Supporting Families to Foster Children’s Safety and Well-Being

Supporting Families to Foster Children’s Safety and Well-Being

Apr 30, 2020
Elaine Stedt and Debra Strong
couple hugging

As National Child Abuse Prevention Month comes to a close in April, it is important to remember that when we support parents and caregivers, we lessen children’s risk for abuse and neglect. Research has shown that when parents and caregivers have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we prevent child maltreatment and foster children’s well-being and healthy development.

Studies have revealed a link between adults’ substance use and the risk of child maltreatment. That is why Congress established the Regional Partnership Grant (RPG) program in 2006 to improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children affected by adults’ substance abuse.

The RPG program works by supporting partnerships between providers of child welfare services, substance use disorder treatment, and other social services that enhance the safety and well-being of children who are in, or at risk of, out-of-home placement because of a parent’s or caregiver’s substance use disorder. It is a key federal program that specifically addresses the issues that arise at the intersection of child welfare and substance use.

We are pleased to introduce this new video, which gives a firsthand look at the real-life impact of an RPG partnership. The video features two mothers who share in their own words how a parenting class and other services they received from the Montefiore Medical Center and University Behavioral Associates are making a difference in their lives. The partners also give their outlook on how the RPG program enables them to serve families and children in New York City with intensive evidence-based treatments that address their substance use, mental health, and child welfare needs. Furthermore, they highlight how the program brings together systems that do not traditionally work together, and how that multisystem approach improves outcomes for children and families by leveraging shared resources and fostering creative solutions that stem from collaboration.

The Children’s Bureau at the Administration on Children, Youth and Families is committed to providing evidence-based services to achieve positive outcomes for the children and families RPG serves. Since the start of the program, we have awarded over 100 grants in six cohorts across 38 states, and we have partnered with Mathematica since 2012 to conduct a national cross-site evaluation. The evaluation measures how effectively RPG partnerships are treating adults’ substance abuse disorders and advancing child well-being, safety, and permanency.

Emerging findings from the evaluation of the 2012 cohort of 17 partnerships show that adults and children who participate in RPG programs have several positive outcomes over time, such as:

  • Increased participation in treatment for substance use disorder
  • Improved well-being
  • Fewer reports of child maltreatment

This video, which Mathematica developed in partnership with the Children's Bureau, lifts the voices of those who are benefiting from the RPG program and reminds us all of the critical role we have in supporting families to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

We invite you to learn more about the program by visiting Mathematica’s dedicated RPG program web page. More information about the program is also available from the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare.

About the Authors

Elaine Stedt

Elaine Stedt

Director, Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect
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Debra Strong

Debra Strong

Senior Researcher, Mathematica
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