencing to new cancer treatments, it’s hard to fathom life without these resources or imagine going back to what we had before.

And yet one critical area has not evolved since its origin in the 1960s: our collective investment in keeping vulnerable children safe from harm.

Authorized under the Social Security Act, Title IV-E funds are the largest source of federal dedicated child welfare funding — $7.3 billion — in America. The majority of these funds can be used only for one intervention: foster care. This one-size-fits-all response prevents states from using their federal foster care dollars to intervene in a more effective way to improve outcomes for these children.

It’s time to restructure this critical funding stream to better meet the needs of children and families and to bring it into the 21st century.

As 28 states, the District of Columbia and one Native American tribe are demonstrating, there are better ways to help families prevent abuse and neglect and to ensure that more children return to safe, permanent families. These communities are participating in the federal Child Welfare Demonstration Projects that waive the requirement that states spend Title IV-E funds on foster care. Instead, they can use the funds to address the needs of at-risk children and families — for example, with programs that intervene before harm occurs.

While Title IV-E funds are the largest federal source of child welfare resources, they are the least flexible. As the demonstration projects suggest, allowing states to invest Title IV-E funds in interventions that are tailored to their needs can result in better outcomes.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restructure this program. Allowing states and tribes to spend federal money flexibly will help improve the life outcomes for millions of vulnerable children and struggling families in America.

Conversely, the financial and human costs of continuing our outdated approach are high. When the impact on multiple human service systems is considered, the national economic burden from one year of child maltreatment cases is approximately $124 billion.4 And the trauma stemming from child maltreatment and removal from the home can cause devastating, lifelong consequences, including an increased likelihood that youth will drop out of school, become homeless or go to prison.

We all agree that every child needs and deserves a caring, permanent family. Now the federal government has a game-changing opportunity to shift the investment, and the conversation, to a focus on preventing abuse and neglect and securing loving, permanent homes for our most vulnerable children.

It's time for funding to catch up

It started something wildly successful

ALLEGHENY COUNTY | PENNSYLVANIA

Supportive
communities

Effective
investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

Philanthropic and corporate partners can innovate and amplify the impact of investments already being made by federal, state and local governments.

ALIGNED GIVING

It started something wildly successful

ALLEGHENY COUNTY | PENNSYLVANIA

Philanthropic and corporate partners can innovate and amplify the impact of investments already being made by federal, state and local governments.

Supportive
communities

Effective
investments

Aligned
giving

Supportive Communities

Improved life
outcomes

Supportive Communities

It started something wildly successful

ALLEGHENY COUNTY | PENNSYLVANIA

In January 1997, when Marc Cherna was appointed director of the new Department of Human Services agency for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, two distressing facts soon became clear: Program costs were too high, and program capacity was too low.

At the time, the county was undergoing a major restructuring. County officials wanted to merge 35 departments into six. Human Services was among the newly formed umbrella departments.

Cherna had to merge programs geared toward children and families, mental health and intellectual disabilities, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, hunger and aging. He knew there was considerable overlap among the services needed by the residents, but the departments were not coordinated or integrated.

“Many people were touched by more than one system and needed multiple services,” he said. “But the systems were not organized in a way that permitted easy access to multiple services, which is hard on the people who use them.”

Cherna invited the leaders of some of the area’s most respected philanthropic organizations, including the Heinz Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, to meet with him to discuss potential solutions. Some of the meeting participants had actually been on the selection committee that had handpicked Cherna to lead child welfare a year prior.

In the meeting, Cherna told the group that his appointment and the creation of an umbrella human services department were only a small part of a solution. To fully realize the community vision for an integrated human services system, he said, his agency couldn’t be the only one turning a wrench. Philanthropy must work with government as a full partner.

The meeting participants fell quiet. One of the foundation leaders asked Cherna to wait outside.

“It was a bit nerve-wracking while I was standing outside the door,” Cherna said recently. “I didn’t know what they would do. I told them, ‘I need your help. You wanted me to take this job. And I need you to succeed.’ Many of them had never funded government or trusted government.”

