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July 2016Vol. 17, No. 5Child Welfare, Housing Project Highlights New Funding Model

A 2016 report shares the "lessons learned" from the 2015 launch of the Cuyahoga County Partnering for Family Success Program, the first family homelessness and child welfare project in the country and also the first county-level Pay for Success (PFS) project. As part of the program, Frontline Services, a nonprofit homeless persons and families service agency, will deliver intensive service to 135 families over a period of 12 to 15 months. The goal is to reduce stays in out-of-home care for children whose primary caregivers are either homeless or housing insecure by providing Critical Time Intervention, trauma-focused therapies, and housing resources.

The PFS contracting model directs limited government resources to social programs such as poverty, education, child welfare, homelessness, recidivism, and wellness. Under the PFS model, when projects are successful in achieving positive outcomes, the government repays the private funders (e.g., foundations, banks, and businesses) for their initial investment in providing the necessary upfront capital. The report recognizes that each stakeholder in the project's launch process experienced the PFS process differently. It therefore shares experiences and lessons learned from each of their perspectives, including the following:

  • Government: Leadership from multiple levels of government agencies is essential. Assigning a staff member to operationalize the project with the evaluator and provider is also important.
  • Service provider: Individuals with expertise to examine/conduct due diligence on the intervention design should join the PFS project team as early as possible.
  • Advisor and intermediary: Intermediaries/advisors should leverage local relationships to increase morale and support for the project.
  • Funders: Funders bring social issue area expertise, connections, and can help the advisor/intermediary navigate the dynamics of developing a project in a local climate.
  • Evaluator: Establishing data-sharing agreements early on is critical. Many jurisdictions may benefit from preexisting agreements.

To learn more about the program, how it was developed, more lessons learned, and how the program is moving forward, visit, or read Developing the Cuyahoga Partnering for Family Success Program: Partner Perspectives and Lessons Learned, available at (1 MB).