PHOENIX (Thursday, August 25, 2016) – The Department of Child Safety is pleased to announce a ground-breaking project called “Fostering Sustainable Connections.” This program will help children living in group homes and shelters to connect or reconnect to people who have been important in their lives, giving them the supportive relationships that will help them to thrive. For many children, the “Fostering Sustainable Connections” program will identify a family to care for the child, thereby reducing the number of children living in group homes and shelters.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety remains committed to the vision that children thrive in family environments free from abuse and neglect. The agency’s first goal for children in care is safe reunification with their families. When reunification is not possible due to safety concerns, the next best outcome is permanent placement of the child with someone who already has a supportive relationship with the child.
Through the Fostering Sustainable Connections program, DCS and its community partners help children locate and reconnect with relatives, friends, coaches, neighbors, teachers, and others who have been important in their lives. Once the child’s important people are identified, a DCS Family Engagement Specialist facilitates a meeting to identify ways that these people can become involved in the child’s life. The plan can include identifying a family home for the child and the necessary support services the family needs to provide a permanent home. The goal is to help facilitate positive and supportive relationships with caring adults who will remain in the child’s life throughout adulthood. When children become adults, they still need a home to go to for the holidays, a person to call to share good news with, and a loving adult to help them navigate through day-to-day life.
“Fostering Sustainable Connections” is made possible through an agreement with the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Arizona is among 25 states to have an approved Title IV-E waiver agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The waiver gives the state more flexibility in the use of federal child welfare funding to test innovative approaches for reducing the number of children living in out-of-home care, shelters, and group homes. Additionally, safely reducing the number of children in these placements is expected to result in expanded capacity to invest in child welfare services that help build strong families and prevent the need for foster care.
This new program implementation is an illustration of the Arizona Department of Child Safety’s ongoing commitment to the vision that children thrive in family environments free from abuse and neglect, and of the agency’s continuous pursuit of its mission to successfully engage children and families to ensure safety, strengthen families, and achieve permanency.