Fifteen long minutes later, they summoned him back in. And they were smiling.

The eight foundation leaders created the Human Services Integration Fund, which would be open to any interested nonprofit or corporation that wanted to help partner with Cherna’s new department.

The fund was managed by a third party, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and every contributor — regardless of dollar amount — would have an equal vote on which projects to fund or to reject. Cherna was required to pitch his ideas, and the Integration Fund managers would decide whether the proposed ideas were the best way to allocate the funds.

“The first thing they funded was the study to create a blueprint for the new human services system,” Cherna recalled. “And it grew from there.”

The foundation leaders didn’t simply decide to purchase items off of Cherna’s wish list. In what has since become an example of effective government–philanthropy partnerships, the group set up a new funding structure to support the work. It was built for the long haul but was nimble enough to accomplish tasks that a local government could not.

In the 18 years since its launch, the 16 foundations participating in the Human Services Integration Fund have invested more than $10 million in more than two dozen child and family welfare projects. Inspired by its success, participating foundations have created specific funds for other entities, such as the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Allegheny County Health Department.

Marge Petruska, a senior program director for the Heinz Endowments, was part of the committee that helped start the fund. She said it was an unusual step for nonprofits to partner with government in this manner. But in Pittsburgh, she added, it was not unheard of.

A few years earlier, Petruska said, a group of foundations had joined in an effort to reduce the city’s homeless problem. Drawing on that experience, the foundations set rules to manage the fund, select projects and write the checks.

“There wasn’t really a push back on the aspirational part of what Marc wanted to do,” she said. “But there were mechanical issues about how this would work.”

Right away, the Human Services Integration Fund agreed to support Cherna’s request to determine how to reorganize the department, which involved merging agencies with scattered staff resources, service overlaps and varied payroll structures into one integrated unit.

Cherna capitalized on the budding partnership to get the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce to pitch in with some pro bono business consultation.

“How am I supposed to know [information technology] stuff? How do I figure out space planning when I have staff in four different buildings? How do I know how to fix a fiscal system that requires 17 people to touch a piece of paper?” Cherna asked, laughing.

“We had no good systems in place. We had four different human resources departments, and few of the job titles matched. How do you formulate that, and how do you figure out what to pay them?”

With the flexibility provided by the Integration Fund, Cherna was able to hire staff to look around the country to investigate best practices. They gathered information from leaders such as Bob Ross, head of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Department, and David Sanders, who ran Hennepin County’s Human Services Department in Minnesota. (Sanders now serves as an executive vice president with Casey Family Programs.)

The result: Within 10 years, Cherna’s department had strategically reinvested its resources, reducing administrative spending by a third and administrative staffing by 50 percent while greatly expanding service delivery.

But Cherna, the philanthropy partners and the Human Services Integration Fund were not done.

One of their parallel efforts that still pays huge dividends was the development of a data warehouse that enabled the department to collect, analyze and access data. Years earlier, a data expert had told Cherna that a data warehouse would be essential to moving the department forward.

“I didn’t even know what the term meant,” Cherna said.

But he did know that access to accurate data is essential to making informed decisions and understanding the reach and effectiveness of services. In 1999, the Pittsburgh Foundation agreed to channel $2.8 million from the Integration Fund into the project. Half of that money came from the RK Mellon Foundation.

Scott Izzo, the foundation’s director, said the project improved data gathering and analysis in Allegheny County and cemented the partnership between the foundations and local government.

“That was a beginning of a collaboration on a whole series of things,” Izzo said. “It started something that has been, in my opinion, wildly successful.”

Today, the data warehouse is the cornerstone of the county’s social services and has expanded to include all public school data. In fact, it is so well regarded that the nation’s top analytics students compete for the handful of the county’s internships.

Cherna noted that when the county was building the data warehouse, the flexibility and accountability provided by the Human Services Integration Fund were critical to the effort. Because the agency wasn’t using government funds, it could hire precisely the type of technology vendor it needed, rather than handing the work to the lowest bidder.

