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May 2006Vol. 7, No. 4Phasing In Community Partnerships

Child welfare agencies can draw on their relationships with community partners to increase community support for foster care. Partners can help agencies by recruiting families to become foster and adoptive families; providing support to birth, kinship, foster, and adoptive families; and building trusting relationships between community residents and the child welfare system.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) recently produced a new tool that presents a plan for phasing in new partnerships. Building Community Partnerships, Step by Step is part of the AECF Family to Family initiative for rebuilding foster care in communities throughout the country.

The tool encompasses a five-phase plan:

  • Develop an infrastructure within the agency for community partnerships
  • Reach out to new and existing partners
  • Collaborate to begin to tackle issues such as increasing reunification
  • Roll out the program and formalize and deepen relationships
  • Maintain the momentum by emphasizing "we are in this together"

Begun in 1992, the Family to Family initiative has been implemented in more than 40 communities throughout the nation. It focuses on developing a network of family foster care that is more neighborhood-based, culturally sensitive, and located primarily in the communities where the children live. To find out more about the Family to Family initiative and view Building Community Partnerships, visit the AECF website:

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express last wrote about the Family to Family initiative in "Achieving Permanence for Older Foster Children" (February 2006).