|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||Contact: Michael Kharfen|
|Thursday, July 22, 1999||(202) 401-9215|
HHS APPROVES CHILD WELFARE DEMONSTRATION FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today approved a child welfare demonstration project for the District of Columbia that will use a community-based team approach to meet the needs of families in the child welfare system and will allow kinship caregivers access to services not previously available.
"This demonstration by the District provides an opportunity for neighborhoods to work together to help families in crisis find and better use the services they need," said Secretary Shalala. "Community and public agency partnerships are an exciting approach to meeting the needs for these families."
Under the demonstration, the District will use federal foster care (Title IV-E) funds to hire a staff worker in each of four community collaboratives. Each collaborative is composed of residents, agencies and institutions that work together to help residents gain access to an array of neighborhood social services, including housing, medical care, child care, family counseling, literacy and parenting classes, and financial support such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Social Security. By using these networks for children and families in the child welfare system, the District hopes to increase the number of children placed in permanent homes, decrease the number of new foster care placements, and reduce the incidence of further abuse and neglect.
"The Clinton administration has worked diligently to remove the barriers to permanent placement for children in foster care," said Olivia A. Golden, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. "We hope this partnership will help ensure that children and families in the District receive the care and services they need to achieve successful outcomes."
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 authorized HHS to approve up to 10 demonstration projects each year through 2002. HHS has encouraged states to develop innovative child welfare projects aimed at increasing adoptions of special needs children, promoting community-based services to prevent child abuse and neglect, improving access to needed health and mental health services, and addressing the unique needs of American Indian children. The District's is the 20th waiver approved under this authority.
The demonstration project will be cost-neutral, independently evaluated, and last up to five years.
Note: HHS press releases are available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.dhhs.gov.