“We never could have done this through the normal government process,” he explained.

And that, he said, is what has made the partnership with philanthropic partners so effective over nearly two decades of collaboration: Both he and the funders look to innovate beyond what can be done through standard government resources and purview.

More recently, with technical assistance and financial support from Casey Family Programs, Allegheny County has identified new ways to drive positive outcomes — specifically, by focusing on leadership development, program and practice innovation, and federal and state finance reform through their participation in the Title IV-E Child Welfare Demonstration Project. From 2008 to 2014, child welfare placements in the county dropped by 33 percent, their lowest point-in-time count on record.

Philanthropic support is enabling the department to evaluate the effectiveness of their 27 family support centers. The anticipated insights are another benefit of the Integration Fund and, by extension, the longstanding partnership with the philanthropic community.

“Without the integration fund, we could not afford to do evaluations of our current program offerings,” Cherna said. “We would have no idea what’s working, what’s not working and what we can do toward improvement.

“I can’t imagine the past 18 years without it.”

In January 1997, when Marc Cherna was appointed director of the new Department of Human Services agency for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, two distressing facts soon became clear: Program costs were too high, and program capacity was too low.

At the time, the county was undergoing a major restructuring. County officials wanted to merge 35 departments into six. Human Services was among the newly formed umbrella departments.

Cherna had to merge programs geared toward children and families, mental health and intellectual disabilities, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, hunger and aging. He knew there was considerable overlap among the services needed by the residents, but the departments were not coordinated or integrated.

“Many people were touched by more than one system and needed multiple services,” he said. “But the systems were not organized in a way that permitted easy access to multiple services, which is hard on the people who use them.”

Cherna invited the leaders of some of the area’s most respected philanthropic organizations, including the Heinz Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, to meet with him to discuss potential solutions. Some of the meeting participants had actually been on the selection committee that had handpicked Cherna to lead child welfare a year prior.

In the meeting, Cherna told the group that his appointment and the creation of an umbrella human services department were only a small part of a solution. To fully realize the community vision for an integrated human services system, he said, his agency couldn’t be the only one turning a wrench. Philanthropy must work with government as a full partner.

The meeting participants fell quiet. One of the foundation leaders asked Cherna to wait outside.

“It was a bit nerve-wracking while I was standing outside the door,” Cherna said recently. “I didn’t know what they would do. I told them, ‘I need your help. You wanted me to take this job. And I need you to succeed.’ Many of them had never funded government or trusted government.”

Fifteen long minutes later, they summoned him back in. And they were smiling.

The eight foundation leaders created the Human Services Integration Fund, which would be open to any interested nonprofit or corporation that wanted to help partner with Cherna’s new department.

The fund was managed by a third party, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and every contributor — regardless of dollar amount — would have an equal vote on which projects to fund or to reject. Cherna was required to pitch his ideas, and the Integration Fund managers would decide whether the proposed ideas were the best way to allocate the funds.

“The first thing they funded was the study to create a blueprint for the new human services system,” Cherna recalled. “And it grew from there.”

The foundation leaders didn’t simply decide to purchase items off of Cherna’s wish list. In what has since become an example of effective government–philanthropy partnerships, the group set up a new funding structure to support the work. It was built for the long haul but was nimble enough to accomplish tasks that a local government could not.

In the 18 years since its launch, the 16 foundations participating in the Human Services Integration Fund have invested more than $10 million in more than two dozen child and family welfare projects. Inspired by its success, participating foundations have created specific funds for other entities, such as the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Allegheny County Health Department.

Marge Petruska, a senior program director for the Heinz Endowments, was part of the committee that helped start the fund. She said it was an unusual step for nonprofits to partner with government in this manner. But in Pittsburgh, she added, it was not unheard of.

A few years earlier, Petruska said, a group of foundations had joined in an effort to reduce the city’s homeless problem. Drawing on that experience, the foundations set rules to manage the fund, select projects and write the checks.

