Launched in 1992, Family to Family is working to improve child welfare outcomes in 17 states by advocating for more children to remain safely with their own families or a family-like connection and by providing opportunities for redesigning and reconstructing foster care systems
At its core, Family to Family applies four basic principles:
- A child's safety is paramount;
- Children belong in families
- Families need strong communities; and
- Public child welfare systems need partnerships with the community and with other systems to achieve strong outcomes for children.
The Family to Family model provides states and communities with an opportunity and the tools to redesign their child welfare system to establish:
- A network of care that is neighborhood-based, culturally sensitive, and located where the children in need live;
- Less reliance on institutional care, such as hospitals, shelters, correctional facilities, and group homes;
- An adequate number of foster families for any child who must, for safety reasons, be removed from the family home;
- A team approach including foster care families; and
- Screening services to safely preserve the family while understanding the needs of the child.
Family to Family relies on a variety of strategies for reforming child welfare systems. The initiative's technical assistance team has developed numerous tools to assist partner sites in implementing these core approaches. The four strategies are deemed integral to the initiative:
- Building Community Partnerships, which entails building relationships with a wide range of community organizations and leaders in neighborhoods in which child protection referral rates are high, and collaborating to create an environment that supports families involved with the child welfare system.
- Team Decision Making, which involves not just foster parents and caseworkers, but also birth families and community members in all placement decisions to ensure a network of support for children and the adults who care for them.
- Resource Family Recruitment, Development, and Support, which involves finding and maintaining foster and kinship homes that can support children and families in their own neighborhoods.
- Self-Evaluation, in which teams of analysts, data managers, frontline managers and staff, and community partners collect, analyze, and interpret data about key Family to Family outcomes to assess whether we are making progress and to determine how policy and practice needs to be changed to bring about further improvement.
Each strategy represents good practice on its own, but it is the joint and mutually reinforcing effects of the four strategies that produce the strongest impact. Implemented together, these strategies provide a focus for practice changes that seek to achieve the outcomes emphasized in Family to Family.