As I discussed in my recent blog post, The Foundling has implemented the first-of-its-kind juvenile justice initiative, Blue Sky. This is an alternative to incarceration programs wherein trained and licensed therapists work with juveniles and their families using methods that, through extensive trials and testing, have proven effective. So far, the initiative has seen tremendous results with low re-arrest rates and major cost savings.Now it’s time to take this initiative one step further.
How do we do this? The Foundling is a strong proponent of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) programs, like Blue Sky, and is taking a lead role in helping other child welfare and juvenile justice programs implement these successful initiatives. We have created a training center where experts from The Foundling teach administrators and clinicians from our sister agencies not only how to implement these programs, but how to sustain them and make them work over time.
The Foundling’s new Implementation Support Center(ISC) opened on August 1, 2012 at The New York Foundling Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection – our agency’s advocacy, public policy, research, program evaluation, professional/ and community education and development arm.. Currently, staff members from seven child welfare organizations are in the midst of training and clinicians from nine juvenile justice programs will begin training shortly.
Training – and buy-in – must begin at the top. During the initial phase of training, a Foundling expert shows agency leadership what it means to achieve and sustain effective evidence based practices within their organizations. Our experts answer questions such as: How do we recruit suitable foster parents? Which New York City regulations create barriers for implementing the evidence based practice programs and how do we overcome those barriers? What’s the difference between the specific evidence based models and how do they each work? Which would work best for our agency and consumers?
At the ISC, The Foundling experts then outline a plan for the clinicians and the interactive training begins. During the clinical training sessions, trainees (social workers, mental health counselors and psychologists) meet every week to learn how to implement the evidence based practices in their daily work with at-risk youth and their families. Role-playing is a key component of the training. Focus is on real life scenarios and how to interact with families facing a myriad of different crises. For example, the training scenario may involve a family whose child consistently skips school. The trainees learn how to approach the parents, craft an intervention, get to the root of the problem and resolve it using therapy.
Once the interactive training is complete, the clinicians implement the evidence based practices within their organizations and the entire agency works to sustain them. The ISC is available during this period to consult with the agency and provide any additional input and advice they may need. The entire process takes three years to complete.
Over the past three years, The Foundling has experienced tremendous success with evidence based practices and Blue Sky. As New York City and ACS continue to require that its contractual agencies use EBP, The Foundling is obligated to share our success with others. We can be a real change agent in the field of child and family welfare – helping to lower costs, increase effectiveness and responsiveness – and most importantly saving lives and keeping families together.