In 2006, the Children's Bureau published a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for Collaboration Between Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Welfare to Improve Child Welfare Program Outcomes.This announcement reflected recognition of the overlap in the service population of the two programs:
A significant number of families are involved with both welfare and child welfare systems. More than half of all foster children come from families that are eligible for welfare and most of the families that receive in-home support services through the child welfare system are on welfare (FOA, p. 2).
"Dual-system" families must navigate two complex systems that often have conflicting requirements and timelines. Service gaps as well as service duplication can occur when case plans are not coordinated. In addition to families already receiving services from both systems, some family members who currently receive services from only one system have characteristics or needs that could potentially benefit from services of the other system. For example, grandparents and other kin serving as primary caregivers of their relatives' children frequently struggle with financial hardships.
The interconnections between the two programs reflect the role of poverty, often accompanied by parental stress, as a risk factor for child abuse and neglect. In addition, many families receiving services from either or both systems are also affected by other co-occurring issues, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, or mental health issues.
The FOA was based on the premise that the multifaceted needs of families and children could be better served through a collaborative response between agencies addressing CW and TANF, as well as partnerships with other social service providers (e.g., substance abuse, mental health, education, housing, and aging). Improved collaboration across the agencies–including improvements in the ways in which financial, human, and administrative resources are used–was thought to be able to improve the effectiveness of each agency in using supports and resources and collectively meeting the needs of families. Ultimately, collaborative services were intended to promote self-sufficiency as well as child and family safety, permanency, and well-being.
The purpose of the collaborative initiative was threefold:
- To demonstrate models of effective collaboration between TANF and CW agencies that would improve outcomes for children and youth who were in, or were at risk of entering, the CW system.
- To evaluate and document the processes and outcomes of these collaborations
- To develop identifiable sites that other States/locales seeking improved collaboration between TANF and CW agencies could look to for guidance, insight, and possible replication
Funding was available for demonstration projects to assist jurisdictions over 5 years in planning, implementing, and evaluating collaborative efforts. The projects were intended to support activities such as interagency planning, policy development, comprehensive family assessment, blending or braiding of interagency finances, development of information and data sharing mechanisms, addressing confidentiality issues, and cross-training of TANF and CW staff.
|FOA Title:||Collaboration Between TANF and Child Welfare to Improve Child Welfare Program Outcomes|
|Approved Project Period:||9/30/2006-9/29/11|
|Funding Instrument Type:||Grant|
|Anticipated Total Priority Area Funding:||$2,400,000 per budget period|
|Anticipated Number of Awards:||0 to 6|
|Ceiling on Amount of Individual Awards:||$400,000 per budget period|
|Floor on Amount of Individual Awards:||None|
|Average Projected Award Amount:||$400,000 per budget period|
|Length of Project Periods:||60-months (5 12-month budget periods)|
|Match:||Grantees must provide at least 10% of the total approved cost of the project|
Eligible applicants for grant awards included:
- State governments
- County governments
- City or township governments
- Special district governments
- Native American Tribal governments (federally recognized)
Applicants had to demonstrate a strong commitment on the part of the CW and TANF agencies, and any other agencies identified as part of the project, to collaborate on this project, with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and budgets.
Note: For ease of reading, projects will be identified by the State abbreviation for the State in which they are located. For example, Alaska’s Cook Inlet Tribal Council project will be referred to as "AK."
