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February 2005Vol. 6, No. 1Toolkit for Community-Based Child Welfare Services

The struggles and eventual success of one community's efforts to establish a community-based model for child welfare service delivery are told in the "Birth of the East River Family Strengthening Cooperative," a toolkit that documents lessons learned. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization led the effort in the District of Columbia's Ward Seven child welfare initiative that resulted in the formation of this cooperative in 1996. They were able to convene residents, social workers, government officials, and other stakeholders to combat the poverty, unemployment, and family stability that were contributing to child abuse and neglect.

The toolkit that was developed as a result of this collaboration tells the story of the Ward Seven community over 5 years, including background on the factors that gave rise to the need for reform, a chronology of the experiences that led to the cooperative, and the work of the cooperative in the community. The toolkit includes a video, discussion guide, and working paper on this case study. The toolkit offers lessons on:

  • Implementing systems reform
  • Engaging stakeholders in a collaborative process
  • Sustaining stakeholder involvement
  • Laying the foundation for community-based collaborations
  • Making the transition from planning to implementation

For additional information or to order the "Birth of the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative" toolkit, visit the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization website at [Editor's note: item is no longer available. Find more information on the Collaborative at ]