Evaluation of the New York City Home Rebuilders Demonstration. 2.3.2 Little Flower

09/14/1998

To implement the HomeRebuilders demonstration, Little Flower undertook a 6-month strategic planning process carried out by a task force comprising of supervisors from departments throughout the agency. The task force concentrated its efforts on developing a paradigm, organizing a vision, developing guidelines for needed training, and soliciting staff input.

The agency's philosophy for the HomeRebuilders program was based on three principles. These principles follow the general philosophy of HomeRebuilders, and, in general, staff were chosen for the program based on these criteria.

  1. A belief that children should return home whenever possible. This involved taking a chance with families, returning children home on a trial basis, and monitoring closely through aftercare. Agency management reported that the few staff members drawn from the adoption unit had the most trouble adapting to this concept.
  2. An understanding of cultural differences. Staff members needed to be adaptable to build on family strengths associated with different cultures or circumstances. Using extended families to make contact with birth families or returning families to kin were cited as examples.
  3. Seniority and the ability to elicit respect from other staff were important. To be part of HomeRebuilders, staff were required to have been with the agency for at least 1 year.

John Courtney, the associate executive director during the program, but no longer with the agency, stated that HomeRebuilders did not change Little Flower's philosophy on permanency, it was always a major emphasis. Case goals were changed when the agency staff believed that placement with parents was no longer a viable option. With permanency the ultimate goal, the agency then moved toward adoption. He also stated, "There was no planned shift from the goal of reunification to either adoption or kinship placement, and it didn't happen to a large degree. The agency conducted a monthly comparison between the experimental and the control group, and found in the control group that more cases had changes in their goals than in the experimental group. At the end of the study, the experimental group caught up somewhat, in part because the caseworkers knew the project was coming to the end. A renewed emphasis was placed on closing cases and this pushed the experimental group to change some of their cases to the goal of adoption. Few children moved to kinship placement in either group." From the beginning, a concerted effort was made to include all levels of staff in planning, service delivery, and monitoring case progress.

LITTLE FLOWER

Sites:

  • Two in Brooklyn
  • Two on Long Island

HomeRebuilders Model:
Used a paradigm based on a vision and guidelines developed during the planning stage and chose caseworkers who (1) believed in returning children home whenever possible, (2) respected cultural differences among families, and (3) had seniority at the agency.

Major Changes Initiated During HomeRebuilders for Experimental Group Only:

  • Hired a housing coordinator and educational coordinator
  • Lower caseload ratio, lower worker/supervisor ratio
  • More detailed case planning
  • Specialized flexible funding
  • Extensive training of caseworkers
  • Aftercare

HomeRebuilders Population:

  • Children under age 17 and in care over 90 days
  • Permanency goal: return to home
  • Type of placement used: foster boarding homes

Agency-Wide Programs During HomeRebuilders:

  • Foster care and adoption
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Therapeutic foster boarding homes
  • Independent living services for adolescents
  • Teen mother program
  • Nursing facilities
  • Mental health counseling and assessment services

* NOTE:  There were clusters of offices at each location in Brooklyn, NY and Wading River, Long Island.

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