Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report. 5.3.2 Initial Planning, Program Development, and Training


The impetus for HomeTies began at a conference in Nashville of southern state service providers and legislators in October 1987. Various models of intensive family preservation services were presented. Members of the Tennessee Select Committee on Children and Youth and others in Tennessee attended this conference and became strong advocates of FPS. There were initial differences of opinion about which FPS model or models should be chosen and, ultimately, the Homebuilders model was recommended to legislators in Tennessee. Family preservation advocates from the Behavioral Sciences Institute (BSI, the developers of the Homebuilders model of family preservation services in Washington State), the National Conference of State Legislators, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation made presentations to the state's Select Committee on Children and Youth about the value of and need for FPS in Tennessee. Legislators responded quite positively, and there was little controversy about starting the program. Significantly, there was a new Democratic governor in Tennessee at the time, and FPS fit well with his emphasis on shaking up the status quo and developing creative government programs that could make a difference.

The development and implementation of HomeTies involved collaboration among multiple state agencies, initially including the Departments of Human Services (DHS), Mental Health, Youth Development,5 and Finance and Administration. Representatives from these agencies met in 1988 to examine financing options, interdepartmental service coordination, and existing FPS models. This committee completed a policy-procedures manual, developed forms, and, with researchers from the University of Tennessee, designed the evaluation of HomeTies. The request for proposals was generated from this work, and required that agencies replicate the Homebuilders model.

The $1.71 million in initial funding for HomeTies in FY90 came from redirected foster care funds, block grants, and state dollars. No additional dollars were added to the state budget to fund FPS. The table below shows the source and types of funds used to provide initial program funding.

Table 5-4.
Source and type of funds used to provide initial program funding.
Department FY90 Funding Source
Human Service $850,000 Redirected foster care funds
Mental Health $647,500 Block grant funds and state dollars
Youth Development $212,500 State dollars

Start-up training included: (a) inter-departmental training for all referring staff on FPS policies and procedures; (b) a Homebuilders orientation by BSI for all referring staff; and (c) training by BSI on the Homebuilders model for all HomeTies workers in the contract agencies.

(5) Until 1996, the Department of Youth Development provided all youth correctional services in Tennessee. In 1996, these three agencies, along with others were combined to form the Department of Children's Services.