Strategies to Fund and Select the Best Family Preservation Programs

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<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Strategies to Fund and Select the Best Family Preservation Programs</span>

Funding family preservation programs is essential to ensure children, families, and communities' health, safety, and general well-being. With the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act, more funding is now available for evidence-based family preservation programs such as Functional Family Therapy. 

When accessing and utilizing these funds, organizations must make data-driven investment decisions to ensure programs uplift the communities and families they serve effectively and efficiently.

In this blog post, we'll explore ways to fund family preservation programs effectively and maximize available resources' impact.

Funding Streams: What are Funding Sources for Child Welfare Programs?

With funding allocated by the Family First Prevention Services Act, child welfare leaders are better positioned to support families. Through the Families First program, states can use federal funds to provide preventative services for families at risk of having a child placed in foster care. These services include but are not limited to family counseling, substance abuse treatment, parent education programs, and a variety of other well-established evidence-based programs.

Families First funding is only one part of the solution. Child welfare leaders must also explore other funding sources administered by various state, local, and private agencies to help support needy families.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "developing an array of services to meet family needs requires child welfare leaders to understand funding that is administered by other agencies and to work across sectors to support a broad range of services." By leveraging different funding sources, leaders can expand access to support services for families that strive to reduce the risk of children entering the foster care system.

Examples of Various Family Preservation Funding Streams: 

A brief published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation outlined key categories of funding streams available to support child welfare services, family counseling, and more: 

  • Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) (Title IV-B): Administered by child welfare agencies, this funding offers flexible resources for funding crises. 
  • Social Services Block Grant (SSBG): Administered by social services agencies, these funds support cash payments for childcare and flexibility to address family crises. 
  • Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies: School districts distribute these funds to support academic and social-emotional services in schools. 
  • Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP): Administered by Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Office of Community Planning and Development, these funds support supportive housing and rental services to help unhoused people under the age of 24 find and maintain permanent housing. 
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): This funding stream comes from city and county community development departments to support various public services, particularly for "multi-service agencies and housing development projects," according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 
  • John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (Chafee): Child welfare agencies distribute these funds to provide resources that inspire self-sufficiency in current and former foster care youth. 

You can browse additional funding streams via Child Welfare Information Gateway and a webinar sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the William T. Grant Foundation called "Funding Evidence-Based Programs in Child Welfare: Implications of the Family First Prevention Services Act."

Evidenced-Based Program Models: How To Study and Identify the Best Models To Match a Population’s Needs? 

When funding family preservation programs, it is essential to understand that not all programs are created equal. When seeking out potential program models, conducting research and studying the best models to match a population's needs is crucial. When researching evidence-based programs, one should first consider how well the model will meet client needs and factors such as cost-effectiveness, efficacy, sustainability, scalability, and adaptability. 

First, conducting a needs assessment of the target population is vital. This assessment should include qualitative data, such as surveys and interviews, and quantitative data, such as demographic information and public records. With this information, you can start identifying evidence-based programs that may fit your family preservation goals. 

Next, you should research the effectiveness of the program models you are considering. Many programs have case studies and outcomes data that you can use to determine whether they suit the population you serve. It's crucial to consider the context of the initial program implementation to understand how it could be successful in your community or agency. 

Finally, it is essential to measure the program's impact once implemented. This phase is where data-driven decision-making comes into play. To ensure that funding is allocated towards successful programs, you must track progress against goals, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your program model as needed. 

By conducting thorough research and studying the best models for your population's needs, you can ensure that your funding is going towards successful family preservation interventions that make a real difference in the lives of those you serve. 

Functional Family Therapy - An Example of Evidence-Based Programming Supported by the FFPSA 

In a previous post about the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), we described three key principles of the FFPSA framework: 

  1. Help families at risk of separating stay together safely 

  2. Place children in a family setting within the foster care system 

  3. Improve access to high-quality residential treatment interventions 

An example of a program model that aligns with these principles and meets a population's need for family preservation services is Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a well-supported intervention under the FFPSA. FFT is an evidence-based intervention for youth and families that the Family First Prevention Services Act can fund.    

FFT is an evidence-based model with promising outcomes. Having undergone rigorous research through randomized-control trials, FFT has more significant benefits than similar intervention models. 

Key outcomes showed FFT improved both individual and family preservation skills and positive social behaviors. Even more compelling is that these improvements are consistently sustained for at least one year after program completion, if not longer. 

Additionally, FFT saves money by diverting youth from costly out-of-home placements using less expensive community-based treatment. Click here to learn more about FFT and Medicaid. 

Data-Driven Funding: How to commit to an agency-wide focus on outcomes and data-driven funding decisions? 

When allocating funds to family preservation programs, agencies should commit to making data-driven decisions to ensure the best outcomes for families. To do so, agencies must measure outcomes, collect and analyze data, and use that information to make informed decisions about where to allocate funding and additional resources. 

For instance, under the Family First Act, data-driven evidence is at the heart of determining which family preservation programs receive funding and how much each program will receive, such as the FFT example previously provided.  

Agencies are encouraged to use data-driven analysis to evaluate and compare different programs to identify which ones offer the best value for the funds. 

Agencies can also use data-driven analysis to track their progress over time. By collecting and analyzing data, agencies can monitor their progress in providing family counseling services and determine if specific programs are more successful than others. This tracking allows for adjustments in a selected approach to ensure it meets goals and fosters continuous improvement.  

How Functional Family Therapy Can Help Strengthen Family Counseling Services 

We understand the importance of data-driven decisions at FFT LLC and are committed to helping our clients make the best decisions for their families and programs. 

Interested in bringing FFT to your community using FFPSA? Download Functional Family Therapy & Family First Prevention Services Fact Sheet 

FFT LLC brings Functional Family Therapy to over 40,000 families a year across the globe that are at risk of involvement in the justice and child welfare systems and/or gangs. FFT LLC provides clinical oversight and ongoing research to maintain positive outcomes and ensure all FFT providers adhere to evidence-based practice standards. 

Contact us for more information about our evidence-based youth and family counseling services.