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February 2008Vol. 9, No. 1Family to Family: Implementation Update

One of the most longstanding programs to endorse family engagement in child welfare is Annie E. Casey's Family to Family model, which promotes a family-centered, neighborhood-based network of care for children by specifying certain organizational and practice changes for child welfare agencies. Begun in 1992, the Family to Family initiative has been implemented in more than 60 locations in 19 States.

A recent report drew on interviews and focus groups with agency staff, community partners, and families at five sites to explore challenges and solutions experienced in implementing the Family to Family initiative. The results are discussed in terms of the four core components of Family to Family:

  • Team decision-making—Respondents pointed out the benefits of team decision-making, including greater engagement of families, more knowledge of and access to resources to support children and families, and shared responsibility for placement decisions. Challenges were related to the time involved, logistics, and follow through.
  • Community partnerships—Agency leadership and respectful dialog were cited as the two factors that promoted good community partnerships. A number of respondents noted that agencies need to target partners who actually live in the community where children and families are being served.
  • Resource family recruitment and support—Respondents noted that resource families, birth families, and agency staff worked together as a team as a result of the Family to Family initiative.
  • Self-evaluation—Staff cited some difficulties in involving community partners in collecting data, although most reported positive results when sharing data with community partners.

While each site had issues unique to its population, there were common challenges and solutions that cut across the all locations. Some of the common strategies for implementing Family to Family included strong leadership, community-based practice, and a focus on developing relationships. As Family to Family continues to evolve, the four core strategies will become more integrated with each other; this is apparent in sites where Family to Family has been in place the longest. This integration should help agencies and stakeholders take the initiative to a new level of service for engaging and serving children and families.

To read the full report, Implementing Family to Family, by Marno Batterson et al. and published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, visit: (PDF - 514 KB)

To read more about the Family to Family initiative and to access related resources, visit the Annie E. Casey website: