• June 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 5

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Children's Futures Initiative Helps a City

The Children's Futures (CF) communitywide initiative was implemented in Trenton, NJ, to ensure good health for children up to age 3 by assembling dozens of agencies to achieve this goal. Two recent reports detail the initiative and the community involvement that it generated. Collaboration and Community Change in the Children’s Futures Initiative focuses on program implementation, participant recruitment, and collaborations among Trenton’s agencies. The second report, Children's Futures' First Five Years, reviews strategies implemented and examines program improvements and early outcomes for children and families.

The CF initiative was started in 2002 with CF, Inc., providing resources and leadership to fund direct services to families, help the city's organizations improve existing services to families, and promote policy improvements. Funding was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Major components of the initiative included:

  • Home visiting programs
  • Parent-child development activities
  • Training and technical assistance for child care providers and centers
  • Fatherhood classes and support
  • Preventive health care and screening in behavioral health for pregnant women and new mothers

In supporting these programs, CF staff created a network among community agencies and provided regular opportunities for communication, meetings, integration, and training. These successful collaborations led to a number of positive results, including regular meetings of multiple stakeholders, formal partnerships among agencies, and significant presence in the community.

Initial evaluations show varying degrees of success for the CF initiative, including the following:

  • In 2006, about half of all Trenton’s pregnant women were screened for medical and social risks that predict adverse birth outcomes, child abuse, or neglect.
  • By 2005, the six home-visiting programs were serving 370 families, and a greater percentage of visited children had a regular health-care provider.
  • About 75 percent of scheduled home visits were completed, and women remained in the programs for about 15 months.
  • Public policy efforts resulted in a new law providing health-care coverage to all low-income State residents.
  • The fatherhood component showed the least success, although the goal of recruiting 100 fathers per year was met.

Among the factors contributing to the initiative's success were the creation of a network of local resources, the agencies' reliance on evidence-based practice, and the fit between program strategies and desired outcomes.

The reports are available on the Public/Private Ventures website:

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