Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report. 5.3.3 Program Expansion


The HomeTies program was expanded several times between 1990 and 1994.

  • In 1990, the program was expanded by three additional teams as a result of additional Title IV-E allocations. The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation also awarded the state $104,000 for coordination, training, and research, resulting in the hiring of a State Coordinator for HomeTies.
  • The program expanded much more dramatically in 1991. The 1991 Tennessee Family Preservation Act mandated that the program serve all eligible families in the state. Seventeen new teams were funded. Expansion began in the fall of 1991 and was completed in May 1992.
  • In 1992, child abuse and neglect cases were made eligible for the program. This policy change was preceded by extensive discussion and distribution of policies and guidelines for serving this new population.
  • In 1993, program regulations added juvenile court judges and their staff to the list of professionals from whom the program could receive referrals.
  • In 1994, HomeTies added another worker to each team and began accepting family reunification cases.
  • Between FY90 and FY94, there was a 650 percent increase in the number of families served by placement prevention services, from 400 cases in FY90 to 2,976 in FY94. In FY95, there was a slight (4%) decrease in the total number of families served.
  • Despite the slight decline in total families served in FY95, family reunification cases increased statewide by 18 percent from FY94 to FY95. (See the table below for the number of families served, percent change in the number of families served, and the number of FPS teams since the inception of the program through FY95.)

In its five-year plan for family preservation and family support services, Tennessee chose to put all new federal funds into family support rather than family preservation services. In FY95, the state planned to expand Healthy Start--an early intervention program for parents with newborns at risk of child maltreatment. In FY96, the state planned to add 31 Family Resource Centers -- networks of state and community based services designed to help families solve problems before crises occur.

HomeTies contracts for service providers were originally based on a $2000 per unit cost. In FY93, the state began reimbursing the agencies for cases served rather than a preset number of cases. This may, in part, explain the decreasing time frame of interventions and the increased numbers of families being served. Due to rising costs ($2028 per family in FY92 and $2624 in FY93), the state capped the contracts in FY95, resulting in lowered total expenditures ($7.8 million in FY96). HomeTies is a Medicaid reimbursable service and rates are set by the state's TennCare system. As of November, 1997, the Tennessee Director of Budget reported that 58 percent of HomeTies cases were eligible for full Medicaid reimbursement for services.