Foster Care Redesign in Duval and Alachua Counties: An Implementation Assessment and Research Chronicle
The Foster Care Redesign project was a mixed-methods evaluation that examined:
- Implementation components and activities.
- Child and family outcomes tracking.
- Key components or elements in redesign efforts.
The evaluation found that Duval County, Florida, reduced the number of children in care from 2,107 to 824 (a 61 percent reduction) from January 2007 to June 2010, and Alachua County, Florida, reduced the number of children in care from 475 to 335 (a 30 percent reduction) from December 2006 to June 2010.
The strategies employed in both jurisdictions to achieve these results focused on providing intensive services early in the child welfare system’s involvement with a family to assure the safety of the child, mitigating risks, and engaging the family in services to strengthen their capacity to provide safe and nurturing environments for their children.
The redesign required the child welfare system to change its emphasis from placing children in foster care as a first option to the new direction of offering family preservation services.
In focus group discussions, participants reported that not only had the outcomes for children and families improved, but that services to families were more respectful, empowering and effective.
Concerns about the new system included workload demands and the timing and sequencing of the redesign initiatives so that each contributes optimally to the success of the overall effort.
This work was supported by a federal Title IV-E waiver that allowed flexibility in use of foster care funds. Casey Family Programs provided supplemental funding and extensive technical assistance.