Families Matter: Congregate Care Reduction
2014 NACo Achievement Award Winner
El Paso County, Colo., CO
Best In Category
About the Program
Category: Human Services (Best in Category)
In El Paso County, Colorado, there are 644,964 residents. Of those, 163,176 (25.3%) are under the age of 18. During the spring of 2012, employees at the El Paso County Department of Human Services (EPCDHS) realized many children were not sleeping in their own homes. Particularly, too many children were removed from their homes and placed in a congregate care setting (group home or residential treatment). Numerous studies indicate children that stay at home with their own families, or in a family-like setting, are less likely to become involved in the system and more likely to lead a healthy and productive life. In the summer of 2012, an initiative was implemented with a goal to reduce the number of children in a congregate care environment and emphasized placing these youth in a family-like setting, preferably with kin. This initiative, Families Matter, was spearheaded by the EPCDHS and supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). Additionally, the Families Matter initiative helped align the values of numerous community organizations; and, thus, contributed to the decline in the ratio of congregate care placements by 13.1% at the end of calendar year 2013. The actual number of children in congregate care was reduced by 45.6% (206 in March 2012 to112 in December 2013).