The federal clearinghouse that approves foster care prevention services has okayed four new programs, including the second kinship support model that can be used with a federal money match.
The clearinghouse also rejected six models with an evidence base that it assessed as “does not currently meet criteria” for inclusion.
The Title IV- E Prevention Services Clearinghouse was established in relation to the Family First Prevention Services Act, which was passed in February of 2018. The law enables states to use the Title IV-E entitlement — previously reserved for foster care and adoption support — to fund services aimed at working with parents without the need for a family separation. Each approved model of services is given one of three ratings based on the strength of its evidence base: Well-Supported, Supported or Promising.
The services must be evidence-based and apply to three areas: parenting, substance abuse treatment and mental health interventions. The clearinghouse also uses the same method to review kinship navigator programs, one-stop shops for supporting relative caregivers. States can draw a 50% funding match for versions of the kinship navigator approach approved by the clearinghouse.
The Colorado Kinnected program is the second navigator to gain approval from the clearinghouse; a navigator model built by Ohio was greenlit in the fall of 2021, though it focuses exclusively on serving the kin of children in formal foster care, whereas many navigator programs opt to serve a broader target population. In fact, Ohio itself has moved toward a more expansive model of kinship navigator that has yet to be reviewed by the clearinghouse.
Colorado Kinnected, which received a rating of Promising, was born of a federal waiver granted to the state in 2013 that enabled it to use its Title IV-E funds flexibly to work with counties on different ways to include and better support family members in the child welfare system. Kinnect incorporates several aspects of that waiver program, including some direct supports to caregivers, family search, and facilitated engagement.
Another well-respected navigator program out of Nevada, developed by the nonprofit Foster Kinship, is currently under review by the clearinghouse.
In addition to the Colorado navigator, the clearinghouse awarded a Promising rating to two different versions of Child-Centered Play Therapy, both group and one-on-one, and also approved a version of the model that focuses more exclusively on strengthening the relationship between parent and child.
The clearinghouse found that five different iterations of the Active Parenting guides, produced by Active Parenting Publishers, did not meet the criteria for a rating. The same went for Positive Indian Parenting, a decades-old, eight-session program developed by the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
The “does not meet criteria” tag does not necessarily mean a program will not get approved again; rather it indicates that either the studies of its impact are not of high enough quality to count, or that the high-quality studies did not show enough evidence of impact. Native American family advocates have voiced concern that the historical lack of funding to assess tribal programs has made inclusion of such models for federal funding a problem.
“There are many child welfare programs that have been developed by Indigenous communities that don’t even appear in the peer-reviewed literature,” Angelique Day, professor at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, told The Imprint. “Those are secret gems that tribal communities hold dear to themselves that haven’t been available for review.”
The approvals of the past month bring the total number of foster care prevention services under Family First to 60: 15 rated as Well-Supported, 15 as Supported, and 30 as Promising. It has rejected 54 programs for not meeting the criteria.
This round of updates to the prevention services approvals is the first since late June, when the clearinghouse approved eight new services and rejected ten others. The clearinghouse has 20 other programs currently under review, and recently disclosed that a public call for nominations drew another 99 recommendations.
Overall, 1,700 programs and services have been recommended for review since the clearinghouse began its work in 2019, according to the clearinghouse. Those recommended by state and local government, and ones with prior ratings from other state and national review boards, have been given priority.