Community based programs enable families to build on their own strengths and capacities to promote the healthy development of children. While these programs come in different forms, they have a common goal of increasing the level of family functioning and reducing involvement in the child protective services and juvenile justice systems. Programs are embedded in communities and contribute to the community building process. The programs are funded by the Division of Social Services to operate in communities that have high rates of child protective service reports and or foster care placements.
A fundamental characteristic of community based programs is that staff and families work together in relationships based on equality and respect. Programs make every effort to affirm and strengthen families' cultural and racial identities and their ability to function in a multicultural society. Programs work with families to mobilize formal and informal resources to support family development, and advocate with families for services and systems that are fair, responsive and accountable to the families served.
Community-based programs model a strengths-based approach in all activities, including planning, governance and administration. Community-based programs funded through DHHS’ Division of Social Services are below.
Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS)
The IFPS model provides in-home crisis intervention services to help families at imminent risk of having a child or children removed from the home. These services help keep children safely in their homes (whenever possible) and prevent unnecessary separation of families. This model is characterized by very small caseloads for workers, short duration of services (six weeks), 24-hour availability of staff, and the provision of services primarily in the child's home or in another environment. Services can include assessment, counseling, skills training, referral, advocacy, case management and follow-up.
Family Preservation Services (FPS)
Family Preservation Services are interventions that target at-risk families who are at high risk (although not at imminent risk) of having a child or children placed out of the home. These services are provided for a maximum of six months, and vary in intensity depending on the needs of the family. Services offered during FPS are individual and family therapy, crisis intervention, emergency financial assistance, case management, mentoring, and client advocacy. As with IFPS, Family Preservation Services are marked by 24-hour availability of staff, the provision of services primarily in the child's home, and the goal of maintaining a safe and intact family unit.
Family Reunification Services
Family Reunification Services are intended to help families re-integrate children into their home after they have been in foster care or other types of out-of-home placement. Reunification services typically begin while the child is still living out of the home, with a family reunification worker assisting the family in creating a safe and successful transition back to the home. Services continue after the child returns home, with workers providing individual and family therapy, case management and client advocacy to support the reunification.
Family Support Programs/Family Resource Center Services (FRCs)
Family support and Family Resource Center programs are a conceptual approach to strengthening and empowering families and communities through evidence-based programming to foster favorable development of all family members. The operating premise of family support/Family Resource Center programs is that if the quality of life for the family and child is improved, the risk of abuse/neglect and foster care placement decreases. Family Resource Centers are a community-based, centralized source for family support services that may be provided through on-site programming or home-based strategies. Services established at FRCs are provided for all family members.
Respite services provide temporary child care assistance to parents or other caregivers. Services are usually short term (several hours to a couple of weeks) and target families with children with disabilities and/or special needs. By giving caregivers a relief from the stresses associated with providing care to a child with special needs, respite services can help improve satisfaction with parenting (including adoptive and foster parenting) as well as enhance capacity to cope with stress.
Family Violence Prevention and Services (FVP)
FVP funding is provided for establishing, maintaining and expanding programs and projects to prevent family violence and to provide immediate shelter and related assistance for victims of family violence and their dependents. All areas of the state are provided funding. A special emphasis is placed on serving the under-served with services focused on Hispanic residents, elder abuse victims, violence prevention among youth, accessibility and outreach.
TANF Domestic Violence
Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding has been provided to support victims of domestic violence since 1999. The North Carolina General Assembly allocates funding from the TANF block grant for direct services to victims of domestic violence and their dependents. Assistance to victims deemed eligible by the local county Social Services agency and referred by the local domestic violence agency includes helping a family become safe and economically independent. Victims can be assisted with deposits for housing and utilities, cost of education, transportation, shelter services, legal fees, food, clothing, medical needs, day care and more.
Clients of Work First, which is what North Carolina’s TANF program is called, benefit from the cooperative and collaborative relationship between the domestic violence program and the county Social Services agency. This collaboration provides an opportunity for child welfare staff to positively address the needs of children and families exposed to domestic violence. Each county receives an allocation based on the number of domestic violence victims served the previous year and the Work First caseload number as of July 1.
TANF After-School Services and Programs for At-Risk Children
TANF After-School Services and Programs for At-Risk Children provides academic and enrichment services to students in grades K-12 outside of school hours. The target populations for services are children who are at-risk of adolescent pregnancy, school drop-out and gang membership. A minimum of 10 hours of after-school service must be provided per week. Funding is provided through venues that range from school systems, neighborhood not-for-profits and faith-based entities.
Adoption Promotion and Support
Adoption Promotion and Support services help adoptive families on an on-going basis so they can make a lifetime commitment to their children. These services include legal termination of parental rights, recruitment of adoptive families, preparation for adoption, placement in and supervision of the adoptive placement, and supportive services prior to and after the finalization of the adoption, such as support groups, counseling, parenting programs, access to birth records, information and referral.
The purpose of these programs is to support community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand and enhance initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect. Program areas include healthy marriage, responsible fatherhood, and outreach to faith-based organizations. Healthy marriage services can include marriage education, parenting classes and healthy relationship workshops. Responsible fatherhood services can include employment development, co-parenting workshops, GED preparation, peer support groups and mentoring. Faith-based organizations can increase their capacity building and provide various social service programs that meet the needs of their community.
Child Advocacy Centers (CAC)
Certified CACs provide services for families in their county who have children that have been a victim of sexual abuse. Each center has a multidisciplinary team that includes the District Attorney, law enforcement and a forensics investigator. The child can receive all these services at the center. Additional services provided to the family include individual and group counseling, information and referrals.