“There wasn’t really a push back on the aspirational part of what Marc wanted to do,” she said. “But there were mechanical issues about how this would work.”

Right away, the Human Services Integration Fund agreed to support Cherna’s request to determine how to reorganize the department, which involved merging agencies with scattered staff resources, service overlaps and varied payroll structures into one integrated unit.

Cherna capitalized on the budding partnership to get the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce to pitch in with some pro bono business consultation.

“How am I supposed to know [information technology] stuff? How do I figure out space planning when I have staff in four different buildings? How do I know how to fix a fiscal system that requires 17 people to touch a piece of paper?” Cherna asked, laughing.

“We had no good systems in place. We had four different human resources departments, and few of the job titles matched. How do you formulate that, and how do you figure out what to pay them?”

With the flexibility provided by the Integration Fund, Cherna was able to hire staff to look around the country to investigate best practices. They gathered information from leaders such as Bob Ross, head of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Department, and David Sanders, who ran Hennepin County’s Human Services Department in Minnesota. (Sanders now serves as an executive vice president with Casey Family Programs.)

The result: Within 10 years, Cherna’s department had strategically reinvested its resources, reducing administrative spending by a third and administrative staffing by 50 percent while greatly expanding service delivery.

But Cherna, the philanthropy partners and the Human Services Integration Fund were not done.

One of their parallel efforts that still pays huge dividends was the development of a data warehouse that enabled the department to collect, analyze and access data. Years earlier, a data expert had told Cherna that a data warehouse would be essential to moving the department forward.

“I didn’t even know what the term meant,” Cherna said.

But he did know that access to accurate data is essential to making informed decisions and understanding the reach and effectiveness of services. In 1999, the Pittsburgh Foundation agreed to channel $2.8 million from the Integration Fund into the project. Half of that money came from the RK Mellon Foundation.

Scott Izzo, the foundation’s director, said the project improved data gathering and analysis in Allegheny County and cemented the partnership between the foundations and local government.

“That was a beginning of a collaboration on a whole series of things,” Izzo said. “It started something that has been, in my opinion, wildly successful.”

Today, the data warehouse is the cornerstone of the county’s social services and has expanded to include all public school data. In fact, it is so well regarded that the nation’s top analytics students compete for the handful of the county’s internships.

Cherna noted that when the county was building the data warehouse, the flexibility and accountability provided by the Human Services Integration Fund were critical to the effort. Because the agency wasn’t using government funds, it could hire precisely the type of technology vendor it needed, rather than handing the work to the lowest bidder.

“We never could have done this through the normal government process,” he explained.

And that, he said, is what has made the partnership with philanthropic partners so effective over nearly two decades of collaboration: Both he and the funders look to innovate beyond what can be done through standard government resources and purview.

More recently, with technical assistance and financial support from Casey Family Programs, Allegheny County has identified new ways to drive positive outcomes — specifically, by focusing on leadership development, program and practice innovation, and federal and state finance reform through their participation in the Title IV-E Child Welfare Demonstration Project. From 2008 to 2014, child welfare placements in the county dropped by 33 percent, their lowest point-in-time count on record.

Philanthropic support is enabling the department to evaluate the effectiveness of their 27 family support centers. The anticipated insights are another benefit of the Integration Fund and, by extension, the longstanding partnership with the philanthropic community.

“Without the integration fund, we could not afford to do evaluations of our current program offerings,” Cherna said. “We would have no idea what’s working, what’s not working and what we can do toward improvement.

“I can’t imagine the past 18 years without it.”

We can make it work here

LOUISVILLE | KENTUCKY

Supportive
communities

Effective
investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

Every community in America can create hope and opportunities for its children and families.

IMPROVED LIFE OUTCOMES

We can make it work here

LOUISVILLE | KENTUCKY

Every community in America can create hope and opportunities for its children and families.

