Funding Announcements on Service Delivery and Family Connections

The Children’s Bureau has just announced two discretionary grant opportunities to improve child welfare service delivery and promote family connections. Authorized by the Adoption Opportunities Program (P.L. 111-320), Initiative to Improve Access to Needs-Driven, Evidence-Based/Evidence-Informed Mental and Behavioral Health Services in Child Welfare funds demonstration projects to build the capacity for an integrated approach to a screening, assessment, service provision and evaluation system that improves the socio-emotional and behavioral well-being of children served by child welfare. Both the Children’s Bureau and CWLA have prioritized making needed progress on tending to child well-being. Family Connection Grants: Combination Family-finding/Family Group Decision-making Projects is one of four FY2012 forecasted grants authorized under the Family Connection Discretionary Grants Program created by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351). As indicated in the title, funds are available for demonstration projects on intensive family-finding (IFF) and family group decision-making (FGDM) to support permanency needs and maintenance of children in safe, permanent living arrangements.

The funding announcement for the capacity building grants includes background on behavioral and mental health challenges; recent federal legislative changes and oversight findings; and a screening, assessment and service framework justifying the intent and incentivized approach promoted by the grant to improve child well-being outcomes by increasing positive functioning. Awards will cover a five year cooperative agreement in two-phases, the first lasting up to nine months for planning and assessment. Collaboration is expected amongst the grantee, the Children’s Bureau, partnering service agencies and organizations, consumers, and field experts. Child welfare agencies are required partners if not the grant lead. Eight grants ranging from $320,000 to $640,000 for a total of $5.12 million are available. Applications are due July 20th, 2012.

The set of Family Connection Grants released will fund integrated IFF and FGDM services that use technology and effective family engagement to identify, establish and re-establish family and fictive kin relationships and plan with families in meetings to determine the best way to nurture and protect their child. Services should support permanency needs, including but not limited to placement. These three year demonstration projects are being funded to test how this combination service reduces time in care and meets immediate and long-term safety, permanency and well-being needs for children in or at risk of entering the child welfare system and to further more consistent and better integration of these family connection-focused techniques. The funding announcement includes a detailed description and evidence-base for each service, including lessons learned from previous discretionary grants on the approaches. Expectations of the service components and accompanying supports are also outlined. Five grants ranging from $400,000 to $500,000 for a total of $2.34 million are available. Applications are also due July 20th, 2012.

UPDATE: Two additional funding opportunities under the Family Connections Grants authorized by the Fostering Connections Act were also released this month. 

Family Connection Grants: Child Welfare/TANF Collaboration in Kinship Navigation Programs will fund demonstration projects revealing the effectiveness of Kinship Navigator programs in connecting youth in or at risk of entering care, their family members, and their kinship caregivers to find and make use of services that promote protective factors and ultimately permanency. Projects should be conducted collaboratively between child welfare and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agencies, using a systems integration approach promoted in CWLA’s legislative agenda and recently called for in a GAO study. In addition to outlining the administration’s commitment to ensuring well-being for children a families, the funding announcement contains an overview of the proliferation of kinship care giving and its benefits, as well as challenges kinship families face. In addition, there is an overview of TANF child-only support, its benefit, limitations, and room for improvement in supporting kinship families. Seven awards ranging from $550,000 to $750,000 are available for a total of $5 million. Applications are due July 16th, 2012.  

Family Connection Grants: Comprehensive Residential Family Treatment (RFT) Projects are also under the funding authority of the Fostering Connection’s Family Connection Grants. Funding is for showing the effectiveness of RFT projects that are family-centered, address the complex needs of families involved with or potentially served by child welfare, including diverse family forms and extended family members, as appropriate. Services should be provided for at least six months and include substance abuse treatment, early intervention, family counseling, medical and mental health, early education and child care, and other services necessary for comprehensive treatment. The funding announcement describes the target population as families with multiple needs for each member including parents with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse challenges. Results from previous RFT demonstration projects funded under the Family Connection Grants are reviewed along with lessons learned that facilitating communication, fostering a culture of respect, and coordinating services with clients are important facets of successful programs. Further requirements covering program components, licensing and collaboration are outlined. Five awards are available ranging from $500,000 to $600,000 for a total of $3 million. Applications are also due July 16th, 2012.

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