Evaluation of the New York City Home Rebuilders Demonstration. 2.5.9 Aftercare

09/14/1998

Continuing support to families after they had been reunited was another key component of the HomeRebuilders program. The goal of this component was to empower families so they were able to access resources available within their communities and thereby promote less dependence on the agency and more support from the community. A hypothesis of HomeRebuilders was that stronger aftercare would allow earlier discharge of children from foster care. The frequency of visits by a caseworker during aftercare varied from family to family (Table 2-5). Some agencies reported that some families had contact with the agency several times per week, while others only spoke with agency personnel occasionally. At all agencies except Miracle Makers, families determined the frequency unless the caseworker believed that the situation was dangerous (this is reflected in Table 5 as "as needed"). Also, many families went through periods of needing more attention. At Miracle Makers, for both the control and the experimental group, the caseworkers who provided services while the child was in foster care visited the family at home during the first 2 months of aftercare. If the family continued making satisfactory progress, during the third month the family was contacted by phone. Three agencies reported providing aftercare services to the comparison group for 3 months. However, it is unclear whether these were truly aftercare services or whether they were normal services provided during the 90 day trial discharge period.

In three of the agencies -- Harlem Dowling, New York Foundling, and St. Christopher­Jennie Clarkson -- a separate caseworker provided aftercare services. At Miracle Makers, the philosophy was that the caseworkers were already invested in these families and had gained the trust of the parents. For the families, this eliminated the need to confide in yet another person. In other agencies, using a different caseworker during the aftercare period allowed each set of caseworkers to work on different issues to reduce caseworkers' loads and thereby allow them to concentrate more on their assigned cases. When the method worked well, caseworkers discussed the cases with each other and the transition went smoothly. However, at least one agency reported serious personal conflicts between the aftercare worker and the other caseworkers. This conflict led to a breakdown in services to families.

Table 2-5.  Provision of aftercare during HomeRebuilders

Agency Provided to Experimental Group Provided to Comparison Group Aftercare Provider for Experimental Group
Harlem Dowling Yes, as needed for entire project No Separate aftercare worker
Little Flower Yes, as needed for entire project Yes, goal 3 months Same aftercare
Worker
New York Foundling Yes, as needed for entire project No Separate aftercare worker
Miracle Makers Yes, goal 3 months Yes, Goal 3 months Same caseworker
St. Christopher­Ottilie Yes, as needed for entire project Yes, goal 3 months Provided by HomeRebuilders caseworkers
St. Christopher­Jennie Clarkson Yes, as needed for entire project N/A Separate aftercare worker, during a crisis, by a clinical psychologist

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