Supportive
communities

Effective
investments

Aligned
giving

Improved life
outcomes

Supportive Communities
Supportive Communities

We can make it work here

LOUISVILLE | KENTUCKY

Driving through the Russell neighborhood as a blue sky broke through the morning clouds, Anthony Smith slowed and pointed to a deserted factory near the banks of the Ohio River.

The former factory — boarded up and fenced in with moldering brick towers stretching 80 feet high — had been shuttered for more than two decades. Now it was simply a two-acre memorial to the city’s once-vibrant African American middle class.

Abundant factory jobs at Ford Motor Co., Phillip Morris and other employers, Smith said, had built an unrivaled Southern black middle class in West Louisville in the early and middle part of the 20th century. With its African American theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and predominantly black-owned business district, the Russell neighborhood was called Louisville’s Harlem.

“And this is what it is now,” he said as the sun warmed the vacant parking lot. “This is why our work is so important. The jobs aren’t here anymore. But the people still are.”

But Smith, Louisville’s director of safe neighborhoods, wasn’t striking a sour tone. Just the opposite: He explained that, although poverty and related crime pushed into the gaps of a crumbled economy, a wave of civic activism is now sweeping in behind it.

The Russell neighborhood is the epicenter of an anti-violence effort that touches everything from the Jefferson County Schools to the Urban League to the churches and political structure, businesses and social services.

Called Zones of Hope, the initiative seeks to stem the violence against and by African American men and boys in some of the city’s most struggling neighborhoods. An intensive, block-based triage plan, the Zones of Hope combines data gathering, the placement of services, mentoring, college prep, job information and free Wi-Fi and computer labs within the neighborhoods that need them most.

The initiative also is taking a lead role in Louisville’s Cities United effort. Launched in 2011, Cities United is a nationwide consortium of mayors who are focused on developing and sharing solutions to stem violence-related deaths of young men and boys, focusing on prevention rather than incarceration.

The situation is critical: Between January 2013 and September 2014, 89 Louisville residents were killed in homicides. Sixty-five percent of those were African Americans 18 to 34 years old, and the vast majority of those were men. Most of the homicides happened within areas that became Zones of Hope. The zones are, on average, about 80 percent African American.

The city’s network of churches and faith-based organizations responded to the deaths, holding rallies and drawing attention to the problem. But it became clear that the city’s influential religious leaders needed more people and organizations to contribute to the effort.

Ramzi Sabree, a recruiter for the University of Louisville School of Social Work, said the homicide rate spurred the citywide push for the zones. “It was obvious we needed to work together to get something substantial done,” he said.

Louisville launched the Zones of Hope in September 2014, after a national Weekend of Hope initiative supported by Casey Family Programs. Covering five neighborhoods — Russell, Newberg, Parkland, Shawnee and California — the zones involve more than 60 community organizations and are housed in the city’s existing community centers.

Ben Johnson, Louisville’s assistant director of recreation, said the effort seeks to socially rebuild the toughest neighborhoods from the ground up by using the 12 community centers as hubs of neighborhood activity. He said this first involved recasting the perception — and at times the reality — of what the centers are.

“We want people to start recognizing that what we are running now are community centers, not recreation centers,” he said. “It’s not just about playing ball or arts and crafts class.”

Johnson said the process of building the Zones of Hope has led to unexpected opportunities. Take, for example, the city’s summer day camps for children ages 6 to 12. By most measures, the camps were successful, serving 400 to 500 children over eight weeks each summer.

But the camp schedule — and the age range of the programming — meant that the community centers closed at 6 p.m. for the entire summer. “We weren’t doing anything with teens because it was [age] 6 to 12,” Johnson said. “[The camps] were running OK because they were good camps. But we were missing an entire group of young people.”

So last summer, with new government investments, the city took over three of the centers and ran no summer camp at all. They provided open programming all day long, with teens and adults in the plan. The city kept six of the centers open until 9 p.m. so young people would have more time to participate in the centers’ programming and services, including classes by the local science centers and hot meals for young people who were not getting enough to eat.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher has allowed city employees to take two hours of paid time each week to work as mentors in the centers. As a result, the centers began seeing more young people each day than they had been seeing over entire weeks in prior summers.

