The federal clearinghouse that approves foster care prevention services approved a popular whole-family approach to home-based services, and upgraded the rating of a different family support model.
High Fidelity Wraparound, incubated at Portland State University in Oregon, is designed to help children with significant mental health needs and their parents develop the skills necessary for a safe and stable home. It is built around 10 core principles that include cultural competency, individualized plans, and the use of observable outcomes-based goals to determine success.
The model received a rating of “Promising,” which is the lowest tier of evidence for which federal funding can flow under the Family First Prevention Services Act. Passed in 2018, the law amended the Title IV-E entitlement for child welfare funds — previously reserved for foster care and adoption costs — to enable its use for services aimed at preventing the need for child removals in some cases. But IV-E funds can only be drawn down for services approved by the clearinghouse, which is operated by Abt Associates.
The Intercept model, operated by Tennessee-based Youth Villages, had already received a rating of “Supported” by the clearinghouse. The program focuses on intensive and frequent meetings between families, an intervention specialist and licensed clinicians, and is used both as a prevention strategy or in reunification efforts.
This week, a re-review that included a new study of the model led the clearinghouse to raise their status to the highest possible rating of “Well-Supported.” That is significant for two reasons.
For Intercept, the jump to Well-Supported is huge because states must spend half of their IV-E prevention services money on models on the Well-Supported list. So having the top rating makes for a more attractive choice when states are putting their plans together.
For the field in general, it is noteworthy because the study that got Intercept a grade bump was quasi-experimental design, or QED, as opposed to the randomized control trial process that many call the gold standard for evaluation. QED can be done more quickly and affordably, and using existing data as opposed to years of following groups through intervention.
The clearinghouse also ruled this week that another program under review — Lilliput Families Kinship Support Services Program — was ineligible because its developers have not produced a manual for its replication.
With the addition of Wraparound, the clearinghouse has now approved 43 foster care prevention programs for federal funding. Nineteen states have had their IV-E prevention plans approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and another 18 have submitted their plans and are awaiting a decision. The remaining 13 states have yet to submit a plan.