|Project Title:||Cook Inlet Tribal Council Collaboration Between TANF and Child Welfare to Improve Child Welfare Program Outcomes|
|Lead Agency:||Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC)|
|Collaborating Partners:||CITC Departments of Child and Family Services, Employment and Training, Education, and Recovery Services|
|Contact:||Cristy Allyn Willer
|Target Population:||American Indian and Alaska Native families served by CITC in the Cook Inlet Region|
Key Grant Activities:The AK project integrated activities of four service programs (CW, TANF, Education, and Employment & Recovery) by:
- Creating a standardized intake form and processes
- Building a centralized "Welcome Center" for collocated programs
- Analyzing data systems and creating processes to assess data across systems
- Implementing an interdepartmental program leadership council
|Project Title:||Linkages Project|
|Lead Agency:||California Department of Social Services|
|Collaborating Partners:||Child Welfare Services, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWorks), Child and Family Policy Institute of California|
|Target Population:||Dual-system families. Some counties targeted all CW families with open TANF cases, while others focused on a subset of families (families involved in emergency CW response, families involved in family reunification, adults with TANF sanctions, or homeless families)|
Key Grant Activities:
The CA project expanded the Linkages collaborative model from 17 counties to more than 30 counties. Cross-county, systems-level, and support activities included:
- Statewide oversight committee
- Structured planning process
- Joint training of CW and CalWORKS staff
- Consultation and technical assistance
- Meetings, newsletters, intranet site, and other peer sharing
- Production of videos and outreach resources
- Development of planning, implementation, and evaluation resources (Linkages Toolkit)
Direct service activities at the county level featured:
- Mutual identification of clients
- Coordinated case planning
- Resource sharing
- Joint case conferencing
- Joint case management
|Project Title:||Jeffco Community Connection Collaboration Project|
|Lead Agency:||Jefferson County Human Services|
|Collaborating Partners:||Jefferson County Division of Children, Youth, and Families (CYF), Colorado Works (TANF), Jefferson County System of Care, Jeffco Prosperity Project|
|Target Population:||Dual-system families, including kinship families, children in foster care, and families receiving in-home services|
Key Grant Activities:
The CO project promoted collaboration between TANF and CW through:
- Implementation of collaborative cross-department case planning
- Cross-system training
- Development of data-sharing technology
Service components for families featured:
- Family group conferencing
- Comprehensive family assessment
- Parent Partner mentoring
- Interagency service delivery related to life skills, domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health screening and referral
- Job resource development/career planning
|Project Title:||Louisiana Kinship Integrated Service System (LA KISS)|
|Lead Agency:||Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (Formerly Louisiana Department of Social Services)|
|Collaborating Partners:||Child Welfare Program, Economic Stability Program, Council on Aging, Louisiana Youth Enhancement Services|
|Target Population:||Kinship families receiving CW and/or TANF services in the Greater New Orleans Region|
Key Grant Activities:
The LA project developed a multilevel partnership between the State's CW and economic stability (ES) program. Activities included:
- Cross-training two CW staff in ES and two ES workers in CW
- Analysis of survey information on staff and family perceptions, knowledge, and needs
- Referral and advocacy services to kinship care families
- Implementation of an integrated system of care across DCFS offices
|State:||New York (NY)|
|Project Title:||Next Steps TANF-Child Welfare Collaboration Project|
|Lead Agency:||Rockland County Department of Social Services|
|Collaborating Partners:||Child Welfare, TANF and Employment Units, Board of Cooperative Education Services, West Street Child Care Learning Center, and Others|
|Target Population:||Mothers with very young children who were receiving TANF services|
Key Grant Activities:
NY established a Steering Committee of partner agencies, community organizations, and local businesses. The NY project expanded the Next Steps Program to provide mothers with services related to:
- Employment assistance
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Parenting education
- Father involvement
The Children's Bureau designed the FOA to address the needs of families involved with both TANF and CW systems. The FOA allowed grantees to either broadly address these dual-system families or to focus on specific subgroups. While some projects approached the target audience in a geographic area broadly, others defined their audiences more narrowly—for example, LA's KISS project focused specifically on meeting the needs of kinship families receiving either CW and/or TANF services, while NY’s Next Steps program focused specifically on mothers of very young children (and older children later) who were receiving TANF services. The CA project encompassed more than 30 different counties, each of which defined their own target population based on identified needs.
The target population groups reflected the geographic diversity of the service areas of the five projects. Two projects served suburban county residents–Jefferson County, CO, and Rockland County, NY. CA was a statewide project with multiple counties containing major metropolitan, suburban, and rural areas. AK's project served American Indian and Alaska Native families in the Cook Inlet region surrounding Anchorage, while LA targeted families recovering from Hurricane Katrina in the Greater New Orleans Region.
As noted above, the FOA encouraged the planning and implementation of a wide range of collaborative activities. Key activities for each project are summarized under the grantee profiles. Through these grants, the Children's Bureau offered jurisdictions the opportunity to develop and evaluate varied models of collaboration. Some grantees opted to expand an existing program or model. CA, for example, extended Linkages–a collaborative TANF/CW project initiated in 2000 under private foundation funding—and expanded from 17 counties to more than 30 counties across the State. NY expanded Next Steps, an existing welfare-to-work program, to combine employment readiness services with parenting education, mother/child activities, behavioral therapy, peer-to-peer mentoring, and outreach to fathers. While all grantees worked to improve collaboration between CW and TANF agencies, several projects also worked to integrate services of other partnering agencies, such as those related to education (AK and NY), child care and early childhood development (NY), recovery/substance abuse (AK), and aging (LA). Several grantees (AK, CO, LA) also built on the approaches of existing collaborative systems of care1 in their areas.
