Evaluation of the New York City Home Rebuilders Demonstration. 2.3.6 St. Christopher-Ottilie

09/14/1998

St. Christopher-Ottilie has had a deep-rooted family focus that was established long before the HomeRebuilders model was developed. Its model is based on providing:

an integrated and full range of personal and social services to sustain children, families, and individuals in their own homes, to provide out of home placement to those who need it in the least restrictive setting, and to do so in an atmosphere of care, concern, acceptance and the dignity of the person through love, service, and respect.

This statement describes a philosophy rooted in empowerment of the birth parent, using the premise that a child remains the child of the birth parents, even while in foster care. This philosophy has long been held by the agency and is based on the agency's participation in a demonstration headed by Salvador Minuchin that took place 1986. Participation in that 2 year demonstration involved intense training of foster parents and agency staff on how to work together to empower the birth parents of children in care. Participation in that project seems to have had a lasting effect on the administrators and staff.

The agency has always maintained the philosophy that foster homes are temporary homes for children. Consequently, as part of their training, all foster parents are told that they are an important part of the reunification process and are expected to take an active role in assisting the agency in reuniting the families.

HomeRebuilders was viewed as a chance to demonstrate the type of model the agency desired, a neighborhood-based approach to services. St. Christopher-Ottilie believed in the concepts of intensified counseling and aftercare. Its philosophy toward permanency included reunification with parents or kin as well as adoption. The process of making good decisions about placement was also seen as a way to expedite permanency. The foster family was the first choice for adoption or permanent placement after establishing that placement with the biological parents was not a viable option. Robert J. McMahon, the Executive Director, emphasized the importance of HomeRebuilders as a service delivery philosophy rather than a mere fiscal mechanism. He believes, "The demonstration showed what directors already know, decision-making is the hard part of the field. The risk in HomeRebuilders was not the money, but how you support workers to make tough decisions." He believes that focusing on length of stay and discharges is a good starting point for a decision-making framework.

ST. CHRISTOPHER-OTTILIE

Sites:

  • Brooklyn
  • Queens

HomeRebuilders Model:

"Through a neighborhood-based approach, an integrated and full range of personal and social services to sustain children, families, and individuals in their own homes, to provide out of home placement to those who need it in the least restrictive setting, and to do so in an atmosphere of care, concern, acceptance and the dignity of the person... through love, service, and respect."

Major Changes Initiated During HomeRebuilders for Experimental Group Only:

  • Additional staff hired include support staff: 1 housing worker; 1 program assistant, 1 clinical therapist, and 1 chemical addiction specialist
  • Lower caseload
  • Specialized flexible funding
  • Aftercare

HomeRebuilders Population:

  • Children under age 13 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 (including therapeutic foster care)
  • Preventive services and in-home family life development
  • Residential treatment centers for adolescent girls
  • Residential treatment centers for children with developmental disabilities
  • Intermediate care facilities for children with mental retardation
  • Group homes for children with emotional disabilities
  • Housing services for homeless youth and families
  • Mother and infant group homes
  • Family shelters
  • Medical and mental health services
  • Early childhood development screening, referral and intervention

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