Annie E. Casey Foundation to Shut Down Three-Decade Old Foster Care Agency

The Annie E. Casey Foundation will no longer operate their Casey Family Services (CFS) Program, and instead will provide financial grants to existing foster care providers, the Foundation announced last week.

“We have shifted to a new model. We will no longer operate our own foster care agency,” said Norris West, Director of Strategic Communications at Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“It was a difficult decision to make because [Casey Family Services] has done an outstanding job so this is going to be a change. But we are building on the knowledge and experience of [CFS] and we are moving toward supporting these innovative agencies.”

Started in 1976, Casey Family Services currently provides therapeutic foster care services to approximately 400 children in 7 northeastern states. The decision to close all the CFS’ regional offices comes after thoughtful consideration by the Foundation’s boards and leadership, according to West. They decided that the foundation would have the best impact by partnering with agencies instead of working on their own.

“The decision to change our strategy to focus on helping nonprofit human services agencies improve their service to families instead of operating our own foster care agency is a significant milestone in our organization’s history,” said Patrick T. McCarthy, trustee and president and CEO of the Casey Foundation, in a press release.

“As the human services environment changes, we see an opportunity to help strengthen the work of frontline staff who often make life and death decisions on behalf of vulnerable children and families.

This will cost 280 CFS employees their jobs, according to West. By December 31, the majority of the staff will have transferred their cases to other agencies. A small group of staff will stay with CFS until June 2013 to make the transfer of more complex child welfare cases easier.

“We’ve had some outstanding employees at [CFS] and this will certainly be a change for them. They helped make Casey a leader in child welfare,” West said. He added that each employee will receive a “generous but responsible” severance package that doesn’t detract from money for the children they serve.

Though the transition will be difficult for those employees, it may bring relief for agencies across America. The absence of CFS will give way $18- $20 million dollars in grants a year for foster care agencies in all states.

“We want to invest where we can get the best results and get the best return on our investment which is better outcomes for children,” West said.

The Foundation will give both large multi-year grants and smaller grants to agencies within the states CFS now serves and elsewhere by assessing which agencies are yielding best results and are using evidence-based practices.

“In the future we think it will advance child welfare practice not only in these states but throughout the country and will move more children towards permanency at a faster pace,” said West.

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