Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System: Lucas County Ohio Community Development Department . 2. Community Development Department (CDD) Services


Lucas County Children Services adopted Family to Family in December 1999 following a period of intense community criticism of the agency's family preservation efforts and concerns for children's safety. For several years prior to adopting Family to Family, the county had been overwhelmed by a surge in the number of children entering foster care and never returning to their parents. Moreover, the agency was concerned about the number of children who re-entered care after they had been returned to their parent's care. Concomitant to the steady influx of children into care, the agency had been reducing family support services to cope with a fiscal crisis. These conditions were highlighted in a study commissioned to review the agency following public criticism of family preservation.

In 1997, shortly before the study was released, a new agency director was appointed. One of the new director's first actions was to reorganize the agency, using Family to Family's set of value driven principles as a guide for delivering child welfare services. Family to Family was developed in 1992 and has been piloted in over half a dozen states. Its focus is to get "states and communities to reconceptualize, redesign, and reconstruct their foster care system" so that it is "neighborhood-based, culturally sensitive" and located in the client's community. Family to Family seeks to replace institutional settings with community settings and traditional care with kinship care.

In addition to the reorganization and policy changes, a new department -- the Community Development Department (CDD) -- was created within Children Services and charged with developing and providing family-centered, community-based services for families whose children entered, or were at risk of entering, foster care.