“We held dances and some things we’d never done before,” Johnson said. “Sometimes you do things and you think it is successful, but it is only because you are not pushing yourself.”

Daryle Unseld, a senior manager of community engagement with the United Way, said the foundation created a Black Male Achievement Fund to help focus efforts and reward success. “And we’ve launched a black male awareness social media campaign,” he added.

Within the Zones of Hope are two literacy initiatives: Books and Barbershops, and the Little Free Libraries. The Little Free Libraries includes 17 front-yard libraries within the zones that are stocked with free children’s books to promote early reading in neighborhoods where 30 percent of kids are not ready for kindergarten.

Smith said the three key questions he considers when organizing Zones of Hope are how to improve the outcomes, how to change the narrative and how to celebrate success.

“We’ve started looking at the data,” he said. “We are looking at the numbers and looking at where we were having the most trouble succeeding. It was these five neighborhoods. High crime coupled with low achievement. So we asked ourselves: How do we create a place-based strategy?”

The Zones of Hope initiative remains a work in progress. With so many organizations interested in participating, so many ideas about how to proceed and incomplete data about existing programs, Smith said it will take a delicate hand with a relentless push to make hope solid enough to permanently replace the decaying structures in West Louisville.

Benjamin Richmond, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said the profound need requires long-term vision and planning. The decades of decay will take decades of rebuilding. But he believes the city’s civic organizations are up to the task.

“We can make it work here in Louisville,” Richmond said. “If anyone can make a difference, Louisville can make it.”

Driving through the Russell neighborhood as a blue sky broke through the morning clouds, Anthony Smith slowed and pointed to a deserted factory near the banks of the Ohio River.

The former factory — boarded up and fenced in with moldering brick towers stretching 80 feet high — had been shuttered for more than two decades. Now it was simply a two-acre memorial to the city’s once-vibrant African American middle class.

Abundant factory jobs at Ford Motor Co., Phillip Morris and other employers, Smith said, had built an unrivaled Southern black middle class in West Louisville in the early and middle part of the 20th century. With its African American theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and predominantly black-owned business district, the Russell neighborhood was called Louisville’s Harlem.

“And this is what it is now,” he said as the sun warmed the vacant parking lot. “This is why our work is so important. The jobs aren’t here anymore. But the people still are.”

But Smith, Louisville’s director of safe neighborhoods, wasn’t striking a sour tone. Just the opposite: He explained that, although poverty and related crime pushed into the gaps of a crumbled economy, a wave of civic activism is now sweeping in behind it.

The Russell neighborhood is the epicenter of an anti-violence effort that touches everything from the Jefferson County Schools to the Urban League to the churches and political structure, businesses and social services.

Called Zones of Hope, the initiative seeks to stem the violence against and by African American men and boys in some of the city’s most struggling neighborhoods. An intensive, block-based triage plan, the Zones of Hope combines data gathering, the placement of services, mentoring, college prep, job information and free Wi-Fi and computer labs within the neighborhoods that need them most.

The initiative also is taking a lead role in Louisville’s Cities United effort. Launched in 2011, Cities United is a nationwide consortium of mayors who are focused on developing and sharing solutions to stem violence-related deaths of young men and boys, focusing on prevention rather than incarceration.

The situation is critical: Between January 2013 and September 2014, 89 Louisville residents were killed in homicides. Sixty-five percent of those were African Americans 18 to 34 years old, and the vast majority of those were men. Most of the homicides happened within areas that became Zones of Hope. The zones are, on average, about 80 percent African American.

The city’s network of churches and faith-based organizations responded to the deaths, holding rallies and drawing attention to the problem. But it became clear that the city’s influential religious leaders needed more people and organizations to contribute to the effort.

