Local Abused and Neglected Children Benefit from the Family Conn - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local Abused and Neglected Children Benefit from the Family Connection Demonstration Project

Posted: Updated:

NBC RIGHT NOW- The number of local children without a permanent place to call home is growing, but the innovative Family Connection Demonstration Project proves it can reduce that number. 

The $3.6 million dollar federally funded project took three years and fared positive results, reducing the number of children in the foster care system.

The Family Connection Demonstration Project works by reaching out within the first 72 hours of a child needing placement to immediate and distant family members in hopes that one of the family members would care for the child.

The project showed 46-percent of children in Benton, Franklin and Yakima Counties were placed in permanent homes, keeping them out of foster care.

The project's director Stephanie Hartwig said, "It connects these kids to relatives that they would not otherwise have had access to. Those relative connections translate not only into positive results immediately, but they have long term positive results for these kids."

Hartwig says on average, they make contact with 63 family members per child.

The Family Connections Demonstration Project was spearheaded by Catholic Family and Child Services in partnership with the Division of Children and Family Services, Casey Family Programs, the Area Agency on Aging and the Yakama Nation. 

Hartwig says they plan to use the results to get more funding, whether private or federal, to continue the project until a permanent partnership is established with the state.

"This project's success also highlights the good that can be accomplished in child welfare through community collaboration and partnership," said Hartwig.

Family Connections Demonstration Project's novel approach used three innovative best practices in child welfare, Family Search & Engagement, Family Team Decision Making and Kinship Navigator, and applied them concurrently, which Hartwig says previously had never been done.  Prior to the project, these practices were used inconsistently with limited integration.  The Family Connections Demonstration Project Hartwig says, made it possible to align and integrate these practices for positive results. 

Out of 1,935 families and children served by the project, she says nearly 73-percent of the children were placed in homes and had permanency finalized or in progress at the time the project was completed.

For more information on the Family Connections Demonstration Project click here.