Justice Department Starts $7 Million Project on Preventing, Reducing Worst Child Welfare Outcomes

The Department of Justice is moving forward with a $7 million initiative to prevent and to better address the most serious and devastating outcomes of child maltreatment.

The Child Safety Forward initiative will pair a technical assistance network with five sites over a three-year period to “develop multidisciplinary strategies and responses” that “address serious or near-death injuries as a result of child abuse or neglect and to reduce the number of child fatalities,” according to a statement put out last month by the Justice Department.

Within Our Reach, a division of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, will lead the technical assistance portion of Child Safety Forward. The five selected demonstration sites are:

  • Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Cook County Health, Illinois
  • Indiana State Department of Health
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • Sacramento County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council

The Within Our Reach office was created to help further the recommendations agreed upon by the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF), which was created by the Obama administration pursuant to a law passed by Congress.

In 2016, the commission issued a long list of recommendations “Within Our Reach” on preventing maltreatment deaths. It included a billion-dollar increase to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and required state-level year reviews of maltreatment deaths to better establish commonalities in those cases. The commission’s arrival at a final report was rocky, with two of the commissioners refusing to approve the report and writing dissenting notes to it.

Within Our Reach, which was set up with financial support from grant maker Casey Family Programs, is led by Amy Templeman, who worked for the commission. She will lead the project for the Alliance with Jennifer Jones, director of the organization’s Change in Mind Institute.

Child Safety Forward “will be responsive to the 21st Century Child Welfare System as envisioned by the commission and will result in models for coordinated responses,” the Justice Department statement said.

Each of the five sites will receive $750,000 for the initiative, and the national technical assistance team will get a collective $1.5 million. An additional $1.75 million is set in reserve for an evaluation stage after planning and implementation has rolled out.

Correction: The story was updated to note that Amy Templeman is the sole leader of Within Our Reach for the Alliance. 

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1213 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.