Ramzi Sabree, a recruiter for the University of Louisville School of Social Work, said the homicide rate spurred the citywide push for the zones. “It was obvious we needed to work together to get something substantial done,” he said.

Louisville launched the Zones of Hope in September 2014, after a national Weekend of Hope initiative supported by Casey Family Programs. Covering five neighborhoods — Russell, Newberg, Parkland, Shawnee and California — the zones involve more than 60 community organizations and are housed in the city’s existing community centers.

Ben Johnson, Louisville’s assistant director of recreation, said the effort seeks to socially rebuild the toughest neighborhoods from the ground up by using the 12 community centers as hubs of neighborhood activity. He said this first involved recasting the perception — and at times the reality — of what the centers are.

“We want people to start recognizing that what we are running now are community centers, not recreation centers,” he said. “It’s not just about playing ball or arts and crafts class.”

Johnson said the process of building the Zones of Hope has led to unexpected opportunities. Take, for example, the city’s summer day camps for children ages 6 to 12. By most measures, the camps were successful, serving 400 to 500 children over eight weeks each summer.

But the camp schedule — and the age range of the programming — meant that the community centers closed at 6 p.m. for the entire summer. “We weren’t doing anything with teens because it was [age] 6 to 12,” Johnson said. “[The camps] were running OK because they were good camps. But we were missing an entire group of young people.”

So last summer, with new government investments, the city took over three of the centers and ran no summer camp at all. They provided open programming all day long, with teens and adults in the plan. The city kept six of the centers open until 9 p.m. so young people would have more time to participate in the centers’ programming and services, including classes by the local science centers and hot meals for young people who were not getting enough to eat.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher has allowed city employees to take two hours of paid time each week to work as mentors in the centers. As a result, the centers began seeing more young people each day than they had been seeing over entire weeks in prior summers.

“We held dances and some things we’d never done before,” Johnson said. “Sometimes you do things and you think it is successful, but it is only because you are not pushing yourself.”

Daryle Unseld, a senior manager of community engagement with the United Way, said the foundation created a Black Male Achievement Fund to help focus efforts and reward success. “And we’ve launched a black male awareness social media campaign,” he added.

Within the Zones of Hope are two literacy initiatives: Books and Barbershops, and the Little Free Libraries. The Little Free Libraries includes 17 front-yard libraries within the zones that are stocked with free children’s books to promote early reading in neighborhoods where 30 percent of kids are not ready for kindergarten.

Smith said the three key questions he considers when organizing Zones of Hope are how to improve the outcomes, how to change the narrative and how to celebrate success.

“We’ve started looking at the data,” he said. “We are looking at the numbers and looking at where we were having the most trouble succeeding. It was these five neighborhoods. High crime coupled with low achievement. So we asked ourselves: How do we create a place-based strategy?”

The Zones of Hope initiative remains a work in progress. With so many organizations interested in participating, so many ideas about how to proceed and incomplete data about existing programs, Smith said it will take a delicate hand with a relentless push to make hope solid enough to permanently replace the decaying structures in West Louisville.

Benjamin Richmond, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said the profound need requires long-term vision and planning. The decades of decay will take decades of rebuilding. But he believes the city’s civic organizations are up to the task.

“We can make it work here in Louisville,” Richmond said. “If anyone can make a difference, Louisville can make it.”

We must be ready to move quickly in any direction to meet new conditions of a progressive world.

- JIM CASEY, 1948

CONCLUSION

The decade ahead

Casey Family Programs doesn’t have the answers to the profound and humbling challenges before us. But we share a vision with families and communities across America for where we must go and how we can get there.

