A Michigan nonprofit was recently awarded a three-year, $8 million grant to expand intensive in-home services aimed at keeping kids out of foster care.
Samaritas, a major faith-based human services provider, said the funding will allow the group to serve an additional 600 families a year as it opens up its Homebuilders program in seven additional counties, including Wayne (Detroit).
The money will be spent on in-home services for families who have been referred to child protective services and investigators have found a child to be at imminent risk of entering foster care. The Homebuilders model deploys therapists with a caseload no higher than three to work with a family for up to six weeks. It balances a parent-led discussion of family issues with delivery of supports aimed at addressing basic poverty-related barriers.
The funding was granted by the state Department of Health and Human Services, which tapped money made available under the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. The 2018 law authorizes for the first time the use of Title IV-E – an entitlement previously reserved for foster care and adoption costs – to be spent on mental health, substance abuse and parenting services meant to prevent the need for foster care in certain cases.
But states can only draw down IV-E funds for services that meet the evidence-based thresholds in the law, and those decisions are made by the clearinghouse. Last April, the clearinghouse gave Homebuilders the highest possible rating, Well-Supported.
Michigan, like many states, has elected to take a delay on implementation of the Family First Act, which also limits access to federal funding for the placement of children in group settings. But a $500 million transition fund approved by Congress in 2019 provided money to help states prepare for onset of the law.
An additional contract for Homebuilders was awarded to Wellspring Lutheran Services. Michigan granted an additional $7 million to other service providers for similar foster care prevention work. The grants will fund services through 2023.