The Grantee Connection / May 2020

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The Grantee Connection - Sharing Knowledge, Building Evidence

May 2020 | Issue 4

The Grantee Connection is a quarterly digest featuring new and noteworthy products, information, and lessons learned from select Children's Bureau discretionary grants to inform research, capacity building, and program improvement efforts.

Featured Grantees

Improving Outcomes for Families Affected by Substance Use

Project Description: The Regional Partnership Grant (RPG) Program is designed to build regional partnerships and systems-level capacity to improve outcomes for children and families in which a child is in, or at risk of, out-of-home placement because of a parent's substance use disorder.

RPG Annual Grantee Meeting in Washington, DC

Project Highlight: In March, 2020, the Children’s Bureau convened 35 RPG grantees representing 25 States at the annual grantee meeting in Washington, DC. Grantees discussed sustainability planning, community mapping, fidelity measurement, and impact evaluations. As a technical assistance provider, the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) facilitated two of the topical sessions:

  • Community Mapping: Community mapping is a method for taking stock of a community's assets and resources, which can help promote cross-system collaboration, align initiatives, and identify and secure partnerships with local programs and stakeholders. Grantee panelists from the Illinois Collaboration on Youth and the Health Federation of Philadelphia shared their experiences using community mapping as an ongoing tool for staff.
  • Sustainability: Sustainability of services, programs, and practice changes is a priority for RPG grantees. The sustainability session highlighted the importance of connecting programs and services to families in the local and cross-site evaluation. Grantee panelists from the Seasons Center for Behavioral Health in Iowa and the Helen Ross McNabb Center in Tennessee shared their lessons learned and recommendations for grantees to consider.

Learn More: Visit NCSACW's RPG webpage to learn more about current and past grantees. 

Photo provided by NCSACW

Building Evidence to Prevent Youth Homelessness

Project Description: Beginning in 2013, the Children’s Bureau and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation of the Administration for Children and Families initiated a multiphase grant program, Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with foster care involvement.

YARH grantees

Project Highlight: Challenges and Solutions in Evaluation Technical Assistance During Design and Early Implementation highlights experiences providing evaluation technical assistance to two groups of grantees working to improve outcomes for youth and young adults. Additionally, Lessons From the Field: Using Continuous Quality Improvement to Refine Interventions for Youth at Risk of Homelessness describes how two YARH grantee local evaluators use CQI to learn from the initial implementation phase.

Learn More:  For more information about plans, progress, and common themes from the planning period of the Phase I grantees, see Reducing Homelessness Among Youth With Child Welfare Involvement: An Analysis of Phase I Planning Processes in a Multi-Phase Grant.

Photo provided by Mathematica

Featuring Collaborative Community Court Teams

Project Description: The Children's Bureau awarded a 3-year grant in 2017 to Children and Family Futures for the National Quality Improvement Center for Collaborative Community Court Teams (QIC-CCCT). The QIC-CCCT provides funds to demonstration sites to design, implement, and test approaches to better meet the needs of infants and families affected by substance use and prenatal substance exposure. 

QIC-CCCT grantees

Project Highlight: The project is developing two-page site profiles that highlight each site's activities as well as the target population, family stories, and preliminary process and program outcomes. So far, the project has developed profiles of the Fairfield County (OH) and Jefferson County (AL) demonstration sites. Profiles for the remaining demonstration sites will be developed on a rolling basis. 

Learn More: See the QIC-CCCT website for additional resources and newly released profiles.

Photo provided by Children and Family Futures

Community Collaborations Learning Lab

Jerry Milner, David Kelly, and Community Collaboration grantees at the Annual Grantee Meeting

Systems Redesign

“Don’t underestimate what we can learn from one another,” Dr. Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, said to the room of grantees from cohort 1 and cohort 2 of the Community Collaborations to Strengthen and Preserve Families grant during the 2020 Annual Grantee Meeting in Washington, DC. Leaders from public child welfare agencies and nonprofits that are implementing promising primary prevention services around the country joined the meeting by phone. The goal of the Learning Lab was to utilize the collective expertise and experiences of participants to share ideas and inspire innovations around strengthening community-based primary prevention efforts.

Paul DiLorenzo, interim executive director of the Philadelphia Children's Alliance, led the first discussion on the need for systems redesign to better support children and their families. The Center for Family Life, Mr. DiLorenzo noted, was an early pioneer of this work over 40 years ago. Sister Mary Paul Janchill and Sister Mary Geraldine Tobia realized that children in their residential care programs were not adjusting well and had a strong desire to return to their families and communities. Seeing a need for change, the Sisters, along with community partners, started the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to provide an alternative to traditional social services.

Instead of intervening after a family is already in crisis, the Center offers support to all families in the community. Anyone can access benefits support, family counseling, and employment and business development services. The Center also offers afterschool programming at elementary, middle, and high schools within walking distance of the agency.

When families need more involved support, the Center partners with parents to keep their children safe and in resource families close to home. One example that stood out to Dr. Milner when he visited the Center in the early 1990s was a biological parent and resource parent diligently working together to promote reunification. According to Dr. Milner, this experience shined a light on what the foster care system can and should be for families. When he asked Sister Mary Paul how they were able to get staff and foster families to transform how they work with families, she said, “[It was] our expectation. It requires a culture shift but also a values shift.”

This culture and values shift can also be seen in Casey Family Programs' Communities of Hope (COH). Located in sites across the country, each COH program operates under the framework that children do well in strong families and families do best when they live in supportive communities. Mr. DiLorenzo, formerly with Casey Family Programs, said the success of these programs has come from shifting “the child welfare field out of the mentality of being the emergency room for all social services.” When this happens, he continued, “It becomes a venue for healing and recovery for families.”


Learn more about the Community Collaborations grant initiative by watching the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention peer learning call.

Child Welfare Information Gateway


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Housing and Child Welfare

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"Prevention: Collaborating Across an Entire State"

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What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Behavioral and Mental Health Professionals

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