The decade ahead

CONCLUSION

The decade ahead

We are committed to keeping our sights set on a long-term vision for sustainable change — a vision that can help carry us over the individual challenges that arise. We will continue to work with partners across the social, philanthropic and corporate sectors to advance the components of hope. In particular, we will focus on:

  • Supportive communities. As the Hillsborough County profile illustrates, there is tremendous potential when all who work to strengthen communities — from judges and law enforcement professionals to social workers and community leaders — come together. When these groups build connections across systems, agencies and expertise, they can increase their collective impact and help ensure that more children have safe and permanent homes.
  • Effective investments. As the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe story illustrates, new approaches to investing existing financial resources can provide programs with the flexibility they need to tailor their approach to their community’s needs and strengths, while ensuring they are accountable for achieving better outcomes for children. As we look to the future, our nation should reevaluate the way we invest — and reinvest — in our commitment to improving our children’s lives.
  • Aligned giving. As the experience in Allegheny County suggests, philanthropic partners can provide essential opportunities for government programs that seek to deepen their knowledge, strengthen their practice and increase their capacity. Increased engagement of philanthropic partners can play a pivotal role in amplifying the investments made by federal, state and local governments.
  • Improved life outcomes. Most important, experiences like those in Louisville illustrate the potential that can be unlocked when child welfare programs build connections with related efforts — from faith-based organizations to educational, mental health and employment endeavors — that help strengthen communities and improve outcomes for their children.

Working alongside our partners, Casey Family Programs is proud to collaborate with communities across America to deliver on the promise of hope that every child deserves. Together, we are working for the day when supportive communities throughout our nation nurture the safety, success and hope of every child and family.

Learn more at www.casey.org.

We must be ready to move quickly in any direction to meet new conditions of a progressive world.

- JIM CASEY, 1948

We are committed to keeping our sights set on a long-term vision for sustainable change — a vision that can help carry us over the individual challenges that arise. We will continue to work with partners across the social, philanthropic and corporate sectors to advance the components of hope. In particular, we will focus on:

  • Supportive communities. As the Hillsborough County profile illustrates, there is tremendous potential when all who work to strengthen communities — from judges and law enforcement professionals to social workers and community leaders — come together. When these groups build connections across systems, agencies and expertise, they can increase their collective impact and help ensure that more children have safe and permanent homes.
  • Effective investments. As the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe story illustrates, new approaches to investing existing financial resources can provide programs with the flexibility they need to tailor their approach to their community’s needs and strengths, while ensuring they are accountable for achieving better outcomes for children. As we look to the future, our nation should reevaluate the way we invest — and reinvest — in our commitment to improving our children’s lives.
  • Aligned giving. As the experience in Allegheny County suggests, philanthropic partners can provide essential opportunities for government programs that seek to deepen their knowledge, strengthen their practice and increase their capacity. Increased engagement of philanthropic partners can play a pivotal role in amplifying the investments made by federal, state and local governments.
  • Improved life outcomes. Most important, experiences like those in Louisville illustrate the potential that can be unlocked when child welfare programs build connections with related efforts — from faith-based organizations to educational, mental health and employment endeavors — that help strengthen communities and improve outcomes for their children.

Working alongside our partners, Casey Family Programs is proud to collaborate with communities across America to deliver on the promise of hope that every child deserves. Together, we are working for the day when supportive communities throughout our nation nurture the safety, success and hope of every child and family.

Learn more at www.casey.org.

Leadership | Offices | Financial Summary

Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America. Founded in 1966, we work in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live.

Leadership | Offices | Financial Summary

Leadership

Casey Family Programs draws inspiration from our founder, Jim Casey, a visionary entrepreneur who recognized that our nation’s most valuable resource is our children. Our Board of Trustees, leaders, and staff are fiercely determined to see that the gifts Jim Casey and his family made are a vital part of the effort to improve the lives of vulnerable families and the communities that surround them.

To learn more about our leadership, visit the Board of Trustees and Executive Team pages.

Offices

Casey Family Programs works in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live. The foundation is headquartered in Seattle and has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, New York, Texas and Washington.

To learn more, visit our Contacts and locations page.

Financial summary

Since our founding in 1966, we have invested more than $2.1 billion to support improvements in programs, services and public policies that benefit children and families in the child welfare system. Over the next decade, we will invest at least $1 billion more to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live.

To learn more, view our financial summary.

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