Given that the primary intention of the grant solicitation was to facilitate systems collaboration, much of the grantees’ effort was focused on organizational-level activities intended to break down departmental “silos” and align and coordinate systems. Organizational-level activities common across the group included:
- Convening steering committees and interagency councils. These oversight bodies brought together representatives from CW, TANF, other agencies, and community groups and were responsible for providing leadership, planning the initiative, and monitoring project implementation and evaluation activities.
- Joint and cross-training. CW and TANF staff were offered training to better understand the other agency's goals, services, policies, and programs and to recognize their shared objectives in supporting families. For example, CA worked with Regional Training Academies to develop joint training modules (see http://www.cfpic.org/toolkit/training-toolkit.) Through training, staff not only gained new knowledge and built skills, but also developed relationships with partnering agency staff.
- Data sharing. A critical component of most projects, as well as a significant challenge, was developing processes and systems that enabled data sharing across CW and TANF agencies to support identification of mutual clients and provide more comprehensive assessment of needs and services.
- LA designed a case management system with a new database and calendar that enabled CW and TANF project staff to track and monitor services and case progress of mutual clients.
- AK conducted an extensive technical analysis of an existing web application and created new processes to share data across divisions.
- CO developed processes to share files and data between the different databases used by TANF and CW, implemented automated reporting of family assessment information, and designed a data scorecard to monitor outcomes (view a sample scorecard at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/site_visit/jeffco_CFSR_scorecard.pdf).
- Development of service integration procedures. Several projects devoted considerable time and effort to the development of new policies, procedures, and practices that promoted integrated service delivery.
- AK built a centralized "welcome center" and developed a standardized intake form, thereby streamlining processes and eliminating duplication for clients participating in multiple programs (CW, TANF, Education, and/or Recovery).
- CA developed a series of toolkits that offer guidelines and sample templates for various aspects of service integration (see http://www.cfpic.org/toolkit/).
Grantees varied in the proportion of their efforts that focused on organizational-level activities as compared with direct services. While some projects appeared more heavily weighted toward infrastructure development and implementing systems-level change (e.g., AK), others focused more on changes at the service level (e.g., NY). Most projects had aspects of each.
Over the grant period, grantees introduced new services and expanded existing services to meet the needs of target populations. Direct service activities included:
- Family engagement and decision-making. Several projects adopted a family-centered approach and implemented family decision-making techniques intended to promote increased family engagement.
- CO offered family group conferencing to a subgroup of program participants to help families develop their own plans for ensuring the protection of their children and also to facilitate communication among families, CW workers, and TANF workers (see https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/site_visit/jeffco_FGC_brochure.pdf).
- NY engaged participants in the program’s planning efforts and implemented outreach efforts for father involvement.
- CA developed a guide for enhancing family participation drawing from the experiences and lessons learned in Linkages' sites (see http://www.cfpic.org/linkages/pdfs/LInkages_Guidelines_Final_CDSS_Online.pdf).
- Comprehensive family assessment.2 As encouraged by the FOA, comprehensive family assessments were used by several projects to identify and broadly assess service needs.
- Comprehensive family assessment was a core component of CO services
- The North Carolina Family Assessment Scales were used as tools to assess family functioning, strengths, and needs in both CO and AK
- Referral and advocacy services. Based on comprehensive family assessments and case planning activities, program participants were referred to services to meet their needs related to career services, parenting, education, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, life skills, and others.
- Coordinated case planning and case management. CW and TANF staff worked together across jurisdictions to develop and streamline joint case plans or coordinate services and timelines of separate CW and TANF plans. In CA, for example, 87 percent of participating counties reported coordinated case planning and 52 percent reported joint case management.
- Mentoring. Two projects included a mentoring component.
- In CO, Parent Partners who had previously received CW services served as peer mentors for families currently receiving services, attended Family Group Conferences, administered comprehensive family assessments, and advocated for families on various committees within the CW agency and the community.3
- In NY, mentoring was provided by volunteers, many of whom were Department of Social Service workers and served as "information resources."
1Systems of care refer to partnerships among an array of service agencies and families working together to provide integrated, individualized care and community-based support to children and families. Back
2Comprehensive family assessment (CFA) is the ongoing practice of informing decision-making by identifying, considering, and weighing factors that impact children, youth, and their families. CFA focuses not only on the presenting issues, but also on the underlying reasons for behaviors and conditions affecting children and parental protective capacities. Children's Bureau guidelines for CFA, which address collaboration between CW and community partners, are available from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cfa-guidelines-for-cw. Back
3For more information on the Jeffco Parent Partner Program and its perceived benefits, see Leake, et al., 2012, http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol12/iss1/6/. Back